Is The Democratic Party Now Just Republican Lite At Its Highest Levels?
I hope you read the post yesterday featuring Thom Harmann's interview with Thomas Frank about how the Democratic Party quite consciously transformed itself from the party of the working class and middle class to the party of the Republican-lite rich professional class. If you didn't, please do... it's important to the foundational narrative we've been developing here are DWT over the last decade. Until you get a chance to read Frank's new book, Listen Liberal-- What Ever Happened To The Party of the People, the video at the post yesterday and the clip up top that Hartmann recorded a few days before his interview with Frank-- but, as you'll see had him headed in the same direction-- are important to look at and consider seriously. Sunday Hartmann switched mediums and blogged for AlterNet about how the Bill Clinton/Rahm Emanuel/Debbie Wasserman Schultz wing of the Democratic Party has abandoned working class Americans with economic policies that favor Wall Street and the "professional class" and trade policies that favor multinational corporations. It's a pivotal time for whichever party is smart enough to reivent itself as the party that backs-- backs for real, not the way Bill Clinton and Paul Ryan make believe they do, while plotting to cut Social Security benefits and pass the next NAFTA-- the legitimate aspirations of working class Americans.
Neither party today does much of anything for the bottom 90% of Americans, as so clearly demonstrated by a recent study out of Princeton that showed that the likelihood of legislation passing that represents the interest of that bottom 90% was equivalent, statistically, to white noise.
Thomas Frank’s new book Listen, Liberal: Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? offers the fascinating premise that starting with the McGovern Commission of 1972 (which largely excommunicated Labor from having a large role in Democratic Party decision-making) and going into a full-out embrace of the “professional class”-- i.e. the top 10% economically-- the Democratic Party has largely abandoned the American working and middle class-- the bottom 90%.
As Frank told me on my program recently, the doctor who delivered me in 1951 was almost certainly a Republican (then the party of the professional class), but today would almost certainly be a Democrat. In the 1950s and 1960s virtually the entire professional class (the top 10%) was Republican; today it’s virtually all Democratic.
In the late 1980s, the DLC Democrats (and now the Third Way/Clinton Democrats) embraced the professional class and embraced complex solutions to our nation’s problems. They consciously moved away from labor/working class and towards an elitist embrace of banksters, the emerging “geniuses” of Silicon Valley, and the college-educated at all levels.
They even went so far as to suggest it was a good thing that much of America’s blue-collar working-class high-school-diploma jobs go to China and Mexico, as we here in America needed to move to the “new economy” jobs of technology, medicine, and finance, requiring a college education.
This ideological change in the Party led to the Clinton-era 1990s policies that gutted our industrial base, ripped apart the social safety net (ending “the era of big government”), and financialized our economy.
As Frank points out, while FDR had a “brain trust” of the best and the brightest in the nation, they were drawn from a broad cross-section of America in terms of class and education. Many didn’t even have a college education. The Clinton and Obama administrations, on the other hand, while optically more racially diverse, are almost entirely run by people with elite educations from elite universities (particularly Harvard), who share the worldview of the DLC/Third Way.
The policies that came out of this new Democratic Party ideology (largely taken from the 1950s Republicans) have resulted in a boon for the professional class, but almost totally left behind the bottom 90%.
President Obama’s failure to even bring up Card Check (the Employer Free Choice Act, which would have strengthened Labor), even after campaigning on it twice, is one of the most obvious examples of the Party’s decision to give lip service to working people, but keep their emphasis on elite complexity and the professional class that embodies it.
The result of these decisions and policies provided the opening for the most unlikely phenomenon (on the Democratic side) of my lifetime: a rumpled, acerbic, 74-year-old Jew with a Brooklyn accent who calls himself a “Democratic Socialist” drawing tens of thousands to stadiums across the nation and holding his own against the anointed candidate of the Democratic Party and Third Way elders.
Bernie Sanders carries into the Democratic Party the message of the bottom 90%, the Occupy Movement, and the Black Lives Matter movement-- and the aspirations of students and working people-- so successfully in large part because they’ve been abandoned by the Democratic Party elites (including the Clinton dynasty).
...With both political parties captured almost entirely by the interest of the top 1% (Republicans) and the top 10% (Democrats), the bottom 90% feel they have nowhere else to go. For the past few decades, they’ve expressed this reality of being unrepresented by simply not voting and not showing up for politics, which they correctly saw as rigged and not working in their interest.
