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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
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Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Democrats need to find their foundation

NEW YORK (U-Wire) – Last week, the president of the Columbia College Democrats said that his organization has “been trying to figure out who we are as a group for a few years now,” while Democratic religious leaders at Riverside Church asked, “Where do we go from here?” The lack of direction they describe is shared by Democrats around the nation and will continue unless the Democratic Party can establish a single unifying factor on which to build its policy.
The most pressing problem in mobilizing a liberal base in America is the lack of an extra-political organization or ideology that can be adopted by a “liberal” political party. Religion unites the conservative agenda. Republicans have developed a framework with which to mobilize their supporters that includes all aspects of religious life.
The liberals do not have such a framework. The liberal ideology consists of laudable issues: equal rights, environmental protection, and a government that provides for the downtrodden. Each of these issues, however, is meaningful to a separate faction. They have not coalesced on a massive scale, the same way that conservative issues have coalesced under the banner of religion.
Hatred of Republicans by certain Democrats is the closest thing to a unifying factor among liberals. Organizations such as Moveon.org have done an impressive job of raising funds by propagating their highly partisan message, but ironically, in the 2004 presidential election, the small and poorly funded Swiftboat Veterans for Truth had an equally – if not more – substantial impact on the outcome. No matter what its current effectiveness, Moveon.org will eventually suffer the fate of most organizations that are not glued together by some concrete ideology. In its attempt to continually pique its members’ hatred of the opposition, it will be perceived by those who are not emotionally engaged in the activism as tending toward extremism, which conflicts with the status quo; thus, the moderate majority involved will discontinue its financial support.
There have been some great progressive movements in labor as well as civil and women’s rights. Each of these movements had a considerable effect on the politics of their time, but they have left no massive, organized liberal base. The Democratic Party’s alignment with these groups may explain its lack of core. It has relied on exceptions rather than sustainable base building, which is what the Republicans have been doing for decades.
Without religion or sustainable organizations in place, what hope do liberals have? In the 19th century, the force that unified the liberal agenda was the discontent of the working masses. Oppressed factory workers were not only a political force but a violent force as well, as they could be convinced to revolt once a certain level of oppression was reached. At that time, classes were firmly partitioned and the probability that a poor person would become rich in his lifetime was much lower. Since then the interests of the working class have changed relatively little, but the class’ perception of itself has changed drastically because popular entertainment has not only become therapy for the working class, but also a way to define the perfect life, and therefore to justify constant toil.
The American public uses television to gauge how far it falls short of living the perfect life. By presenting scripted perfection in the form of unnaturally functional families, silicone bodies, and luxurious lifestyles, corporations have effectively tied the carrot a few inches from the ass’ snout. The American public follows this carrot tirelessly through the constantly changing superficialities of consumption.
Organized opposition in the style of the 19th century is not possible today because people are unwilling to risk their current status by engaging in protest. Television has brought them closer than ever before to the ideal existence, and none are willing to sacrifice that. The importance of success and luxury in American culture and entertainment, and particularly the belief all people hold that they themselves will one day be wealthy, prevents the establishment of a strong force to promote the rights of the general population.
Few forces in history, save religion, minority rights, and workers’ rights have been able to rally the majority of a nation’s population. The conservatives have religion, minority rights have been established, and the worker is distracted. Finding an alternative yet equally powerful force that supercedes these three should be a priority for all liberals. My advice to the College Democrats, and to Democrats all over the nation, is to separate the flawed Democratic Party from the liberal agenda and above all, to find a unifying factor, a supranational constant upon which to pour a foundation before trying to build the superstructure that is progressive politics upon what currently amounts to a gaping hole.

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