I come from a Democratic neighborhood in Brooklyn and never met an admitted Republican until I went away to college. My political mentor, my grandfather, warned me about trusting Democrats when I was too young to fully understand. He was a Russian socialist who emigrated to New York when he was still a teen. He loved FDR but had no use for the Democratic Party after that and considered himself a socialist who voted for Democrats as the lesser of two evils. Now you know where I get it from.
I can't imagine ever voting for a Republican but I more and more frequently refuse to vote for Democrats, something I think of as the prerogative of someone my age. I've had it with that shit party and, although I am a registered Democrat, I no longer consider myself a Democrat. About 3 years ago, former Columbus, Georgia mayor, Teresa Tomlinson (D), told me something about Democrats that I have repeated several times here, namely that "It’s fear that cripples the Democratic Party. Fear of our policies, fear of who we are, and fear of the Republicans. Yes, fear is what has politically cost us in the last many election cycles. One cannot lead if one is afraid. The thing about leadership is that people want their leaders to be brave. They care less about what you think on the issues than whether you have the moxie to fight for them and the strength of conviction to tell them what you really think."
She added that "That’s what the Right can’t stand about The Squad. Those women are fearless about their beliefs. They refuse to be bullied, and that is dangerous to the Republican playbook of shaming scared Democrats into milk toast, mealy-mouthed, baby-splitting positions that are equivocal and stand for nothing. American voters revile those who won’t tell the people what they think... The nation has had its share of politically lukewarm Democratic candidates-- structured by the national party for perceived winnability not leadership. Even if they had a tagline of-- 'Fighting for you'-- no one believed it."
Teresa's missive came back to me today as I was reading a recent post by Umair Haque about why grassroots Democrats feel betrayed by the Democratic Party leaders. He asked his younger sister's friends what they think of the party after the SCOTUS leak. They thought quite a bit-- and none of it what the Democrats in power would like them to think. When you look at their statements through the filter Tomlinson shared, it's a wonder that the Democrats get any votes at all. But that's primarily a product of how terrible the Republicans are.
This was from a young gay man: "It’s the total failure of leadership! The fact that they can’t get anything passed or done. They have accomplished nothing major. No student debt relief. No stimulus checks. They keep increasing military spending. They’ve continued f*cking up Covid. They’re just completely absent. They don’t know what to do with power. They have no clue how to use it and for what. And it’s because they don’t believe in the policies they won on. They’re in a holding pattern. Like you yell at them to do something they said they would and they go well you know we would but we can’t because the parliamentarian said so or because the Republicans are so bad or because we can’t do anything about Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema so we’re just going to sit here, twiddle our thumbs and shrug. Or they say nothing. I’m so pissed."
Is he right to be this mad? Context. This attack on rights-- putatively taking bodily autonomy away from women, but even more than that-- is probably the single greatest regressive move that’s happened in a rich country in modern history. That is how bad this is, and that’s just on its face. When the obvious implications are factored in? This is one of the greatest losses of rights in modern history, period, anywhere, full stop.
Americans understand this. And they are furious.
“The only people in America, apparently, who didn’t understand that this was coming-- a full blown removal of women’s autonomy? The Republicans knew, which is why they advanced crazy, authoritarian laws making people citizen-vigilante-informants well in advance. We all knew-- women, young people, old people, everyone. Everyone knew. Except, apparently, the Democrats.
They were, incredibly, caught flat-footed. Paralyzed. How did they not know this was coming? Are they idiots? Are they complicit? I don’t even know anymore! It’s crazy-making. I want to burn their party to the ground.”
That’s from a young woman who’s in policy. She understands very well the simple reality at work here. It couldn’t be any more absurd, really. It goes like this. The Republicans bent the rules to appoint an incredible cast of characters to…The Supreme Court. A religious nutcase literally a member of a cult which has Handmaids. An alleged multiple-times-over sexual predator. A coup-plotter.
