Vote without illusions

In the time since his election, President Trump has appointed an alleged sexual predator to the Supreme Court, cut taxes for billionaires (such as himself), launched attacks on the environment, all the while currying favor with right-wing extremists at home and abroad. With a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, and five conservative judges on the Supreme Court, many Americans may sincerely believe that electing the Democrats back into office can undermine Trump’s reactionary agenda, as well potentially implementing policies in favor of social change.

However, looking back at the recent history of the Democratic Party shouldn’t give anyone reason to believe that a Congressional Democratic majority would have intentions of doing either of these things in any meaningful way. After all, from 2008 to 2010, the Democrats held the Presidency and had majorities in both Houses of Congress. What meaningful progressive reforms happened in this time? Essentially none.

The Obama Administration, whose transition team was selected by Citigroup, from the start made it clear that it's loyalties lied with Wall Street: they bailed out big banks instead of punishing them. They also implemented the highly ineffective Heritage Foundation-inspired Affordable Care Act, which was precisely designed to pivot around having to provide universal healthcare; which is not only a basic human right but one that the vast majority of Americans support implementing and which would be cheaper than the current model. While in office, the Obama administration broke records by dropping over 26,000 bombs on seven different countries, which killed thousands of civilians. Obama presided over a “shadow war” across Africa, supported Al-Qaeda jihadists in Syria, and provided support for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, a humanitarian disaster that is causing death and starvation for millions. In addition, he ramped up attacks on immigrants, a campaign that Trump has gladly continued.

Now out of office, the Democrats have proven to be a spineless “resistance” to Trump. They have backed Republican whips on multiple occasions. The Democrats, while accusing Trump of being authoritarian, have systematically assisted him in greatly expanding the surveillance state and the budget of the military. They cowardly backed down on protecting DACA in return for a completely meaningless deal. When a Democratic Representative from Texas tried to start a process of impeaching Trump, Democrats overwhelmingly voted his proposal down. At a time when tens of millions of young people are moving left, Nancy Pelosi affirmed that the Democrats would not support universal healthcare and socialist policies.

In light of all this, many Democrats have understood the need to at least pose left, but even these supposed progressives should have their credentials tightly inspected. One of the most blatantly opportunist examples is Shri Thanedar, a supposedly progressive Democratic candidate for Governor of Michigan. Thanedar, who is a multimillionaire, almost ran as a Republican, and supported Marco Rubio during the Republican primaries. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won an upset victory over establishment Democrat Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district, failed to give a straight answer on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and advocated uncritical support for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and “all Democratic nominees”.

However, this trend can even be seen in incumbents facing reelection. For instance, California Senator Kamala Harris has no problem speaking at AIPAC and meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while dozens of unarmed Palestinians are murdered and illegal settlements are built across the West Bank. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker accepted huge donations from pharmaceutical companies, while promoting their agenda in congress.

In short, this shouldn’t dissuade you from going to the voting booth. There are important ballot measures like Proposition 10; which if passed, could be used to springboard rent control across California, which would undoubtedly provide relief for hundreds of thousands of working families. And it is understandable if you want to vote for a Democrat. While seeing the Republicans potentially lose Congress would be just desserts for their horrific policies against poor and oppressed people, there shouldn’t be any illusions in how the Democrats will act in office.