Many political commentators today are perplexed by what seems to be the increasing polarization of the two party system in America, and the rising tensions that have accompanied a rhetorical arms race of inflammatory cross fire.
It is my contention that the Republican and Democratic Parties are not in fact drifting further apart than ever before, but over recent decades have actually become more and more like each other, and that today they are nearly indistinguishable from each other in terms of the substantive policy results each delivers when in power.
It is in fact their unprecedented similarity to each other that has given rise to the need for ever more hyperbolic product differentiation in their branded marketing, or to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare: The parties doth protest too much.
If Coke and Pepsi were actually very different from each other, they wouldn't have to spend so much money (billions of dollars a year each) to keep from losing market share to each other, but in the end– even though they are slightly different– they are essentially the same thing: a cola-flavored, carbonated beverage... and if either one lets up even a little on advertising to convince consumers that it's different and better, it will lose market share to the other.
That's what's happening with the two party system today. The two parties are actually so similar that they have to spend billions each year to differentiate themselves from the competition, but the differences aren't real– they're branded corporate marketing.
And I can prove it, with this list of 50 ways the Democratic Party has sold out its own purported values.
When Democrats talk about:
Economic Fairness Financial Security Removing Barriers to Opportunity America's Health and Safety And Principled Global Leadership
...it's just talk.
And the policies they actually support end up looking just like the policies of the Republicans they say they're protecting you from.
If you're a Republican reading this list, please do enjoy it, but don't laugh too hard, because I've also made a list of 50 major ways the Republican Party has sold out its values.
The following 50 headings are the bullet points taken directly from the DNC's official party platform in 2016 listing the Democratic Party's priorities, but as you will see, the actual policies the Democrats support are the opposite of what it promises:
1. Raising Worker's Wages - Democrats say they are for raising workers' wages, but many of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's top campaign contributors were all Wall Street banks, showing you their loyalties lie with capital, not labor– as if rigging the election against Bernie Sanders didn't make that clear enough.
2. Protecting and Expanding Social Security
This is listed as a priority on the DNC's official platform, so why did Democrats in Congress join Republicans to raid Social Security before 2010 when it was running annual surpluses?
3. Ensuring A Secure and Dignified Retirement
How can Democrats say they are for ensuring a secure and dignified retirement when they spent the Obama years running up massive trillion dollar deficits to bail out irresponsible Wall Street capitalists, borrowing all of that money from the Federal Reserve, which creates it out of thin air and drives down the value of workers' retirement savings?
4. Reigning in Wall Street and Fixing Our Financial System
During the Wall Street financial crisis, Sen. Obama (who was running for president at the time) voted for the TARP bailout, which rewarded Wall Street with hundreds of billions of dollars for its corrupt practices. After becoming president, he never prosecuted a single Wall Street banker, even though he had no problem throwing the book at whistle blowers in his administration.
5. Making The Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes
East Coast Democratic Party leaders and policymakers are currently pushing for massive tax cuts for the wealthy residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland. This kind of thing has been going on since the 1980s when the Democratic Party decided to court more wealthy special interests and abandon its roots as the party of labor while keeping the rhetoric so it could keep the votes.
6. Ending Systemic Racism
7. Closing The Racial Wealth Gap
"The Obama presidency was a disaster for middle-class wealth in the United States. Between 2007 and 2016, the average wealth of the bottom 99 percent dropped by $4,500. Over the same period, the average wealth of the top 1 percent rose by $4.9 million.
This drop hit the housing wealth of African Americans particularly hard. Outside of home equity, black wealth recovered its 2007 level by 2016. But average black home equity was still $16,700 lower.
Much of this decline, we will argue, can be laid at the feet of President Obama." (Source)
8. Reforming Our Criminal Justice System
Some of the deepest blue states like California and Minnesota have some of the harshest criminal justice systems and overpopulated prisons with some of the most conspicuously unequal outcomes for different races, and the Democratic Party's leaders are not actually making reform a priority.
9. Fixing Our Broken Immigration System
While the Democratic Party is staking out a pro-immigration stance, Barack Obama deported more people than any president in U.S. history.
10. Guaranteeing Civil Rights
The Democratic Party claims to be fighting for the end of discrimination, while many of its overt supporters have made the casual degradation of white people and men a disturbingly normal part of their social media echo chamber, culminating with the promotion of Sarah Jeong to the editorial board of the New York Times despite a history of racially inflammatory and cruel tweets.
11. Guaranteeing Women's Rights
The idea of the Democratic Party as the defender of women's rights and the vanguard of the #MeToo movement in American politics is preposterous. It's most recent presidential campaign for Hillary Clinton, raised $1.4 million in donations bundled by Harvey Weinstein, who was already notorious for his mistreatment of women before rape allegations against him sparked the #MeToo movement in the first place. And she was far from the only Democratic politician to take Weinstein's money.
