The Awkward Electoral Dance of Liberal Democrats

Summary: Dr. Torrance Stephens looks at the Democratic Party, probing the reasons for its decay (bringing the GOP to a multi-generational peak power). They can’t fix what they don’t understand. Are they ready to see his harsh truths?

Democratic Party

The Awkward Electoral Dance of Liberal Democrats

By Torrance Stephens at his website, July 2017.
Reposted with his generous permission.

When I look at the current state of U.S. liberal democrats, it reminds of watching a semi-cool white person on the streets of Memphis trying to juk. They are more than out of place, off rhythm and seemingly unaware of both, which puts them out of touch with reality and the perspectives of others watching them. It is as if they did not learn any lessons from the victory of Donald Trump in 2016 and like zombies, respond to only things that they see the mainstream media tell them to be outraged about. No real issues, just outrage here, outrage there, here an outrage, there an outrage, everywhere an outrage. Russia collusion or Russian hacking. Trump tweeted this or Trump tweeted that.

It is like the dance of the person in Memphis, awkward and an indicator of the dim electoral future liberals have in the U.S. if they do not get on beat.

For starters, they saw what worked for Trump and Bernie Sanders yet they pull out the same old veer offense that continues to turn the ball over after 3 downs. They should be able to observe that they need a similar and HONEST message presented by a younger and more genuine person, not just some east or west coast big wig city elite to garble mumbo jumbo on 30 second commercials that don’t offer policy solutions for everybody. Instead they run out city slick carpetbagger named Ossoff to run in a district in which he did not live in and spend $23 million and worse, did not harvest as many votes as Rodney Stooksbury, the Democrat listed on the ballot during the general election last November.

Or as Newsweek put it: “Rodney Stooksbury, who raised no money and had no campaign website or online presence.”

Trump can say the word puzzy and liberals run out of their house to protest, complain and destroy property, yet seem to forget and equally said nothing and saw no offence in President Obama bombing kids around the globe and cats in Flint have no water to drink and being ordered by democrats to pay for what they cannot consume or face foreclosure just recently called for President Trump to resign for his tweets attacking Mika Brzezinski. Last I heard the dozens isn’t illegal. Putting it plainly it is like Mika saying “Donald you dumb and ride the retarded bus” and Trump responding “yo momma smoke crack rock.” End of story (if you cannot stand the heat get out of the kitchen).

This is just one problem; how do they justify calling themselves liberal or progressive if they ignore global suffering and continue to promulgate neoliberal policy that causes suffering not only in the US but around the globe because of wars promoting the global imperialistic goals of neoliberal republicans and democrats?

Democratic Party - black hole

This dance doesn’t end there. As 2018 quickly approaches, they still lack not only a solid policy message but also candidates. They have Tulsi Gabbard who is on the record calling for restoring Glass-Steagall, consistently is opposed to regime change, is against any cuts to Medicare or Social Security and the NSA’s bulk collection of data. But Gabbard speaks her mind and equally goes against the core liberals in the democratic party. This faction question her passion for LGBT and abortion rights. They also will never forget that she doesn’t tote the party line on fundamental Islamic terrorism noting that for over the last decade most terrorist attacks conducted around the world are the result of “radical Islamic ideology.” Even more of a concern for the democratic establishment was her resolution she introduced to prioritize Christians and Yezidis — when granting refugee status.

But Gabbard is ignored and even avoided, just as several other noteworthy leaders of the new school like Kimberly Ellis (as the vote for the Democratic party chair of California held its election demonstrated) and former Ohio state senator Nina Turner. Instead they prefer others like New Jersey senator Cory Booker, Maryland congressman John Delaney and relative newcomer Senator Kamala Harris of California.

Kamala Harris - Official Attorney-General Photo

Harris is interesting, she has come to political fruition after she was cut off by her colleagues in the Senate while she questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions (an event that she quickly used to raise tens of thousands of dollars) and came to politics being the 29-year-old girlfriend of California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown when he was 60. In 1994 Brown named Harris to the California Medical Assistance Commission, before that he appointed her to the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. She was described by several people at the Capitol as Brown’s “girlfriend.” Harris barley was elected California’s Attorney General in 2010 by about 50,000 after provisional ballots were counted. While AG, her department argued against expanding the early release program for inmates on the basis that it would deplete the cheap (slave) labor force. Many see Harris as a corporatist and in the mold of the establishment democratic core of the state.

These inconsistencies make the democrats seem fickle. Take the recent health care debate ironically, in California. Nurses, unions and average citizens were overwhelming in support of what was described as a single payer Medicare for all (the Healthy California Act). But Democrats who maintain complete control of the state to pass a bill like this, did the opposite. In support of corporate donors in the healthcare, insurance and pharmaceutical industries, Democratic state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon helped to block a Democrat-sponsored bill to create the Healthy California Act. Reports indicate that Rendon has taken in more than $101,000 from pharmaceutical companies and another $50,000 from major health insurers over the past 5 years.

