By Shannon Lienhart
This is a letter that I wrote in response to an email sent to me by a member of the Democratic Central Committee.
In an earlier email exchange with members of DCC, I had referred to a “good Democrat”.
I was then asked to define a what a good Democrat is.
Hi Richard –
I am so glad that you asked….
A good Democrat understands that the fundamental threats to our democracy and our planet come from corporate greed.
The good Democrat seeks office because they have a desire to make a difference and to be part of the solution; they are not ego-centric nor do they have a personal agenda. When in office, their positions and actions consistently focus on the public good.
The good Democrat supports environmental issues, civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, human rights, voting rights, unions, fair wages, public education, and access to affordable health care.
The good Democrat is staunchly against the privatization of schools, hospitals, prisons and other institutions that exist for the public good. They recognize that not every commodity and service should be made into profit vehicles for the already wealthy in order that they can continually gain at the expense of the vast majority.
The good Democrat understands the difference between capitalism and corporatism. They promote fair competition and ethical business practices; they reject greedy corporations that decimate our communities by contributing to the inequality and environmental crises.
The good Democrat believes strongly in the separation of church and state.
The good Democrat seeks information and perspectives from community leaders and experts before acting. They are open and eager to discuss the positions they take because they know that those decisions come from ethical, thoughtful deliberation.
Instead of kowtowing to right wing rhetoric in order to get elected and/or remain in office, the good Democrat creates and uses the truth to craft a persuasive narrative that wins the hearts and souls of their community.
The good Democrat recognizes that, because we can’t out-finance the billionaires like the Waltons and Koch Brothers, this battle has to be about solidarity of people. As such, they develop networks of like-minded people and organizations.
The good Democrat rejects handouts from corporations, and instead, seeks endorsement and support from individuals, unions, environmental groups, civil rights groups, human rights groups, etc.
As we sit on an historical threshold, the good Democrat understands that we need an uprising and that uprising will either take the form of the Democratic Party leading the way as it did a half-century ago or it will emerge organically through the streets.
We all acknowledge that corporations have bought out the Republican Party, and that the right uses religion and slick rhetoric to push through initiatives and legal decisions that, at every level, elevate and enhance the status of corporations while diminishing the people and environment.
As stewards of the Democratic Party, we need to start recognizing that corporations are now buying out many of our own members.
We have a moment in history where we can turn this ship around. We can defeat the right-wing Republican agenda, but we can’t do that by adopting their positions. We have to consistently identify, support, and elect GOOD Democrats; Democrats that have widespread appeal to those organizations that promote and share our values; Democrats that are pro-union, pro-environment, pro-human rights, and so on.
By building solidarity with unions, environmental, civil and human rights organizations, we can win elections. There is a path to victory here.
But that path doesn’t merge with the Corporate Democrats, the ones who claim our party’s values but cross the middle line and step far into the right.
There’s a great article, examining California Assemblyman Marc Levine as something of a Corporate Democrat case study, which explains perfectly those political wolves in sheep’s clothing:
Marin County is one of California’s most liberal regions and, with its iconic redwoods and stunning coastline, it is also a power center for environmental activism. And so, when a bill to give the state Coastal Commission authority to levy fines against shoreline despoilers came for a vote in the state Assembly in 2013, it was taken for granted that Marin’s new Assemblyman, Marc Levine, would vote for passage. That didn’t happen. Instead, the San Rafael Democrat sat out the single most important vote for his constituents that year – which helped doom the measure.
But Levine was not finished. In Sacramento he would abstain or skip votes on bills helping farm workers and creating a bill of rights for domestic workers. He has also voted against legislation requiring economic impact reports for big box stores and requiring more rate-increase disclosure from Kaiser Permanente. That Levine keeps at arm’s length the progressive values of the 10th Assembly District, which includes much of equally liberal Sonoma County, should come as no surprise. During his two Assembly campaigns he has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from some of the state’s largest business interests.
Thank you again for asking, Richard.