Sunday, August 7, 2011

American Democracy?

Democratic Party died a slow death

By Mike Krauss
Bucks County Courier Times

The Democratic Party is dead. It was a slow death, painful to watch, but it’s over now. The remains will be buried alongside those of the Republican Party, which died some time ago.

The GOP took ill with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Legions of Democratic southern whites fled their party and eventually made their new home in the GOP, bringing with them their passion for the Bible, guns and cars (Not necessarily in that order), and an abiding hostility to the federal government that had twice upended their social order and threatened their economic and political power.

Richard Nixon saw them coming and invited them in with a pitch to “law and order,” which gathered up the southern (and some northern) racists, the socially conservative voters upset by the changes of the 1960s, and the white suburban and rural voters who, while not necessarily racists, resented the huge and mostly urban spending of LBJ’s “Great Society.”

But Nixon was a moderate, who like Eisenhower before him did not make war on working men and women, and who took America out of war. And when Nixon went down the team that heckled Dwight Eisenhower at the ‘64 convention took over and the GOP died, to be replaced by the POG (Party of God), eager to fight His battles at home and abroad.

They joined the class of established and mostly corporate wealth that did not like it one bit when FDR started sharing that wealth and Lyndon Johnson tried to do the same.

All things federal became the enemy of the POG, while the nation’s established corporate wealth used all things federal to enlarge their wealth.

“Welfare cheats” (I wonder what color they were?), the ever useful communists and a focus on sex ( a sure attention getter) kept America’s increasingly deficient attention while the Reagan tax code accelerated the most massive transfer of wealth in American history — perhaps world history — into the hands of an ever richer few.

The Democratic Party was already weakened by Reagan’s assault on unions and the exodus of whites, and took seriously ill when Bill Clinton, a fatherless boy who longed for a family, got adopted by Wall Street.

Clinton embraced “free” trade, which actually carries a terrible price in lost jobs and low wages for Americans, and has since decimated American manufacturing and destroyed the old union base of the Democratic Party.

But “free” trade does wonders for corporate profit and Wall Street.

Then Clinton joined ranks with the POG to repeal the laws that had kept the banks and financial casinos separated since the crash of 1929. The result was not only that Wall Street crashed again, taking a lot of the middle class with it, but also that the finance industry — which produces nothing of utility — overtook all others as the source of profit in American business, and has further accelerated the transfer of wealth to the richest Americans and directed investment away from productivity.

While Americans were sold on “trickle down” — better described as “Scraps Under the Table” — economics, the wealth of America gushed up to the top.

The incomes of the richest Americans doubled under Bill Clinton, and tripled under George Bush, while those of working men and women have remained flat for decades.

Barack Obama, who also was adopted by Wall Street and will like Bill Clinton become wealthy, kept the Democratic Party in Wall Street’s pocket. Cut off from its former life’s blood — working men and women — the party’s condition grew critical.

The exact moment of death came during the posturing over the debt ceiling when President Obama put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block, and moved himself to the right of Ebenezer Scrooge.

So two political parties that worked at the center of American politics and between them represented most average Americans, have been replaced by two political parties that work at the same reactionary end of American politics and represent the wealthiest Americans and the corporate engines of their wealth — Wall Street and war and the established corporate parasites.

William Penn observed that governments, like clocks, “go from the motions men give them.” But clockmakers have tools. Political parties must be understood as the tools people use to get their hands on the machinery of government. The tools Americans use to make government do what they want have been taken out of their hands.

Americans must take them back, or fashion new tools, or sit by and watch the American democracy die

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