12. Guaranteeing LGBT Rights
Barack Obama opposed gay marriage until 2012. Hillary Clinton opposed it until 2013. Democrats pandered to the LGBT community for their votes, but left them in the cold when it came to fighting for their rights, afraid to stand up for marriage equality in a still very religious country. It wasn't Democrats that brought you marriage equality in the USA, but a Supreme Court decision in which a Reagan-appointed Justice was the deciding vote in favor.
13. Ending Poverty and Investing in Communities Left Behind
Instead of allowing capital to flow freely through the economy and create more opportunities for working Americans to lift themselves out of poverty, Barack Obama continued his Republican predecessor's policy of soaking every dollar Washington possibly could out of the economy, running record deficits and doubling the national debt, mostly to give that money to big corporations.
14. Building Strong Cities and Metro Areas
Many of America's metros that have lived under the unchallenged iron grip of Democratic Party leadership for the longest– cities like Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, and Memphis– have some of the most abysmal records of civic mismanagement and institutional corruption, leaving residents stuck in a cycle of poverty and vulnerable to violent crime, natural disasters, and even poisoned city water.
15. Protecting Voting Rights
16. Fixing Our Broken Campaign Finance System
Democrats use dark money too, you'd better believe it.
And HRC raised conspicuously more money than DJT.
17. Securing Environmental and Climate Justice
No organization on earth has a larger carbon and radioactive footprint than the United States Department of Defense, and the Iraq War has had a devastating impact on the environment, not only as a result of the amount of petroleum burned, but the amount of radioactive depleted uranium littered throughout the region by the U.S. military. A majority of Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, voted for the Iraq War.
18. Making Debt Free College A Reality
If that was really a priority for the Democratic Party, they wouldn't have forcefully kept Bernie Sanders from having a fair chance at the nomination in 2016.
19. Providing Relief From Crushing Student Debt
20. Reducing Prescription Drug Costs
The highly partisan Affordable Care Act, for which not a single House or Senate Republican voted, is entirely the work of the Democratic Party. Passed by Democrats in 2010, by 2016 health care prices, including the prices of medicine, had risen more than they ever had in over 30 years.
21. Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction
22. Securing Reproductive Health Rights and Justice
Yet conspicuously absent from the DNC platform is a commitment to decriminalizing sex work, or any mention of sex workers at all, ignoring a longstanding violation of the reproductive rights of as many as 1 million Americans who are sex workers, and making it more difficult for them to maintain their reproductive health and safety, as well as denying them access to legal remedies when their rights are violated.
23. Protecting and Promoting Public Health
Yet again, the signature legislative accomplishment of the Democratic Party regarding health care in recent times, the bill that passed over the objections of the entire Republican caucus in both Houses, the bill that could have had anything Democratic policymakers wanted in it– simply grabbed as much money as it could for mega corporations that sell health insurance, creating rising premiums and rising deductibles.
24. Preventing Gun Violence
Yet the Democratic Party's leaders continue to support "gun free zones" even though 96% of rampage shootings from 1998 - 2015 happened in gun free zones, where the shooter knows they will be able to massacre victims without being thwarted by an armed citizen.
25. Support our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans
But veterans organizations say they are ignored by Democratic Party leaders.
26. Confront Global Threats
But it was a Democrat, Rep. Charlie Wilson (TX), who helped funnel first tens, then hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to terrorist groups to terrorist groups in the Middle East.
While the Clinton Foundation accepted "between $10 million and $25 million" in donations from Saudi Arabia, the most prolific state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
In 2016 at the end of eight years with a Democrat as commander in chief, this LA Times article may be a candidate for headline of the century: "In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA"
In a surreal turn of events, the war in Afghanistan, now the longest running war in U.S. history, has dramatically changed from the War on Terror, a reprisal against the regime that harbored Osama bin Laden, to a literal battlefield in the U.S. War on Drugs: an endless fight against the cultivation and trade of opium. Obama massively escalated the costly and deadly war there, and kept pushing back the timetable for a withdrawal.
President Obama worked to improve relations between the U.S. and Iran, but after Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from an international treaty called "the Iran Deal" in common parlance, Democratic leaders lacked the will to mount a serious challenge to him over the diplomatic boondoggle.
31. North Korea
The Democrats' policy on North Korea under Barack Obama was to continue the Washington establishment's costly and risky policy of endless, relentless provocation featuring annual live fire practice invasions of North Korea, hastening the isolated communist country's nuclearization in the aftermath of the global spectacle of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, which left the Kim regime viewing these provocations as deadly serious.
The unambiguous policy of the Democratic Party establishment and its foremost voices in the mainstream media since the election of Donald Trump has been to recklessly and shortsightedly push for a return of Cold War era tensions with the government of the world's second largest nuclear arsenal.
