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What’s Wrong With The Democratic Party

In a lively roundtable discussion Ralph talks to top political analysts Thomas Frank and Bill Curry about why, despite the obvious cold-hearted cruelty of the Republican agenda, the Democrats continue to lose.

thomas frank

Thomas Frank is a political analyst, historian, and journalist, who has written several books, including his scathing analysis of the modern Democratic Party Listen Liberal: Or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? which is now out in paperback.

bill curry

Bill Curry is a political columnist for Salon and many other publications.  Mr. Curry was a White House counselor to President Clinton and a two-time Democratic nominee for governor of Connecticut.  He is at work on a book on President Obama and the politics of populism.

12 Comments

  1. David says:

    When the great Tao is forgotten,
    Kindness and morality arise.
    When wisdom and intelligence are born,
    The great pretense begins.

    When there is no peace within the family,
    Filial piety and devotion arise.
    When the country is confused and in chaos,
    LOYAL MINISTERS appear.

    Lao Tsu

    emphasis mine

    Thanks Thomas, Bill, and Ralph. With this direction, there’s a chance we’ll get those loyal ministers in there. It’s time.

    Hey and when you guys get bumped, don’t put up resistance.

  2. Jeffrey Hotchkiss says:

    In the discussion of media and radio talk shows – no mention of Air America? It was a brief but notable effort in the last decade to get left and progressive views on to the radio airwaves. Ran out of funds as I recall but don’t know the details. I listened regularly and enjoyed it.

  3. Jeffrey Hotchkiss says:

    Huh. Waste of time. 20 minutes gone by and no mention of the systemic problem, although Curry did say he agreed with the Green Party’s platform but considered it a only a protest effort every 4 years. He should check out Cheri Honkala’s story in Philadelphia, and other ground-level Green efforts around the country.

    I have always been befuddled by the calibration of American liberal politics – well, we can’t have nice things because…they just aren’t realistic.

    I now understand that this is code for: even though we know it’s right to acknowledge and fight against the worst effects of colonialism and extractive capitalism, we can’t really push too hard or connect the dots for people, because then we’d have to admit that we might have to give up some privilege, convenience and cheap consumer goods.

    If you want to identify the illness in American politics today, you need look no further than the various reactions to the Standing Rock water protection action. Libertarians and Republicans were for the pipeline and dismissive of indigenous concerns, Clinton issued a non-statement, Sanders voiced support for the protectors, but only Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka actually went there. And it would never have hit mainstream media were it not for Amy Goodman’s initiative to capture the footage of dogs attacking the protectors.

    I met Jill Stein in person near the beginning of the campaign, and proposed that she and the Greens not just advocate for indigenous rights, but also accept indigenous leadership. She was receptive to that idea – and as above, was most aligned with it.

    The truth is, we are in a state today of coming to reckoning with the colonial violence of the last 500 years. We will not solve the life-ending problems that has created, using the tools and systems that perpetrated it.

    Only noticing, acknowledging, lifting up and supporting the global indigenous uprising that is currently happening, will align our political system in a way that has the best chance of securing our survival.

    Thank you.

  4. Bruce K. says:

    Great show. I wonder why there are so few discussions on this website? Can you let people know about the website and discussion board, that might help. If this was a right-wing show you can be sure those nuts would be here putting the lousy liberals down. Listen Liberal was a great book and Frank has a lot to say that is important for Americans to hear. How can anyone think the solution for a weak Democratic party is to side with the fascists? I will never get this until it is proved to me without a doubt that the elections are not being stolen.

    As far as Soros or other wealthy supposed Progressives, the issue here is the same with Orwell’s 1984, the system runs the resistance – that is the only way to be sure to keep them in check. They do not want a Progressive channel is all I cant imagine.

  5. Brux says:

    Thomas Frank is great, but he completely dodged the answer to Ralph’s question about how to change the Democratic party from without.
    All these lecturing book-writers do is talk, talk, talk, write books, sell books, talk more, talk more, talk more …
    They never do anything. They never float plans. They never work with another other people that have the same ideas, that write the same books … they are useless, and that is why people are so disgusted.

  6. Brux says:

    Progressives do not know what they are for because they have been programmed, as Noam Chomsky
    says, to have bounds to their thinking … they think inside the box. The natural agenda is obvious, that
    which was aborted when FDR died, the FDR agenda. Starting out with the motivations, the mission
    statements, so to speak, the four freedoms, or is it five, and everything falls out from there.

    Living wage, universal health care, universal education, the basics of life, and a kind of new social
    contract. People are scared of this when it comes right down to it because it is a huge change, and
    that never goes well. You have to have a studied process, and a way to institutionalize these changes
    so that they are accepted. This is business 6-sigma pretty much – and government really needs it bad.

