Progressives: Time to break up with the Democratic party

President Bill Clinton

SANTA CRUZ, March 18, 2014 — For American progressives during election years, there exists a presumption that they will faithfully attach themselves to the Democratic Party. There are several reasons for this: sloth, apathy, lack of knowledge of their actual options, and, of course, the most odious reason: to block or otherwise prevent a Republican from winning. For their allegiance to the Democrats, progressives are sacrificing many of their ideals, and rewarding a party which has spent the better part of three decades subtlety betraying them.

When a progressive dares to break ranks, they are often derided. When the logical reasoning is given that one ought to vote their conscience, rather than for a watered down version of what they believe, the Democratic hanger ons will shake their heads like a child trying to wish away an inconvenient fact. If the best reason to vote for a particular party is solely to prevent another one from winning, then it is time to revisit the entire concept of voting in the first place.

In defense of the Democrats, there are still millions of Americans who may honestly prefer the more moderate, centrist tendencies of the current party. They believe in financial regulation, government services, and a woman’s right to choose, tentpoles of the Democratic party for years, but they are leery of the more progressive, left-leaning postulations of parties like the Greens. For these voters, playing it safe is the prudent path to take, and, above all, they are absolutely terrified of Republican victories at any level. They believe that, even though the progressive ideologies which once powered the Democratic party have steadily eroded, a diluted platform is still preferable to Republican one. They may have a point.

The problem with this approach is that, if true progressives continue settling for a Democratic party which keeps moving to the right, they will soon be out of options altogether. Thousands of people who have voted Democrat in the last several elections would do well to recognize what they have given up, as well as the deeper peril they are perpetuating. Progressive values are now better represented by the Green party, and if one is a true progressive, that is how they ought to vote, regardless of whether they can realistically win or not.

When questioned about the decision to jump ship and go Green, one could bring up two pieces of legislation which explain the modern Democratic party’s shift toward a Libertarian, laissez-faire attitude. The first is the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act (1999), which broke down the separation between commercial and investment banking. The legislation, overseen by President Clinton, fostered an environment by which financial speculators and commercial banks, free of federal regulation, could cause the recession of 2008. This happened on the watch and with the blessing of of a Democratic President.

Clinton also signed the Telecommunications Act (1996), which handed over America’s systems of communication, built at public expense, to a small cadre of billionaires. The legislation dealt a fatal blow to free press in the United States, ensuring that so-called news networks would become little more than 24 hour advertising for a pro-business agenda.

As a progressive, there are many things to like about President Obama, but many more to dislike. A strong, viable, progressive electoral voice is long overdue, and parties like the Greens are ready to step up to the plate and represent true progressives. Settling for a weak Democratic party which has been retreating from progressive ideals for decades is not the answer. The next time somebody assumes you will be voting Democrat, simply because you are a progressive, let them know that you have found a party which actually embodies your ideals, rather than one which blindly assumes your allegiance while doing less and less to represent you.


Russ Rankin writes about hockey, music & politics. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He also sings for Good Riddance and Only Crime. Find out what he’s up to by checking out his website.

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  • macwhirr

    I think that Bill Clinton is being saddled, somewhat unfairly, with the responsibility for the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Clinton had voiced some important progressive intentions, particularly his call for a world-wide “new financial architecture,” at which point the blowjob scandal was unleashed, and the more regressive elements in his administration, particularly Gore, Summers, and Albright, took advantage of Clinton’s vulnerability to push their agenda.

    I also take exception to your statement that “there are many things to like about President Obama.” Obama has always been a test-tube creation of Wall Street.

  • The crash was caused by failed Progressive policies relating to the mortgage industry. The Democrats used mortgage policy to try and affect social change and it literally led to worldwide economic disaster. Failed Progressive policies have also brought us Obamacare (courtesy of a fascist-progressive president). I agree with the author, Progressives should definitely go Green…we have some Rinos you can take with you.

    • Chris Gustin

      How can the President be both fascist (right-wing) and progressive (left-wing)?

  • acmaurer

    You think the Democratic Party is moving RIGHT? Seriously?

    • Chris Gustin

      It’s moved far to the right. They have abandoned support for unions, have just stood by while Republicans have demolished civil rights and worsened the concentration of wealth at the top. There were no repercussions to banks or bankers when they crashed the economy, etc, etc, etc.

      • acmaurer

        I don’t disagree with your facts–except the union bit–but rather with your conclusion.
        The support for bankers and the wealthy is indeed the very definition of fascism. Fascism is a left wing ideology.

        • Chris

          Sorry, but fascism is very much a right-wing system.

          From the Oxford Dictionary:

          Syllabification: fas·cism
          Pronunciation: /ˈfaSHˌizəm
          (also Fascism)

          1. An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
          1.1. (In general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice. The term Fascism was first used of the totalitarian right-wing nationalist regime of Mussolini in Italy (1922–43), and the regimes of the Nazis in Germany and Franco in Spain were also fascist. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach

          • acmaurer

            Scholarship at Oxford isn’t what it used to be.
            The definition confuses “national socialism” (Nazi, for short) with Mussolini’s fascism. Nazism is a nationalistic form of socialism, as opposed to the internationalist aspect of the Marxist socialists. Mussolini broke with the internationalists–yes, he was another socialist–and formed what he first called “corporatism”– the nexus of big government, big business, and big labor. He later coined the term fascism from the ancient Roman word “fasces” which refers to a Roman symbol of power.
            Fascism is collectivist and authoritarian and born from socialist roots. The Oxford definition needlessly and confusingly throws in the term “right-wing” twice. It’s meaningless. Read it without those two instances and it’s otherwise not too bad.
            Note also the “contempt for democracy”.
            The real distinction is between liberty and tyranny; between individual freedom and government power. Left and right are pretty meaningless terms invented by the socialists to distinguish between themselves.
            Now consider today’s “Democratic” Party. Big unions, big business, and big government. Contempt for our democratic institutions.