By Ralph Nader
The Democratic Party can’t cease congratulating itself about the mid-term elections results defying the pundit’s predictions of a red wave. (Newt Gingrich even predicted that Herschel Walker would win the Georgia senate race without a runoff.) This is a self-serving, self-destructive standard by which Democratic operatives measure their performance. They need to unfailingly look into the mirror and list their losses.
First, they lost the House of Representatives to the worst Republican Party in history. The GOP is corrupt, lying, and violence-prone. It opposes policies supporting labor, consumers, patients, and children. It favors the greed of its corporate paymasters over vital community protections and necessities. A GOP House means the end of any Biden-proposed legislation for the next two years.
The narrow margin (GOP 222 Dems 213) between the House Democrats and the House Republicans was provided by two debacles – the election of two GOP candidates who were part of the partisan crowd rushing Congress on January 6, 2021, and the boomeranging of the New York State Democratic Party’s redistricting plan.
Instead of netting four or five more seats in the House from New York, the Democratically controlled legislature overreached in its re-districting exuberance, leading to a 4 to 3 court overturn and the appointment of a special master to redraw the map. The new map produced a net GOP gain of 4 House seats.
Those two failures made the difference in the House of Representatives, turning all the committees and control of the House floor agendas over to probable Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his cronies, bent on political revenge, not protecting people’s interests.
Early causes weakening the Democratic Party were in 1979 when it started taking corporate PAC money big time and in 2011 when it cut an unwritten deal with the GOP that was beyond the pale in its legislative cowardliness. The deal, to secure GOP support, was that every dollar added for the social safety net had to be matched by a similar increase in the bloated military budget.
The pernicious influence of corporate PACs leads to capitulation by the Dems, such as giving the Pentagon tens of billions of dollars more for the military budget than the White House requested. By a House vote of 350-80 Democrats and Republicans expanded the current bloated military budget by another $45 billion, more than even the Generals requested. Moreover, the Democrats joined with the GOP in this deficit spending without even trying to pay for this $45 billion by restoring any of Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for big business. The Congress has yet to provide adequate funding for public health necessities and Covid-19 responses in the U.S.
If the Party has to beg the GOP for aid to needy children, for instance, it is not likely to go into the districts of Republican leaders, such as former Speaker John Boehner’s backyard in Ohio. It reached a point in 2014 when the Democrats did not even field an opponent to Boehner, thus freeing him to help his GOP buddies with his unused campaign money.
There is little indication the Democrats have turned up the heat in low-income Bakersfield, California, the hometown of Kevin McCarthy. Compare this with junior member Rep. Newt Gingrich, who built, from scratch, a revolt that toppled two Democratic House Speakers, Jim Wright (by resignation) and Tom Foley (electoral defeat by Gingrich’s hand-picked opponent) before Gingrich took over the speakership in January 1995.
Another causal blunder is the ceding of huge territory in the U.S. over the decades to the GOP – now dubbed the red states. In an Electoral College system of presidential elections that has led to the ceding of the White House even to GOP losers in the popular vote (e.g., G.W. Bush and Trump).
By abandoning the mountain states and North & South Dakota, a virtually uncontested GOP started out with 8 to 10 surefire Senate seats in states which used to have Democratic senators when the Party was more of a true national Party.
Other self-inflicted wounds include refusals by the Democrats, when they do win, to roll back bad Republican passed laws as well as health, safety and economic regulations or de-regulations benefiting big business over all the people. Stripping down the IRS enforcement budget that could catch the plutocracy’s evasions, undermining the Postal Service, still run by Trumpster Louis DeJoy, not getting out of the Bush/Cheney illegal wars of aggression, and Bush/Cheney shielding Wall Street crooks from proper regulation of the financial industry, which led to its collapse, were some of the Democratic Party’s self-defeating permissions for these GOP disasters. (Note when Obama became president, his administration failed to prosecute the Wall Street looters.)
The Dems invariably decline to roll back outlandish subsidies, giveaways and bailouts initiated by the GOP and often expand them. Nor do they hold hearings on the corporate crime wave, corporate welfare binges and other critical “let the people know” events to build support for corporate law and order actions.
It isn’t as if citizen advocates and civic organizations have neglected to advise, warn and urge the Democratic Party to win by standing for the people with authentic policies, messages, strategies, tactics, rebuttals and pithy slogans. (See winningamerica.net).
The Democratic Party won’t even come up with memorable slogans and is constantly outnumbered by fabricated GOP accusations that put the Party on the defensive against the likes of Trump and Trumpster Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). The Dems are so unorganized and leaderless that Taylor Greene could say with impunity about the January 6th assault at a Republican gala in New York City last week, “I want to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, we would’ve been armed.” Where are the Democrats that are needed to move to censure this violent inciter against our national legislators?
Heading into a perilous 2024 election on a cascade of self-anthems is not an auspicious forward path. The Party is facing a disaster in the Senate. Twenty-three Democrats (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats) are up for re-election with only 10 Republican senators mostly all from safe states. If the Dems could barely keep the Senate in 2022 when these odds were reversed in their favor, what do you think their chances are, with the same old, tired campaigns, for keeping the Senate in 2024?
These are the same campaign consultant regulars who have brought the Party to ruin in winnable election after election. Still, they get retained and place a cocoon around their candidates. These consultants make sure their regular corporate clients are not upset.
Again, the National Democratic Party has to set aside the champagne and rigorously face its disastrous failures, when they should be landsliding the GOP. They can start with the two dozen civic leaders who volunteered to provide the path to victory in a July Zoom conference. They were largely ignored by the Party’s corporate-conflicted political media consultants (losers who are expecting to be retained for 2024). (See winningamerica.net).