Starve Out the DNC– Boycott The Democratic Party! by Michael Hudson

Starve Out the DNC-- Boycott The Democratic Party! by Michael Hudson

Screenshot by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

by Michael Hudson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
September 15, 2019

Why we need to abolish the Democratic National Committee, even if that means breaking up the Democratic Party

Thursday’s debate on Walt Disney’s ABC channel is shaping up as yet another shameless charade. The pretense is that we are to select who the Democratic presidential candidate will be. But the limited airing of their personalities reflects the fact that most Americans, as the Irish say, vote with their backsides, belonging to the informal but dominant party of non-voters who choose not to be sucked into legitimizing the bad choices put before them.

The debate is being presented as a reality entertainment show. The audience is invited to rate the candidates who seem most likely to implement the policy they want – but not including the economy. Most Americans are now living from paycheck to paycheck and cannot come up with even $400 in an emergency. They are afraid to go on strike or even to complain about their job, because they are afraid of getting fired – and of losing their corporate health care, knowing that getting sick may wipe them out. These problems will not appear on Walt Disney.

Voters basically want what Bernie Sanders is promising: a basic right to Single Payer health care and a retirement income. That means protection against the Republican-Democratic threats to cut back Social Security to balance the budget in the face of tax cuts for the richest One Percent and rising Cold War military spending. This means a government strong enough to take on the vested financial and corporate interests and prosecute Wall Street’s financial crime and corporate monopoly power. When neoliberals shout, “But that’s socialism,” Americans finally are beginning to say, “Then give us socialism.” It beats being ground down into debt peonage.

But here’s the trick that the TV debates sweep under the rug: It is not the voters who are empowered to choose the Democratic Party’s candidate. That privilege belongs legally to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Since stacking the political deck in 2016 to serve up Hillary Clinton as nominee, it has put in place rules that will enable its Donor Class members, super-delegates and other lobbyists for the One Percent to repeat the trickery once again in 2020.

I hope that the candidate who is clearly the voters’ choice, Bernie Sanders, may end up as the party’s nominee. If he is, I’m sure he’ll beat Donald Trump handily, as he would have done four years ago.

But I fear that the DNC’s Donor Class will push Joe Biden, Kamala Harris or even Pete Buttigieg down the throats of voters. Just as when they backed Hillary the last time around, they hope that their anointed neoliberal will be viewed as the lesser evil for a program little different from that of the Republicans.

So Thursday’s reality TV run-off is about “who’s the least evil?” An honest reality show’s questions would focus on “What are you against?” That would attract a real audience, because people are much clearer about what they’re against: the vested interests, Wall Street, the drug companies and other monopolies, the banks, landlords, corporate raiders and private-equity asset strippers. But none of this is to be permitted on the magic island of authorized candidates (not including Tulsi Gabbard, who was purged from further debates for having dared to mention the unmentionable).

Donald Trump as the DNC’s nominee

The problem facing the Democratic National Committee today remains the same as in 2016: How to block even a moderately left-wing social democrat by picking a candidate guaranteed to lose to Trump, so as to continue the policies that serve banks, the financial markets and military spending for Cold War 2.0.

DNC donors favor Joe Biden, long-time senator from the credit-card and corporate-shell state of Delaware, and opportunistic California prosecutor Kamala Harris, with a hopey-changey grab bag alternative in smooth-talking small-town Rorschach blot candidate Pete Buttigieg. These easy victims are presented as “electable” in full knowledge that they will fail against Trump.

Trump meanwhile has done most everything the Democratic Donor Class wants: He has cut taxes on the wealthy, cut social spending for the population at large, backed Quantitative Easing to inflate the stock and bond markets, and pursued Cold War 2.0. Best of all, his abrasive style has enabled Democrats to blame the Republicans for the giveaway to the rich, as if they would have followed a different policy.

The Democratic Party’s role is to protect Republicans from attack from the left, steadily following the Republican march rightward. Claiming that this is at least in the direction of being “centrist,” the Democrats present themselves as the lesser evil (which is still evil, of course), simply as pragmatic in not letting hopes for “the perfect” (meaning moderate social democracy) block the spirit of compromise with what is attainable, “getting things done” by cooperating across the aisle and winning Republican support. That is what Joe Biden promises.

The effect has been to make America into a one-party state. Republicans act as the most blatant lobbyists for the Donor Class. But people can vote for a representative of the One Percent and the military-industrial complex in either the Republican or Democratic column. That is why most Americans owe allegiance to no party.

The Democratic National Committee worries that voters may disturb this alliance by nominating a left-wing reform candidate. The DNC easily solved this problem in 2016: When Bernie Sanders intruded into its apace, it the threw the election. It scheduled the party’s early defining primaries in Republican states whose voters leaned right, and packed the nominating convention with Donor Class super-delegates.

