I deeply respect the heart and dedication of those seeking to reform the Democratic Party. But you might as well join the Army and try to reform the Pentagon.
— Michael Goldstein
The Democratic Party, the electoral system, and public office itself comprise a well-honed system that corrupts and co-opts almost everyone who advances within it. The organization has some democratic forms, but during the 2016 Clinton/Sanders race and after, it functioned the way it is designed to — keeping power in the hands of a "Centrist" elite that serves Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, Big Oil, Big Pharma, corporate agribusiness, and the rest.
Poll after poll showed Bernie Sanders as the stronger general election candidate against Donald Trump, but the Democratic Party pushed resources, media, polling data, everything they could, to Hillary Clinton, to make sure that she won the nomination and to elbow out Bernie Sanders. They did not learn from this self-inflicted wound. In fact, the Democratic Party is doubling down [during the current primary season,] and we’re seeing those exact same tactics applied in congressional races all across the country.
— Lee Fang, investigative journalist, speaking on Democracy Now!.
Before Bernie Sanders and his millions of supporters, there was Howard Dean. Before Howard Dean there were Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition. Before them were Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. All of these sought to move the party to the left, and maybe they did for a minute. But when have you seen “Change We Can Believe In”?
Maybe folks can continue to get more progressive planks inserted in the Party platform. But the platform has no meaning — no candidate or officeholder is required to support it or vote according to its supposed dictates. Maybe there will be slightly more democratic structures, like fewer super-delegates. But primaries will still in the main be won by candidates who are given the most corporate money and who are anointed — not marginalized — by the corporate-owned media.
Perhaps some fresh faces, people with ideals, will make it to Congress and other offices this year. But how — without a movement to which they are answerable — can they avoid becoming co-opted and corrupted by an environment designed to confuse people, turn their heads, and convince them to "make compromises" so they can stay in office and supposedly do more good there?
Like other holding actions against the excesses of the 0.1%, these efforts have some meaning and may help here and there. But there is a solution to the crises we face on every front, and reforming the Democratic Party is not it.