Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Political Parties or What's In a Name?

Political Parties or What’s in a Name?
There is no escaping the specter of Senator Bernard Sanders . The independent senator from very small, and very racially homogenous Vermont has recently been trotted out with DNC chair Tom Perez in something ironically referred to as a “unity tour.” Mr. Sanders seems to not have been informed of the title or even purpose of the these events. He was quite clear when asked if he was a Democrat that he was not. The official GOP twitter handle shared a video of Tom Perez being booed and Bernard did nothing to stop the derision from the crowd. Unity indeed.
In my recent social media forays (almost all of which are a total waste of time), I find myself engaged primarily with those who identify on the left, are highly critical of the Democratic party, and see no problem with Mr. Sanders attempting to lead a party of which he is not a member. To be clear, I take no issue with reasonable critiques of the Democratic party. It is always subject to scrutiny and there is always room for insight into party affairs. Being a sports fan, I am quick to offer that attempting to lead a party (and Mr. Sanders has accepted the title of outreach chair) one is not in would be akin to attempting to be a team captain for the New England Patriots while being a back-up punter for the Cleveland Browns.
This dissension begs revisiting the purpose of having political parties in the first place. It’s quite simple, parties are the tool by which democratic power is organized within a democracy. Given Duverger’s Law (google it) the US will always have two dominant political parties. The names of the parties have changed throughout our history, as have their affiliations, aims and goals. Looking at the Democratic party, one can see a shift from the segregation supporting party in the early 20th century to the more liberal party today. Building a party is monumentally difficult. It involves cultivating relationships, reaching common ground with diverse swaths of people, crafting a message that resonates with constituents and ultimately convincing those constituents to vote for you. These actions all take place for the greater goal of using the party apparatus to put forth the party agenda in elected offices. The party is a tool, an engine of politics. Albeit an extremely unwieldy and unpredictable engine.
I have been accused of many things, but one thing I will gladly agree with is that I am hyper partisan and have been ever since the malfeasance of the 2000 election theft. I am a Democrat because I recognize that the Democratic party is the most effective way to enact a liberal agenda in electoral politics. That is not to say every Democratic candidate is a good one. Obviously, races have primaries for good reason. Sometimes even after a primary the nominee isn’t ideal, it’s a democracy, that will happen. It then becomes imperative to judge the nominee against the general election opponent. People will say, “I shouldn’t have to vote against  someone.” This is a fallacy in our electoral system. It is incumbent on the voting citizen to choose the candidate that will do the most good and avoid the most harm to the country. Choosing not to vote in every election possible is to be derelict in one’s duty as an American.
So, what’s all this to do with Bernard? To his credit, he has been able to amass political capital in tiny white Vermont without being affiliated with a party. Though he caucuses with Democrats, he has unquestionably been antagonistic to the Democrats throughout his entire career in public life. Most egregiously praising the Sandinista government in the 80s and musing that President Obama needed to be primaried in the 2012 election; and there are several other instances and quotes that mirror these sentiments. Mr. Sanders’ negative opinion of the Democratic both historically and in the present are perfectly allowable, but highly questionable for someone who months ago was running under the Democratic banner as a candidate for president. Furthermore, Bernard was blown out in dramatic fashion in the primary. A 13% loss that despite the coverage it received, was never close. Fans of Mr. Sanders can all tell you how close the MI primary was, but none know about the double digit wins Ms. Clinton racked up in South Carolina or Mississippi or Alabama. (This hints at the coalition building among black Democrats that Mr. Sanders was thoroughly disinterested in).
Following the drubbing he received in the primary and Ms. Clinton’s subsequent Electoral College loss, Mr. Sanders resurfaced somehow as the great white septuagenarian savior of the Democratic Party. Let us pause for a moment and consider the monumental hubris of Bernard Sanders. Here we have a politician who misappropriated a party title, infrastructure, funding and legitimacy only to cast off any sense of responsibility they conferred once it became politically expedient to do so; to then be so arrogantly presumptuous to assert that the party that he will not join, and rejected him, must be remade in his own image to save itself. Re-read that massive run on sentence again. And again. It takes a few passes to absorb the enormity of Bernard’s conceited egotism.
The bottom line is that political parties matter. Despite our flaws on the Democratic side, ours is still the best way to enact liberal, democratic values and ideals. It isn’t going to be perfect or fast enough but our country isn’t designed to be either of those things. Don’t let those flaws distract you from the bigger picture.  Don’t let a non-existent perfect be the enemy of the reality of the good. The party that we build needs leaders, but one thing they should all have in common, is that they are members. Don’t trot Bernard out in front of me or the millions of Democrats who voted against him. Give me Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, Chuck Schumer, Kristen Gillibrand, John Lewis, Ted Lieu, Nancy Pelosi, and yes, even Keith Ellison. Don’t try to sell me on a politician whose entire career was made on sanctimonious sniping from the sidelines (and OMG dumped radioactive waste on a poor Latino community).
#UniteBlue      #DemForce  #butemailstho  #bothpartiestho
PS: Caucuses should be eliminated and all primaries should be closed. Pick a side and get involved.

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