There is more to American politics than fat cats and their political friends. There are serious-minded liberals who fight the good fight on many issues, ecologically oriented politicians who remain true to their cause, and honest people of every political stripe who are not beholden to any wealthy people. But there are not enough of them, and they are often worn down by the constant pressure from lobbyists, lawyers and conventional politicians. – Bill Domhoff
Big donors threaten to bolt from Democrats — and that’s a good thing
by Conor Lynch, Salon
In a recent interview on MSNBC, Democratic Party megadonor Stephen Cloobeck blasted his party’s leadership for embracing the populist rhetoric of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and threatened to cut off funds to the party if it moves too far left. “It drives me nuts,” complained Cloobeck, the founder and former CEO of Diamond Resorts International, who is reportedly worth around $100 million. “So much so it would make me quit the party. And I’ve made it very clear [to the Democratic leadership]; I’ll cut your money off. And others will do the same. We’ve had enough.”
Cloobeck was particularly aggrieved by certain Democratic politicians’ recent choice of words: “It is very disturbing when I hear the millionaire or billionaire word, and I’ve told them to stop it, knock it off. … If you use the term ‘billionaire’ again, I’m done.”
Around the same time that Cloobeck was professing outrage at the word billionaire, as if it were an ethnic slur used against a persecuted minority, America’s most prominent critic of the “billionaire class” was offering very different advice to the Democratic Party. “The party cannot remain an institution largely dominated by the wealthy and inside-the-Beltway consultants,” wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders in a column for Politico Magazine, in which he argued that the party must open its doors and “welcome into its ranks millions of working people and young people who desperately want to be involved in determining the future of our nation.”
“The future of Democratic Party institutions,” the senator continued, “has everything to do with whether or not Democrats have the grass-roots energy to effectively take on Trump, the Republican Party and their reactionary agenda.”
One of the fundamental problems with the Democratic Party today, according to Sanders, is that it is largely beholden to monied interests, and that wealthy donors like Cloobeck can hold the party hostage whenever it steps out of line or fails to adequately serve the interests of concentrated wealth. By threatening to cut the party off if it doesn’t “knock it off” and revert to neoliberal centrism, Cloobeck basically confirmed what progressives have been saying for years — that big donors have enormous power over politicians and typically expect something in return for their generous contributions.
There is no question that the Republican Party is objectively more rotten than the Democratic Party, as evidenced by the disastrous tax bill the GOP is currently pushing, which is favored by rich donors but overwhelmingly opposed by the majority of Americans. This explains why progressives like Sanders are attempting to reform the Democrats: Their party is not as irredeemable as the GOP, and is the only one that can effectively oppose Republicans’ reactionary agenda.
It is somewhat revealing that some centrist or neoliberal Democrats agree with this sentiment, and point out constantly that Sanders is not a registered Democrat and should thus stay out of the party’s affairs.
On Sunday, the senator responded to this idea during an appearance on “Face the Nation,” remarking to host John Dickerson that there are more registered independents today than either Democrats or Republicans, and that driving independents away from the Democratic Party is “totally absurd” and a “recipe for failure.”
The point, then, is to capture the Democratic Party from the Cloobecks of the world, and to transfer power back to the people. In order to do this, Sanders proposes that the Democrats not only reform their primary process and embrace independent voters, but adopt a grassroots model of politics similar to the one he ran on in 2016, when he broke fundraising records and received nearly 7 million donations, averaging $27 each. If the Democrats can create the same kind of grassroots energy that Sanders did in 2016, then the current hold that big donors have on the party will perhaps be broken.
To emulate Sanders’ successful grassroots campaign, of course, Democrats will have to emulate his populist tone, which may indeed involve calling out “billionaires” and the 1 percent, and adopting progressive policies like universal health care and free tuition at public colleges and universities. Cloobeck has warned that if the Democrats do go this route, he and other big donors will walk away. That was no doubt intended as a threat, but it’s exactly what the Democratic Party needs.
Take a look at the Republican Party. Victorious yet riven with dissension. For Republicans their supporters, driven by racism, bigotry, Xenophobia, and misogyny, are willing to ignore the Party’s servitude to Multinational Megacorporations and the increasingly diminishing upper class as it’s reduced from 1% to .02% to .01% with Social Darwinist determination.
The Democratic Party stands for inclusion on both social and economic justice levels. One without the other can not succeed.
Republican voters have been remarkably able to extract compliance from their Representatives, why are Democrats so reluctant to embrace majority sentiments? Do they require more pain and defeat? If so it is hardly a Party, instead a Jonestown suicide cult.
(note: Nancy Pelosi: Impeaching President Trump Would Be a Waste of Time and Energy. If you happen to think Trump a traitor who has sold out your country to the Russians you can hardly be happy with that statement, so very reminiscent of her position in 2006 on
W. Is it time for her to be replaced? I think she looks tired.)