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The Myth of the Democratic Leader

Don Rose 21 November 2017 2 Comments

Let’s leave for a moment the world of sex abusers and victims, tax-reform abusers and their victims, and the Liars Poker game at the White House to dispel a myth perpetrated by all the media and believed by numerous righteous citizens.

   I speak of the of the myth of the great unifying single leader of the Democratic Party. Whether posed as a question by columnists and commentators of all persuasions or offered up as a general statement, there is the presumption that somehow there should be one–suggesting that at one time we had one.

   The question may be asked sincerely or sneeringly and  the answer always is we don’t have one. That answer is correct. But the myth is that somewhere in the past there was one while we had a Republican president. Dead wrong.

   The only times we have had such a leader is when there was a Democratic president and he (they were all men) was the genuine leader of the party–except maybe when Jimmy Carter was president.

   For decades since the FDR era we have had many kinds of leaders and aspirants while out of power. We have long had factional leaders, such as today’s Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and whomever is carrying Hillary’s torch.

   Some leaders of volunteer organizations aspire to the role.

   We have legislative leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and historically powerful ones like Senator Lyndon Johnson before he ascended. The only person I can think of who might have donned the national mantle was Ted Kennedy, but the tragic scandal of Chappaquiddick while Nixon was in office killed off that prospect–however, he grew to be a potent legislative leader, though a failed presidential candidate. Bill Clinton as ex-president longed to be but he turned out to be factional at best.

   The various chairs of the Democratic National Committee are far from being genuine leaders. The DNC, even apart from the recent stench under Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz , is an administrative, rule-making, fund-raising and money distributing body.

   Most past chairs–including incumbent Tom Perez–are unrecognizable, unremembered names, with the possible exceptions of Howard Dean–who was once a factional leader–or former Gov. Ed Rendell, who shows up on TV as does Donna Brazile.  Sen. Tim Kaine became a vice presidential candidate and Terry McAuliffe became governor of Virginia. But who remembers them as DNC chairs?

   You would have to go back to FDR’s era to find  nationally recognized DNC chair named Jim Farley–though the prez himself was the real leader.

farley

   But true leaders? There ain’t none and never was when there was a GOP president. Bidding for the job are potential presidential candidates such as Sanders and Warren along with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Sherrod Brown and Amy Klobuchar, to name some of  the first dozen.

  Dems won’t have a leader until one gets elected. Most annoying: no one from Sean Hannity to Rachel Maddow acknowledges that fact, while all the rest suggest there should be one, unaware there never was one.

   That doesn’t mean Dems can’t win in 2020. Happy Thanksgiving.

**
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

2 Comments »

  • Jim Bowman said:

    Was with you and keenly interested, Don, until this paragraph, when I went off the rails at the egregious solecism:

    For decades since the FDR era we have had many kinds of leaders and aspirants while out of power. We have long had factional leaders, such as today’s Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and whomever is carrying Hillary’s torch.

    The issue being “whom,” the subject, not object, of the clause, nor object of anything else in your very interesting argument, by which I am reminded of the 1930s wit (I forget the name) who said that being a Democrat he was a member of no organized political party.

    That said, I return to your column . . .

  • Mike Buck said:

    Will Rogers.

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