• Stop Me Before I Vote Again - The Book (well, about a third of a book)

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 • Stop Me Before I Vote Again - The Book (well, about a third of a book)

Posted by youngmarxist at 2008-04-29 02:46 AM
Stop Me Before I Vote Again is a website dedicated to stopping the Left in the USA voting for the Democratic Party. While I disagree with their definition of "Left" (it's more like William Jennings Bryan-style populism), and while they are dead against the overthrowing of Sadaam's tyranny in Iraq, there is a book (or at least the start of a book) on the site which is well worth reading.

The parts of the book already written discuss the reasons why the Left came to see the racist, segregationist Democratic Party as a political home under FDR, and the effects of that in the contemporary political era (dated from the election of Nixon in 1968 )

It's worth reading because it is completely dedicated to convincing the Left to stop supporting a Democratic party which doesn't support them. Since we have a similar project in Australia (even allowing for the wide differences in the definition of "Left"), it's good to get an idea of the arguments they put forward.

One thing you have to say for the Republicans: they do promise, and often deliver, the goods for their constituencies. The Democrats don't.

Who are the Republican constituencies? It's no secret: the rich, the large corporations, the gun lobby, war and police enthusiasts, and the religious Right. The important Democratic constituencies are organized labor (or what's left of it), African-Americans, war opponents, gays, civil libertarians, environmentalists, and people of modest means generally.

In 2000 and 2004, the Republicans offered their base the usual savory menu: war and then more war, more executions and intrusive policing, more tax cuts for the wealthy, and a stern, Canute-like "Stop it!" to the swelling tide of unconventional sex.

And what did the Democrats offer their base? Well, they said...they said... We're not Republicans! Yeah, that's the ticket! Vote for the un-Republican!


An organization of right-wing Democrats called the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), founded in 1985, has dominated the party's leadership since the late 1980s and early 90s; Bill Clinton was its chair during part of that period, and Clinton's strategy of "triangulation" -- a euphemism for moving the party to the right -- was developed by the DLC and people close to it. The DLC is very much a one-trick pony, and in the aftermath of the Gore and Kerry debacles, the DLC and other promoters of the Democrats' un-Republican Republican strategy predictably concluded that Gore and Kerry lost because they weren't Republican enough. Clinton's victory validated their theory, and so did Gore and Kerry's defeat; full speed ahead, right over the cliff. The DLC's basis for this heads-I-win, tails-you-lose reasoning is its belief in a "rightward trend" among the electorate.

Of course a rightward trend is inevitable if both parties agree on its inevitability; but there have been immense changes in American life over the last fifty years. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy would have been inconceivable in 1954. People form their own ideas but they don't form them under circumstances of their own choosing; what they think and how they vote depends at least in part on what ideas are presented to them and what choices are available.

Republicans and Democrats alike have concentrated for three decades on mincing ever more finely an ever-shrinking repertoire of political ideas. No, "ideas" is too strong a word; "slogans" or "catchphrases" is more accurate. The result has been what I call the "ratchet effect"; in each election, both parties dance cheek-to-cheek a little farther to the right, but somehow, even when they get into office, the Democrats never manage, or even try, to move us back to the Left. The system operates in one direction only; and it is crucial for Democratic voters to understand that their "lesser evil" votes are actively promoting this process, not retarding it.

Considering the tectonic shifts in American life over the last few decades, there's plenty of reason to think that large numbers of Americans would be open to a politics that goes beyond the claustrophobically narrow, and constantly narrowing, limits imposed by the "mainstream" Republican and Democrat brands. Under the Democratic party's present management, however, its constituencies have nothing to look forward to, in the foreseeable future, but more of the same.

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