After the dust settled, having given many party members political asthma, the DNC pretended that it was all an unfortunate political error. But of course it was not a mistake at all. The DNC preferred to lose with Hillary than win with Bernie, whom springtime polls showed would be the easy winner over Trump. Potential voters who didn’t buy into the program either stayed home or voted green.

Starve out the DNC

Now is the time to start thinking about what to do if and when the DNC presents voters with neoliberal Hillary 2.0, preferring to lose with Biden or his clones than to win with Bernie.

I think the only effective response will be to boycott the Democratic Party – not only its presidential candidates, but its Blue Dog candidates and incumbents.

The legal kerfuffle raised by Sanders supporters in the aftermath made the switcheroo official. The courts affirmed that the Democratic Party’s candidate for president is legally chosen by the DNC alone, and may or may not be the candidate elected by voters in the primaries. To cap matters, the superdelegates serve as a safety valve against any candidate unwilling to go whole-hog neoliberal. A legal tangle of state and national U.S. election laws effectively blocks third parties from meaningful representation in Congress. Registered Independents such as Sanders are constrained to caucus with and serve on committees of one of the two parties.

That makes it difficult for any third party to play more than the role of a spoiler in elections. When the Democratic Party runs its right-wing Blue Dog candidates, a third-party protest will throw the Senate or Congressional election to the Republican – until the DNC finally just walks away.

It would not help much to take over the Democratic Party as long as its rules cede control to Wall Street donors. For the party to be reconstituted, the coterie that has imposed Rubinomics, Hillary’s neocon military empire, and is threatening to balance the budget by cutting Social Security needs to be isolated.

The most obvious start is to run real progressive candidates against incumbents, like AOC in Queens. If the DNC bans consultants from working with them, they should be attacked in the primary and then either stay home or vote for a third party in the fall election to defeat the incumbent rather than participate in the fake choices of just which neoliberal may be the least worst.

Democrat leaders will denounce the Third Party, claiming that voters would have supported Democratic otherwise, much as they blamed Ralph Nader in 2000. The reality is that voters refused to support the right-wing neocon Joe Lieberman (how appropriate that he became Obama’s Senate mentor) and his neoliberal Democratic Leadership Council front-man Gore, who would have given George W. Bush a run for awfulness.

The only way to make the Democrat Party democratic is to clean house, to boycott its Blue Dog candidates even though this throws elections to the Republicans until the DNC is emptied out. Only at that point can its rules be replaced with ones committing the party to follow the choice of voters and the majority non-Democratic (even non-voting) bloc instead of big donors and super-delegates.

This tactic may lead to Republican sweeps in the next few elections. That is the price that the Democrats have forced to be paid for their neoliberal intransigence that has made Donald Trump their president as much as that of Republican voters.

There is no such thing as centrist stability in a polarizing economy

There is no “middle class” policy in an indebted economy polarizing at an accelerating pace as financial rentiers lord it over an indebted majority. That is why wage earners have lost their identity with the Democratic Party’s loyalty to Wall Street. Although Democratic politicians presents themselves as the only alternative to Republican corporate lobbyists, the DNC is a smoke-filled room of donors, packaged in identity politics – every identity except that of indebted wage earners. It is merely a diversion to focus on personalities and to claim that economic reform is “divisive” because it may offend centrist voters such as the Democrats’ dream of attracting suburban Republican women.

Joe Biden’s promise of a moderate centrist policy is like Warren Harding’s slogan of a “return to normalcy” a century ago, in 1920. But a “return” would mean rolling back the enormous post-1980 increase in debt, the privatizations, deregulation and other neoliberal nightmares. Today’s U.S. economy – like that of Europe – has no middle ground. Attempts at a “moderate” party are merely a euphemism for backing the financial and real estate sector, the oil industry and the military-industrial complex.

If America had a parliamentary system reflecting voters’ preferences for parties, the Democratic Party would share the fate of German and other European Social Democrats that have embraced neoliberal economics and would poll about 5 percent of the vote, just barely being represented in a truly democratic congress. Voters are rejecting neoliberalism everywhere, but the DNC and foreign formerly left-wing party bureaucracies are holding onto it. They have become zombie party hacks.

Sanders rightly blames Wall Street and the One Percent for the economy’s financial mess. Warren strikes a resonant chord in seeing the need to alleviate the debt burden saying in effect, “It’s the debt, stupid.” But she also seems prepared to go along opportunistically with the rest of the Democratic Party’s platform. Even so, the DNC seems quite willing to throw the election to Trump as its major funders and super-delegates back Biden, Harris and Buttigieg.

