Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Vote Blue No Matter Who’ ignores the fact that not all Democrats are the same

Viewpoint perpetuates systemic inequality
Mark Dillman/Flickr

Neoliberal politics are ingrained in our political system and have become a stain on the Democratic party, preventing much-needed progressive reform. In the two-party system in which we live, the parties are two sides of the same coin. While the parties differ in areas like healthcare reform, LGBTQIA+ rights and climate change, they together perpetuate the interests of the capitalist class and corporations over those of everyday people, Democrats included.

The mantra “Vote Blue No Matter Who” reinforces party polarization and institutional inequality. It gives a platform to Democratic candidates who adorn the facade of the working-class representative, all the while accepting corporate PAC money and supporting policies that perpetuate rampant economic and social inequality. Many see capitalism as a framework in need of slight adjustments, but this is insufficient in practice. Voters need to look beyond the tagline of the “blue wave,” as many Democratic candidates wear the name of the party and yet contribute to the underlying systems of oppression by advocating against universal healthcare, believing that United States Immigrants and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cannot be abolished and more.

A frequent response to the rise of President Trump is often a visceral disgust for leftists who champion radical social change. However, Trump came to power in response to establishment backlash, a sentiment that corporate Democrats continue to ignore. They contribute to the system in which we as citizens are forced to choose the lesser of two evils. The conversation needs to be reframed. Democrats need to accept that the political landscape from which they received their clout is evolving; if growing progressive voices are left behind, the Democratic party will continue to lose elections.

When voting for candidates on Election Day, we need to examine more than simply their political party. If Democratic candidates do not support progressive policies such as free public higher education, housing as a human right, criminal justice reform, prison abolition and the expansion of the social safety net, they do not truly advocate for the erasure of systems of oppression and economic inequality. If they do not support massive taxation increases on those at the top to combat rising wealth inequality, they are little different than those on the right who openly support corporate interests over those of people. If they parley with lobbyists and wealthy donors, legislation that affects the lives of everyday people is bought and sold. Until Democrats address this massive rift in the party and accept necessary political change – although their level of privilege may not allow them to understand the institutional changes necessary to best support marginalized communities and to eradicate predatory capitalism – there will be no progress.

Former President Barack Obama, for one, bailed out the banks in 2008. This placed the weight of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 onto the borrowers and the working class, rather than onto creditors. In this same stroke, Wall Street executives were not held accountable for their role in the housing market collapse.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives, has publicly stated that she is not in support of single-payer healthcare, but rather believes in reforms to the Affordable Care Act. This flies contrary to progressive messaging and the energy of the party, limiting reforms which could provide more equitable healthcare access.

Joe Biden, the former Vice President of the United States, and whose ideals are masked in hero worship by those who see him as Obama’s funny friend, does not believe in a universal basic income nor the financial accountability of corporations. He brands himself as an “anti-populist” amidst increasing party polarization – continuing to act contrary to the interests of the working class and lower-income populations.

In the past month, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, in a decision that has the potential to change the landscape of the Supreme Court for decades to come. Manchin was the sole Democrat to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, spurred by the prior choice of Collins to affirm the nominee. This is reflective of centrist political games and exemplifies the consequences of relying on Democrats such as Manchin in crucial votes.

These examples are only some of many that emphasize the distinctions between corporate Democrats and progressives within the party, under the idea that not all Democrats are the same. It was this that fostered a victory by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Joe Crowley, the long-term incumbent, in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District this past summer. Ocasio-Cortez ran on a campaign on social and economic justice, aiming to provide representation to those communities long left underrepresented in the fight for Medicare for all, tuition-free public college and more.

The aforementioned mantra, “Vote Blue No Matter Who,” ignores these inconsistencies in Democratic party, and the ways in which candidates who support corporate interests and centrist policies contribute to systemic inequality. They reinforce class inequality and prevent progressive change in resistance to a growing preference among young voters for socialism over capitalism. In this way, the idea perpetuates the power of the political party over the individual and paints all Democrats with the same brush. They need to be more than just the party against President Trump; they need to stand for both the empowerment and liberation of disadvantaged communities. To make this vision a reality, neoliberal Democrats must begin to recognize the effect of voting “D” down the ballot without further inspection. Many candidates mask themselves in the image of representation and reform and yet support institutional forces, such as the acceptance of corporate PAC donations, that perpetuate this very circumstance and give them a platform. Not all Democrats are the same.

Tim Scalona is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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    Ed Cutting, EdDNov 2, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    The Populist and Progressive Eras of the 1890’s and 1900’s were concurrent and are often co-mingled, but were distinctly different. Do not confuse the progressive wing of the Democratic Party with the larger populist era which we currently are in — Trump is also a populist..
    Likewise, do not confuse opposition to your progressive agenda with support for what the agenda purports to remedy — there are people on the right with equal good intent who believe that they have a better way of abating the same evils. Maybe they are wrong, maybe you are — but it doesn’t mean that their goals are inherently different from yours….

  • N

    NITZAKHONNov 1, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Socialism now. Because over 100 million dead in the 20th century wasn’t enough for us to learn.