Now, with both Trump and Sanders exposing complex trade deals as unwieldy and destructive to the bottom 90% (but very useful and enriching to the top 10%), as well as the politically corrupt environment that supports the top 10%, people on the right and the left are waking up.
And they’re waking up fast and loud.
Interestingly, since the (Democratic) professional class includes elite-publication and TV journalists, they largely write off Sanders as an anachronism, an throwback to the FDR era which, they believe, was a nice and quaint memory but ain’t how the world works any more in this “globalized economy.”
As a result, they don’t cover the Sanders candidacy, except when Bernie supporters decide to show up at Trump rallies and start a confrontation that reaches the level of spectacle that they think qualifies it as “news.”
Similarly, as CBS chief executive Les Mooves so candidly pointed out at a recent stockholders meeting (revealed to the world by the brilliant reporting of Lee Fang over at The Intercept), the most senior management of the big networks are more than happy to give almost $2 billion in free media to Republican Donald Trump because, as Mooves said, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS…”
Thus, whichever party embraces the 90% will probably win the 2016 election.
If that’s Trump and/or Sanders, it’ll either splinter the Republican and/or Democratic Party or may reinvent that party in a way that it can begin to build and hold multigenerational national political power.
Early today, a poll was released showing that Donald Trump is the public figure most Americans (54%) would like to punch in the face. Respondents were also asked which presidential candidate's tax plan they liked the most. Almost a third of respondents had no clue but the results of people with opinions are telling-- and it isn't what the establishment corporate media-- so in the bag to the Clinton Machine-- wants getting out:
If Trump is the Republican nominee, he’ll almost certainly win as a change-candidate in a change-year against establishment-candidate Clinton.
...If the 2016 reform candidate is on the Democratic side and it’s Bernie Sanders, he’ll almost certainly win against any non-Trump establishment Republican (and could also easily beat Trump, according to the polls). His presidency would force the Democratic Party to re-embrace the 90%, and, combined with Bernie’s positive values of social and economic justice, could take America back to another era of a strong middle class, with peace and prosperity.
...The Great Depression of 1930 confronted the world’s two largest industrial powers with similar disasters; Germany and the United States were the hardest hit in terms of a rapid loss of standard of living among the bottom 90%.
We chose FDR (Sanders) to lead us out of the mess created by the Republican elites during the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover administrations. Germany chose Hitler (Trump) to lead it out of the mess created by the ruling elites of his day.
• Bernie 26.3%Also this morning, the Communications Workers of America, one of the few non-captive unions left, went against Beltway diktats and endorsed Alan Grayson for the open U.S. Senate seat in Florida against Schumer's and Wall Street's hand-picked "ex"-Republican, Patrick Murphy. The Communications Workers let their members decide who to endorse, unlike the captive unions where the DC cocktail circuit bosses decide. Steve Wisniewski, president of CWA's Local 3108 explained why his membership opted for Grayson instead of the Wall Street patsy Schumer had demanded they endorse:
• Hillary 13%
• Trump 11.8%
• Cruz 7.5%
• Kasich 4.7%
With most members of Congress, CWA members need to lobby and follow up on our issues, but with Rep. Alan Grayson, that’s not the case. Rep. Grayson is constantly out front in the fight for our priorities. Whether it’s expanding retirement and health care benefits and opposing corporate money in politics, or taking on the deeply-flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Grayson has always been an unbending union ally.This election is too important to the Democratic Party and too important to America to nominate another corporate centrist like Hillary. I know there are a lot of women-- men as well-- who believe in her arguments about cracking glass ceilings and there is no counter-argument to its point. Polling shows, though, it is not enough to swing enough independent voters to her side. There are no perfect candidates or perfect politicians, but Hillary is just too flawed for too many people to be elected president. Almost every single poll shows her losing to any non-Trump Republican and her minuscule margin over Trump is way too close to call, particularly when all the same polls show Bernie absolutely pulverizing Trump (as well as every other Republican contender). A couple of days ago, Chris Hayes had Labor Secretary Tom Perez on his MSNBC program and he asked him if he's on Hillary's short list to be vice president. Perez should be but he's not the inconsequential corporate shill she's looking for-- Julian Castro is-- so he's not. Besides statements like the one he made to Hayes, "The rising tide must lift all boats, not just yachts," might offend valued Hillary donors. Do the right thing: