As a sixty-six year old member of the “Baby Boomer” class and a life long Democrat, it pains me to admit that a bunch of old cronies own my Party. The hurt that their bond with one another perpetuates is boundless.
For one who has consulted with countless Democratic campaigns over the years, I can only deeply apologize to those of you who have been classified in every which way by a group of recalcitrant insiders who have cleverly demanded your vote and loyalty in the most arrogant of ways. But mostly, I regret the manner in which the younger among us were cast aside, as tens of thousands showed up and tried to play a role in the 2016 Democratic Party.
When I was young and marching in the streets of LA in the late 80’s to protest the lack of support in America to find a cure for AIDS, I came upon the indisputable fact that Democrats, who then controlled Congress, weren’t going to do any more than the Reagan White House because the disease had little or no constituency. You see, there was no LGBTQ “class” back then. It took thousands of deaths and millions of Americans to eventually raise awareness. It didn’t start in Congress.
So, the K Street lobbyists in Washington are celebrating the re-election of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, solidifying the entrenchment and cronyism of the “in” crowd, no matter the Leader has supervised four losing election seasons for the D’s and only maintained a minority status. Actually, our Democratic elected officials just said it was okay for Hillary to lose.
All of the same doorkeepers are again rooted in place and the beat goes on. A friend of mine recently noted the vanguard of Democrats who hover with stealth abandon over the Party: Diane Feinstein, 83; Jerry Brown, 78; Steny Hoyer, 77; James Clyburn, 76; Nancy Pelosi, 76; Bernie Sanders, 75; Joe Biden, 74; John Kerry, 73, among others.
Bernie Sanders decided to talk about new ideas instead of silos and he started a brush fire among Democrats who were tired of the losing proposition calling people names like millennials, women in pantsuits, LGBTQ, Latinos, Jews, African Americans and, the ever popular, “working class.” There are many more offensive classifications, like people from the rust belt, depending on the places where the pollsters were polling and class-hungry Democratic consultants were feeding. I can hear my friends in Pennsylvania now, “Hey lets us rust belt dudes grab a beer!” Really?
The least recognized perpetrator responsible for the big loss is the bastion of cronyism, the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee). Believe it or not, I still get two to three emails a day from these political potentates fear mongering for bucks. It’s worth noting that eager candidates must grovel before them for a blessing to even run for office. If a candidate wishes to get any of the “inside” money or a wink and a nod with the media, the DCCC decides, including who will be hired for polling, media and political consulting. Of course, what is never written is that there are unspeakable bonds between incumbents, some in the media and this shady bunch of consultants and, if you don’t pass muster with the DCCC, no endorsements are likely. And, stick with me, without that, potential rising stars in the Democratic Party who buck these big wigs never rise, and winning consultants who have done hard labor in the political grassroots trenches never get a job. It is a thorny crowd. Just ask Martin O’Malley or, better yet, Bernie Sanders, about the impossible task of getting airtime or column inches without the insiders’ support. And then, count the articles about how Hillary was unbeatable because of her lock on the big donors.
When Donald Trump said early on that the system is rigged and Americans smell a rat, I wrote then that he could win the election. Well, earnest Democrats can now take note. After a billion dollars spent to elect Hillary Clinton and much more when you take in races that the DCCC controlled, the system is still rigged and Democrats are losing. Those entrenched incumbents who didn’t lose were part of the old deal.
If this sounds like a bitter diatribe, it is that and more. The leaders of the Democratic Party and their consultants have systematically disenfranchised millions of voters on the way to greasing their egos and pockets. In the process, they have taken with them loyalists who for decades placed their faith and trust in their elected leaders. Their shameless hold on power as exhibited by the control freaks in Washington from both political parties has ironically uncovered their “dirty” deeds and exposed the raw nerves of a nation. Many of them haven’t gotten that memo yet, but what they are responsible for unleashing is unforgivable.
This didn’t happen overnight; it has been brewing for decades. But the shock was sudden, leaving many friends either in denial or aghast at the thought of current affairs. So many have grown up loving their icons, placing the yard signs and stickers all around and filling the blogosphere with charges and counter charges protecting the sanctity of the Party and its standard bearers. It is a tough pill to swallow but we have faced the cruel reality of the indifference and cynicism fed in a way to make us like it and we can no longer be naïve.
I am the leader of the new Democratic Party and so are you. We each have an obligation to learn from this lesson and create a legacy for Americans to repel existing tags as the conveniently classified or some minority. We now are the history that could repeat itself.
Valsin A. Marmillion is known as The Peace Man for daily commentary on Pirate Radio WKYZ Key West. His long career in Democratic politics, working on Capitol Hill and managing progressive national public engagement campaigns serves as a base for his understanding of the American political system.