By Josh Sager
Note: When I refer to the Democrat party I am referring to the post-reconstruction party not its previous incarnation in the south before the civil war. I also need to clarify that there are strong, progressive voices within the Democrats, but too often they are silenced in the aggregate of the Democratic Party as a whole; these progressives (Grijalva, Grayson, Warren, etc.) not only do not deserve to be tarred under the same brush as the rest of the party but are, in my opinion, the future of the party.
Historically the Democratic Party has been a large tent party which supports labor, the middle class, and equal rights for minorities/women. Democrats have been the driving force behind numerous civil rights advances as well as the entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) that benefit the poor and middle class. Democrats have also traditionally supported immigration reform and a women's right to an abortion, however there has always been more variation in beliefs for these two issues.
The current incarnation of the Democratic Party resembles the historical Democratic Party in the same way a chihuahua and a malamute resemble each other in that they are both dogs. The current Democratic Party insists on compromise to the point of complete ineffectiveness. When the Democratic weakness is combined with the insane radicalism of the Republicans, the result is that the Democrats are no longer liberal nor progressive but rather centrist.
A majority of Democratic politicians seem largely incapable of showing any spine either in defense of their views or their fellow Democrats. Ironically, Anthony Weiner, one of the very few Democrats to show any (figurative) balls on the floor of congress (See: The fight over the health bill for 9/11 first responders in the house floor) was essentially ejected from the congress for twittering pictures of his actual balls over the internet. The Democrats have gradually been pulled over to the right through compromise and refusing to draw a line in the sand. To the Republicans and corporate interests, the Democratic Party is essentially one of those blowup-punching bag clowns; irritating, impossible to completely knock over due to its heavy base re-righting it, but at the same time completely incapable of fighting back or protecting itself.
Somehow many of the deals between the Democrats and Republicans end up with the Republicans getting more than the initially asked for (See: 2011 Debt ceiling fight or budget debate for examples of this). Whenever two groups get together and start haggling, the ideal is that they eventually compromise in the middle. However, the Democratic Party has capitulated in some such haggling sessions to the point where the agreed upon “compromise” is actually more right wing than the Republican’s initial position.
Unfortunately the Democratic Party is by far the best choice for political representation in the current national debate because while they are severely flawed, they are the only thing standing against a group which actively wants to destroy the US government and install a cross between a Christian version of the Taliban and an Ayn Randian dystopia.
While the Democratic Party is weak, ineffective, and makes deals which even the average middle school student can see border upon complete capitulation, they have two things going for them: First and foremost, they are better (and far more sane) than the Republican alternative. Secondly, they have a few strong voices that, if given a chance, could reform the party out of its current weakness and into one that could do a huge amount of good for the country.