The Democrats: A Critical History

Lance Selfa

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The Democrats: A Critical History

The Democrats A Critical History Worthy reading for anyone who is interested in social change MediaMouse The Democrats is at its best not just when analyzing Democratic foibles and there are plenty but when assessing how the party st

  • Title: The Democrats: A Critical History
  • Author: Lance Selfa
  • ISBN: 9781931859554
  • Page: 204
  • Format: Paperback
  • Worthy reading for anyone who is interested in social change MediaMouse The Democrats is at its best not just when analyzing Democratic foibles and there are plenty but when assessing how the party stifles dissent Lance Selfa has crafted a smart, readable history of the Democrats that reminds us of the party s allegiance to capital Eleanor J Bader, The In Worthy reading for anyone who is interested in social change MediaMouse The Democrats is at its best not just when analyzing Democratic foibles and there are plenty but when assessing how the party stifles dissent Lance Selfa has crafted a smart, readable history of the Democrats that reminds us of the party s allegiance to capital Eleanor J Bader, The Indypendent If you ve ever wondered where the democracy is in the Democratic Party and why US elections rarely seem to change anything, this book will explain the where and the why Providing readers with the history of the Democrats from its genesis as the party of the slaveholders to the neoliberal DLC, author Selfa describes the Democrats role in diverting Americans desire for change Ron JacobsOffering a broad historical perspective, Selfa shows how the Democratic Party has time and again betrayed the aspirations of ordinary people while pursuing an agenda favorable to Wall Street and U.S imperial ambitions.He examines the relationship between party leaders and social movements, from the civil rights struggle to the movement to end the Iraq war reveals the unhappy marriage between U.S labor and the party of the people and assesses the mixed record of attempts to build a third party alternative.Further, Selfa argues that the Democrats record of backing the rich and breaking promises to its voting base is not a recent departure from an otherwise laudable past, but results from its role as one of two parties serving the interests of the U.S establishment.

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    One thought on “The Democrats: A Critical History

    1. Ben Williams on said:

      We often hear cries that we (progressives and leftists) need to "reclaim" the Democratic Party, this book DEMOLISHES that argument! In order to reclaim something you must first have possession of it, removing the illusion that the Democratic Party was the "party of the people" and has merely and temporarily lost its way, is the first task of this book. Selfa traces the development of the party from its not so humble origins as the party of the slave-owning elite, through the concessions Roosevel [...]

    2. David M on said:

      What is to be done with the Democrats?This book makes a solid case that the Democratic Party has been the graveyard for progressive social movements in the US and that the left needs to stop poring its energy into that death machine. Selfa's account ends with Obama's reelection in 2012. Obviously a lot has changed since then. Scanning the index, one finds not a single entry for Sanders. My guess is Selfa would say Bernie's defeat was yet another case confirming his overall thesis. Others on the [...]

    3. Randall Wallace on said:

      “After 1824, the Democratic-Republican Party became simply known as the Democrats. Its core was the Southern slaveholding aristocracy that Jefferson and Madison embodied.” “The ten-hour day for workers, extension of the vote to the proletariat, attacks upon the factory system and other such agitations of the Jacksonian period, represented no direct economic threat to the planters. During the Jacksonian period the planters put on their best democratic garb… in the North.” So, the early [...]

    4. Mike on said:

      The predominant sensation while reading The Democrats: A Critical History is a simple "I wish I'd read this in 2012." Reading this in the aftermath of the 2016 election is akin to watching the majority of Nostradamus's prophecies come to fruition within a decade of his passing. For not having read Democracy in America, I can well imagine that readers of de Tocqueville probably encountered - and have encountered- this sensation of bittersweet prophecy fulfillment about a thousand times a year. Af [...]

    5. Dan Sharber on said:

      fantastic book. it is thorough and illuminating. if this doesn't break you of the view that the democratic party is (or can be) and vehicle for social change then i am not sure anything will. everyone who has ever told me that they vote for democrats as the lesser evil needs to read this book. well researched and engaging. depressing it the history of democratic party betrayals but ultimately hopeful in our ability to eventually build an alternative.

    6. Chaya on said:

      It is 2016, and this book is more relevant than ever as the supposed "socialist" Bernie Sanders vies for the nomination of the Democratic Party. The left has been correct to denounce his usage of the socialist label. There is a logic to saying no to the lesser-evilism of investing in a bourgeoisie party. This is an indispensable book to progressives to understand why a Democratic ticket will continue military ambitions and keep capitalism intact.