    The progressive movement is fractured in the media. They rip everyone apart over issues like abortion,
    or Israel, or nuclear weapons, or global warming, there needs to be triage, there needs to be acceptance
    and cooperation that not all issues can be solved at once. Whatever solution needs to serve the most
    number of people, so instead of, for example, fixing the situation with black people, or native americans,
    or latinos, boil it all down to class, and design the system to react to people based on their class, their
    money. The UBI or negative income tax. Single Payer health care. Education … Bernie had the big
    things right.

    Finally, show it can work by doing what Michael Moore and T.R. Reid have been doing, give Americans a
    peek at what other countries are doing and how that is working out. Reid did this with health care, and
    not with taxes. Moore has done this in health care, and prisons, and middle class life in general.

    This should be a no-brainer, so the people in the Democratic party are either no-brains, of they are
    just pretending to work for the people but are really working against them. Look at Gavin Newsom,
    when Democrats first Gore and then Kerry were ahead in the polls, he started marrying gay people
    on the steps of City Hall in SF, CA … and mobilized the Republicans to show up and vote.

  7. Bruce K. says:

    Progressives do not know what they are for because they have been programmed, as Noam Chomsky
    says, to have bounds to their thinking … they think inside the box. The natural agenda is obvious, that
    which was aborted when FDR died, the FDR agenda. Starting out with the motivations, the mission
    statements, so to speak, the four freedoms, or is it five, and everything falls out from there.

    Living wage, universal health care, universal education, the basics of life, and a kind of new social
    contract. People are scared of this when it comes right down to it because it is a huge change, and
    that never goes well. You have to have a studied process, and a way to institutionalize these changes
    so that they are accepted. This is business 6-sigma pretty much – and government really needs it bad.

    The progressive movement is fractured in the media. They rip everyone apart over issues like abortion,
    or Israel, or nuclear weapons, or global warming, there needs to be triage, there needs to be acceptance
    and cooperation that not all issues can be solved at once. Whatever solution needs to serve the most
    number of people, so instead of, for example, fixing the situation with black people, or native americans,
    or latinos, boil it all down to class, and design the system to react to people based on their class, their
    money. The UBI or negative income tax. Single Payer health care. Education … Bernie had the big
    things right.

    Finally, show it can work by doing what Michael Moore and T.R. Reid have been doing, give Americans a
    peek at what other countries are doing and how that is working out. Reid did this with health care, and
    not with taxes. Moore has done this in health care, and prisons, and middle class life in general.

    This should be a no-brainer, so the people in the Democratic party are either no-brains, of they are
    just pretending to work for the people but are really working against them. Look at Gavin Newsom,
    when Democrats first Gore and then Kerry were ahead in the polls, he started marrying gay people
    on the steps of City Hall in SF, CA … and mobilized the Republicans to show up and vote.

  8. Erik Husoe says:

    I say we must primary every single corporate establishment Democrat with a real grassroots progressives. I will never vote for a corporatist politician ever again. Setting up and arguing for us to vote for the lesser of two evils by voting for these corporatist Democrats will no longer work on us. Step aside and let the progressive run the party if you want to win. Sadly, they would rather lose to Trump than win with a true progressive like Bernie. #JusticeDemocrats

  9. Mikael Broström says:

    “What’s wrong with the Democratic Party?”
    What is wrong with Curry, Frank, and Nader?
    Usually I cannot get enough of this show as it challenges all of us, but on this show all of you are not well informed. Yes, the Democratic Party is dead and it has been for a long time, but THERE IS a wing of the Democratic Party which does challenge the status quo of the corporate Democrats. They have risen up from the need of a party for and of the people. They have a well defined plan and platform. They only accept small none corporate donations, and they train likeminded candidates to run against both Republicans and corporate Democrats. Please check them out and support them on your show. JUSTICE DEMOCRATS at justicedemocrats.com.

  10. Gary says:

    Anti corrupt movement–yes…—…

  11. robert dresdner says:

    I’m from DC [formerly NJ] and voted Jill based on her platform [Bernie had sold out to Hilary or was simply pushed aside]. But she got only 3% of the vote or less. I conclude from this that voting Americans chose and prefer a corporate military industrial plutocracy. Thats all. 50% of the voters went for the mainstream plutocracy whether served by Donald or Hilary. People will argue they are very different, but that is true only on a very limited subset of domestic spending issues. On the majority of issues they didnt disagree and that is becasue they front for the same mainstream plutocracy

  12. robert dresdner says:

    As usual, both these pundits/writers as well as Ralph are pounding the same old worn out tired drum, again advocating liberal party building. Ive marched to that exhausted drum beat my whole life. I worked on the Nuclear Freeze [talk about minority] in my 20s. I spent a 25 year career on environmental issues [another lost cause]. It was uphill all the way. Liberals are flying in the face of what this “police state” is about- a top down right wing plutocracy.

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