And the Dems went along with this, pretending that these people weren’t going to do what they were obviously…going to do. Attack everyone else’s rights, beginning with women. Take those rights away. The Dems appear to have genuinely believed the lies that were told under oath, which is why they’re in disbelief that the painfully obvious has come to pass. Are they idiots? Who doesn’t get that religious nuts, sexual predators, and coup-plotters are going to attack everyone they can, not uphold democracy?
I'll come back to Umair in a moment. I just want to mention that Pelosi and her entire incompetent leadership team-- Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, Hakeem Jeffries, Pete Aguilar, Sean Patrick Maloney-- endorsed the last anti-Choice Democrat, Henry Cuellar, and the same week the SCOTUS leak occurred, Clyburn and Pelosi were down in Texas campaigning for him and against a young woman and progressive Choice advocate, Jessica Cisneros who is probably going to beat him. Is that tome-deaf or evil? What kind of a message does it send to people worrying about the Democrats' commitment to Choice? A few days later, as if that wasn't enough, Pelosi backed another Blue Dog reactionary, Kurt Schrader, the last Democrat left in teh House to have voted against raising the minimum wage. (He also voted against lowering the cost of prescription drugs, while taking massive bribes from Big PhRMA. And the Democrats wonder why people hate them and are abandoning them? (You can contribute to Cuellar's and Schrader's opponents, respectively Jessica Cisneros and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, here and to Pelosi's opponent, Shahid Buttar here.)
Umair went on emphasizing that "All this is anti-democratic in almost surreal sense. 70% of Americans are against what an illegitimate Supreme Court made of cranks and predators and religious nuts is forcing on them. Meanwhile, the Dems-- who are the governing party of the most powerful country on planet earth-- didn’t just believe the lies the cranks and predators and religious nuts told-- 'why, we’d never take anyone’s rights away!!'…now they’re sitting there holding their heads in disbelief and doing nothing. It’s insane. How…insane?"
“There is a feeling from women that the Dems have had 50 years to codify Roe into law, but have not because they wanted it to remain a bargaining chip. Something they could hang over women’s heads, and say, ‘you better vote for us, or they’ll get rid of it!’ Now that they’ve gotten rid of it, the Dems aren’t even fighting, they’re just handwringing, making excuses for it, and… asking for money. It’s incredible. 70% of Americans are against this. And the Dems are doing nothing.”
That’s from a young woman who’s a teacher. My brilliant friend Sarah Kendzior put it like this-- the only place she’s seen this stunning level of gullibility and inaction is in advanced kleptocracies, where democracy really is a sham. She’s right. It is totally, completely, utterly abnormal for an opposition party-- let alone a governing one-- to sit there yelling at you that they can’t do anything. That is a sign that democracy is not working: when even the side that’s supposed to be for the people is now fighting them. American democracy is made a sham and mockery of by this shambles-- and Americans are furious because they know it.
And the average American isn’t buying the Democratic Party loyalists’ and insiders’ excuses, either-- that a) nothing can be done, b) what they’re doing is good enough, and c) if they let the Republicans have this, then somehow, that’s smart politics. Nobody believes that anymore.
Here, read more reactions.
“Dem men’s reactions have been to urge people to vote in November. It makes me wonder whether this leak was a calculated attempt (or a convenient way) for the Dems to court votes. But many women’s responses have been, now that Roe is gone, why should we vote for a party that did nothing to secure its place in law?”
“People hate a traitor more than an enemy, and it is for this reason there is going to be an intense backlash against the Dems for, one, letting this happen (and yes they could have done plenty: ended the filibuster, expanded the SCOTUS, codified Roe, passed the effing ERA!), and two, for doing nothing after it happened. Why don’t they organise and fund a sustained protest outside the White House? A strike? ANYTHING?”
I think I like that one the best, because it’s straight to the point-- which is that the Dems should be going for the jugular right at this moment. There are so, so many things they could be doing. So many. They could be organising a national strike. Weeks of protest. A general strike. They could be expanding the court or passing the Equal Rights Amendment. Setting term limits on Justices, limiting their powers in numerous ways. They could even, for Pete’s sake, just be giving fiery speeches at the steps of the Supreme Court. See them doing any of that?
