Jacobin - What Democrats Must Do

A tip o' the hat to Naked Capitalism's Lambert Strether today for including a link to
What Democrats Must Do, by Miami University of Ohio historian and sociologist Josh Mound, on the website Jacobin. Mound drives home the irony that the New Democrats who supported Clinton and sought to defeat Sanders by creating the false narrative of bigoted "Berniebros" are themselves prejudiced in favor of white suburbanite professionals. This is, of course, the transformation of the Democratic Party Thomas Frank details in his book, Listen Liberal.

I greatly fear that most people will not read the article, because it is a very long read -- at least a couple hours. I wish I had come across it earlier and been able to post it for people to wade into on a Sunday morning. It is a very, very important article; identifies all the key turning points in the the history of the Democratic Party and American politics the past four decades; includes many of the original sources cited by Frank, with the added great benefit of providing links to them, and has many sources Frank does not; and is chock full of all the damning quotes you could want, again, with links.

I suppose to public-spirited thing for me to do would me to provide a summary of Mound's article, but that would make it too easy for people to not read the entire article themselves. Hence, a few excerpts, with one observation on my part.

Two truths about the white working class have framed the discussion of American working-class politics for more than fifty years. White workers, as political scientist Elisabeth Jacobs has summarized, are both “substantially more liberal” on economic policy and “marginally more conservative” on cultural issues than more well-off whites. This dynamic left the post–Civil Rights Democratic Party with a choice: move right on race, left on economics, or abandon the working class completely....

Since George McGovern’s landslide loss in the 1972 presidential election, the Democratic Party, under the influence of the neoliberal “New Democrats,” has chosen the final option. Rather than woo white workers with social conservatism or economic populism, the party decided to woo well-off white suburbanites with moderation on both social and economic issues....

Clinton’s strategy of avoiding economic populism had the unintended consequence of dampening the Democratic base’s enthusiasm, driving down support and turnout among both people of color and Millennials.

Tp the next excerpt I append my own observation.

Beginning in the Jacksonian Era and for more than a century after, the Democratic Party was, wholly or partly, a white supremacist institution....

the Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal inaugurated a decades-long process of pulling African Americans away from the party of Lincoln and into the Democratic coalition. The economic progressivism of New Deal Democrats attracted many black voters, as political scientist Eric Schickler has explained, even as Southern Democrats’ continued influence meant that many New Deal programs initially excluded large numbers of African Americans.

Contrary to recent suggestions by liberal pundits, the New Deal didn’t succeed because of Dixiecrat racism. It succeeded in spite of it.

Looking at Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, the Jim Crow South, and, later, McCarthyism, many American intellectuals began to ask how such “authoritarian” ideologies took root.

They concluded that the answer, as sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset phrased it in an influential 1959 article, lay in the white working class, whose members exhibited “greater suggestibility” and an “inability to take a complex view,” among other character flaws.

David Riesman and Nathan Glazer went even farther: liberal intellectuals, the sociologists argued, now had more in common with Wall Street traders than with workers, especially on issues like “civil rights and civil liberties.”

This post-war analysis by Lipset, Riesman, Glazer, and others, is an important issue which Frank does not address. Mound is to be thanked for including it, but at the same time, Mound should have noted that it is inaccurate to pin the blame for the Nazis entirely on the German working class. Most people understandably have little desire to delve into the history of the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, so I am fortunate to have recently come across a 2011 book by Erik Larson about the U.S. Ambassador to Germany from August 1933 to December 1937, William B. Dodd, aptly titled, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin. Dodd was an outsider to the "Pretty Good Club" of the rich, Ivy League dominated U.S. Foreign Service of the time -- one of the pet peeves by certain State Department careerists was that Dodd did not have a personal fortune and therefore could not properly maintain the trappings of an ambassador -- and was quite prescient in warning about the true nature and intents of Hitler and his party. One of the most important things I learned from the book was the role played at the beginning of Hitler's ascent to power by German nobleman and General Staff officer, and Chancellor in 1932, Franz von Papen. It was Papen who persuaded German President Paul von Hindenburg that Hitler could be easily dominated and controlled by the aristocratic factions Papen and Hidenburg represented, leading directly to Hindenburg stepping aside to be replaced by Hitler. This crucial support of Hitler by ruling German oligarchs confirms the history related by Carroll Quigley in the 1966 book Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. I will further note that both Larson and Quigley mention, but do not focus on, the supporting role of British and American bankers who saw Hitler as the best German political option for maintaining the flow of World War One reparations payments from Germany. It is not surprising that the role of political and financial elites in the rise of nazism would be obscured by placing the blame instead on the working class.

