The election is over. I did not vote for President Obama. If the Democratic Party does not reinvent itself for the next cycle, it’s unlikely that I will ever vote for one of the two parties again.
Those of us on the left are watching the Republican Party with bated breath to see what they might do after the drubbing they took at the polls on Tuesday. They cannot win at the national level if they continue to exclude women, gays, Latinos and blacks from their constituency.
Then there are those of us on the farther left watching the Democratic Party with bated breath to see if they are going to continue their rightward detour to become the new Business as Usual Party.
For all of the right wing screaming about Obama being a socialist, the left wing knows he is not, and do not view that as a good thing. A little redistribution of the wealth is needed, and I fear that Mr. Obama will do too little of it.
The Democratic Party can take almost sole credit for massively expanding the surveillance state and for an unprecedented impingement on the Bill of Rights. I will never, ever forgive Carl Levin for being a co-writer of the NDAA (it should be inscribed on his headstone). If that is the Democratic Party position, who the hell needs Republicans? This pisses off a good portion of the base.
The Democratic Party is not leading in any way on dismantling the War on Drugs. This pisses off another good portion of the base. After 40 years of failure, we simply must stop throwing mostly people of color into prisons. The cost is too damn high. It’s the same with immigration, although I will grant that the Democrats are a wee less cruel and punitive (on the individuals) but not too willing to address any kind of systemic reform (who employs “illegal aliens” and why might they do so?).
No one at the national political level is leading on climate change, unless by leading you mean winning, and then there are clear leaders: the fossil fuel industry. Tar Sands and fracking are the two huge issues. People are literally living in trees to protect their homeland. At least Jill Stein of the Green Party has lent support to these brave people, but there has been nary a peep from the capitalist parties. I think President Obama is going to approve the rest of the Keystone XL (the pipeline carrying the bitumen from Alberta Canada to the Gulf of Mexico) and thus encourage more Tar Sands (one is underway in Utah). This is a very very bad idea.
Indeed, what leadership this administration has shown is in the wrong direction. They’ve been hard at work, writing laws that define environmentalists as terrorists. The people who are most informed about the climate, who actually care about the next generation and the planet, and are actually willing to take action, these are the people the Obama administration thinks are dangerous.
You know what can happen to someone labeled a terrorist here in America? You can be indefinitely disappeared. With no due process. No nothing. Possibly you could be transported to a CIA run prison somewhere in Eastern Europe and never be heard from again. Or you could be thrown into a federal detention center for an indefinite period. That is not theoretical. That is happening in America to Americans right now.
I hope President Obama ends the war in Afghanistan very soon. That would be a huge step in the right direction. I don’t know exactly when drone warfare and targeted assassination became part of the Democratic Party platform, but that is another plank that repels me.
And then there is the whole financial mess.
We’re already into the hundreds of billions of dollars in costs related to “natural” disasters for 2012. NOAA tracks all of this stuff and puts it into really nice charts. Do you think we can afford to spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year for the rest of civilization?
And behold the entire security apparatus (NSA, TSA, other acronyms). We’ve spent billions and what good is it against a Frankenstorm? Or a drought? Or wildfires? Or mudslides? Or a superflu?
Those are the true security threats for most of us.
No one is talking about this, but the Democratic Party has arrived at a crossroads. It can stay the party of business as usual and do nothing meaningful to address climate change. That’s probably the way it will go because it’s a winner in the short term. In the long term, though, it will forever be known as the party that knew about and ignored the biggest threat to survival ever. Or, Obama could get in touch with his inner leader and say no to the Tar Sands, no to the Keystone XL, no to fracking and make sure Congress undoes the Halliburton exemption to the Clean Water and Clean Air act that old Dick Cheney threw in there for his pals.
Just as I’ve become a no-party-affiliation person, an outlier, I believe the country will become a refugee nation. The groans from a dying planet are becoming too loud to ignore anymore. Soon, millions of us will be adrift.