What they should be doing-- what a serious party would do, in any other country-- is simple, and lethal. What do you do when public officials are found to have lied under oath? For Supreme Court Justices, in particular, there is no graver violation than that. It is disqualifying. You impeach them for it. You remove them from office.
See the Dems doing that? Nope. They’re actually OK with fanatics like religious nuts, sexual predators, and coup-plotters lying under oath to the entire country, to history, to the world, to ascend to power-- so they can abuse it.
It’s as shocking as it is sickening. If lying under oath-- perjury-- isn’t grounds for immediate impeachment, then more or less all of democracy is rendered meaningless. Anyone can say anything under the auspices of a formal government procedure-- and it doesn’t matter. Witnesses can lie, Senators can, Presidents can-- nothing matters. And yet this is the precedent the Dems are OK with.
It is crazy. Like I said, I’ve never seen this anywhere else in the world that calls itself a democracy, even hardcore failed states, and as Sarah explained, the only other places she’s seen it is in kleptocracies where democracy really is a sham.
It’s so insane, bananas, over the top, I struggle to find an analogy. This is like asking a serial killer to slit your wrists because you can’t be bothered to lock the door. It’s like inviting a religious nut and a sexual predator to abuse your kids because, hey, they said they wouldn’t, but now that they are-- well, who can be bothered to stop it? Go right ahead!!
And it is having an effect. But not the one the Dems want. The Dems think people will now have to see them as saviours, come November-- an abusive frame of mind to begin with. They are wrong. Here, have some more reactions.
“So this is the first time I’ve seen the most diehard Democrats question their party and actually be critical of how they’ve behaved. People who have always defended the Dems are now incredulous, saying WTF? What was my vote for?”
“The Republicans at least care about their campaign of evil. They are evil but we know they’re evil, we know what they want, what they care about, and in that sense they’re a known quantity (as long as you’re not in denial about it.) What are the Dems? What do they care about? It doesn’t seem to be democracy, since they’re not putting up a fight. It doesn’t seem to be women, since they haven’t done ANYTHING in response to this decision. It doesn’t seem to be much of anything, and that’s why they can’t get anyone to care. They cannot simply be Not-Trump, they have to be FOR something, anything. ‘Vote us in in the midterms’ isn’t exactly meaningful when you’ve plenty of power right now and you’re not doing anything.”
The Dems are badly wrong to think that this is going to work out well for them. This, meaning, letting Republicans rip democracy away from Americans, of whom 70% and more don’t support any of this, from women losing their bodily autonomy to the obvious attacks on gay people and minorities which are coming next-- letting all that happen, so that Dems can be the good cop to the Republicans bad cop. That strategy has barely been working for decades now-- witness how little respect and trust people have for the Dems, and the question of actually liking them is LOL-- and now it’s at an end.
The logic is super clear to anyone and everyone. Why should we vote for you then when you didn’t do anything for us when it mattered? Why bother at all when you don’t stop the bad guys from doing incredibly, shockingly, crazily bad things-- like making societies places of full of vigilante-informants and tip lines and fanatics who are slavering to attack everyone they don’t like, and now they have to power to rip their lives apart-- when you don’t stop all that when you have power, what’s the point of voting for you at all?
Americans are right to be furious with the Dems. They have never failed America more badly than they are right now. This is the real thing, code red, a nine alarm fire. The house of democracy is burning down. And the Dems are standing there, holding their heads, pretending to care-- instead of throwing some water on it, even calling 911…and the arsonists are standing right there, too, laughing at them, telling them they’re going to burn down the entire neighborhood.
I study social collapse. I predict it. This is my professional opinion, and it should chill you to the bone. I have never seen a political party more useless than the Dems. Except maybe in Weimar Germany, or in places like Russia, where opposition parties are just shams.
And right now? More and more Americans seem to agree with me.