When the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has its annual howling convention in the Washington, DC area, the mainstream mass media expands its coverage like an accordion from the weeks leading up to the gathering to the analysis of the aftermath. Why? Because a demanding CPAC summons all the Republican contenders for the presidential nomination and woe be the potential candidates who excuse themselves.
What is the counterpart for the Democrats? The nearest is Robert Borosage’s smaller convention (this year it is called Populism2015), which is easily ignored by the Democratic incumbents in the White House and the current frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Borosage has given up even inviting President Obama to come down Connecticut Avenue and speak to the faithful at the Washington Hilton or other venues.
Turn on C-SPAN and the “Road to the White House” is complete with speeches at events and convocations where the Republican contenders for the presidency brandish their ambitions. Where is the C-SPAN coverage of the Democratic counterparts? Well, Hillary hasn’t announced yet and only Martin O’Malley (former governor of Maryland), Jim Webb (former Senator from Virginia) and Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) are stirring the waters, but none of these “candidates in waiting” have announced. No contest. The Republicans dominate C-SPAN’s “Road to the White House” and will until the end of the primary season next year with their repetitious fact-starved fulminations.
Here we tediously go again for 2016 unless the progressives stop demoralizing themselves with political resignation and begin applying the dicta of the great abolitionist, Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never did and it never will.”
Tethered to the Party’s militarist and corporatist Democrats like the Clintons, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, liberals and those on the Left rarely escape these ties, which means that their demands for progressive change are often shrugged off. Democratic candidates know progressives think they have no choice but to support the Democratic nominee. At the same time, the radical Right at CPAC summons the Republican candidates and issues them an ultimatum: give attention to the right-wing agenda or else. Senator John McCain found this out in the 2008 presidential campaign.