Friday, May 26, 2017

Democratic Party is as Complicit as Republicans For America's Failing Schools

It seems to me that things keep getting more complex over time, and that the older I get, and the more knowledge acquired, the less sure of things I actually seem to be.

When younger, there seemed to be some things that were clear cut. Issues where there was one right side, and one wrong side. Back when I was a kid and basically throughout my high school years, apartheid was just such an issue. It was a morally corrupt, even evil system, and there was no real defense of it that could be made. When it finally came to an end, most of the world rejoiced, as the last officially racist nation finally let go of it's colonial past, and a new day dawned. 

Perhaps the same could be argued with the events of late 1989 in eastern Europe, when most of the countries there enjoyed largely peaceful revolutions. The Berlin Wall fell, and it was a time of rejoicing. Everyone marveled at this event, and the fact that it had happened seemingly from out of nowhere, with little forewarning, was perhaps the most remarkable aspect about it. Again, much of the world seemed to take heart in these events, which were generally seen as good. The Soviet Union, under Gorbachev, was trying to reform, with the key words of glastnost and perestroika, and the world seemed a little bit better than it had been. There was reason to be a bit more optimistic, to look to the future with a bit of a more hopeful outlook than what had been available prior.

Now, I have mentioned here that there were two issues back then that I felt the United States was getting wrong, and needed to get right in order to be a better nation. Those two issues were climate change, which seemed to me a no-brainer, and installing some form of a universal, affordable healthcare system, what we now commonly would refer to as a single-payer healthcare system. It seemed to my young mind that the country would just be so much better right off the bat if it got these two critical areas right. But a quarter of a century has passed since I graduated from high school, and the United States is still getting those two issues wrong.

Back then, as I was graduating high school, I was also excited about the presidential election. It was going to be the first election that I was going to participate in, and it felt different than watching it from the sidelines before. At that point, my rather unsophisticated outlook on politics had it that Democrats were basically good and right on the issues, Republicans were devious and generally untrustworthy and wrong on the issues, and that the country would be just so much better off if they voted Democratic. 

Initially, my support went for Tom Harkin, from Iowa. He seemed to have integrity, wisdom, and was down to earth, in a midwestern kind of a way. He did not win the nomination, and indeed, did not even come close. The man who eventually did win was one that I was less than thrilled with, Bill Clinton. At that point, he had received the nickname "Slick Willie," and it was with good reason.

Truth be told, I do not remember having heard of Bill Clinton before his 1992 presidential run, and did not know much about him. But the little that I did know made about him made me skeptical. He was a little too perfect in terms of having every word and every hair in place. He spoke with sotto voce, and Saturday Night Live's portrayal of him as a womanizing phony was pretty much spot on. Suddenly, everyone was speaking in that phony, soft, sensitive tone and saying, "I feel your pain." This was a guy who had earned the nickname "Slick Willie," for God's sake! How trustworthy could be?

However, he was a Democrat. And even though I was less than thrilled when he secured the nomination, I identified as a Democrat, and so threw my enthusiastic support behind him. His acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was really incredible and inspiring, and was the first real glimpse that I got of how powerful a public speaker he could be. What better ending to a speech could there be then when he assured us that he still believed in a place called Hope?

Still, the Democrats had lost three presidential elections in a row, which essentially spanned all of my own formative years as a child. I grew not knowing anyone in charge but President Ronald Reagan. Being so young, four years, let alone eight years, seemed like an eternity. And it had felt like Reagan was there forever, and also as if he was untouchable. Whatever that guy did was quickly forgiven and forgotten by the American people, who clearly adored him. Those eight years were followed by four years of George H. W. Bush, who's own popularity soared following the first Gulf war. It seemed that he was as untouchable as Reagan was.

Which is why it came as a surprise that Clinton seemed so much more effective than the preceding Democrats had been. His campaign came up with the slogan, "It's the economy, stupid." At times, he seemed to toy with Bush, and he put him to shame during the debates. I remember one point, where Clinton addressed Bush specifically, and he essentially stared him down while making whatever point he was making, and I was hooked! This guy could really win! He actually had a shot! And he was a Democrat! Will wonders never cease?

