Right now, I think that it is fair to say that the United States is going decidedly in the wrong direction. There are two major parties, and the the Democratic party is the lesser of two evils. But they are lesser in several ways, including election results, where they have grown accustomed to getting their butts handed to them time and time and time again in successive elections. Dating back to Reagan's landslide victory in 1980, they scored huge successes in 1984 (Reagan won all but one state then), 1988, 1994 (non-presidential), 2000, 2002, 2004, 2010 (non-presidential), 2014, and most recently, of course, in 2016, where they secured more power than they had enjoyed in the better part of a century, dating back to 1928. Of course, someone familiar with history would point out that 1928 was the year before the Great Depression, and the Republicans championed the same economic philosophy then that they do now. Having been in power for the last great economic downturn in 2008, during the so-called Great Recession, you can suggest with legitimacy that Republicans are largely responsible for the two biggest economic crises that this country has faced in the last 100 years, yet still, somehow, Americans convince themselves that they have the answer. Trickle-down economics is bound to work, apparently. Any day, now.
Of course, it takes a special kind of party to keep losing to that, and the Democrats keep stepping up, just like Charlie Brown when he is sure that this is the time that he will finally kick that football, before Lucy pulls it away from him again. The Democrats grew tired of losing during the Reagan/Bush years, and so they began to take a simple philosophy that we all know - "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
Indeed, the Democrats joined the Republicans and grew more conservative politically, and more corrupt realistically. Before too long, both major parties were all about the big money coming in, and serving the special interests that fueled this cash machine. By copying the Republicans, Democrats abandoned their roots, and forgot how crucial it was to stand up for workers and average Americans. They won some elections, breaking through in 1992 with Bill Clinton, who came to be known as "Republican lite." He won re-election again in 1996, although he had to deal with a Republican majority in Congress. Then, the Democrats broke through in 2006 and especially in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama to the White House, although Republicans still retained a majority in the House, and in the Supreme Court. In 2012, Obama won re-election like Clinton did 16 years earlier, although just like Clinton, he also had to deal with a Republican controlled Congress. And now, of course, the Republicans control everything.
Why? Because the Democrats keep seeing Republicans succeed, and instead of offering something truly different, a viable alternative, they offer instead a watered down version of what Republicans are offering. That translates to major losses in certain elections, such as we saw last year, or like we saw some other years, too, such as in 1994, in 2002, in 2004, in 2010, and in 2014.
The Democrats as an opposition party just are not working, and on several levels. Yes, they lose elections, because they pretend to be Republicans, and Truman was right when he said that people will choose the genuine article of Republicans over imitation Republicans. But also, when a Democrat does break through, even when he has a Democratic majority in Congress, like Clinton did after the 1992 elections, and like Obama did in the Senate after the 2008 elections, they still pursue very conservative, elitist economic policies. They try to cater to the progressive base by paying lip service, and then they offer a watered down version of the Republican economic platform, and in the process, they please no one. I think what we saw last year was indicative of just how sick and tired people are of the Democrats imitating Republicans, more than a confirmation of just how great Republican policies and their overall economic approach have been.
The biggest problem with pretending to be Republicans is not that it suggests that the Democrats lack originality, although they clearly do, and seem to have run out of ideas and energy to pursue a different vision for the country. No, the biggest problem is that they are imitating Republican because they envy the results that the Republicans more consistently get, in terms of winning elections. They probably could have won more elections if they simply ran by offering and representing a serious alternative to Republican policies, but instead, they seem to envy Republicans to the point that they sometimes outdo one another to show that they are not the lefty Democrats of old. They try to have it both ways, in other words, by trying to illustrate that they offer something truly different, while simultaneously, and paradoxically, being too scared to actually, truly offer something different, and worth pursuing. Voters sense this, and are turned off, and at no point was this as obvious as in 2016.
Why? Because Donald Trump was, quite frankly, a pathetic candidate. Truly pathetic. This was a racist, misogynist, xenophobic candidate with absolutely no political experience. He sounded downright stupid at times (often times, I would suggest), and he showed a decisive lack of class, character, and dignity every time that he opened his mouth. It took a truly ridiculous set of circumstances for the Democrats to lose to that, and yet somehow, they managed. Indeed, the Democrats have grown so used to losing on every level, that they managed to field an even more hated and distrusted candidate than Trump, and they did it by cheating, because they were too scared that the "lefty" candidate who was on the verge of upsetting Clinton in the primaries seemed to be too big of a risk for them. The polls all suggested that Sanders would have beaten Trump, and Clinton was bound to lose, yet the mainstream Democrats were convinced that she as their only hope.
We all know what happened next, don't we?
You have to wonder why the Democrats never learn. Perhaps indeed it might have been beneficial in 1992 for the Democrats to field a pseudo-conservative candidate for the White House, and the results proved that he won. However, the problem is that he helped push the neocon, pro-corporate, elitist policies that Republicans had been pushing for the previous 12 years, and he essentially advanced that agenda. When he was succeeded by Bush, an even more extreme version of that elitism followed, and the country very nearly went bankrupt, after pursuing trickle-down economics for the better part of three decades.
So what happened after that? Of course, people were sick and tired of the Republicans in 2008, and they were voted out. Yet, the Democrats were still too afraid to make a clean break from pursuing watered-down versions of Republican policies. Or, perhaps they were too corrupt. Either way, Obama essentially kept so many of his successor's policies during his first term, that many people viewed it as essentially a third Bush term.
