By Ralph Nader
A national political nominating convention, as the Democrats have just completed, is, to be sure, a mutual admiration event. A steady stream of speakers led to the finale with the acceptance speech by the presidential candidate, Joe Biden. But the Convention has another declared purpose: to show the country what the Democratic Party stands for and the future it wishes to shape for the American people.
Repetition is expected and it was no surprise that speaker after speaker attacked “inequality” and the injustices of discrimination against minorities, women, and the poor.
Intriguingly was what the three-day talkfest left out. The Democratic Party avoided the issue of what to do about the gross maldistribution of power between the tiny few and the rest of the people in America. This glaring omission signaled that the aggressive progressive wing of the Party – led by Bernie Sanders and youthful incumbents in Congress could have their priorities excluded with impunity by the Party bosses. The overriding desire for unity against Trump became the muzzle for most of the progressive delegates.
When unity, as if any Democrat had anything else in mind in stressing the defeat of dangerous and corrupt Donald, becomes a tool to demand unanimity on policies, alas, the Party is up to its old establishment ways.
The Biden/Harris Democratic Party looks like it will repeat the Clinton/Obama practice of avoiding major hurdles to peace and justice. Here are some glaring omissions:
- Trump shreds the Constitution daily with numerous impeachable offenses. He is getting away with these abuses because of the AWOL Congress’s indifference to his unprecedented dictatorial seizure of legislative authority, including his recent brazen executive usurpations of Congress’s power of the purse and taxation. Some of Trump’s acts include criminal violations of federal law.
- The gross distortion of the federal budget with over 50% of operating expenditures going to the Pentagon, the bloated military contractors, and the pursuit of a boomeranging, draining Empire. Speakers could have felt secure by quoting President Eisenhower’s farewell warnings regarding the military-industrial complex. Empires starve their country’s necessities and the U.S. is no exception to such misallocation of funds.
- There was much talk of expanding social safety net programs, but little or no discussion about how to pay for these vital programs, but no demand, other than a passing reference in Biden’s speech, to repeal the $2 trillion Trump tax cut for the super-wealthy and giant corporations like CEO Tim Cook and Apple. There was no demand to cut enormous corporate welfare payouts – crony capitalism and no push for a financial sales tax on Wall Street trading, notwithstanding recent support for that huge source of new revenue from Michael Bloomberg and Wall Streeter Robert Rubin.
- The corporate crime wave keeps roiling higher and higher with immense costs to regular people and their families. It would have been easy and popular to call for more law and order and adequate enforcement budgets to catch corporate crooks. Billing fraud and abuse, just in the health care industry, costs consumers and taxpayers one billion dollars a day!
- One would think that the unconstitutional, illegal, mass surveillance by federal agencies, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, would be worth a shout out. Privacy destruction is on people’s minds. Is this deemed too controversial for the Democratic Party?
- What about telling people about changes the Democrats want to make in the country’s foreign policy? What about the role of monopolistic corporations escaping taxes by using overseas tax havens, fomenting trouble, and exploiting indigenous people in foreign lands?
- Wouldn’t you think Convention speakers would report the crimes, misdeeds, and corporate takeovers of our government’s agencies and departments by Trump’s big-business henchmen? Look at EPA, OSHA, the CFPB, and the Departments of Interior, Labor, Agriculture, and other health/safety regulatory agencies and the life-saving and economic protections Trump and his cronies have shut down. In Minneapolis on Monday, Trump, in one fast minute, strung together his serial madcap attacks on the Democrats, who in the hours at their Convention, did not adequately return the favor.
- It would have been extraordinary had the Democrats addressed the Trump voters, especially those blue-collar workers who left the Democratic Party because the Party deserted them on economic/trade matters. Barack Obama did mention “white factory workers” whose jobs were displaced. But the tens of millions of low-income whites did not hear the Democrats directly saying much about working-class grievances.
It is standard practice for the presidential nominee’s team to clear drafts of all Convention speeches to make sure none stray too much from the permissible positions and non-positions of the candidate. If Joe Biden followed this practice, then what Convention speakers said and did not say reflects Mr. Biden’s range of proposed action and inaction.
However, the Democratic Convention’s embrace of replacing Trump’s deliberate chaos and confusion with recovery and rebuilding the country did seem to come through persistently over three days. The Democrats presented a contrast to the crazed, bungling, ego-maniacal Trump spewing hate, inciting violence, and emitting hourly lies.