While the DNC platform has a bullet point for Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, it is conspicuously missing one for Libya, which Obama took America to war with in 2011, without a congressional authorization (many Democrats even rebuked Bush for going to war in Iraq without U.N. authorization even though he got congressional approval– with a majority of Democrats in the Senate as well), destabilizing a relatively stable, secular regime and overt U.S. ally in the Middle East / North Africa, and turning it into a hotbed of radical Islamic terrorism.
34. Women and Girls
Remember the millions of dollars the Clinton Foundation accepted from Saudi Arabia mentioned earlier in this list? Don't forget the Obama Administration maintained a cozy relationship with the Saudi's under his leadership as president and Hillary Clinton's leadership as Secretary of State. They have not used any of that leverage to do anything about Saudi Arabia's abysmal treatment of women and girls. Democrats have been cozying up to and taking oil money from a country that ranks 141st out of 144 countries on women's equality.
35. Young People
The Democratic Party's Affordable Care Act referenced above was a massive transfer of money from Millennials, whose health insurance premiums went up even though they are younger and healthier, to subsidize the health insurance of Baby Boomers, the richest generation in the history of the world, that have had their entire lives to save up for health costs in their old age, and haven't been saddled with the kind of student debt Bernie Sanders was campaign to relieve young people from, but Democrats are quite apparently more interested in bailing out Wall Street banks and fleecing young people with every record setting deficit they help pass.
36. Religious minorities
Under the bullet point the DNC calls freedom of religion "a fundamental right," but not if you bake cakes for a living.
Again, Barack Obama deported more people than any president in U.S. history.
38. Civil Society
The DNC says: "Democrats support progress toward more accountable governance and universal rights. As autocrats and strongmen around the world crack down on civil society and imprison those who speak out to demand greater freedom, we will continue to bolster groups and individuals who fight for fundamental human rights, democracy, and rule of law. We will support strong legislatures, independent judiciaries, free press, vibrant civil society, honest police forces, religious freedom, and equality for women and minorities."
While its most visible leader, Hillary Clinton, stoked Cold War era fears to keep Julian Assange pinned to the inside of the Ecudorian embassy in London under house arrest for creating the most relevant journalism organization in recent history.
How can the Democratic Party claim any credibility in fighting corruption in the U.S. government when its own nominating process was thoroughly corrupt?
The CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program consists of seizing terror suspects, detaining them without warrant or trial, and sending them offshore to outsource their "interrogation" to third world countries where they are tortured for information and confessions. Democrats– including Obama– criticized Bush for this practice, but as soon as he became president, the Obama Administration wasted no time in quietly retaining the practice of rendition.
41. Closing Guantanamo Bay
Mr. Obama, you had eight years to do it.
42. Development Assistance
This is the Democratic Party explicitly promising to continue the deplorable Washington practice of handing millions of taxpayer dollars to brutal dictators in some of the world's poorest countries. This goes against the Democratic Party's professed values of human rights, justice, and equality, as well as principled global leadership.
43. HIV and AIDS
When Bill Clinton went to speak at the International Aids Conference this year, he was picketed by attendees who protested his invitation to speak there as well as plans to host the conference in the United States in 2019, because of the bipartisan status quo that criminalizes sex worker, denying them access to the best legal and medical care they can receive to help prevent the transmission of STDS like HIV and AIDS.
44. Trafficking and Modern Slavery
In Obama and Clinton's Libya, slave auctions sell young men for $400.
45. Asia Pacific
If you didn't click on those citation links in the item on North Korea above, they are well worth watching in this regard.
46. Middle East
As is the in-depth article linked in the item on Afghanistan above about how the U.S. military has been fighting a war against opium production in Afghanistan all through the Obama years, not defending America from foreign threats.
The 2016 DNC platform stresses the importance of the United States' European allies, but a majority of Democratic Senators voted to invade Iraq despite the overwhelming objection of many NATO member states such as Germany, France, and Turkey.
The U.S. War on Drugs, which belongs to the Democrats as much as it does the Republicans, has had a devastating impact and left a violent legacy in the Americas. If Democrats were committed to principled leadership in the Americas, they would have used their power to support broad drug decriminalization.
Reread that development assistance citation link above and see what the Democrats have done in the Congo, and again review the state of Libya after the Democratic White House administration was through with it. These are not compassionate or progressive policies.
50. Global Economy and Institutions
Because of the close correlation between economic development of third world economies and CO2 emissions, the Democratic Party's support for international treaties to limit emissions will slow economic development in the countries that need it the most desperately. This along with the bipartisan support for the current status quo of U.S. military-monetary hegemony, is ravaging some of the world's poorest countries in the Middle East and Africa, and leaving the hapless residents of these places in literal ruins.