Like Frank, Mound finds the first signs of neoliberalism appearing in Jimmy Carter's administration:

“Government cannot solve our problems, it can’t set our goals, it cannot define our vision,” Carter declared in his 1978 State of the Union address. “Government cannot eliminate poverty or provide a bountiful economy or reduce inflation or save our cities or cure illiteracy or provide energy.”

By contrast, Mound writes,

In a 1972 issue of Dissent dedicated to blue-collar workers, socialist intellectual Michael Harrington dispelled the myth that the working class “no longer exists in America.” Many politicians and commentators, Harrington wrote, had been misled by the relative shift from blue-collar to white-collar work in the US economy. Most of these new white-collar jobs, he argued, were no guarantee of prosperity. Blue-collar or white-collar, this working class was bound together by one common experience: “it does not have enough money.”

Then, of course, came Bill Clinton, and the entire noxious DLC horde:

“[W]hat you earn depends on what you learn,” Clinton and his vice presidential nominee, Al Gore, proclaimed in their campaign book. The solution to stagnant incomes, they argued, wasn’t robust government intervention, but creating “the best educated, best-trained workforce in the world.” They had little use for unions and eagerly supported “free trade” agreements. “We believe in free enterprise and the power of market forces,” they wrote.

But Clinton added a crucial element: a rightward turn on race. Years later, DLC acolytes would deny and downplay the role of racism in Clinton’s 1992 campaign. But its centrality to Clinton and the New Democrats was undeniable. As Franklin Foer admitted in a sympathetic account, “More than any issue, race defined the rise of the New Democrats in the 1980s.”

Clinton didn’t just take black voters for granted. He pointedly used African Americans as a foil to demonstrate that Democrats had abandoned racial liberalism. He snubbed Jesse Jackson, denounced Sister Soulah, executed Ricky Ray Rector, and adopted punitive, racialized stances on welfare and criminal justice.

Despite New Democrats’ conviction that they could tack right on racial issues without losing African-American voters, the 1992 Democratic primaries saw “the smallest black voter turnout for a presidential primary in a decade.” In many key states, Clinton won less than half the number of African-American votes that Jesse Jackson had received during his losing campaign four years earlier....
“Few issues in American life have produced a class schism like NAFTA,” Hart Research’s Guy Molyneux observed in early 1994. “People in blue-collar households, with moderate incomes, and without a college degree were all strongly opposed to the treaty. On the other side were those earning over $50,000 and four year college graduates.” In a prescient aside, Molyneux warned that blue-collar workers would hold Democrats accountable in the decades to come if it became clear that trade had cost them their jobs....

“What makes the soccer moms so key this time is that they are voting Republican for Congress and Democratic for President,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake explained. Clinton’s strategy, in other words, revolved around courting voters that would help him secure reelection, but wouldn’t provide him with the Democratic congressional majority necessary (if insufficient) to enact progressive policies....

New Democrats, one report noted, could “hardly hide their glee” that the Democrats failed to retake the House, because it meant that Clinton would have cover to reach across the aisle and make a deal on entitlement programs.

“The grand bargain sketched here . . . would convert Social Security from an entitlement based on the false promise that everyone can consume more than they produce to a system that promotes savings, investment, and greater economic self-reliance,” Will Marshall, the then-president of the DLC-affiliated Progressive Policy Institute, wrote. “And it would embody a new approach to governing based on a key New Democrat insight: That in the Information Age, government’s role is not to take care of us, but to give us the tools we need to take care of ourselves and each other.”

In late 1997, Clinton met secretly with House GOP leader Newt Gingrich and Ways and Means chair Bill Archer to hammer out a plan to partially privatize Social Security. “I’m prepared to take the political heat to provide political cover for the Republicans,” Clinton assured Archer. The outlines of the deal included a hike in the retirement age and the diversion of a portion of payroll tax dollars into private accounts.

In exchange for dismantling the greatest Democratic policy achievement of the twentieth century, virtually all Clinton wanted was a promise that the GOP wouldn’t try to use the projected budget surplus for tax cuts.

The result, Mound notes, is that voting turnout in 1996 was the lowest since 1924, with less than half of eligible Americans casting a ballot.

The DLC's position on rising income inequality (and, therefore, the emergence of a new oligarchy that would destroy the nation's standing as a republic):

Inequality, economists at the DLC’s think tank insisted, had been overblown by their left critics and would “begin shrinking” soon. The only answer to inequality, they concluded, was a continued fidelity to “fiscal discipline, global competition, flexible labor markets, transparent capital markets, deregulated businesses, rapid communications, and limited government interference in markets.”

Mound points out the the 2000 Bush victory engineered by Karl Rove was the polar opposite of the
DLC's cherished centrism:

...rather than encourage Bush and GOP candidates to tack to the center, he applied insights from a 2001 article by conservative pundit Michael Barone, who argued that America was essentially a 50-50 country, with few truly persuadable voters. Following Barone’s thesis, Rove focused on turning out the Republican base, not only by having Bush play to dedicated GOP voters, but also by ensuring anti–gay marriage referenda would appear on the ballot in key states.

Did Democratic Party leaders learn from this bruising defeat? Did they abandon their worship of "bipartisanship" and "attracting the moderate voter"? Did they note how the Republicans had succeeded by appealing shamelessly to their base, and adopt a reinvigorated attempt to repeal to the traditional working class base of the Democratic Party?

Mound's review of the Obama administration is quite accurate, and will undoubtedly anger many Democrats who continue to cling to an idealized image of Obama. I think Mound's explanation of why Obama's stimulus was a political disaster is the best I've read yet. It sets the stage for what happened next.

When his approval rating declined in 2009, Obama attributed it to his failure to achieve bipartisan consensus, not the economy’s continued sluggishness....

Obama took a page out of the DLC playbook and turned his attention to budget-cutting, creating what would become known as the “Simpson-Bowles” commission — little more than a platform for efforts to cut taxes for the well-off and slash Social Security....

In reality, the federal budget deficit ranked far behind jobs and the general state of the economy in Americans’ minds in both 2010 and 2011. But — in keeping with the New Democrats’ fixation on the views of Wall Street insiders and well-off whites — the Obama administration elevated the deficit and investor “confidence” to its top priority.

The discussion of the 2016 Clinton campaign and loss includes a rich supply of details and links that completely disprove the elites' preferred horror story of white working class voters indulging their bigotry at the ballot box.

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Meteor Man's picture

Thanks for the link and additional background TW. I gave it a quick skim and this caught my eye:

And, as research has shown, voters are right to point the finger at policies implemented by the Clinton administration and continued by Bush and Obama. Workers in “low-skilled” occupations have been systematically exposed to competition, while well-off professionals have been shielded from the same forces — gutting the working-class job market, exacerbating inequality, and stoking alienation and resentment.

Whites in poor Appalachian towns like Nelsonville, Ohio that had voted for Obama expressed frustration with the idea that the economy had turned around since the Great Recession. The same was true of towns in Wisconsin that flipped from Obama to Trump.

The voters who flipped from Obama to Trump can only be explained by the New Dem Zombie elitists choice of Wall Street over Main Street.

The article also points out that Hillary underperformed in Black and Hispanic working class demographics. Obama/Hillary/New Dems have turned their back on all of America's working class.

Without this type of focus on the combined dynamics of race and economic status the entire political/economic analysis fails. Race and social economic status can be analyzed as independent factors, but the dynamics of their interaction cannot be ignored.

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

GreyWolf's picture

thanks tony

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Big Al's picture

the "Champion of the Multiracial Working Class". That's the ticket all righty.

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dance you monster's picture

@Big Al

You have no interest in the Democratic Party's continuing to exist, that's fine.

Thing is, the Republicans and Dems are still the poles of the existing political system that most readers will understand, the lens through which they will look upon the situation as it exists now. For Dems to see how they got to their present impasse cannot hurt. For all those who've left that party, understanding how the Dems, the more progressive party of the two in most of the twentieth century, became anything but a progressive force is a lesson that those new Independents can carry with them as they conceive an alternative to the two parties, an alternative that almost certainly will need to be the "Champion of the Multiracial Working Class."

Everyone who might be inclined to visit this site with any sincerity is looking for a way forward. Most are or were Democrats, so there's some pertinence to reading this. Some will continue to identify as Democrats, and a heckuva lot no longer will. But the lessons, the perspectives, the warnings that history provides us can help steer us, all of us, on our other paths, too. Instead of sneering at an argument because it seeks to shift an existing party to serve America's 99% populace, why not save your effort to present a workable alternative?

Save the pissiness for a moment where it can be fertilizer for something better. Show us that better garden.

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Big Al's picture

@dance you monster site are still democrats in one way or another and that I'm severely out of place. I've know that but have put off the inevitable. I suppose you're right, I should go find where I can be productive. Thanks for the tip.

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Deja's picture

@Big Al

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dance you monster's picture

@Big Al

Al, I am no longer a Dem, either, and have no intention of ever being one again. But that doesn't mean I can't consider the arguments of those who have not fully abandoned the idea of reform. There is meat in the history, and there's a soon-to-be-discouraged individual behind the article you just pooh-poohed.

You, Al, can be more productive, as you say, here. You have an audience that's ready to hear it. So present that here. Yes, I know you did something along that vein before. But that was small Al. Here's your chance to go Big Al. Write your rebuttal What Ex-Democrats Must Do or What Independents Must Do or What Revolutionists Must Do here. There really is nowhere else to make that argument better, or better received. Save your piss and vinegar for an outlet, an essay, that makes it sizzle.

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Big Al's picture

@dance you monster I have been trying to think of my "next move". We'll see soon, getting older every day.

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MsGrin's picture

@dance you monster I did not read it as pissiness.

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'What we are left with is an agency mandated to ensure transparency and disclosure that is actually working to keep the public in the dark' - Ann M. Ravel, former FEC member

@Big Al

This is a two party system. Until we have something different, I don't care if you call them Democrats, Whigs, assholes, or whatnot. The label is unimportant. What is important is trying to find a way from within or without to rescue our government, futures, and planet. Another duopoly, what can I say. Until we have an alternate reality, we need to to find a way to work with what we have and what is possible. Oops, there's that damn duopoly again.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

Wink's picture

@dkmich
Third Party comes along the current system is what we got. The crazy Billionaire with the flip charts was the last one to score more than 5% of the vote, and that gave us Bubba II. The Greens barely eek out 2% of the vote, and that's after 20 years of banging their heads against the wall.

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-2.1) All about building progressive media.

Cassiodorus's picture

@Wink

The Greens barely eek out 2% of the vote, and that's after 20 years of banging their heads against the wall.

-- that the Green Party's history is in no sense continuous, but involves what appear to have been a rather permanent setback, in 2004, when it granted a predominant role to "demogreens," nice folks who like the ornamental role of the Green Party but whose real desire is to see Democrats win.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

Wink's picture

@Cassiodorus
a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, but the Green's take 2% of the vote from the Dems (or 10% in my case here in NY-21), which sometimes is the diff. between winning or not. Now, truth be told, my personal policies align much more closely with the greens than with the Dems, but... a vote for the Green Team is a vote for the Repubs. And, that said, I wish them well. I'm no Greeniac by any stretch, but the more players in the process the better.

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-2.1) All about building progressive media.

snoopydawg's picture

@Big Al

I understand how you feel about the two party systems and that's your right to express how you feel about this.
However, you ad much to this site when you write essays on topics that do interest you and I feel this site would lose something if you left.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

@Big Al Your essays and comments would definitely be missed.

