U.S. Democratic Party has distanced from far leflist exploitation
U.S. Democratic Party has distanced from far leflist exploitation
  • Donald Kirk
  • 승인 2011.12.14 12:21
  • 댓글 26
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            PHILADELPHIA = Here in the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, you get a sense of the enduring nature of American democracy and traditions. You also sense the deep problems afflicting the country as you see the tents pitched near the city’s historic City Hall with demands to “Occupy Philly.” They’re an echo of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that began in New York’s financial district and has spread to cities through the country.          

            The “Occupy” demands, from the American left-wing, are the answer in a sense to the “Tea Party” movement of right-wingers wanting independence from what they see as oppression by big government. That movement owes its name to an incident in 1773 in which citizens of Boston showed their anger against taxes on tea by throwing crates of tea from England into the harbor. The Boston Tea Party was a prelude to the American revolution in which the “colonists,” are they are known, rebelled against British rule.

            In a period of rising rhetoric on all sides, you get the feeling that another American “revolution” might be about to happen. There seems to be no middle ground between extremists from right to left. Nor do real reforms for closing the gap between the wealthiest one percent and the rest of the country seem likely. The divisions within the American Congress are so deep that President Obama is having no luck in persuading the Congress to undo the mistakes of the presidency of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and impose regulations, as well as taxes, that held financial manipulators in check during the period of America’s most explosive growth years.

            In this milieu of widespread discontent, it’s safe to assume that far-left parties and organization will find fertile ground for sewing their ideas and programs. It would be a mistake, however, to see this movement as socialist or communist-dominated. Rather, it appears to have the support of mainstream liberals, the backbone of the Democratic Party. You don’t hear Obama condemning the “Occupy” people, whose tents are also a few blocks away from the White House in Washington, DC. Although police have attempted to disperse them in some cities, mostly those in authority are reluctant to act against them. Nobody wants to turn them into heroic figures whose movement might turn into a threat against the government, especially when many people who would never sleep in tents in city parks actually agree with their complaints.

            Mainstream support for the “Occupy” movement springs from the underlying philosophy of the Democratic Party as it has developed since the 19th century. There was a time, in the 1960s and 1970s, when skeptics said there was really not much difference between the two major American parties, the Republicans and Democrats, and it hardly mattered whether a Democrat or Republican was president or which party controlled the Congress. By now, however, the Democratic Party has resumed its historic role in representing the demands of liberals in defense of the rights of labor, of poor people, of a vast middle class that appears to be stagnating while the rich continue to get richer at the expense of everyone else.

            In that sense the enduring nature of the Democratic Party is a force for stability while far leftist parties have been slow to exploit the divisions. Just as it would be a mistake to see the “Occupy” movement, the “occupy-ists,” as necessarily radical so it would be incorrect to see the Democratic Party as leftist or even always liberal. Democratic presidents have been just as interested as Republicans in the strength of America’s capitalist economy, in free trade and the right to free enterprise. The difference, historically and today, is that Democratic-led governments, besides wanting to impose regulations on business and finance, have also been the first to promote higher minimum wages, social security, welfare benefits for the poor and some form of government-subsidized medical care.

            Republicans are objecting to the high cost of these programs as well as the enormous bureaucracy needed to maintain them. The Republican goal is to decrease the size and power of the government while getting rid of excessive welfare benefits that conservatives complain are encouraging poor people not to work. Republicans absolutely hate what they call Obamacare, the medical insurance program that Obama pushed through against strong opposition before the current economic malaise that’s fueling the “Occupy” movement. Unlike in Korea, the distinctions between Democrats and Republicans are more sharply defined now than in many years. The battle lines are drawn for the 2012 election though it’s far from clear if the bitter debate now going on will end happily. The bitterness is so deep that resolution of difference appears extremely difficult, in the U.S. as in Korea.(Future Korea Weekly)

           ( Donald Kirk, author, journalist and contributing editor, Future Korea)

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