When Bernie says he will take on Wall Street, people believe him. When Elizabeth Warren says that, voters worry about just how far she may compromise. When Biden or Harris say that, most voters realize that they are simply grabbing slogans that play well in focus groups, selling their personalities without policy content.

Most potential voters have no party in the United States, but are forced into a choice between Republican and Democratic neoliberals. The polls euphemize most voters as “undecideds,” as if they have not decided to avoid both parties and try to scrape by as best they can with the bad choices put before them: Republican corporate lobbyists, or Democratic Wall Street lobbyists, both parties supporting military spending and representing the One Percent who form their donor base.

Most Democratic voters have decided not to back Biden or Harris. They realize their interests were betrayed first by Clintonomics and its deregulation of Wall Street and stripping away of social spending, and then by Obama protecting his Wall Street donors from “the mob with pitchforks,” namely, those who voted for his empty promise of hope and change. That is how the DNC views its constituency – to be manipulated and its attention diverted onto the Fantasy Island episode aired on Thursday on ABC.


Michael Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and author of …and forgive them their debts, J is for Junk Economics (2017), Killing the Host (2015), The Bubble and Beyond (2012), Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1968 & 2003), Trade, Development and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization v. Convergence in the World Economy (1992 & 2009) and of The Myth of Aid (1971), amongst many others. He can be reached via his website Michael Hudson, mh@michael-hudson.com.

from the archives:

Only Revolution Can Save Us by Paul Street

Chris Hedges: Unless We Bring About A Transformational Change By Overthrowing Corporate Power and Establish A Socialist System, All Efforts To Create A Green New Deal Will Be Stillborn

We Need To Overthrow The Present Political System by Eric Schechter

Step Right Up – to the Amazing American Quadrennial Electoral Extravaganza! by Paul Street

A Revolution of Democracy

The Biggest Political Delusion Of All Is In The U.S. Electoral Politics Itself by Paul Street + Nobody to Vote For by David Swanson + Politicians Robbing Us Blind

Two Poles of an Evil Duopoly by Keith Rosenthal

Time to Boycott the Democrats by Mara Ahmed

Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils is Still Voting for Evil

Ralph Nader: Dispelling the Myth of the 2000 Election (repost)

20 thoughts on “Starve Out the DNC– Boycott The Democratic Party! by Michael Hudson

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  6. I definitely don’t trust the DNC. When I listen to Tom Perez, he sounds like he won’t be another Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but after what happened in 2016, it’s hard to trust them. If they would have completely done away with the super delegates, I would have been more comfortable about it. However, I don’t want to hear about breaking up the Democratic Party. That would be suicide. We would for sure have to deal with another 4 years of Trump.

  7. I’m 71. I’ve heard the cries over and over that this time we must hold our noses and vote for the Democrats. And what has that gotten us? A slide into less and less democracy and an increase in corporate power. I am tired of the defeatists. If the 60% of Americans who say that neither corporate party stands for them would actually vote for someone else, we could defeat the corporate parties.

    • I agree. I am 75 and have seen the Democratic Party slide into irrelevant corporatism ever since 1972, when George McGovern, the only Democratic candidate who would have brought real change, was trounced by hyper-establishment candidate, Richard Nixon. We need a more politically astute public that is unwilling to vote for counterfeit Democrats, i.e. Republicans lite.

  8. I am nearly 79 years of age and I have seen the so-called Left shoot itself in the foot many, many times. This is now again such a time. It is INSANE to counsel voters to lay out this election. Simply insane. It’s some sort of cockamamie moral purity that will absolutely ensure the extinction of life on the planet — and perhaps nuclear war. The Hudson perspective makes a false equivalency between Republicans and Democrats. I have been a socialist or small-c communist since 1968, but we have no socialist party capable of mounting a real challenge to the Republicans. We have what we’ve got. It’s piss-poor. But either we vote for it or we voluntarily cede the climate (and all else) to Trump and the beyond-criminal Republican mafia.

  9. I thought I’d already posted my comment. My comment is: it will mean the sure death of life on Earth to “boycott” the Democratic Party in 2020. If I have to vote for Biden, I will, holding my nose. We have a better chance at struggle with/under/against the Dems. I won’t go into everything I already know about the dreadful, awful, loathsome Hillary Clinton (who chortled, “We came, we saw, he died,” after Quadaffi was slain by extradudicial assassination – strange phrase, that, assassination already being by definition “extrajudicial.” And she backed the overthrow of Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected president of Honduras, ushering in an age where Honduras is “the murder capital of the world.” But that’s the US of A, the murderous imperialist nation responsible for millions of deaths worldwide to maintain its global dominance. Yeah, well, boycott the Dems if you will, and you will get Trump again. You want him? By all means, boycott. You will then be complicit in crimes against humanity and the planet. I sure do hope Biden isn’t the DP nominee. But I will have to vote for him if he is. The real problem with Biden (together with his abominable politics) is that he is incapable of defeating Trump. He can’t speak without making blunders; he prevaricates, forgets, perhaps outright lies. Elizabeth Warren has a real chance of defeating Trump. Yeah, we can’t trust her the way we can Sanders. But the DNC won’t let him run, as usual. I’ve written excoriating letters to Perez, for whatever good they may or may not do. I loathe the DNC. But what choice do we have? We do not have a third party. We cannot organise one unless we gain some space with a Democratic administration. First and foremost, however, is global warming. We may at this point have no hope at all, as almost all of Earth’s ice has melted. But we must act as if we did have hope. Therefore: vote Democratic. You have no other choice. I cannot say how vehemently I disagree with Michael Hudson.