Low and behold, Clinton defeated Bush, and was elected to be the 42nd President of the United States. It felt like a new age had begun, and Democrats were not only at the table, but in the highest places of power. They had won the presidency and Congress that election year of 1992. Plus, I was in college, and meeting all new and interesting people from the world over. The music scene was exploding. To my young mind, it felt like anything was possible!

When he was inaugurated, he once again delivered a wonderful speech. It felt like "We force the spring" was my generation's answer to "Let the word go forth." I was less than thrilled that Tipper Gore, the founder of the Parents Music Resource Center, was in such a prominent position, but at least her husband, Vice-President Al Gore was an environmentalist, so surely things would finally get done.  And Clinton would begin to set things straight. He sounded strong on serious healthcare reform, and it seemed that the nation was finally going in a new and more hopeful direction.

Then came the scandals and the failures and the letdowns. Clinton began to back down from fights on important issues, time and time again. Nothing was getting done on the environment, and Clinton was no longer such a new president. The economy started getting better, but by 1994, it was clear that the Republicans had wrestled momentum away from the Democrats. Clinton seemed to know what to do politically, and he grew more conservative. In fact, he had seemed surprisingly, even alarmingly, conservative, especially for a Democrat. Once again, I began to view him with skepticism, and it had nothing to do with his alleged affairs or, later on, getting a blowjob from Monica Lewinsky.

Clinton was sometimes referred to as "Republican lite," and that was less than thrilling to me. He backed down on key issues, especially healthcare reform, and his inaction on the environment was depressing. Sure, he could still talk the good talk, but he could not back that up with substance. Almost everything that he spoke of, in terms of his achievements, he made to sound like a glowing report, as if America was going through some kind of a renaissance. In reality, things were a lot less sparkly, and Clinton was not as remarkably accomplished as he tried to get everyone to believe. Indeed, we are finding out more and more as time passes just how much his politics resembled those of a neocon. This was the guy who started the for profit prison system, that is such a mess these days. This guy cast doubts upon both immigrants and welfare recipients. He bombed countries that most Americans could not find on a map, or pronounce correctly. Again, he backed down on significant healthcare reform and climate change action. And, as you can read about by clicking the link below, he helped to set up the climate of skepticism towards teachers and helped to prepare the way for the uniform standardized tests that have become all the rage, yet which are failing to give our kids adequate education, let alone exceptional education.

Unfortunately, Clinton was perceived by Democrats as a winner. This was understandable to some degree, as Democrats had grown rather used to being the whipping boys of the Republicans since the days of Reagan. No Democrat since the days of FDR and Truman had served two straight terms (remember, Johnson was in for a little more than a year of what had been Kennedy's term in office before the assassination). And so, Democrats felt that the "Republican lite" approach by Clinton was the correct one, the one that could get them in power, and keep them there, even though it compromised their more traditionally progressive beliefs. More and more Democrats seemed to join the Clinton camp. Even President Obama, who had seemed quite progressive during the campaign, seemed to become another version of Bill Clinton once he was actually in office.

And, of course, we had another Clinton running last year, and the perception among mainstream Democrats was that only she offered the Democrats a real chance at winning a third straight presidential term, even though, in fact, polls strongly suggested exactly the opposite. So, you get her starting to be in trouble, then asking the Democratic leadership for help that everyone knew they were not free to give her, but they gave it to her, anyway. Sanders warned everyone that she was a weak candidate, and quickly losing steam, but they thought he was a quack for suggesting that. But, of course, they all acted shocked - Shocked! - when the inevitable happened, and Trump defeated Clinton, just as the polls had suggested he would when she first secured the nomination.

Frankly, it brings to mind that famous quote from Harry Truman, spoken over half a century ago, yet perhaps even more relevant not than ever:

"If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time..."

Democrats never seem to learn. And they compromised their to win elections, which also meant that they sold themselves to special interests in order to either get elected or to stay in power and compete with Republicans. Only now, sometimes, the differences between the two seem negligible, and the two parties too often feel like two wings of the same party, because they agree with each on way too much stuff!

