The Pursuit of Happiness


Even Republicans are tired of putting lipstick on their Presidential pig. But what’s up with the Arkansas State Democratic Party?

They met in Little Rock 10 days ago and John Bel Edwards, Governor of Louisiana, was the keynote speaker. Edwards’ guidance to Arkansas Democrats was to “embrace the center” and to be moderate in all things. That’s advice from a guy who leads a state ranking 47th on all standard measures for quality of life. Even Arkansas does better than that: we’re 46th.

What does “embrace the center” mean? Congressional Democrats have unveiled a new plan that includes lowering the cost of drugs. Is that embracing the center? I’m curious because it was a Democratic Administration, in 1997, that made it legal for pharmaceutical companies to directly market to consumers – to the tune of $19 billion dollars a year. Thanks to Bill Clinton we get 18 minutes of drug commercials for every 42 minutes of network television programming.

The same Democratic administration significantly lowered independent R&D funding to public universities for drug and medical research, and aggressively encouraged universities to form public-private partnerships with pharmaceutical companies – almost exclusively to the benefit of these for-profit corporations. Is privatization of the Public Good the center Democrats (still) embrace?

Until Democrats recognize their party’s clearly documented policy collusion with corporations and Ronald Reagan’s supply side agenda – all dressed up in Clinton inspired Doublethink – voters will know that “embracing the center” is more of the same old crap. In the meantime, Arkansas’ Democratic Party leaders can apologize to voters for keynoting the remarks of a “centrist” hack whose only virtue is the quickness he demonstrates in dropping to his knees before every “conservative” and anti-environment special interest group with .50 cents to hand out.

I’m by no means saying the Democratic Party must become more “progressive.” Yet, for the last 30 years, beholden and amoral forces within the Democratic Party have let Republicans push “the center” so far to the right that 42% of Americans can’t get their hands on $400 ready cash. Democrats lose respect – and elections – because they’ve lost all sense of where the center should be.