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I am a registered Democrat.

I'm also in the liberal wing of the party.

I don't find my ideas to be that radical -- but in the current political environment, they are indeed. They are revolutionary.

Here's a sample for you:

I think that every child should have access to secure and proper shelter, clothing and nutrition, and such that is stable over time. If parents are unable to supply this, I think the state should do so. I also think that every child should have access to a good public school and medical services needed to stay healthy.

I think that every adult should have the opportunity to work and that every full-time job should pay a living wage. If such jobs are not available, government should make good on its promises to pay out of the unemployment insurance pool, and should create new jobs in periods of sustained high joblessness.

I think that every older person should have access to a secure retirement, including a place to live, food to eat and medical care. If an older person does not have the means to provide for himself or herself, the government should step in and do so.

Democrats, as recently as a couple of decades ago, believed in these things.

These are not strange, bizarre or foreign ideas. They are as American as they come and they were the building blocks of a post-war shared prosperity that stunned the world with its security, its comfort and its freedoms.

Now, something happened in this country, starting in the 1960s and accelerating through the 80s, 90s, and 2000s:

The Republican Party went completely nuts.

And by this, I mean that it went criminally bonkers -- totally out of its mind -- not infrequently ranting incomprehensibly in the streets.

By some peculiar circumstance, the mainstream media mistook this behavior for rationality and that is where we are now:

Government is dominated by a single party that, even though it controls only the House of Representative, pretty much gets to dictate policy by virtue of it being willing to end our civilization at any time it doesn't get its cup of tea.

Forgive my crudeness here, but the media has sucked their dicks for so long that its behavior has become reflexive, which just makes the problem worse, as it enables a minority party with a declining base to completely dominate the political dialogue as it is streamed out of TV, radio and newspapers every day. Even people I remember from my youth in the 1980s as liberal commentators on NPR spend so much time servicing John McCain at the Congressional gloryholes that they can no longer form words normally with their mouths. Things are bad in government. The media makes it way worse. Yes, I'm talking about you, Cokie Roberts.

One consequence of the sanity implosion of the GOP is that money and influence and power started seeking new agents to perform their bidding in government. The government shutdown threats, which now materialize every few months, are just one demonstration of how unstable and unreliable the Republican Party is.

As the Democratic Party retreated in recent decades to a position of moderation and self-serving continuity, it presented a stable face that is attractive to the big money. This is how the Third Way/DLC/Hamilton Project Corporate/Wall-Street wing of the party materialized. Shocked by the extremism of the GOP and repulsed by it positions in the culture wars, enough big money migrated to the Democratic Party to start changing its very nature.

And the Democratic Party changed, under the influence of ready cash, champagne brunches and big jobs for spouses and children at McKinsey/Goldman Sachs/Wellpoint or Hill and Knowlton.

Now in the Democratic Party, big Wall Street banks make our financial policy. Billionaires decide whether we support Social Security or kill it. Insurance companies create our health care agenda. Oil companies make our environmental platform.

Sure -- we've made great progress on some social issues in recent years. The dream of marriage equality is on the verge of being, astonishingly, fully realized in my own lifetime. Women's income levels still remain below those of men, though. Poverty is still a greater problem for minorities than whites. Abortion rights keep being eroded. It's really a mixed bag.

Let's talk about just one of these things for a moment:

I don't want Goldman Sachs executives making monetary policy for this country, or overseeing regulation, or having anything remotely to do with the economic or financial part of government. They are, more or less openly, crooks whose business is, if not to flagrantly steal money from working people, to lobby government for the privilege of skimming off as much as possible from them legally, as a cost of handling the money we need to survive.

Why would we give them the keys to our nation's top monetary infrastructure?

They are obviously just going to use it to take more money out of the system.

Opposing this puts me in opposition to the current thinking of the Democratic Party -- which is that Goldman Sachs executives are "savvy businessmen" and the real experts in this policy space, so we should let them take on all the agenda-making and regulatory reponsibilities here. After all -- they know this stuff better than anyone else!

I do not want this.

I oppose this.

I do not want Democrats to continue to do stuff like this.

If I want to influence my local elected Democrats -- two Senators and a Congressman -- to stop supporting this crap, I have two tools at my disposal: the carrot and the stick.

For carrots, I can give money, volunteer in their campaigns, work my personal network to support them. This is New Jersey, so ... To be frank with you, I'm not capable of drumming up the level of bribes or influence required to change the minds of these hardened and corrupt politicians. In my case, carrots aren't really effective, though this is not true for every state and or Congressional district.

That leaves me with the stick:

I can and do tell my elected representatives that if they continue to support policies that I do not like, I will not vote for them next time around. "I am a registered Democrat in your Congressional District. If you vote for cuts to Social Security, I will not vote for you in the next election and I will work to encourage other Democratic voters to do the same."

Oh, it's not much where I live, one of the most intensely-Democratic parts of the country. But it's something.

We often talk about "More and Better Democrats" on Daily Kos as if it were a question of wielding carrots only. Maybe the site owner and administrators believe this. The problem with the carrots-only strategy is that it leaves us -- regular people -- without a way to hold our elected representatives accountable after they have been elected.

And, frankly, that is where the action is.

Like other folks here, I gave money to the Barack Obama campaign the first time around. I wore his campaign gear on the streets -- even though I supported Sec. Clinton in the primary. I worked my personal network mercilessly drumming up votes for him. I did my part.

He probably tried hard -- bipartisan-y balance, etc. -- but he didn't deliver what I wanted from a Democratic president. He stocked his cabinet with Third Way/DLC/Hamilton Project big-money Democrats, campaigned around the country for Social Security cuts, etc. And that's just on the domestic policy side.

During his first administration, I lost my job, had all my assets stripped from me, including my home and its contents. I had to move across country twice, desperately seeking employment retraining, jobs, stability, anything ...

... and all the while Democrats in the White House and Congress screamed at me to "get a job," to "retrain for the jobs of the future," to "take responsibility for my life," starving me and the rest of the population of well-needed assistance, while the Fed and Treasury conspired to dump trillions of dollars into the pockets of the 1% and their banks in the largest act of looting in the History of Man.

When a Democrat fails you, after you've given what you can, how can you hold them accountable?

You can take your vote back the second time around.

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