    7. Kelly (TheWellReadRedhead) on said:

      I'll admit that I look at the Democratic Party with rose colored glasses much of the time, in order to justify my "lesser of two evils" feelings when voting. This book busts that thinking wide open, and discusses what progressives really need to do to make the changes that they want to see. This book is nonpartisan in that Selfa criticizes Dems and Repubs equally harshly, but it's certainly meant most for progressives who are trying to figure out what their next steps should be.

    8. Camille McCarthy on said:

      This is a whole book of reasons why I will never vote for a Democratic candidate for president and I will certainly never waste time, energy or money campaigning for them. If I had read this book earlier I would have known the outcome of this year's disastrous election before any of it happened. Lance Selfa uses overwhelming historical evidence to show why the "party of the people" does not and will not act in the interests of the people, being as it is one of the two capitalist parties, whose f [...]

    9. Vaughn Zeller on said:

      Anyone who wants to understand how we Democrats have been bamboozled, need only read Selfa’s book. I was searching for an explanation as to why the party I thought represented the working class seemed to have abandoned it. Even its best efforts at championing common people’s interests always appeared halfhearted and disingenuous. This book explains in great detail how my belief, as was that of many others, was always based upon an illusion. As the other property party, the best the Democrats [...]

    10. Mike Goldstein on said:

      I find the politics here agreeable. Learning about party politics in the first half of the 20th century was really interesting, and this could be a useful primer for anyone who still somehow believes in the Democratic party as a legitimately progressive force. It's also a dense and scattered slog, though.A lot of this book's first 100 pages are devoted to takedowns of the Clinton and Obama administrations from the left. You can read those in more engaging form in like 1000 other places. But what [...]

    11. Elizabeth on said:

      This one was a bit of a slog for me, but totally worth it. It's a well-researched and concise critical history of the Democratic Party from a leftist perspective. Even if you don't fully cosign Selfa's conclusions (let's build an alternative to the two parties), you'll find his thorough history of how the corporate elites running the Dems have relentlessly co-opted progressive grassroots movements for their own capitalist/imperialist purposes illuminating. Now I'd like to grab beers with Selfa a [...]

    12. Andrew Kos on said:

      Selfa provides a critical progressive perspective on the Democratic Party that I'm sure many left-leaning readers will have wished they read prior to the 2016 election upset.Democracts dives deep into the history of the party, starting at it's roots in Jefferson's Democratic-Republican party, where many of the party's machinations were first put into practice in the U.S. political system. The historical analysis shows that the Democratic machine has been a powerful pro-capital force, suppressing [...]

    13. Eddie on said:

      Lance Selfa does a great job of not only going over the Democrats history from the very beginning until now but also goes over every single perspective of the Democratic vision and it's myths. The only issue I have with the book is it's odd chapter sequence and interjections between the passages stating that something is in either a later chapter or earlier. It's closer to a 5-star rating than 4-star but I cannot give it a perfect score. Excellent read, wish I had read it before the last general [...]

    14. Algernon on said:

      My appreciation of this book is not solely because I am in accord with its political orientation, but because the book does not preach to a choir: it states a solid, non-vituperative argument about the Democratic Party as an institution and supports it with valuable historical evidence, which in its revised edition addresses the first term of President Barack Obama and the arrival of social movements such as Occupy Wall Street. Its sixth chapter, "Defenders of Empire," is an excellent essay abou [...]

    15. Shawna on said:

      Does it make the case that the Democrats have always been cozy with Big Business and have been impossible to change? Yes. But in the Trump era with civil liberties and rights threatened everywhere we look and all progress and environmental gains (however inadequate and small) that seems to be rolled back at an alarming rate, it seems naive to imagine that the two parties are as interchangeable as this text suggests. I'm not seeing the Republicans crying over refugees as I am Chuck Schumer. Both [...]

    16. Judah on said:

      This is a great book for anyone still grappling to understand why the Democrats lost the 2016 presidential election. "Both candidates suck" was a refrain repeated so often in 2016 until it seemed like an utterly vacuous statement, but it nevertheless reflects a very real frustration that people feel about the state of American politics- that our two party system is fundamentally designed to serve the interests of a system that exploits the very people Democrats claim to represent. Time and again [...]

    17. Jason on said:

      A good read. It's always fascinating to look at American politics from a Marxist viewpoint.

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