Democratic Party - change that matters

This is par for the course considering that the California Democratic Party has received more than $1.2 million from the specific groups opposing the bill, and more than $2 million from donors in the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries.

Democrats must show that they are the party of the people. However, their addiction to corporate plutocratic funding seems to prevent them from being able to do such. Not to mention that it abrogates the voices of the citizenry they claim to represent. The liberal establishment wing of the Democratic party is clearly out of touch, out of step and off beat – awkward choreography sure to lead them to where they do not want to be in 2018.


About the author

Dr. Torrance Stephens has had a fascinating career as a professor, scientist, poet, author, and public intellectual. He has testified before Congress HIV/AIDS and recidivism in the African American prison population and lived in Africa while conducting research.

Torrance Stephens

Dr. Stephens received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Morehouse College, his master’s degree in educational psychology from Atlanta University, and his doctorate in Counseling from Clark Atlanta University. He completed postdoctoral work with the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help, with a fellowship emphasis on international health. He did additional postdoctoral work with the Department of Education and the West African Research Association, with an emphasis on epidemiology.

Dr. Stephens has worked as a Research Specialist at Morris Brown, a Research Specialist at Wholistic Stress Control Institute Inc. of Atlanta, and Africare International in Nigeria. He was a Research Assistant Professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, teaching social behavior and public health, social statistics, and public health theory. He is now in the Adjunct Faculty of the Department of Psychology at Clark Atlanta University.

Dr. Stephens’ interest in African American male health is reflected in his numerous projects, presentations, and publications. See his professional publications at Google Scholar. and ResearchGate {Source.}

His articles have appeared in many publications, including NOMMO, Creative Loafing, Rolling Out, Talking Drum, and the North Avenue Review. See his books (his two most recent appear below). See his website. Follow him on Twitter as ThoughtCrime.

For More Information

For a deep analysis of this see Thomas Frank’s great book: Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? For a specific and powerful example of how the Democratic Party abandoned America’s workers, see “The day that destroyed the working class and sowed the seeds of Trump” by Salena Zito in the New York Post.

“Forty years ago, on Sept. 19, thousands of men walked into the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube along the Mahoning River before the early shift. …”

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the far Left, about the Democratic Party, about neoliberalism, about reforming America – steps to a new politics, and especially these…

  1. Look to the Left to see the force powering Trump and Carson.
  2. New York shows how Democrat-run cities & states contribute to the rise of Trump.
  3. Thomas Frank explains how the Democrats became Liberals for the Rich.
  4. Robert Reich’s program to save the Left after a decade of defeats.
  5. The Left becomes a cult rather than gather support to oppose Trump.
  6. How the Left lost but can win again.
  7. Michael Hudson asks if identity politics will break up the Democratic Party.
  8. Oddities of the New Left, making them weaker than the Old Left.
  9. Why the Democratic Party loses – and how it can win again.
"Butter Brown" by Torrance Stephens.
Available at Amazon.

Two of Torrance Stephens’ books.

Butter Brown
“A look at the world through the eyes of African American men.”

From the publisher…

“In these powerful stories, Torrance Stephens takes readers into the psychological purview of the African American male psyche. Butter Brown presents eight stories of black men living both in concert and against the grain of the western world that consumes them.

“A nimble story teller, Stephens paints a lyrical picture that is beautifully suggestive and inventive. This collection contains 16 stories that display the author’s evidently adept talents in multiple genres including comedy and erotica. Stephens’s writings breathe with emotion that is often acute and cynical.”

Brilliant Dumb
“Politics, culture, and and Jactitation in the Age of Obama” (2014).

"Brilliant Dumb" by Torrance Stephens.
Available at Amazon.

From the publisher…

Ignorance Is Strength. These words comprise one of the statements observed by Winston on the pyramid of the Ministry of Truth and are the national slogan of Oceania in George Orwell’s “1984”. They are what writers call a paradox. From a utilitarian purview, a paradox is a vehicle by which a writer can communicate self-contradictory truisms that on the surface appear absurd yet effectively demonstrate combinatorial disjunction.

“In other words, like math, a paradox explains a least common denominator albeit at times contradictory, deduced from apparently acceptable and valid thesis.?


13 thoughts on “The Awkward Electoral Dance of Liberal Democrats”

  1. The Man Who Laughs

    This gave me a bit of nostalgia. It made me think of Father, a lifelong Democrat who grew up poor during the Depression. On some of my visits near the end of his life he spoke of the hardships. His father had died in a traffic accident when Dad was thirteen, and he had to go to work to support the family. On the day of his high school finals he was pumping gas in a filling station. he graduated high school only because a concerned teacher, seeing he was absent, came and got him and insisted he take his exams.They had, he told me,a neighbor who was out of work, and would come to borrow a cup of flour to make pancakes to feed breakfast to four children.

