4 Reasons Why the Democratic Party Will Never Be the Vehicle for Progressive Change

4 Reasons Why the Democratic Party Will Never Be the Vehicle For Progressive Change

Karena Acree-Páez


What kind of revolutionary joins the establishment to protect the revolution? 

Historically, the function of the Democratic Party has been to sap and neutralize progressive energy. The party has honed a vastly efficacious strategy as the “big tent” in which progressive efforts are laid to rest. In light of another rigged primary approaching, it is imperative to revisit the history, patterns, and structures which are in place to neutralize progressive energy. We must also consider that the DNC has, in fact, increased control over the primaries since 2016. 

For close to 50 years, the Democratic Party has made it very clear that a private corporation will not allow a progressive to win the Democratic primary. As we will discuss in further articles, history shows us that the Democrats would rather lose to a Republican than let a progressive win. Look at what the party did to peace candidate, George McGovern, in 1972 after he won the primary. The Democratic Party chose to sabotage McGovern’s campaign; the specter of Richard Nixon did not scare them then, and Donald Trump does not scare them now. The Democrats then threw the election to Richard Nixon; they are not above throwing it again.

The pervasive discontent among Democratic voters who supported Sanders and watched the establishment sabotage the campaign, remains ever present. Many have taken up sincere and courageous efforts to reform or “takeover” the party. It is refreshing to see a wave of political activity, especially among those who are fervently pushing for progressive gains within the party. Not only is taking over a major party not easy, it appears to be impossible, given that the last 50 years of attempts have been successfully frustrated while neoliberal party leadership which is firmly in control, moves further and further to the right. 

1.  A new progressive organization to steer energy back into the Democratic Party follows a progressive presidential loss.

As we may observe by the following examples, oftentimes after a progressive loses, a new organization is then formed trying to push progressive politics; all subsequent efforts then steer progressives into the Democratic party. Let’s look at some recent examples: 

✔️ 1984 and 1988 – Jesse Jackson is crushed by Democratic party corporatists: He creates a new progressive organization, Rainbow Push, hoping to push politics to the left. 

✔️ 1992 – Jerry Brown is crushed by Democratic party corporatists: He creates a new progressive organization in 1995 – We the People. Later, Brown evolves into another corporate Democrat, which is the standard pattern for any progressive politician who wants to remain and gain power in the party. 

✔️ 2004 – Dennis Kucinich is crushed by Democrat party corporatists: He endorses John Kerry and formed Progressive Democrats of America in 2004, hoping to push the party to the left. 

✔️ 2004 – Howard Dean is crushed by Democratic party corporatists: He creates a new progressive organization, Democracy for America, in 2004 which hopes to push politics to the left. 

✔️ The DNC rigs the primary against Sanders and then argues in open court (by way of the DNC Fraud Lawsuit in Florida) that the party has the right to pick their candidate. Sanders is appointed the Democratic Party Outreach Coordinator in November 2016 and established Our Revolution in January 2017. Our Revolution calls itself a progressive political action organization; it serves as another vehicle for funneling progressive energy into the Democratic Party. 

This creation of a new, progressive political organization after a notable progressive loss, is one of the ways by which the party provides the illusion of having a “progressive wing” and reinforces the myth that the Democratic party is the party of progressives. 

2. Superdelegates and the Loyalty Oath

Does anyone have an extra 300 pledged superdelegates lying around? If not, why campaign? 

Superdelegates were partly in response to George McGovern’s loss of 1972. In 1984 the party implemented superdelegates, system which equates one superdelegate vote with 10,000 citizen’s votes. They effectively serve as a “kill-switch” to prevent any progressive candidate from winning the nomination. 

At the August 2018 DNC meeting in Chicago and after much pressure from progressive activists and voters, it was decided that superdelegates were to be banned from the 1st round vote at the convention. This was widely received by corporate media as a tremendous gain for progressives. However, even if a progressive wins, the DNC can force it to a second round vote just as they did with George McGovern. The DNC controls the rules of the convention. They can make, break or bend the rules however they please. 

However, the DNC Loyalty Oath which also resulted from the August 2018 DNC meeting, makes it even easier to eliminating progressives than superdelegates ever were. The second paragraph confirms that one person, Tom Perez (DNC chairperson who is picked by establishment party bosses), has full power to disqualify anyone he decides is not a “bona fide Democrat” who has, at any time, not demonstrated faithfulness to the party. All Democratic presidential candidates must affirm the oath. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5759585-DNC-Loyalty-Pledge.html

3. The DNC Affirms the Right to Choose Their Nominee In a Smoke-Filled Backroom

The DNC fraud lawsuit was initiated by Bernie Sanders supporters against the Democratic National Committee and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for rigging the Democratic primaries in Hillary Clinton’s favor. 

