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The Democratic Party is a disaster. We have to start over

The Democratic Party is a disaster. We have to start over

Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a rally at the Grand Valley State University Fieldhouse in Allendale, Michigan on November 7, 2016. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)
Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a rally at the Grand Valley State University Fieldhouse in Allendale, Michigan on November 7, 2016. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

You know the “Blue Screen of Death”? The way your PC screen turns blue when the Windows operating system goes kaput? During the Clinton administration, the cause of a BSoD was liable to be hardware-related — owing, say, to a failed motherboard — so the bluetastrophe was lethal. Irreparable.

The disaster that befell the Democratic Party a year ago is exactly this kind of fatal blow, a political BSoD.

We Democrats believed that things were moving, slowly, in the right direction; that our Republican friends and relatives would see sense, somehow, eventually — no way were they really that racist, or that hypocritical. We believed our Democratic leaders would play fair, and prove worthy of our trust; that their loyalty to rich donors would diminish, that progressives would gain power within the party.

But we were blind to the truth, and blindsided by the catastrophic ineptitude of our leadership. Against all sense, at a time of dangerous polarization and unrest, Democrats were pressured to back a candidate of legendary unpopularity. The party’s chair was ousted at a crucial moment because she abused her power on behalf of that candidate.

All that was very depressing, but the breakdown that caused the Democrats’ Fatal Exception really began many years earlier.

Thirteen summers ago, Barack Obama gave the speech at the Democratic National Convention that would seal his fate, and the nation’s. He told us not what was true or real, but instead, a tissue of beautiful lies that so many of us wanted to hear. 

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there's the United States of America.

Barack Obama

We mustn’t forget that Obama’s stirring speech concluded with the optimistic prediction that John Kerry would win the 2004 election. Spoiler: He didn’t.

Hope! Hope all you want, hope until you are blue in the face; hoping didn’t make it so. In real life there was and is a liberal America and a conservative America. To pretend otherwise was, and is, a mistake.

We have to stop running candidates like Hillary Clinton, who we are told, against all evidence, will appeal to red America. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that it’s a dog fight out there and the only way to win is to build up from our populist liberal base.

Troublingly, the Democratic National Committee, led still by the same corporatists who supported Clinton, and who made sure that leftist Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) was denied the top spot, is as clueless as ever. In October, DNC Chair Tom Perez purged popular leftists from the ranks of party leaders.

The Democratic establishment caused the Blue Screen of Death. We need a new computer with a freshly installed operating system, and pronto. There is no reboot or Safe Mode available. The only option is to throw out the broken machine.

Maria Bustillos is a Los Angeles journalist and critic.

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