small d header

faith and begorra! I’m a small-d democrat

THE NEWSLETTER FROM THE NATION dated No­vember 5, 2015, had an ar­ticle ti­tled “Why Grass­roots De­moc­rats Don’t Have a Problem With De­mo­c­ratic So­cialism.” This was a good teaser for me, as I am too far gone to the left to con­sider my­self aligned with much of the De­mo­c­ratic Party ex­cept through de­fault. I have no problem with being la­beled a bleeding-heart, lib­eral, commie, pinko fag. Hell’s Belles, I’ve even en­dured being called a bloody pro­gres­sive! But this ar­ticle of­fered me an al­ter­na­tive! 1

Now of course I favor Bernie Sanders, but it seems rather ob­vious that Clinton is going to be the 44th person sworn into the highest of­fice in the land in 2017.


But that wasn’t what got me from there to here. Any more than it was the black & white photo that headed the ar­ticle (below).

Nor was it the eye-catching sub-title: “They know that Bernie Sanders is ad­vo­cating an old Amer­ican tradition—in fact, De­moc­rats now favor so­cialism over cap­i­talism by 12 per­centage points.”

I wasn’t aware of that par­tic­ular fact, al­though I have been aware of polls taken over the years that show that more than 70% of Amer­i­cans con­sis­tently ‘vote’ de­mo­c­ratic when given op­tions in the polling ques­tions that are de­void of the usual par­tisan col­oring that makes them not slanted in ei­ther par­ty’s di­rec­tion. 2

But that wasn’t what got me from there to here.



It wasn’t the black and white photo of FDR’s good friend and So­cialist Party pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Norman Thomas in Mil­waukee during a cam­paign ap­pear­ance in Sep­tember 1932. While I am a sucker for a good black & white image, that wasn’t what got me from there to here ei­ther.

The question is about electability

I started reading the ar­ticle is by John Nichols and got as far as the fol­lowing para­graph, which I copied and trans­ferred to my Face­book page with a link to this ar­ticle. It was while editing the con­tent for Face­book that I caught my­self thinking about a term in the para­graph:

“As CNN’s An­derson Cooper noted in this year’s first De­mo­c­ratic de­bate, a small Northern Eu­ro­pean country might not be the best metaphor for America. Cooper, though he may not have known it, was en­gaging in the latest po­lit­ical craze: ex­plaining to Bernie Sanders the best way to pro­mote de­mo­c­ratic so­cialism to Amer­ican voters.

After so many years of ne­glect and mis­state­ment, there’s a lot of pent-up en­ergy among de­mo­c­ratic so­cial­ists as well as small-‘d’ de­moc­rats who want to open up the po­lit­ical dis­course to in­clude se­rious al­ter­na­tives to the crony-capitalist status quo.

Sanders him­self fits into both camps—and he is smart enough to rec­og­nize that if his pres­i­den­tial can­di­dacy doesn’t frame that de­bate, the de­bate will frame his can­di­dacy, prob­ably to his detri­ment. In­deed, as Cooper ar­gued during the de­bate when de­mo­c­ratic so­cialism is the topic, ‘the ques­tion is re­ally about elec­tability.’ ” 3

I love it! As stated, I am too far gone west (po­lit­i­cally left when looking at most ge­o­graphic maps) to be a large-D De­mo­crat, but ac­knowl­edging my­self as a small-‘d’ de­mo­crat sounds so … de­mo­c­ratic! Anyway, a little bit of re­search via Google led to “I’m a proud and un­apolo­getic (small d) de­mo­crat” by homing on the Dai­lyKos web­site. This piece opens with a broad­side:

“I be­lieve in ‘we, the people.’ I be­lieve in ‘from many, one.’ I be­lieve in ‘a more per­fect union.’ I be­lieve in the wisdom of crowds. I be­lieve in the suf­fragettes. I be­lieve in the pro­gres­sive era. I be­lieve in the freedom riders. I be­lieve that if you’re old enough to die for your country, you’re old enough to vote.

I be­lieve that cor­po­ra­tions are not people. I be­lieve that money is not speech. I be­lieve that there are forces that want to sub­vert democ­racy, and those forces must be fought, with the strength of unity, and the power of the peo­ple’s voice.”

The thing about the crowds I have prob­lems with, but what the hey!—the rest sounds just like me. (And, co­in­ci­den­tally, I am writing an­other piece con­cur­rently with this one that I based par­tially on The Ar­gu­men­ta­tive Theory and how we hu­mans may need each other to make sense of our­selves as rea­soning crea­tures.) And I now quote more Hu­mong:

“It’s prob­ably easy for you to agree with all of the above. But there’s one more thing I be­lieve about democ­racy, that you weren’t taught in el­e­men­tary school, that hasn’t been wrapped in stir­ring phrases for hun­dreds of years. 

I be­lieve that every vote counts. That may sound just as com­mon­place as the other state­ments above, but that is one promise our country is failing, badly, and it’s part of why we’re fighting here.

If every vote re­ally counted, the ‘proud ide­al­ists’ and the ‘proud De­moc­rats’ here could see each other as al­lies more, and as en­e­mies less. But in an im­por­tant sense, our cur­rent voting system is built on the threat of throwing away your vote, and that is part of what is di­viding this site.”

And Hu­mong then ex­plains his state­ment, and he makes it easy by pro­viding a link to a cute easily di­gested video called “What Is Ap­proval Voting?” I rec­om­mend that you take 2:28 out of your day and watch it now.

You may just find it very common-sensical and at­trac­tive in a rather small-‘d’ de­mo­crat way. And yes, the 965 words pre­ceding this para­graph were written to en­tice you to see the video …



HEADER IMAGE: The car­i­ca­ture of Bernie Sanders as Pres­i­dent of the United States of America is by an artist who signs his work Don­key­Hotey.  I found it at the job­sanger web­site, which brags that it is “a pro­gres­sive voice from the Llano Es­ta­cado.”



1   When speaking, the ep­i­thet “bleeding-heart, lib­eral, commie, pinko fag” is said as one word: bleed­ing­heartli­brull­com­miepinkofag. Just thought you might want to get that one cor­rect the net time you use it for your­self or an­other.

2   The last poll that I saw was 72%, but I am not going searching for it on the In­ternet at this time. On the other hand, sev­eral sur­veys and in­ves­ti­ga­tions by var­ious in­di­vid­uals and or­ga­ni­za­tion (John Dean’s book Con­ser­v­a­tives Without Con­science from 2006 is an ex­ample) have found that 20-25% of Amer­i­cans are so rightwingnut that they would vote for Hitler if there was a way to res­ur­rect him.

3   The three in­dented para­graphs were copied and pasted from the source, where they stand as one para­graph in the article—long, un­gainly para­graphs ap­par­ently in with con­tem­po­rary non-fiction websites—and I couldn’t help but chuckle that the writer or the type­setter (is there such a thing on the ‘Net?) wrote “small-‘d’ de­moc­rats” in­stead of small-d de­moc­rats.


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