    Knowing Dad as I did, I think elephants would roost in trees before he would have voted for Trump, but neither can I imagine what the current crop of Democrats would have had to say to my father that he would have been the least bit interested in.

  2. This reminds me of my grandfather. He firmly believed that republicans were the party of the rich plutocracy and that democrats were the party of the working and union man. He was a lifelong railroad engineer, meaning he drove trains, and enlisted in wwII to do so, even though he had an exemption. He drove trains with supplies from India to Burma, where they were flown to china and drove Japanese pows back. While he was no social conservative, his support of the democrats was always based on labor. It’s sad that we don’t have that party anymore.

  3. On an unrelated note, my grandfather and his 3 older brothers all served in the war, like many other americans. could you imagine such a shared purpose today?

    1. Zemtar,

      It is a good thing that today we don’t have anything like WWII for us to demonstrate “shared purpose” in. We have, among other things, nukes to thank for that.

      It will be progress when we can find shared purposes in good things that aren’t war!

  4. I can’t fix a date for when it happened, but the Democratic party started to change drastically when the money power of Wall Street infiltrated the party, resulting in the Clinton presidency. By 2000, the influence of that power so radically transformed the Democrats that it was hard to discern the party on issues of governance. Yes, a difference on social issues, but compared to the larger issues, just crumbs on the table. And so we have wound up with a one-party system, with a liberal wing and a conservative wing. How they distribute the crumbs is about the main difference.

    As I told a fundraiser for the Democratic Party a few months ago, I will contribute to the party when they start being Democrats agains.

    1. Hi Mr Martin,

      I will confess to being and evil ass, but I cannot help but delight in saying that Bill Clinton is the greatest Republican president of the 20th century and Tricky Dick Nixon was the greatest Democratic president of the 20th century to drive my more progressive friends up a wall. The fun comes when you get to argue the facts.

      This article along with the earlier book review by MvC should, as my dear old mom would have said, knock a knot on us all. Dr Stephens nails it with the contrast of Tulsi Gabbard and Kamala Harris. I am not a Republican, but I know what their game is, despite their hypocrisy. I am not a Democrat, and I don’t understand their three stooges jumping out of the clown car with drones to blow up Libya approach to governing.

      I get the “power” point, but the incompetence and stupidity is less transparent. The Democrats stopped representing the demos, and their words resonate with only a portion of the aristos. What’s worse, is they’re screwing things up with their pseudo-progressiveness. The Dems have perfected the conflation of the objective of a policy and the policy itself. If you attack the policy, you’re an evil bastard for attacking the objective of the policy, which is a goddamned lie. This is one of the most odious, Orwellian, bullshit things to enter our politics ever, though I don’t doubt that it’s been there in some measure forever.

      Being skeptical of the Department of Education as a federal thing does not make one anti-education.

      But on a more personal and insane not, let me address child labor. My 12 year old nephew wants to work at a gelato shop. He has to spend time there due to social reasons, and he’d like to prepare gelatos for customers, clean tables, etc., rather than just listen to the grown-ups BS. But he can’t because of child labor laws. This is insane. Yes, I think we should be skeptical of having 8 year old powder monkeys and 10 year olds blowing glass or working blast furnaces, but wiping down tables a few hours a week in a gelato shop? Bad policy.

      And it’s far more pernicious than you might think. It further alienates kids from the society they live in, and all of the badness that engenders. I think George Carlin said something like “you don’t need a role model, you need a job!” Sometimes I think good sense left the world with dear George.

      I hope they come around for you, Mr Martin. The demos could use the help.

      With kind regards,


      1. Bill,

        “Tricky Dick Nixon was the greatest Democratic president of the 20th century”

        I’d rank Nixon as number 3 among the top Democratic Party presidents, ever — behind FDR and LBJ. Details here: Let’s play round 2 of “Name That Liberal”

        As you note, people often use “Left” and “Right” forgetting that these describe the relative political positions at a specific point in time — and that the spectrum its drifts and changes over time!

      2. Hi FM,

        Thanks for the pointer! As you probably infer, my point is that the argument actually exists — neither WJC or BHO are top three in 20/21st century and Tricky Dick is ahead of them both! Individuals probably get too much credit and blame, but some people oversee things getting done. As you say, Left and Right are shifting and I don’t know how they apply today. HRC is to the “right” of Nixon and LBJ (and JFK) on foreign policy but way to the “left” of her 90s self on same sex marriage. Grandpa Ike tried to warn us, but we didn’t listen, alas.

        With warm regards,


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