The Only Sensible Choice for Populists is to Exit the Democratic Party

In 1995 and 1996, I managed the entertainment career of a new Nashville recording artist – a young woman I’ll call Brenda. She was beautiful, and multitalented, and even though she had been performing professionally for less than two years, her career was on the fast track to success. She was gregarious to a fault, and always fun to be around, but she exhibited one personality quirk that drove me crazy: she had a fanatical schoolgirl crush on Dwight Yoakam.

Any topic we discussed -- even conversations about financial and legal affairs -- ultimately ended up morphing into a long accolade about her undying love for the popular C & W artist.

And you can understand the frustration I felt if you can imagine that scenario being played out on a two-hour flight—both ways.

But one night, while enjoying a quiet dinner, I watched her enter the restaurant, look around and then stomp determinedly in my direction. She took the seat across the table, and said: “I need a drink.”

It was easy to see she was upset, but experience had taught me to remain silent until she was ready to unload. Like many artists, she enjoyed drama, and it would have been insensitive to “steal her thunder,” as she liked to say. She ordered a drink, and then slumped in the chair and said, “He looks like Benjamin Franklin.”



Dwight Yoakam?”

“Yeah, he has long hair, like you see in pictures, but up there,” she pointed to the top of her head, “he’s a complete cue-ball.”

In retrospect, I can say that moment was so vacuous it seems hardly worth mentioning, but she had invested so much emotionally in her fantasy it took several months for her to let go and then move on. And because those two months proved to be so difficult, our professional relationship came to an end, and the ending did not go well.

I share that story because in many ways it is analogous to what is happening to the Democratic Party. For many of us, the hope we had invested in Barrack Obama was very much like a “schoolgirl crush” because it was never based on reality. And now that our fantasy has been shattered, the ending is not going well.

Like most innocent victims of deceitful relationships, many Democrats are finding it difficult to let go and move on. Some believe the only pragmatic pathway is to retain our Democratic identity and then work within the party to enact change. Others believe the only hope is to join -- or start -- a third party…while too many others simply believe it doesn’t matter what choice we make because the game is stacked against us.

Kica Matos, of the Hill Congressional Blog, described her response to Obama’s duplicity this way:

“Today, the tears I shed are now tears of anger, sorrow and disappointment -- over lost hope, broken families and traumatized communities. I mourn a legacy that once seemed so promising.”

But oddly enough, it was Ralph Nadar who provided the most candid assessment of the widespread disillusionment that has been left in the wake of Obama’s presidency:

Public expectations have declined to the point where belief is spreading that a reversal of this downward spiral is impossible. The two parties have created a walled garden – they set their own rules, make their own laws, appoint their own judges and even brazenly force taxpayers to finance their extravagant quadrennial political conventions.

I was one of the first progressive bloggers to attack Obama for his duplicity, so the choice to walk away from the Democratic Party is an easy decision to make; and it isn’t appropriate for me to speak for other populists, but I would like to point out an inconvenient truth: Hillary Clinton’s anointment to serve as the Democratic presidential nominee, and Chuck Schumer’s embrocation to be Senate Minority Leader should serve as a sober reminder that populists have zero influence on the decision making process inside the Democratic Party. It has been that way from the moment Obama stepped into the White House, and it will continue to be that way through a “Hillary Clinton” presidency.

Read this news snippet from China and tell me how different the Democratic Party is from the Chinese Communist Party.

Seventeen years after taking control of Hong Kong, pledging universal suffrage for the territory, Beijing has made one-person one-vote meaningless by giving itself sole prerogative over choosing the candidates.

And remember when Occupy Central protesters in Hong Kong marched against Beijing’s decision to limit voter’s choices to pre-approved candidates? The protest that ensued was portrayed on Chinese television as a celebration of Communism – very much the same way DNC leaders spun the 2010 and 2014 midterm rout as a Democratic failure to inform voters of Obama’s greatest accomplishments.

Democratic members who believe the best decision for populists is to force Hillary to move left are blowing smoke in the wind. No matter what campaign promises she makes, she will ultimately enact policies approved by her corporate donors. That is the way the system works when a candidate’s main focus is on raising millions of dollars in campaign donations. Wall Street executives have already invested too much money in her candidacy to allow her to operate on a very long leash.

The only sensible choice I see for populists is to exit the Democratic Party; and then, the only question left to answer is: “Where do we go from here?”

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I barely tolerated bubba, but at least he had an excuse - for awhile. People were in still in love with Reagan and Alex Keating when he was in office so "he did what he could" [sic]. I never fell for Obama. Obama was one big fat lie - Elmer Gantry reincarnate preying on the naivete of America's youth and others old enough to know better.

I don't think there is any place to go from here - doomed, I tell ya. I think we have to wait until they kill their host - I.e., most of us if not planet earth. Maybe someone will survive and build something worthwhile from the ashes.

So I guess you can put me in the doesn't matter what we do pile. If anybody ever comes up with a better solution, I'm all ears.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

mimi's picture

Just read this article Hillary to Launch Campaign This Weekend With ‘Insane’ Fundraising Push and this one Is Ready for Hillary Ready to Fold—or Work With Candidate Clinton?

Aside from the too good to be true visuals for HRC in both articles, I just wonder. Is there anywhere a sign that candidates who rely on their Super-Duper PACs to win (and it seems that's the only mission here) would seriously fight for complete public campaign finance?

I don't see it and if there is one thing I would like to see in a candidate is the fight for a complete electoral college change and public campaign finance and fight against citizen united. I don't see that either and have given up on believing some petitions will do the trick.

If I were a voting US citizen, I wouldn't vote for the Democratic Party as it represents itself right now. Just don't trust anyone to be able to represent the changes I am waiting for, no matter how nice and smart (and tricky) they and their PR people talk about it.

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if the roles were reversed, and I lived in Germany...perhaps this will help:

All Americans are bat-shit crazy...

end of lesson.

Thanks for the nice compliment.

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Last week, I thought (for the first time ever) of actually changing my voting status and registering as an independent altogether. I cannot fucking vote for Hillary Clinton, ever, I just can't!

I'm with JayRaye in that the word "populist" doesn't necessarily describe our current predicament. I'd be cool with "labor" in there or "socialist" in there, whatever. I cannot help thinking of John Edwards when I hear the word "populist", which is immediately followed by images of batshit Rielle Hunter in some damn magazine.

On Dkos, I remember me, slinkerwink, and icebergslim simultaneously falling out of "love" with Barack Obama at the same time. I GBCWed over the fall-out. Your Brenda/Dwight Yoakam analogy is a good one, man. (Incidentally, I lived in Nashville in '95/'96 and attended Belmont University then. How interesting.)

Are you going to post this at the GOS? If so, when?

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I miss Colorado.

No, I'm through with the DKos.

I'm happy with this site...I think the administrators have built a good platform for uniting the malcontents of the Democratic Party...I'm no longer interested in persuading DNC leaders to stop their suicidal triangulating.

Nashville is an interesting place. I met a lot of nice people there...and if you're a member of "the family," which I wasn't, life can be great...I stayed in Franklin and thought it was a beautiful place to live.

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LapsedLawyer's picture

And if you saw any of the rollout today of HRC's campaign it was nauseating. John Oliver skewered it well on his show tonight (a brilliant show, btw, and if you don't have HBO, you're still in luck as HBO has put up a YouTube channel for the show. And if you need a sample, take this from last week:


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"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it."
-- John Lennon

mimi's picture

to watch everything I can through the internet ... Haven't done that job yet, but I guess that's the way it has to be done these days.

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