Who Really Controls the Modern Democratic Party?
Politically, the Democratic Party is the home of progressivism, or liberalism. At least today’s Democratic Party. JFK, a Democrat from fifty years ago, would be politically to the right of many current Republicans. Compared to today’s Democrats, JFK would be in Trump territory.
Conventional wisdom views the media as the public relations arm of the Democratic Party. Commonly referred to as “Democrat party operatives with bylines,” big media trumpets the progressives' message 24-7, from the nation’s major newspapers, network news shows, and most cable outlets, with a few exceptions, such as at Fox News. But where is the mothership of progressivism? The media, or the Democratic Party? Or is it something larger?
Rush Limbaugh, self-described as “the big voice on the right,” recently revised his thinking on Democrats and the media. His new view is that, “the Democrats are an arm of the media, not that the media is an arm of the Democrats.” Not just a chicken-and-egg argument, but an actual reversal of the conventional wisdom. “The foundational base of the progressive movement is in the nationwide media,” according to Rush.
This makes sense as politicians are a bit like dogs, cozying up to whoever is offering them a piece of meat. In the case of politicians, the meat is money, position and power. What better way to advance one’s political career than to be booked on friendly Sunday talk shows with Chuck Todd or George Stephanopoulos, or be the subject of a flattering puff piece in the Washington Post? Buck the media and kiss your political career goodbye, at least if you are a Democrat. How many Democrats publicly opposed the progressive Obama agenda, whether on Obamacare, the Iran nuke deal, or his far left judicial nominations?
I would like to take Rush’s idea a bit further. It’s more than just the media running the modern progressive movement, controlling the Democratic Party. As an aside, it’s interesting that “progressive” has replaced “liberal” as a descriptor. While these terms have historic meanings as political philosophies, “liberal” implies tax and spend, big government. Which is the same as progressivism, but the root “progress” sounds much more appealing. Who could be against progress? A bit like “global warming” morphing into “climate change” or “extreme weather,” to make it more palatable to the hoi polloi.
My contention is that the home of the progressive movement is more than the media. I will use a popular acronym, DREAM, to describe this base, not as “DREAMers” who are front and center in President Trump’s immigration policies, but in a new sense. These DREAMers are not looking for a green card. Instead they dream of an overpowering activist government, wealth redistribution based on the whims of those in power, and an administrative state enforcing the diktats of the ruling class.
So who are these DREAMers, at the core of the progressive agenda?
D is for the Deep State, the bureaucratic imbeds throughout government. They don’t need marching orders from the president or agency heads, they already know what to do. It’s in their DNA. Examples include IRS bureaucrats like Lois Lerner weaponizing her agency against political opposition, in this case, Tea Party groups. Intelligence officials, leaking sensitive information to the media as a means of damaging the political opposition. EPA employees refusing to carry out administration directives.
Look at political contributions from the deep state. Ninety-seven percent of political contributions from Department of Justice employees went to Hillary Clinton. Looking at the larger world of 14 different federal agencies, 95 percent of political contributions were for Clinton. Deep State for Dems.
R is for Republican #NeverTrumpers. Aside from the well-known Trump detractors at the Weekly Standard and National Review, numerous members of Congress were against Trump, some quite vehemently. Many still are, hypocritically enjoying their electoral majority but despising the man who is partly responsible for their majority and the current leader of their party.
These #NeverTrumpers, while not members of the Democratic Party, share much of the progressive agenda - big government, globalism, open borders, cheap labor, and taxes and regulations. The progressive wing of the GOP.
E is for the entertainment industry. The endless parade of actors, actresses and singers wearing “I’m With Her” T-shirts while campaigning for Hillary Clinton, cutting commercials, making robocalls, performing concerts and holding fundraisers. Not only for Hillary. Samuel L. Jackson made a radio ad to “Stop Donald Trump” by voting Democrat in the recent Georgia special election.
A is for academia. University professors are overwhelmingly liberal. Only 14 percent identify as Republicans. Looking at political contributions for the 2016 election from faculty at major American universities, less than 1 percent of total political contributions went to Donald Trump. Virtually monolithic support from academia for the Democratic Party candidate. And the progressive agenda which they teach and indoctrinate in their classrooms.
M is of course the media. Not much needs to be said here. The Fake Stream Media is well known for their favorable coverage of Democrats, either by omission or commission, and negative coverage of Republicans. Readers of American Thinker won’t need convincing. Although I’ll back this up with one interesting statistic. The Media Research Center reviewed evening news coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC last summer, finding that 91 percent of news stories about Donald Trump were negative. I suspect this number is at least as high, if not higher, since Trump’s election.
Even the few stories critical of Mrs. Clinton had a “respectful tone” rather than the “politics of fear,” “dangerous” and “vulgar misogynistic bully” descriptors reserved for Mr. Trump.
These are the groups behind the modern progressive movement. They think alike and share many of the same goals. They also hold conservatives and conservatism in disdain, preferring George W. Bush's “compassionate conservatism,” a version of progressivism. They also share the common goal of destroying Donald Trump, his agenda and his supporters. Dreaming of impeachment. Dreaming of a more progressive-agenda-friendly president such as Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush.
The Democratic Party is simply the political arm of this movement, an ineffective one at that, given their electoral losses over the past eight years. But despite those losses, the progressive movement marches on. Just watch the news, or a late-night comedy show, or a concert. Observe the protests. Visit a college campus. Read so-called conservative journalists such as David Brooks of the New York Times or Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post.
If the core of the progressive movement was in the Democratic Party, it would long be over, soundly defeated as droves of elected Democrats have been sent packing in the last several elections. But elected officials are just a portion of progressivism, the movement core safely ensconced throughout American culture and society. Schumer, Pelosi, Warren and Clinton are an arm of progressivism but not its core.
That distinction is reserved for the new “DREAMers”, the mother ship of the modern progressive agenda. The lesson is that defeating Democrats at the ballot box is a start, but hardly definitive. Like cutting off one of eight arms of an octopus expecting the other seven arms to just fall off. This political battle extends far beyond political campaigns and elections, into the media, academic and entertainment bastions of progressive thought and action.
Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.