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The Struggle for Power in Syria. Nikolaos Van Dam. The Communist Manifesto. Karl Marx. The State and Revolution. Vladimir Lenin. Indeed, the two-party setup of mainstream American politics practically forces this choice, as it blocks the emergence of independent parties committed to popular and pro-working class policies.

But as the history recounted here shows, millions who have started down the path of participation in Democratic politics—from antiwar activists in the First World War to labor activists in the s and civil rights activists in the s—have drawn the conclusion that the Democratic Party is not an effective vehicle for genuine social change.

A History of the Democratic Party

My aim with this book is to provide a new generation who want to fight for a better world the political and historical tools they will need to understand the Democratic Party today. Whatever happens in , the attraction of the Democratic Party will remain one of the chief political challenges to anyone attempting to build an alternative on the left in the United States.

I hope this book helps in some small way to meet those challenges. This one is no different. My editor Sharon Smith helped to streamline my arguments and to make them accessible to a wider readership. Chapter 1 benefited from astute comments from Sam Farber. The folks at Haymarket Books deserve special recognition. Thanks to Anthony Arnove and Julie Fain, who encouraged me to bring this all together into a book.

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Tran for their careful proofreading and production work. This book is also a product of more than two decades of collaboration with a group of talented activists and writers for Socialist Worker newspaper and the International Socialist Review. Their insights, advice, and critiques have shaped my understanding of U. My work is better as a result. Appearing at the foot of the Brent Street Bridge in Cincinnati, Obama decried a tax system tilted toward the rich.

And it has to change. The Republicans in Congress call this class warfare, Obama continued. Wall Street , and defense.

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The Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties that have shared in governing the United States at all levels of government since the Civil War. The s Great Society, under which Democratic administrations inaugurated Medicare and the War on Poverty, solidified the identification of the Democratic Party with the downtrodden. Yet, viewed with a wider lens, this history of Democratic reform on behalf of the people spans only about forty of the years since the Civil War era. Even in the last generation, when working-class living standards have been cut, unions have been destroyed, and the majority of American workers have lost their belief that their children will have a better life then they did, the Democrats have done little to stem that tide.

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Since , when the median wage in real terms peaked, the Democrats have held the White House for half as long as the Republicans have, but they have held the majority in Congress and the state legislatures for most of that time. Kevin Phillips, a former Republican operative who turned against the dominant conservatism of the Reagan era, explained the persistence of the assault on working people in It was no fluke that three important Republican supremacies coincided with and helped generate the Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties and the Reagan-Bush years.

They do not interfere with capitalist momentum, but wait for excesses and the inevitable popular reaction. In the United States, elections arguably play a more important cultural and economic role than in other lands. Because we lack a hereditary aristocracy or Establishment, our leadership elites and the alignment of wealth are more the product of political cycles than they are elsewhere.

Capitalism is maneuvered more easily in the United States, pushed in new regional and sectoral directions. As a result, the genius of American politics—failing only in the Civil War—has been to manage through ballot boxes the problems that less fluid societies resolve with barricades and with party structures geared to class warfare. So despite their at times populist rhetoric and support for social reform legislation, the Democrats are at their core an elite party concerned with sharing the responsibility of ruling the United States with the GOP.

The differences that separate the Democrats and Republicans are minor in comparison to the fundamental commitments that unite them. But for corporate America, which generally supports the Republicans more fervently than the Democrats, the two-party system plays an essential role. Even as the New Deal rearranged mainstream American politics, a well-known radical social commentator, Ferdinand Lundberg, stressed that the underlying nature of U.

It has no fixed membership or membership requirements. Voters are Democrats if they vote for Democrats in elections. The party has no stated set of principles or programs.

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  7. The closest approximation to a program is the party platform approved at the party convention every four years. In any event, Democratic Party candidates—from the presidency to the city council—are free to follow or to ignore the party platform in their election drives. It has no official political leadership outside of its candidate for president and important Democratic congressional officials. The Democratic National Committee, composed of hundreds of elected politicians, union leaders, lobbyists, and campaign donors, exists mainly to raise money for Democratic candidates.

    Its role in policy making or determining the direction of the party is fairly minimal. In essence, the Democratic Party is a loose federation of candidate-based local and state electoral machines. In this type of party, a vestige of pre-twentieth-century forms, small groups of prominent people politicians and business leaders hire themselves activists i. The cadre is motivated to work for the party less because of a commitment to shared values or ideology than for career advancement—the possibility that they could climb the ranks of the party to become part of the circle of notables.

    We are the Democratic Party - Democrats

    While this description may seem theoretical, it becomes clearer when illustrated by its most visible example: a Democratic Party—run urban political machine. In the classic case of the machine of Richard J. Daley that dominated Chicago from the s to the s, Democratic Party members started out as doorbell ringers, working in the jobs their sponsors got for them, pushing the ward book [of tickets to party fundraisers], buying the tickets, doing the favors, holding the coats, opening the doors, putting in the fix, and inching their way up the organizational ladder, waiting for somebody to die and the chance to go on to the legislature, into the City Council, and maybe someday something even bigger. The party platform, an amalgam of general rhetoric, attacks on the Republicans, and a laundry list of specific policy recommendations, changes with every convention—and with the political winds.

    For the election, pitting the technocratic liberal Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis against George H.

    Bush, the Democrats produced a platform that included such right-wing staples as a call for a drug czar, a call for a strengthened federal role in local law enforcement in order to secure the safety of our neighborhoods and homes, endorsements of fiscal responsibility, and warnings against the Soviet threat when, ironically, the Soviet Union stood on the verge of collapse.

    This book is for people who want to delve into the much more serious topics and questions at stake, with an eye beyond the next election cycle. Seller Inventory AAS More information about this seller Contact this seller. Book Description Haymarket Books.