by William Skink
I usually find the non-American perspective of the Moon of Alabama blog valuable, and this post about the possibility that the House chooses censure over impeachment is interesting, but it’s the following comment from Allen about the role of the Democratic party that I find to be the mosy insightful. it’s a long comment, but worth the read:
The Democratic Party plays an indispensable role in society’s political machinery. This doesn’t mean it has any power, in terms of controlling the state or setting policy. It means that without the existence of the Dem Party, the US could no longer maintain the pretense that it’s a “democracy.” If the Dem Party disintegrated, the US would be revealed for what it really is — a one-party state ruled by a narrow alliance of business interests.
The party’s true function is thus largely theatrical. It doesn’t exist to fight for change, but only to pose as a force which one fine distant day might possibly bestir itself to fight for change. Thus the whole magic of the Dem Party — the essential service it renders to the US power structure — lies not in what it does, but in its mere existence: by simply existing, and doing nothing, it pretends to be something it’s not; and this is enough to relieve despair & to let the system portray itself as a “democracy.”
As long as the Dem Party exists, most Americans will believe we have a “democracy” and a “choice” in how we are ruled. They will not despair, and will not revolt, as long as they have this hope for “change within the system.” From the system’s point of view, this mechanism serves as the ultimate safety valve — it insures against a despairing populace, thus eliminates the threat of rebellion; yet guarantees that no serious change to the system will be mounted, because the Dems weren’t designed to play that role in the first place.
The Democrats are not the “lesser evil;” they are an auxiliary subdivision of the same evil. To understand the political system, one must step back and regard its operation as an integrated whole. The system can’t be properly understood if one’s study of it begins with an uncritical acceptance of the 2-party system, and the conventional characterizations of the two parties. (Indeed, the fact that society encourages one to view it in this latter way, is perhaps a warning that this perspective should not be trusted.)
Any given piece of reactionary legislation is invariably supported by a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats. Does this show that the Democrats are “less evil?” If one focuses on the efforts of the few outspoken dissenters, it’s easy to feel that the Democrats are somewhat less evil. But in the larger picture, Democrats invariably submit to what their bosses promulgate and the entire range of official opinion thereby shifts to the right. Thus the overall function of Democrats is not so much to fight, as to quasi-passively participate in this ever-rightward-moving process. Just as the Harlem Globetrotters need their Washington Generals to make their basketball games properly entertaining, Republicans need the Democrats for effective staging of the political show.
The Democrats are permitted to exist because their vague hint of eventual progressive change keeps large numbers of people from bolting the political system altogether. If the Democrats potentially threatened any sort of serious change, they would be banned. The fact that they are fully accepted by the corporations and political establishment tells us at once that their ultimate function must be wholly in line with the interests of those ruling groups.
For the Democratic Party to even begin to serve as a vehicle for opposing the absolute rule of capital, it would at a minimum have to be capable of acknowledging the conflict that exists between the interests of capital and the rest of the population; and of expressing a principled determination to take the side of the population in this conflict.
A party whose controlling elements are millionaires, lobbyists, fund-raisers, careerist apparatchiks, consultants, and corporate lawyers; that has stood by prostrate and helpless (when not actively collaborating) in the face of stolen elections, illegal wars, torture, CIA concentration camps, lies as state policy, and one assault on the Bill of Rights after the next, is not likely to take that position.