The Democrats are probably going to take a bath in the November elections. I wonder why? Perhaps a clue is provided by this quote from a New York Times article today regarding pushing back Social Security retirement age: “John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and the House minority leader, has called for raising the age to as high as 70 in the next 20 years, and many Democrats have endorsed similar steps, against opposition from some liberal groups” (John Leland, “Retiring Later is Hard Road for Laborers”, NYT, September 13, 2010).
The Democrats control both houses of Congress and the White House. They have not only failed to end futile, immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have added 40,000 more troops to the Afghanistan invasion. Instead of taking care of the common people, they are continuing to feed the military/war machine; they are keeping a regressive tax system in tact; they gave the store away to the medical-industrial complex in their so-called health care reform effort; and, Elizabeth Warren, adored by progressives and liberals alike, has still not been appointed as head of the new consumer protection commission.
I could keep adding to the list of issues of grave importance to progressives and critical to the very survival of many poor and middle class Americans. But what’s the point. Most of us don’t need to be reminded of the great big kick in the teeth we received as a reward for flocking to the polls in 2006 and 2008. Nor do we need to be reminded of the corrupt, out of touch Democrats in the House and Senate.
This is nothing new for the “new Democrats.” The other day I came across an out of print book at the Dusty Book Shelf entitled Generations Apart: Xers vs Boomers vs the Elderly edited by Richard Thau and Jay S. Heflin (Prometheus Books, 1997). Thau and Heflin were behind the now defunct Third Millennium, an organization dedicated to slamming the “Baby Boom” generation and promoting inter-generational conflict. One chapter was co-written by former Democratic Senator J. Robert Kerrey (the Kerrey from Nebraska, not John Kerry of Massachusetts) and former Republican Senator John Danforth.
The Kerrey-Danforth approach grew out of the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform: Final Report to the President, January 1995 (Washington, D.C.), pp. 7-35. Here is what the Kerrey-Danforth approach would do: (1) raise the age for full retirement to 70, and (2) increase the age for Medicare eligibility to age 70. John Danforth, Ralston-Purina heir, comes from one of the wealthiest families in the United States. Kerrey and Danforth, both wealthy men, have Senate retirement plans that most of us would be thrilled to have.
Yes, 1995 was a long time ago. But, this sentiment is widespread now in the Democratic Party. Very rich Democrat senators in particular seem to be insensitive to the needs of the working people ( which is most of us). Progressives are basically tired of working to elect Democrats who seem to expend most of their energy on behalf of Wall Street, the Pentagon, Big Pharma, etc., etc. I will vote in November but I can certainly understand the disaffected Democrats who will be sitting home.