Saturday, May 05, 2018

Democracy is Dangerous to the Powerful


truthdig |  Let’s face it: Democracy is dangerous to the powerful who rely on big money, institutional leverage and mass media to work their will. The insurgencies of this decade against economic injustice—embodied in the Occupy movement and then Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign—are potentially dire threats to the established unjust order.

For those determined to retain their positions in the upper reaches of the Democratic Party hierarchy, democracy within the party sounds truly scary. And inauthenticity of the party—and its corresponding heavy losses of seats from state legislatures to Capitol Hill during the last 10 years—don’t seem nearly as worrisome to Democratic elites as the prospect that upsurges of grass-roots activities might remove them from their privileged quarters.

As Sanders told a New York Times Magazine reporter in early 2017: “Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.”

Twenty-five years ago, the so-called New Democrats were triumphant. Today, their political heirs are eager to prevent the Democratic Party from living up to its name. At stake is whether democracy will have a chance to function.

A fundamental battle for democracy is in progress—a conflict over whether to reduce the number of superdelegates to the party’s national convention in 2020, or maybe even eliminate them entirely. That struggle is set to reach a threshold at a party committee meeting next week and then be decided by the full Democratic National Committee before the end of this summer.

To understand the Democratic Party’s current internal battle lines and what’s at stake, it’s important to know how we got here.