What Happened to the Progressive Democrats?

Shaun Joseph tracks the fate of the left wing of the Democratic Party.

I think the usual approach when a left-wing socialist talks about the Democratic Party is to explain that the Party is a critical part of the political defense system of American big business–in Kevin Phillips’s apt phrase, “history’s second-most enthusiastic capitalist party.” This is proved quite easily through an examination of the typically awful reactionary policies of the Democratic “mainstream” throughout the ages–pro-war, anti-labor, against oppressed people–and by noting the many influential racists and dinosaurs in the Party’s right wing.

Now I completely agree with all that, but that’s not what I’m going to write about here, or not quite. When progressives or activists gravitate toward the Democratic Party, it’s generally not because of the panache of people like Joe Lieberman or Frank Caprio–it’s because of Dennis Kucinich or David Segal. That is, when people pin their hopes on the donkey, they pin it to the left flank. Therefore, an analysis of the progressive Democrats is of particular importance to those of us who want to build a non-sectarian yet independent political left.

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