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At some point, U.S. progressives must stand

by Ted Rall

At a certain point, if you have any relationship with dignity, you’re supposed to get sick of being used and abused. Speaking of which: liberal Democrats.

Democratic politicians act like right-wingers. Liberals vote for them anyway.

The Democratic Party espouses right-wing policies. Self-described progressives give them cash. Comedian Bill Maher gave them a million cash dollars — yet Democrats don’t agree with him on anything. Why? Because he hates Republicans even more.

Why didn’t Maher save his money? Or better yet, fund a group or a writer or an artist who promotes ideas he actually agrees with? Because he, like tens of millions of other liberals, are stuck in the two-party trap.

The relationship between liberals and Democrats is dysfunctional and enabling, abused pathetics sucking up to cruel abusers. Progressives like Maher are like a kid with two rotten parents. The dad drinks and hits him; the mom drinks less and hits him less. The best call is to run away from home — instead, most children in that situation will draw closer to their mothers.

Voting-age progressives, on the other hand, are adults. When will they kick the Democratic Party to the curb, as Ricki Lake used to say?

Probably not in time for 2016. But they ought to.

You don’t have to be clairvoyant to see that the next presidential election promises nothing for liberals but more of the same: dismay, disappointment and disgust — in no small part with themselves.

Hillary Clinton, a conservative warmonger ideologically indistinguishable from Dwight Eisenhower, will almost certainly be the Democratic nominee. But she isn’t really a Democrat. Traditionally, Democrats were pro-worker; she and her husband pushed through NAFTA, GATT, the WTO and a slew of free-trade scams that have destroyed American jobs and depressed salaries.

Democrats cared about the poor; Hillary has never so much as suggested a substantial anti-poverty initiative. Democrats aren’t supposed to invade sovereign countries for the hell of it; Clinton repeatedly pushed lies about weapons of mass destruction, voted to invade Iraq and still hasn’t apologized for the 2 million Iraqis whose deaths for which she shares responsibility. Democrats want single-payer health care; instead, she created the template for Obamacare, which keeps rates high to protect insurance company profits.

Yet in today’s “Democratic” Party, Hillary is “inevitable.”

Yes, the highly resuméed, slightly accomplished ex-senator could face a challenge from the left. But not a real one. Even if party bosses allow an actual primary process (they did not in 2012), any primary challenge will be symbolic and impotent (hello Bernie Sanders), poorly funded and sad, raising the faded, tattered flag of liberalism in a quixotic bid to coat Hillary’s coronation with a veneer of small-d democratic legitimacy.

If you’re a leftie, the Democratic establishment doesn’t care about your opinion. They certainly don’t want your input. What they want is your vote — in exchange for exactly nothing in return. They’re political parasites, draining the enthusiasm and idealism of progressives, simultaneously neutering and exploiting mainline libs.

Like a tick, mainline “centrist” (or conservative) Democrats will suck you dry. First they misdirect your hope for real change. Then they extract your vote. By the time you realize you’ve been chomped, the buggers drop off, bloated on stolen power and wealth. You’re left with drained political energy.

During the initial months following the election, you get angrier. You watch con artists like Obama take office, appoint right-wingers to the Cabinet and ignore America’s victims — the poor at home, the bombed overseas. Off goes the president — your president, since you voted for him! — golfing and shooting hoops and vacationing on the Vineyard while millions lose their homes to illegal foreclosures, poverty soars, the military gins up new wars and expands old ones, Gitmo stays open and killer drone planes fill the skies.

Eventually, of course, you get over it. Then, two to four years later, the parasitical Dems are back to suck out whatever idealism you’ve managed to regenerate.

Progressive Democratic voters are understandably unenthusiastic about Clinton. After enduring her conservative Southern Democratic husband (major accomplishments: bombing Bosnia, ignoring Rwanda, NAFTA, trashing welfare) and Obama (major accomplishments: drones, Libya, Syria, Iraq again), they know what’s coming: more of the same. Because they’re not willing to ditch the Democratic Party, however, they’re trapped in a state of cognitive dissonance, unable to act in order to avoid certain disaster.

Thus progressives are resorting to ridiculously transparent nontactics. For example: “deploy[ing] the spectral presence of [Elizabeth] Warren to extract as many [liberal] concessions as possible.”

“It’s not a crazy strategy,” libbies are told. “The mere thought of Warren seems to rattle the Clintons, who are haunted by the debacle of 2008.”

Actually, it is crazy. Because the Clintons watch the news — and Warren ain’t running.

Noam Scheiber recently wrote an Atlantic piece titled “How Hillary Won Over the Skeptical Left,” in which he argue … well, read the title. (Note: by “left,” Scheiber doesn’t mean left. He means centrist Obama supporters, who are slightly to the left of Hillary.)

“It’s not that liberals don’t perceive some ideological distance between themselves and Hillary Clinton, at least as they become more informed,” writes Scheiber. Hillary became First Lady in 1993. What is there left to learn? “Nor is it that they recognize this gap and simply don’t care about it. It’s that, after the somewhat disillusioning experience of the Obama years, many actually consider this gap an advantage for Clinton.” In other words: we’re out to beat Republicans, not help poor people.

I’m quoting the following section from Scheiber’s piece at length because it supports my contention that, at this early stage, it is perfectly obvious that Hillary Clinton will screw over progressives. Not only is it evident that she will break their hearts, it is clear how she will go about it.

“So let’s say Democrats’ faith in Clinton is rewarded and she wins the presidency. Here is how the 2016 transition is likely to play out. Having talked about inequality during the primaries, and maybe even the general election, she will feel pressure to appoint economists who know something about the issue. She will pluck a few advisers from the reserve army of liberals at think tanks like the Center for American Progress (home to many former Clinton White House aides over the years), the Economic Policy Institute, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“But as the transition goes on, liberals will notice a disconcerting shift. They will watch most of the senior posts in her Treasury Department go to alumni of Wall Street. They will see her fill out the top echelons of financial regulators — the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — with banking-industry lawyers.

“They will even notice bankers turning up in agencies with little role in finance, like the State Department and the U.S. Trade Representative. Though any one appointment may be justified — the Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance should probably have a finance background, for example — the larger mass of Wall Street transplants will create a stubborn level of groupthink.

“Their skepticism toward policies like a financial transactions tax, aggressive prosecution of financial-market crime, and breaking up the megabanks will ensure they never happen.”

Don’t come back in 2017 and say you were surprised.

Ted Rall is a political cartoonist and writer. © 2014 Ted Rall

  • VerityHeld

    Hilary Clinton lost all credibility the moment she claimed she and Bill were broke when he left office in 2000. Most people in the world can only dream and hope of being one day that kind of ‘broke.” Reminds me of the “Bright Young Things’ from the 1920s, who complained of living in poverty, ‘we could only afford to go to Deauville for the season, not Biarritz!”