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Pyrrhic Party: The Democratic Establishment’s War on Progressives


Pyrrhic Party: The Democratic Establishment’s War on Progressives

Richard Eskow

By supporting corporate-friendly candidates and policies, Congressional Democratic leaders are be moving closer and closer toward open warfare with their party’s base.

There is a real need to raise money, of course. But the party’s leaders have chosen to raise and spend money in ways that conflict with voters and render it all but ineffective as a force for much-needed change.

Under the best-case scenario, the party’s establishment is heading toward a Pyrrhic victory. And other, grimmer scenarios are possible.


So true. People voted for Obama for his “hope & change” and got shit, so along comes Trump with his unorthodox rhetoric and wins the support of an awful lot of white working Democrats. And we see what we’re getting from him, a bunch of bullshit and policies that actually harm working people. The Democratic party has become the old peoples party of status quo. Maybe Sanders wouldn’t have been able to get many of his programs through a Republican and conservative Democrat Congress, but you can be damn sure he would have been on tv shows and travelling across the country to get the country behind him. What will probably happen in the mid terms is the Dems take the House and the Republicans hold the Senate and nothing else will change. We’ll just continue the long fall of the “middle class” and people will just become MORE pissed off.


Why on Earth is anyone still clinging to this corrupt party? At this point, those who are trying to prop up this party are helping to enable corruption and undemocratic practices including election rigging. It’s long past time for progressives to break once and for all with the Democratic Party. Let it die.


The only real difference between the Republican Party and The Democratic Party as far as the progressive movement goes is that the Republicans want to ensure Progressives do not succeed and the Democrats want to ensure Progressives fail.

Ultimately , the greater enemy is in fact the Democrats as Progressives will always fail as long as they attach their hopes and dreams to the Democrats.


Had Sanders decided to break with Clinton and the Democrats at the convention in 2016 and embarked on a third party movement, taking some progressive leaning Democrats with him, we might be seeing a very different Democratic party, today, going into the November elections. Until the party’s “they have nowhere else to go” strategy is gutted and obliterated, the party will continue to sacrifice its base for corporate cash and behave as little more than a fundraising organization.


Death to the democratic party.


I think Indivisible is going to be a big player in November. They are beginning to go through the endorsement process and have about 6,000 groups engaged across the county. They claim to be pushing the Democrats to the move the party to the left. They say that they will be backing progressives although I don’t think they will be using the progressive litmus tests to the extent that Sanders’ groups use them. Right now I am working with an Indivisible group in my area and am interested to see how Indivisible proceeds through the endorsement stage and beyond. Indivisible is beginning a push to register voters. Getting more voters registered could be the key to winning and if nothing else will improve democracy.


Of course, neoliberal Democrats are their own worst enemy. They have lost four elections in a row, and are setting themselves up for the fifth, because progressive voters don’t vote for neoliberals and Republicans don’t vote for Republican Light.
But progressives are their own worst enemy too, since they still can’t get organized and start a new political party.
And don’t blame that on Bernie Sanders. He made it perfectly clear that he wants the people to lead, and not him.


Unrealistic. The majority of Democratic voters won’t vote third party. What must be done is to support progressives in the Democratic PRIMARIES. This is where we can make a difference.

We have to defeat the “Republicans” with a “D” after their names before we can take on real Republicans. For this purpose, the Democratic primaries are even more important than the general elections.


It’s not unrealistic, all that is needed is a politician with real progressive values like Sanders to step-up, and the dem base will leave the party, then it can die like it needs to. I’m not a big history buff, but I seem to remember my teachers talking about a party called the Whigs, they were part of the 2 party system and died. Alan I’m not trying to be disrespectful here, but the dem party has convinced the people that they have no other choice, and that’s just not true.


The Democratic leadership seems to want to be Republicans. They are courting corporations and big money, just like the Repugs. They seem to believe the only way to stay viable and competitive is to get that big money. They do not believe in what Bernie Sanders did–getting small contributors to support them from the middle/working class and from minorities. Therefore, I think it is the leadership that needs replacing, not the party. Bernie could have started that transition.

The reality facing us is not pleasant. Until we make major changes in election reform, we are stuck with a two-party system. I voted Green in the last few elections and cringed to see the tiny percentage of votes at the end of the elections.

We’re in a Catch-22. We’re slipping into Fascism through both parties. As of now, 3rd parties are not viable enough. We need time, but we don’t have it.


In the article it was pointed out that congressional elections are different from presidential elections. “The dynamics of congressional fundraising are very different than those of presidential races.” One important consideration is whether a race is in a big TV market of not. It is extremely expensive to run TV ads in big markets. So if the election is in a state like Vermont with no big TV market that is not an issue but if in a state like California with several big TV markets then raising large sums of money may be necessary particularly if the Republican is running an expensive negative ad campaign which is common. Another consideration is whether the Republican is being heavily funded by right wing billionaire donors like the Koch brothers, Robert Mercer, the Walton family, etc. When many millions are being pumped into a congressional campaign it is difficult to raise sufficient funds using only small donors. I think it is unclear without campaign finance reform whether Democratic candidates can be competitive nationally without being willing to accept corporate donations for their campaigns.


Hm, so therein lies the Catch-22. The large corporations will then expect “favors.”


First of all, your “big” markets are big because they have more people in them, which means there is a larger pool of potential donors who will know about a candidate, even if that candidate is not in their own district. The potential take from small donors is much higher in big markets. This offsets the cost profile that you cite.

Bernie proved your other point to be untrue. Most of the small donor fund-raising seems to be via the internet and through e-mail solicitation, which requires little, if any, direct candidate time, as opposed to big donor fund-raising which requires candidates to spend inordinate amounts of time on the phone or in face-to-face meetings. You seem wedded to the establishment world view and unable to understand there is a viable, winning, alternative strategy to the big money/corporate/billionaire funding approach. You and our ilk just don’t seem able or willing to “get it”, even in the face of contrary facts.


No. Those working to organize and sustain a third (or 4th, 5th…) party will continue to face the thoroughly bipartisan thicket of election laws by which Brand D and R privilege themselves. Your comment smacks of victim-blaming.


Thank you, Richard Escow. I differ on just one point: the last one in the article. What the Sanders movement showed the Democratic party, the party was not willing to embrace. Therefore, IMHO, it is not “time to change the party,” as Escow says. It is time for the Sanders base, and the broad left base already alienated by the Democratic party, to split off and form their own alternative party.

Let the few progressive Dems still left in the Party join the new formation, if they so wish.

In the end the corrupt Democratic party would dissolve like a sand castle at high tide (or merge with the Repugs), and the new party would probably pick up most if not all of the rust-belt Obama voters who flipped for Trump in 2016.

That’s my suggestion.


You don’t have to take this oath. It has already committed suicide and what we see is the ghost of its rotten carcass.


Someone needs to send this article to Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the neoliberals in the Democratic Party “leadership.”


It’ll be unrealistic as long as cowards keep clinging to the past.

Meanwhile, fewer and fewer voters register as Ds, and lots of the former D-Party base stays home on election day. What size losing streak will be epic enough to change your mind?


By supporting corporate-friendly candidates and policies, Congressional Democratic leaders are be moving closer and closer toward open warfare with their party’s base. The base says no more big money corruption! http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2018/04/25143154/Overview_1.png