Eric Poulin: Why I wasn't at the Obama Rally

"This is a guest blog by a Democrat talking about why he did not attend the Obama/Michaud rally in Portland Maine.  I think it has a lot of great points about why the Democratic Party is a failed institution for systemic change, and though it stops just short of saying as such, makes a good case for building a strong Green Party." --Asher Platts, MGIP Chair

Why I will not be at the Obama Rally for Michaud

by Eric Poulin, via Urgency of Now, reprinted here with expressed permission.

Yes, I am a Democrat. No, I am not particularly titillated by the prospect of attending a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Mike Michaud, hosted by President Barack Obama.
Congressman Mike Michaud is running against one of the most divisive and loathed politicians Maine has seen in generations, a governor that has repeatedly embarrassed the majority of Mainers before the nation, a governor who has needlessly and repeatedly antagonized key Democratic allies, and moreover, a governor opposed by a clear majority of Maine citizens. In spite of all this, Mike Michaud has not mustered more than a 2-point lead in polls against Governor Paul Lepage (and that’s in the generous polls), though that may change with Cutler's wan permission for his supporters to "vote their conscience" and Senator Angus King's ridiculous un-endorsement of Cutler and after-the-fact endorsement of Michaud yesterday.
And so Michaud has turned to President Obama to rally support. This is the same Nobel-Peace prize winning President who five long years ago promised Muslim nations a “new beginning” in a roundly lauded speech in Cairo, and promptly went on to bomb seven predominantly Muslim countries (3 more than George W. Bush), all while claiming this would make us more secure from terrorism. This is the same President who criticized former President Bush for executive overreach in waging multiple wars with dubious congressional consent, who has promptly gone on to unilaterally conduct open-ended strikes against Syria in flagrant violation of the War Powers Resolution (not to say the Constitution). This is the same President and Constitutional law scholar who has personally authorized extra-judicial kill lists including American citizens, and whose administration has sanctioned and doubled-down on the most pervasive form of suspicionless surveillance this planet has ever known.
This is the same President who was elected to office with a once-in-a-generation sweeping mandate for change, and the congressional power to enact it, who promptly abandoned any attempt at meaningful reform of the casino-capitalism financial system; whose administration, in fact, has to this day failed to prosecute even one of the banksters responsible for looting nearly the entire working class’ pension system worth billions of dollars while petty thieves and welfare cheats spend time in jail over hundreds; who never mounted so much as a whimper in support of a widely popular, not-for-profit public option, let alone a single-payer system, as part of his health care overhaul; and who continues the economic elites’ assault on labor through multi-national trade deals and the failure to take a stand against ultra-conservatives’ mutilation of collective bargaining laws across the country.  
Forgive me if I’m nonplussed at this President’s endorsement, and even less with the candidate’s seeking it. Michaud and Democratic candidates in general would do well to recognize the need to distance themselves from a Democratic establishment that has abandoned the legitimate interests of working people in favor of the same neoliberal policies responsible for hollowing out our economy and subverting our nation’s sense of communality in favor of an insatiable avarice and wanton desire for endless economic expansion. And joining the Fairpoint picket line isn’t enough to prove otherwise.

Michaud and the Democratic Party should come out strongly in favor of a federal livable wage indexed to inflation so that no person working full time should need to worry about putting food on their table or a roof over their head; a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system which would relieve businesses of the need to provide health-care to employees and unions of the need to make wage concessions in exchange for health coverage; a revision of labor laws that would acknowledge and encourage unions’ positive impact on wages and benefits for all of society, not just union workers; a return to a saner, much steeper progressive taxation system which, along with a reduction in out of control defense spending, could fund desperately needed reinvestment in common societal goods such as infrastructure and education; and a robust call for electoral reform, such as ranked-choice voting (as Representative Diane Russell has repeatedly called for), to make voting freer and fairer, as well as more democratic. And let's stop pretending that these are radical proposals. They are only radical if you are a member of the power elite whose domination of our political and economic system might be threatened by such policies. And, dare I say, if you are reading this blog, you are not one of those people.  

Until a Democrat is willing to pledge fealty to the ideals of democracy at the heart of our party and proudly take up the mantle of working people, minorities, and those in society struggling -- a group of people desperate for someone to represent them and their interests in the face of rampant corporate cronyism and oligarchic rule -- rather than blithely allying themselves with politicians who have turned our party’s back on these people, you will not find me attending one of their rallies. And until others stop accepting bland half-measures and duplicitous double-speak, we won't get the real reform and support we need.

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