Saturday, February 17 , 2018, 9:18 pm | Fair 49º


Letter to the Editor: Democratic Party Needs to Chart a Different Course

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” (John Donne)

Following the election of Donald Trump, the world is full of bluster, harrumph, finger-pointing, protests, parades, we'll-show-you threats, etc., etc.

Feminist fools cry that we misogynists - including liberal white women - have foully wounded a noble champion.

Teen-age troglodytes block freeways claiming the Constitution should be ignored.

Defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, through her supporters, tells us that one man, James Comey, has prevented her from choosing drapes for the Oval Office.

In fact, at this critical moment the entire United States seems like a huge microwave oven with pundits' heads exploding like popcorn all over the place.

But Robert Reich, the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor, said this:

“Democrats once represented the working class. Not any more. ... over the last three decades the party has been taken over by Washington-based fundraisers, bundlers, analysts, and pollsters who have focused instead on raising campaign money from corporate and Wall Street executives and getting votes from upper middle-class households in 'swing' suburbs.

“Democrats have occupied the White House for 16 of the last 24 years, and for four of those years had control of both houses of Congress. But in that time they failed to reverse the decline in working-class wages and economic security. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements without providing millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.

“They stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class – failing to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violate them, or help workers form unions with simple up-or-down votes. Partly as a result, union membership sank from 22% of all workers when Bill Clinton was elected president to less than 12% today, and the working class lost bargaining leverage to get a share of the economy’s gains.

“Bill Clinton and Obama also allowed antitrust enforcement to ossify – with the result that large corporations have grown far larger, and major industries more concentrated. The unsurprising result of this combination – more trade, declining unionization and more industry concentration – has been to shift political and economic power to big corporations and the wealthy, and to shaft the working class. This created an opening for Donald Trump’s authoritarian demagoguery, and his presidency.” (, Nov. 10, 2016)

So the upshot is this: Are you Democratic Party loyalists - who averted your faces and said nothing, or actually beamed with approval, while your policies became what Reich has described – are you going to continue to bluster, to continue to explain how tactics sank you, or are you quietly but forcefully going to go about the business of recreating what your party stands for?

Or to put It another way – in the words of author George Borgas who in his recent book “We Wanted Workers” describes how statistics re immigration can be viewed - “Who are you rooting for?”

Most of you decided to bypass Senator Bernie Sanders, the only presidential aspirant who wanted to address the fundamental problems cited by Secretary Reich.

Now you have the considerable task of charting a different course to convince others where your sympathies lie.

My suggestion is that you start by supporting for Democratic Party National Committee Chair Keith Ellison, as recommended by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and likely Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. This would be a first step toward declaring that Democrats intend to become a progressive force in the nation, one that works for the interests of the working class.

Next, all who in the past four years did nothing to help assure the election of president by national popular vote should get off their duffs and help pressure legislators to enact this simple compact into law.

The following states have already joined National Popular Vote: District of Columbia (3 electoral votes); Hawaii (4); Illinois (20); Maryland (10); Massachusetts (11); New Jersey (14); Washington State (12); Vermont (3); California (55); Rhode Island (4); New York (29).

Total electoral votes: 165.

When states totaling another 105 electoral votes join, all signatories pledge to cast all their electoral college votes for the presidential candidate who's received the most votes nationwide.

So if your home state is other than listed above, or if you have family/friends there, start informing/pushing for residents to pressure legislators to join National Popular Vote.

At this date, many Democratic Party loyalists, in my opinion, have become a sorry lot, and are now paying a price for it.

But if you think your Democratic political/social policies are just fine as is, good luck to you.

Otherwise, you have four years to change.

If you don't help, don't complain.

William Smithers
Santa Barbara

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