Haymarket Books
Books for changing the world
The Democrats
A Critical History (Updated edition)
An unblinking look at the Democrats that shows why they continue to disappoint so many supporters.

Offering 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.

  • Praise for Lance Selfa The Democrats

    “Lance Selfa has written one book that should be mandatory reading for everyone concerned with politics in the United States. The Democrats: A Critical History systematically debunks the notion that the Democratic Party is a progressive force, and that it can be pushed to the left by its voting base. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Selfa’s conclusion, he presents a case that cannot be ignored.”
    —Robert W. McChesney, co-author, The Death and Life of American Journalism

    “The Democratic Party, Lance Selfa demonstrates, is the graveyard of American social movements, its grassy knolls entombing the disappointed carcasses of Populism, Progressivism, Labor, and the Green movement. The Democrats should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand why Barack Obama turned out to be the undertaker of reform.”
    —Roger D. Hodge, author, The Mendacity of Hope

    “With a new, duly-deserved chapter on the Obama Era, Lance Selfa’s The Democrats reveals the many ways in which the establishment Democratic Party has not just dashed progressive hopes over centuries but served as a distraction from the desperately needed business of making real change in this country. Writing dismal history like this is dirty work, but somebody’s got to do it and Seifa’s straight talk actually lifts ones spirits.”
    —Laura Flanders, host of The Laura Flanders Show

    “At a time when our political discourse has reached its basest depths, and many are left scratching their heads as to why corporate America is stronger than ever while the rest of us reel in this recession, Lance Selfa’s timely book helps us understand clearly why the Democratic Party is its own worst enemy. With solid and meticulous research to back his claims, Selfa’s analysis is crucial to progressive understanding of the state of American politics.”
    —Sonali Kolhatkar, host, Uprising Radio, KPFK

    “Worthy reading for anyone who is interested in social change.”?—MediaMouse.org

    “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 Jacobs, Counterpunch

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    Edited by Lance Selfa
    Resisting Trump must begin with an honest accounting of how he came to power.
  • The Struggle for Palestine

    Edited by Lance Selfa

    Leading international solidarity activists offer insight into the ongoing struggle for Palestinian freedom and justice. Includes Anthony Arnove,...