What would happen if Occupy were to enter the Democratic Party? The Democratic Party is not a park, not a public space to be occupied. The Democratic Party exists to bind working people, the poor and small business to the program of corporations and banks. The Democratic Party is a hierarchical organisation made up of powerful politicians with strong ties to government, banks and corporations, and the military. It is financed by corporations and wealthy individuals who provide millions, though it has also proven successful in raising funds from millions of ordinary Americans. Its program is written by the politicians along lines proposed by corporate consultants. On a daily basis, year in and year out, the Democratic Party, working in the White House, the Congress and in state legislatures puts forward legislation intended to keep the capitalist system working and to serve the banks and corporations.
We should remember that this Democratic Party failed to bring an immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, rejected single-payer health care, increased the round-up and deportation of undocumented immigrants, bailed out the banks while letting the foreclosures continue and unemployment soar, and allowed the increase of police power and the loss of civil rights to continue. We should remember that this Democratic Party and Obama's White House brought us secretary of the treasury Timothy Geithner, the man who proven to be the bankers' best friend. This Democratic Party gave us secretary of education Arne Duncan, the enemy of public schools and teachers' unions. This is the Democratic Party that Occupy is asked to join, the one where hope dimmed and change never took place.
The idea that Occupy might enter the Democratic Party and join with progressives to change it is an old strategy that has failed before. During the 1960s, Michael Harrington, leader of the group that became the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), argued that if socialists and people from the civil rights and anti-war movements entered the Democratic Party they could change its direction. Yet during a half century of work as progressives in the Democratic Party, despite their considerable influence in labour and liberal factions of the party, DSA utterly failed to move the Democrats to the left. In fact, under the influence of the banks and corporations, the organisations which in fact own the Democratic Party, it moved considerably to the right, so that today the Democrats stand to the right of Richard Nixon's Republican Party of the 1970s. The pro-Soviet Communist Party and some pro-Chinese Maoist groups pursued similar strategies (the Maoists with a one-foot-in-one-foot out variation) and with no more success.