This just illustrates further that the Democrats have yet to learn what a growing number of Americans, and even people around the world, are beginning to understand: that the ideology that Republicans offer is not worth spit. They are overly concerned with the wealthy, and are so busy promoting an elitist agenda, and pocketing the profits to be had with all of the big money politics, that they have lost all semblance of control. Just look at what is going on right now with this ridiculous healthcare bill that a select few Republican senators are trying to craft in secret. They wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare, and they set a goal of so going before the 4th of July break. So, they took the House healthcare bill, which President Trump himself even described as "mean," and they are trying to make it more politically viable, since that version would not pass the Senate as is. But they are still using that healthcare plan as the basis of their modified version, although that version deserved to be scrapped altogether. It was going to raise the price of medical care for many Americans, especially for senior citizens and those who are not wealthy, while it would also force an estimated 23 million people to lose their healthcare. Now, with an issue that obviously affects the vast majority of Americans, these elitist Republicans are trying to create a modified version in secret, keeping it from not only from the American public, and also the Democrats, but even members of their own party in the Senate!
Indeed, while the rest of the world, and a growing number of Americans, are starting to get fed up with the United States being the sole developed nation to fail to provide it's people with a universal, affordable healthcare plan, the Republicans are trying to make healthcare even more elitist and unfair! And that is the Republican way. They simply do not give a crap about anything but the interests of the very wealthy, and of powerful corporations, and of their own self-interest. To those ends, they fight against alternative energy and deny the science of climate change, and often even evolution. They keep promoting cuts to government programs that assist those in need, while expanding the corporate welfare system currently in place.
I think it is time to be blunt now, and state what should be obvious: much of what the Republicans are pushing is downright evil! No kidding, they represent the very worst "values in the United States today, and the have for years. Still, the rise of Donald Trump as the name and face and voice of the suddenly acquiescent Republican party suggests that this embrace of an absence of values is total and complete. Just last year, prominent Republicans like Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio were calling Trump a con man. Now, they have embraced him as their president, their leader. They have stopped pretending that they stand for superior ethics or values, and have predictably gone with what really matters in America ever since the days of Ronald Reagan: being perceived as winners. The problem with the United States today, more than anything, is that it subscribes to the political equivalent of "winner takes all," and Republicans have thus sold their souls to the Devil to be on the winning side of this moment.
What's worse, the mainstream Democrats are still trying to be the new Republicans! That means that for all their vocal opposition to President Trump, their alternative is hardly much different. Maybe Trump and Obama differed in style, and one some substantive issues. But the differences are not nearly as great as mainstream Democrats would want people to believe. After all, Obamacare still has some glaring deficiencies and inequalities that it fails to address, and Obama's signing of the Paris Accord was reserved, and his commitment to combatting climate change was limited, and far less than that of countries in Europe and Asia, among others. President Obama retained many of Bush's tax cuts that benefited the rich, and was not at all an enemy or a threat to Wall Street. Remember, Obama viewed Reagan as a successful model president, and proved to be far from the seeming progressing that he campaigned as in 2008 as a candidate. Bill Clinton was even worse, and Hillary Clinton only adopted a more progressive agenda when she was forced to, when a figurative political gun was held to her head. Plus, she never seemed to be sold on those ideas, which I personally feel was a large part of the reason why she never was able to sell real progressives on her sincerity, which at least contributed to her loss in November.
Now, on the surface of it, all of this would seem very grim, but there is a silver lining in all of this. Really for the first time, progressives have had enough, and are standing up against Trump. Apparently, they have some standards, and someone as pathetic as Trump finally got people recognizing that there is a very large and glaringly obvious problem in this country. And so, finally, we have serious resistance to a Republican president. He is being challenged so far on everything, from healthcare (and what a disaster the Republican bill is proving to be!) to climate change, where states and cities and businesses are going ahead and pledging to remain committed to the Paris Accord, regardless of the wishes of the Trump White House. There are so-called sanctuary cities that are refusing to cooperate with ICE in their efforts to carry out President Trump's wishes in identifying and ultimately deporting illegal immigrants. Their is more vocal and visual opposition to Trump and everything that he stands for than with any previous president in history, right from his first day in office.
All of this is necessary. There is an expression that necessity is the mother of invention, and all of this strong opposition is necessary. A country that elects a man like Trump to the White House has gone to far in it's moral and intellectual bankruptcy, and so this kind of opposition is indeed necessary.
What we need now is to finish the deal. The mainstream Democrats have made it clear that they have not learned their lesson, and are prepared to offer pro-corporate candidates - Republican wanna be's, in other words - for upcoming elections. There is more attention than ever before to the struggle taking place right now within the Democratic party, as a strong progressive surge is still predictably being suppressed by the mainstreamers. I will suggest that what we need is another viable option, and that the Democrats are not it. There are too many of them committed to the idea of business and politics as usual, and these people still believe that Hillary Clinton and other Clinton clones are the only viable option to Trump and the Republicans. So, we need another party to represent true progressive values, and not simply to sell out to the highest bidder in order to win elections for people not named Trump, and not on the Republican ticket.
I am not a fan of political parties. Frankly, I think that we would be better off with individuals standing on their own ideas and experiences, rather than joining parties that will automatically force them to compromise their values to tow the party line. But knowing that this does not seem realistic in the foreseeable future, what we need, then, is a new major political party to not only take on what seems increasingly to be an outright evil Republican party, but to take on a wishy-washy and acquiescent Democratic party, as well.