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As we witness the post mortem of this troubling election, you can bet that pretty soon, someone soon is going to blame the Left – the hardcore progressives and young Independents who rallied around Bernie – for the result.

blame lefties

Let's Blame Lefties—Clifford J. Tasner

In 2000, Al Gore embraced “Free Trade” and international trade pacts that gave corporations power over sovereign nations. Gore supported space-based weapons and Capital Punishment. He was instrumental in crafting the Telecommunications bill that led to the media consolidation we have been seeing (and which made it easier for Rupert Murdoch to own newspapers and TV outlets in the same media markets). He picked one of the most right-wing Democratic senators as his running mate.

As we witness the post mortem of this troubling election, you can bet that pretty soon, someone soon is going to blame the Left – the hardcore progressives and young Independents who rallied around Bernie – for the result.

Of course he would have been a vastly different and arguably much better president than George W. turned out to be, but as a presidential candidate, he didn’t offer a lot of contrast between himself and his opponent. And then, when it was over, the Democratic Establishment and the pundits who speak for them blamed Ralph Nader and the small percentage of voters who were inspired by Nader’s critique of our capitalist system for Al Gore’s loss.

There are a lot of reasons why Hillary Clinton lost Tuesday night. We can’t discount the effect of the Citizens United decision that allowed the Koch Brothers to flood the battleground states with money toward the end of the campaign to make sure the Democrats didn’t take back the Senate, and that the voters who came out as a result helped buoy up Trump’s candidacy.

And those of us who were part of Bernie Sanders’ Revolution were underwhelmed with ways that the Clinton campaign triangulated away from our issues and values – picking a centrist running mate, refusing to allow opposition to the TPP or support of Single Payer to make it into the Democratic Platform, courting Republican voters in hopes that they might be as disgusted by Trump as so many of the rest of us. This assuredly dampened turnout among progressives to give Trump an edge.

And Hillary was the brunt of years of horrendous, misogynistic attacks from the Right-Wing echo chamber. This tainted her in the eyes of many Americans.

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For all her brilliant intellect and competence, and a lifetime of public service, she had the misfortune of being the establishment candidate facing an opponent who rose to the top of the Republican heap by railing against the Establishment. It wasn’t just the emails that tarnished her. It was the $250,000 speeches to Wall Street firms.

But the seeds of Trump’s disturbing triumph were planted years ago by Democratic Administrations selling out the Liberal wing of their party:

  • In 1993, Bill Clinton worked hard to peel off a enough reluctant Democratic representatives to pass NAFTA, which his predecessor failed to do for his own corporate donors. Since then, the Rust Belt has been hemorrhaging jobs due to outsourcing. Donald Trump made opposition to the TPP one of his main issues, and workers who had witnessed what Bill Clinton’s signature on NAFTA did to their livelihoods heeded the call and put Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and probably Michigan in Trump’s column.
  • When Howard Dean was chair of the DNC, he put into place the “50-State Strategy” that elected a Democratic House in 2006. By working to build the Democratic Party throughout the country, rather than just in Democratic strongholds, he helped make Barack Obama’s presidency a reality. Obama repaid the favor by bringing in corporatist Rahm Emmanuel as his chief of staff. Rahm had an animus toward Dean and Dean lost his job as a result. And in 2010, there was no longer a 50-state strategy to protect Democratic seats up and down the ballot. The Republicans were organized and they turned many states red. These are some of the same states that engaged in aggressive disenfranchisement of voters over the course of this election season. And Trump seems to have won all of them.

Electing the champion of the Birther Movement is a repudiation of our outgoing African American President. And electing a man who seems very likely to have engaged in a pattern of sexual assault over the years, is a repudiation of the first woman to be a major party presidential candidate. As we all scramble to determine how to curtail the erosion of our Civil Liberties and protect our planet from the ravages of climate change a Trump presidency will probably bring, we hope that the Democratic Party looks deep and hard at the real causes of last night’s terrible loss and doesn’t lay it at the feet of those progressives who make up the base of the party.

Will the next Democratic candidate run against the party base while courting corporate donors? And will the next Democratic Administration champion policies and strategies that build the party to insure future electoral success down the road?

clifford tasner

Clifford J. Tasner