    • A comment on my comment. I am also not saying that the Democrats have not committed crimes against humanity. They have. But I am with Chomsky in my belief that the Republicans are way beyond “evil,” a word so inadequate to describe their malignancy that it makes one pale before the enormities of global warming. I am saying that we do not have a third party, we are guaranteed another Trump term if we lay out (as so many did in 2016), and so again, if you want to just throw Earth’s climate into the Trump fires of capitalist exploitation and hellfire, by all means boycott. You will, once again, be complicit in re-electing a monster, the most dangerous human on the planet outside of Jair Bolsonaro. The Republican Party in Europe would be Fascist. It IS a fascist party. The Dems are neoliberal, which all may take as synonymous with fascism, but anyone who thinks that is so hasn’t studied history. Yes: neoliberalism means corporate tyranny. Fascism means corporate tyranny and mass incarceration of all dissenters, with ongoing massacres of migrants seeking escape from a Central American world the US poisoned through installing fascists, and seeking escape as well from global warming. I won’t go on.

  10. Bernie Sanders is not a registered Independent. There is no party registration in Vermont, so he is just a registered voter. This is what allows him to pretend he’s Independent when that is convenient and Democrat when that is convenient. He pledged a loyalty oath to the DNC to be recognized as a Democrat candidate. So he claims to be a Democrat for purposes of the Presidential race, and an Independent – but caucusing with the Democrats and thus being treated as a Democrat – for the purposes of his Senate service. Every 6 years he is entered into the Democrat primary for Senate in Vermont and wins. He then formally rejects the nomination and runs as an independent. That way he gets the Democrat vote. If he was from a state with party registration, he could not get away with his duplicity.

    The DNC Chair is authorized to determine what candidates are really Democrats, and can throw out anyone who is not. The DNC is letting him participate for the moment but if there is too much danger of his nomination he can simply be declared ineligible on the grounds that he states he is an Independent.

    • I don’t know where to post my comment so I’ll post it here. I agree: the corporate Dems are very slightly better than the corporate Republicans. But to say “boycott the Democratic Party” ensures Trump’s return to power. That will guarantee the extinction of all of life on the planet. We have a slightly better chance with the Democrats. I refuse to sit out this election as others sat out the last. Yes, I know: they are ALL neoliberals. But again, we have a somewhat better chance at revolt with the Democrats. Trump, once again, and the Republicans, will extinguish life on Earth, drilling, mining, and exploiting in every way the Arctic, the rain forests, and any remaining protections for Earth’s climate. It may well be already too late. But we have to act as if it is not too late. Thus we do NOT sit out the 2020 election, we do NOT vote for a third-party candidate. This is not the moment for easy retaliatory gestures. We are literally fighting for life on Earth. Why is this not easily understandable, Mr. Hudson? I can cite you chapter and verse about the American capitalist system’s crushing of socialism and labor movements; its ruthlessness, barbarity, and cruelty. But once again: the Republicans are unparalleledly evil. I refuse to say that the Democrats are as bad, and in this I agree with Noam Chomsky (in case my word is not enough.) It would be INSANE to vote third party this time around, or “boycott” (whatever that may mean) the Democrats.

        • That means if you live in a Trump state, give up before you’ve even started. Give up because, hell, your entire county could vote Warren and Trump would still get in. We have to fight, not throw in the towel before we’ve even started.

        • That is just the way the Electoral College works. I live in a “red” state. My county and two other counties are “blue” but that’s not enough. Anyway, the Democratic Party left me before the 2000 Election and since then have done nothing to get me back.

        • And my state went 28 points for Clinton although geographically most of the state went for Trump. It’s an establishment Democratic state. Bernie was crushed in the primaries. The Democrats get most of the corporate funding, and the majority of them favor trickle down economics. Where I live, there is one major party and it is owned by big corporate interests. And it is the Democratic Party. Nationally the DNC voted in 2017 to remain a corporate funded party. It will never represent the people. We can’t accept that.

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