The court transcripts reveal several outrageous justifications for rigging the Democratic primary. Here are two quotes from the DNC’s attorney, Bruce Spiva: 

  1. “[I]f you had a charity where somebody said, Hey, I’m gonna take this money and use it for a specific purpose, X, and they pocketed it and stole the money, of course that’s different. But here, where you have a party that’s saying, We’re gonna, you know, choose our standard bearer, and we’re gonna follow these general rules of the road, which we are voluntarily deciding, we could have — and we could have voluntarily decided that, Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way. That’s not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right, and it would drag the Court well into party politics, internal party politics to answer those questions.”
  1. Regarding the Article V, Section 4 of the DNC Charter—stating that the DNC chair and their staff must ensure neutrality in the Democratic presidential primaries— the DNC attorneys argued that neutrality was “a discretionary rule that it didn’t need to adopt to begin with” and “those are internal issues that the party gets to decide basically without interference from the courts.”

Courtroom Transcription of April 25th DNC Fraud Lawsuit: http://jampac.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/042517cw2.pdf

As hard as it is to create a viable alternative to the corporate duopoly, it is more likely to succeed than ever trying take over a private corporation; the very structure of the Democratic party will prevent change. Simply put, if a progressive elected official does not serve corporate interests and tow the party line, they are rendered powerless until they are replaced. There are structures at every level of the Democratic party to prevent “reform,” “takeover,” or “revitalization” of the private corporation’s boardroom. 

Keith Ellison provides another example of what happens to a progressive in the Democratic party.

  • Ellison was the first member of congress to endorse Sanders. He was the co-chair of the progressive congressional caucus.
  • When Ellison announces his run for DNC chair, within one month he had endorsed Steven Bittel, the billionaire real-estate developer in Florida, for state party chair.
  • Within two months, Ellison had pulled back on his promise to take corporate money out of the DNC, which was a hallmark of his campaign.
  • Within 3 months he was meeting with David Brock and other very wealthy donors including billionaires to discuss party strategy.

Progressives, can enter the DNC machine, but they cannot fully divorce themselves from the establishment. The establishment IS the party.

4. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. 

Since 2016, none of the issues contributing to the rigging of the Democratic primary which are delineated below have been addressed by the Democratic party, yet people still expect a different outcome:

  • The use of provisional ballots; 
  • Incompetent caucuses manipulated by party bosses;
  • Reduction of and misinformation re: polling places, or fraud;
  • Broken and vulnerable voting machines used across specific states and districts;
  • Massive strategic purges of voters from rolls;
  • Blatant destruction of ballots – similar to what occurred in Tim Canova’s race in Broward County, Florida; and
  • The suppression of certain delegates at the DNC.

Let’s look at how the Democratic party has actively sabotaged progressives since 2016. 

❌ Tried to elect a progressive in the 2016 Democratic primary. Nope! Democrats rigged it against Bernie.

❌ Tried to push for progressive platform. Nope! Lobbyists control the DNC platform.

❌ Tried to get a progressive elected to DNC Chair. Nope! Tom Perez was installed.

❌ Progressives tried to take over Democratic National Committee. Nope! Tom Perez purged Berniecrats & veteran progressives from the DNC.

❌ Tried to reform presidential process to remove power of superdelegates. Nope! Democratic party made sure corporate lobbyists in control of the reform process (Rules Committee) and expanded the party’s control over the primary with a new loyalty oath.

❌ Tried to elect progressives during midterms. Midterms tested the strategy of taking over the party. Nope! Only 2 progressives replaced establishment incumbents.

❌ Tried to push for a progressive Speaker of the house. Nope! The party threatened with even more conservative speaker of the house and ends up getting Democratic progressive Rising Star to support Pelosi along with Trump.

❌ 2020 – Back to Square One? Tom Perez just named lobbyists, party bosses, and Sanders opponents to the DNC convention committee. Infamous Hillary Clinton operative, John Podesta, was also among Perez’s nominations to the 2020 Convention Standing Committees. Loyalty Oath, anyone? 

The same thing has been happening for close to 50 years. There are structures and incentives in place at every level in the Democratic party to ensure that there will be no takeover by progressives. 

GOOD NEWS: Party affiliation is at all time lows. The Democratic party is a political corpse ready to be replaced. 62% of Independents said the two-party system is broken and a third party is needed. (NBC/WSJ poll from March 2019: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/nbc-news-wsj-poll-2020-race-will-be-uphill-trump-n978331. 71% of millennials reject both major parties NBC News/GenForward poll.

Party Affiliation is at historic lows (Gallup, December 2019). What does this tell us?

  • 41% Independent
  • 28% Republican
  • 28% Democrat

What do we do about the fragmented left? We have many organizations and parties that can’t do it on their own and are not attracting the membership numbers to challenge the Democrats. A broad front coalition for the working-class is the missing ingredient. This is the strategy that has recently worked in several other countries in recent years; corrupt establishment parties which have ruled for up to a century have been effectively displaced by broad front coalitions. The planet won’t wait another 50 years. 

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