AuthorHightower, Jim

It's time to state the obvious: The Republican Party has gone bull goose bonkers. Its leaders have turned the GOP brand into an unprincipled gaggle of corporate profiteers, hatemongers, and screwball conspiracy theorists. They're so far out that even the Hubble Space Telescope can't find them!

But where is the Democratic Party? Here's a prime opportunity to forge a solid political coalition--a multiracial, urban-rural, farm-labor alliance based on fundamental principles of fairness and opportunity for all. Isn't that what the party says it stands for? This is the time to prove it, to reach out and unite ordinary Americans behind a national agenda of lasting progressive change.

It's not like the party elders would have to start from scratch. An energized, feisty movement of grassroots battlers against corporate greed and government injustice is already organizing, winning, and growing in popular support all across the country. But the national party's old-line clique of big funders, paid consultants, and corporate politicos shun less traditionally established Democrats as unruly outsiders.

Rather than welcoming and building on the exciting advances of these popular movements, Democratic insiders keep hoping that the GOP's goofiness and nastiness will turn off enough voters that Democrats can win by default.

Meanwhile, they only push modest, incremental reforms so as not to offend corporate funders or spook moderate Republicans. Hellooooo, brilliant strategists: A primary function of the Democratic Party is to offend the corporate powers! Also, there are only about six moderate Republicans left in the United States, so appeasing them is not a big win--especially when it costs you the support of grassroots voters eager for a politics that is bold enough and big enough to end business-as-usual economics.

It takes intentional gutsiness to create a politics that actually advances America's historic democratic promise. Republicans won't do that. Will Democrats?

The opposite of courage is not cowardice--it's conformity. And right there lies the problem with the Big Money that now controls the Democratic Party.

This group certainly wants Democrats to be the majority party, but for what purpose? Based on the policies they actually push, they seek "progress" without real change. Go slow and go small, they urge, only offering policy tweaks that conform to the existing corporate structure. Their watered down idea of change is what "near beer" is to...

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