A Prosthetic Spine for the Democratic Party

1:41 pm in Uncategorized by Sebastos

The Democratic Party is widely recognized to be compromised and corrupted by moneyed interests. The default setting for the Democrats’ backbone is somewhere between “slimy eel” (giving lip service to progressive values while betraying them covertly) and “spineless jellyfish” (caving to the Republicans out of cowardice). The barriers to reform from within are formidable. On the other hand, third-party challenges are almost insuperably difficult. Worse yet, both approaches – the purely “inside” approach of reforming the Democratic Party, and the purely “outside” approach of running third-party candidates – weaken the progressive movement, because of the inevitable differences of opinion as to which approach is best.

This division of effort is unnecessary. We can fashion a prosthetic spine for the Democratic Party, supplying externally the courage and integrity that it lacks. We can thus combine the advantages of  internal reform and external third-party challenge, and enable their advocates, in effect, to work together simultaneously on both approaches. The hitherto marginalized Green Party could, by a certain change of tactics, play a central role in this new, combined approach – and thereby emerge as a major progressive force on the national scene.

We can learn something from the Tea Party and their attitude toward the Republican Party. They treat it strictly as a tool, and do not waste emotional energy (positive or negative) on it. Most (all?) of their candidates are run as Republicans. But they keep money and other resources (such as the effort of volunteers) under their own control, and offer such resources only to Republicans that they believe to support their principles. Thus, they avoid being co-opted by Republican insiders. Their approach is flexible and case-by-case. Sometimes they run primary challenges to Republicans they dislike; other times, they endorse and support favored Republicans. In exceptional cases, they might run their candidates as third-party or as write-ins, although I am not aware of any such cases; but even if this third-party approach is seldom used in practice, the potential is always there, and acts as an unspoken but ever-present threat to establishment Republicans who might be tempted to defy the Tea Party.

In short, the Tea Party acts as a feedback-control servomechanism, or a governor (in the engineering sense), for the Republican Party and its candidates. It has had considerable success in pushing the Republican Party to the far Right. We need to use similar methods to push the Democratic Party to the Left. Read the rest of this entry →