The Democrats are making news after being sworn into the 116th Congress as the majority party in the House of Representatives. The media give great attention to the increase in the numbers of women, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Muslim members, and of course Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The first ever Palestinian-American member made news by calling president Trump a “motherfucker.” But as a character on an old television commercial asked, “Where’s the beef?”
Nancy Pelosi is up to her old tricks, this time with the Pay Go provision which prevents Democrats from spending more money than the government takes in. But only three members, Ocasio-Cortez, Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard, voted against the rule which included the Pay Go provision. The rest went along to get along, as Democrats move ever further to the right in order to please their corporate donors and the unlikely plan of getting Republican votes.
At the midway point of the Trump presidency, the Democrats have nothing to show in the way of meaningful resistance. The Women’s March has been exposed as a fraudulent get-out-the-vote effort that was dispatched soon after the mid-term election. Now the Democrats have been reduced to using curse words in what passes for opposition to Donald Trump.
Trump’s shutdown of the government in the dispute over the border wall is an opportunity for the Democrats to show their mettle. But they can’t fight what they never really opposed. They may call it a fence or a barrier or some other euphemistic term but they have voted to support the same thing over the years. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama requested and got funding for border walls in the past. They are boxed in by their own past misdeeds and now present nothing but acquiescence to right-wing tropes and call themselves a resistance force.
The Democrats are terrified of mobilizing the people they claim to represent. There are many issues they could champion that would win them votes, everything from Medicare for All to debt forgiveness of college loans. But their donors won’t give them money if they fight for those causes, so instead of policy we get justification for cursing.
The government shutdown is an opportunity to fight for the rights of thousands of people who are going without paychecks and for everyone who needs government services. But connecting with the voters is the last thing that Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer want to do. Parliamentary procedures and a final face save for Trump will bring the impasse to an end. But there is still no plan for a true fight-back that would give the people what they want and bring Democrats easy victories.
The farcical opposition is carried out with the connivance of corporate media who made a show of debating whether to broadcast Trump’s speech on the issue of the border wall. Of course a presidential speech is broadcast live. That is always the case. But histrionics are no substitute for policy changes that the Democrats refuse to make. The Democrats don’t intend to offer anything new. Endless war and austerity are the only items always on their menu.
Their actions at the start of the 2020 presidential election prove the falseness of their efforts. The race has barely begun and they are already rigging public opinion against Bernie Sanders. Their opinion polls omit his name, negative stories suddenly resurface, and Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke are presented as party saviors. The more right wing the policies presented, the more praise they lavish.
The spontaneous expression of voter dismay after the Trump election was never put to good use. While a majority of Americans want an end to Trump, the party that is supposed to fight against him depends on sleights of hand and barely concealed contempt for its voters. Democrats should have won the House and the Senate too. Trump ought to be on the ropes because of an organization and mobilization, not because of his cringe worthy words and deeds.
“We aren’t Trump” was supposed to win the day back in 2016 but that weak excuse for a political platform made Democrats the losers. They continue in that same vein with Russiagate thrown in for good measure and hope these tricks are enough to bring victory. But they aren’t, and a second Trump term or a win for another Republican are plausible scenarios in November 2020.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.