Perhaps the saddest thing about all of this is that our kids, our future generations, are already being adversely affected, as the quality of their education is being compromised, time and time and time again. To better understand how this came about, and how we got to the point now of having Betsy DeVos in charge, please click on the link below and read this fascinating article:

Don’t Like Betsy DeVos? Blame the Democrats.  BY DIANE RAVITCH May 23, 2017:


  1. As you’ve illustrated here, the Democrats are paying for their cynicism and disingenuousness, because as it turns out you can’t actually be all things to all people, hard as they may try. If they were to demonstrate a clear, unambiguous, unapologetic and sustained commitment to the disenfranchised and marginalized in this country, and of course environmental protection, it would energize and inspire progressives. While it would be more than a bit naïve to assume that this would enable them to repeatedly triumph on Election Day, progressives would at least know that the Democrats are a party with an earnest devotion to the things near and dear to their hearts, and the wherewithal to make at least some of them happen. Instead, they’ve essentially paid lip service to progressive causes while championing policies that benefit the military-industrial complex Eisenhower unsuccessfully tried to warn us about. To their baffled horror, an ever-growing number of voters find their duplicity more than a little stale, as it has substantially contributed to the increasingly resigned and morose mood in this country.

    Matt Taibbi puts it fairly succinctly in his aptly titled article, “The Democrats Need a New Message”: “The Democrats are now hovering around 40 percent, just a hair over the Trump-tarnished Republicans, at 39 percent. Similar surveys have shown that despite the near daily barrage of news stories pegging the president as a bumbling incompetent in the employ of a hostile foreign power, Trump, incredibly, would still beat Hillary Clinton in a rematch today, and perhaps even by a larger margin than before.”

    Any decade now, the Democrats will put two and two together and figure it out. Or not.

  2. Given recent attitudes by mainstream Democrats, such as Howard Dean (who I really can't stand anymore), and Chuck Schumer, the Obamas and the Clintons, and the countless others who enable them to "lead" the Democrats, it certainly does not appear that they have learned one damn thing from the rise of Trump. But, while paying lip service to environmental csuses, they certainly seem to enjoy the green of the big money coming from the military industrial complex, as well as Wall Street and the healthcare industry and big pharamaceuticals (and some pro-NRA people thrown into the mix), it clearly illustrates that the Democrats are effectively bought and sold, and rely on the big money coming from the festering corruption that has eroded our political system to the point of destroying it. What is their incentive for changing a system that they profit so greatly from both professionally and personally? The Democrats are probably where Republicans should be, while the Republicans are off the charts with their level of corruption and straight up ignorance and extremity. Personally, I have no great faith in the Democrats as a whole anymore, and feel that we need a third party, or some kind of other option, because as rich and powerful as the Democrats have become, is as impoverished as they now are politically as serious agents for change and championing the poor, the workers and the middle class. Or, maybe we have to figure out some way to make helping the masses profitable, and both parties will come swarming en masse. If there was a way to make peace profitable, we might have world peace within a day or two.

  3. Exactly. Lots of people who tend to vote Democrat rightfully take Republicans to task for their corruption and venality, while turning a blind eye to the same things within their own ranks. How many empty promises and patronizing, well-rehearsed fake empathy can people hear without finally saying "I call bullshit"? Things may slowly be reaching a turning point, inasmuch as conventional, middle-of-the-road, "establishment" candidates took a walloping this time around – just ask Jeb and Hillary. Of course, human nature being what it is, they voted for someone who, to put it very euphemistically, doesn't exactly constitute a dramatic improvement over either of them. That's at least partly attributable to Bill Maher's quip about how the Republicans are the party of bad ideas, while the Democrats are the party of no ideas. Which therefore makes it so pathetic that the latter are looking everywhere but inwards to explain their recent woes. Here's more from that Taibbi article:
    "If you look in the press for explanations for news items like this, you will find a lot of them. Democrats may have some difficulty winning elections, but they've become quite adept at explaining their losses.
    According to legend, Democrats lose because of media bias, because of racism, because of gerrymandering, because of James Comey and because of Russia (an amazing 59 percent of Democrats still believe Russians hacked vote totals).
    Third-party candidates are said to be another implacable obstacle to Democratic success, as is unhelpful dissension within the Democrats' own ranks. There have even been whispers that last year's presidential loss was Obama's fault, because he didn't campaign hard enough for Clinton.”