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@Big Al I am a democrat in the FDR vein, which only exists in history.
Let me know where you go.
Studying the history of the dem party is not likely to be of much use when they are now moderate republicans. Citizens United and media and technology didn't exist then. This is a new world, the Democratic Party's history doesn't help us reform a historic party who changed. History does not apply to this entity, which is fairly new.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@dance you monster

But my own is usually triggered when I think deeply about the deceitful ways my government uses my money to murder unaccountable populations of women and children for their own political and monetary aggrandizement. I also get a little testy when I have conversations with people who seem unable to grasp the totality of this. How being trapped within a political and legal infrastructure that works for those who control legislation along with a media that functions as agit prop on behalf of the corporations who pay them is mind numbing for those of us who see no way beyond an electoral system that has been compromised by the same players who are using our taxes and our social safety nets to pay for their wars and their greed.

It's plenty to make even the most optimistic of us a little cranky at times.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

dance you monster's picture

@Anja Geitz

I'd just like to see a strong poster at this site make something more enduring of that piss. I want it to burn through some MIC titanium steel. I'm trying to prod something positive, not just negative, from all of us.

And that in me is every bit as due to discouragement and anger. Let's focus that into a beam. Anything less is wasting time we don't have.

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@dance you monster

Nobody is as "half empty" a kind of person as I am, but hell, let's get real. Until there is an option to overthrowing one of the parties from within or creating a third party, what should people be pulling apart looking for a solution? I see two options to effect change, and they both suck. I wouldn't bet a plug nickel on either one of them being a fix. My money is on cataclysm, and even then I wouldn't bet we'd win.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

@dkmich but how about creating a new "third rail". I don't know, maybe a "family 1st platform". Every one's got one...trad, same sex, collection of individuals that depend on each other. It's all family. What do familys need ? Child care, shelter, health care, education, elder care, maternity, unemployment, training.....in the end, protection, from capitalist exploitation.I dunno, AARP was pretty much the 3rd rail for Social Security ('til Obama and his Cat Food Commission), Why not some new organization for familys?. Right now the left behinds in the economy should be asking each party "What's in it for me?" because too much has been taken away from them and given to the, 1% and neither party is on their side. They wanted Hope and Change and got neither.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@dance you monster

Are left to us beyond divestment of the entire system. We can continue to inform others what is actually happening. If for no other reason than to preserve our sanity within a community that accepts and understands us. But our voices in the election booth don't count. They've armed the police and have employed propaganda tactics to divide protestors and other interested parties. They've achieved in manipulating and controlling both the political and legal infrastructure to achieve their goals. I don't see how you fight this with reform? And I don't see how you fight this in the streets unless being killed is no longer a concern.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

snoopydawg's picture

@Anja Geitz

They've armed the police and have employed propaganda tactics to divide protestors and other interested parties. They've achieved in manipulating and controlling both the political and legal infrastructure to achieve their goals. I don't see how you fight this with reform? And I don't see how you fight this in the streets unless being killed is no longer a concern.

They have gone way beyond arming the police which allows them to get around Posse Comitas, they have sent them to Israel to be trained by Israeli soldiers. Soldiers, not police. This is a huge difference because now instead of the police seeing us as people they swore to serve and protect, they now see us as enemy combatants. This was so apparent at the DAPL protests. The treatments that the police used against the protesters is something we used to only see in countries without the protection of our constitution. Then they took this further by allowing a private military company to oversee the police actions and the protesters. They were able to unconstitutionally spy on the protes leaders as well as many other things that the police aren't supposed to be able to do.

Add in the massive government spying on not only supposed terrorists, they are constantly spying on us in ways we can't imagine.
Look at how the TSA continued to add more and more restrictive policies and hardly anyone complained about it.
Now they have gone all in with their supposed security measures that they tell us they need to do to keep us safe.

Al wrote about this a few days ago and I'm hoping that people read that article and followed other links to others.

This is what he was writing about:

Metro tests airport-style body scanners aimed at detecting guns and explosives

This is what happens when people react to our government doing unconstitutional actions and say that they have nothing to hide, so why do I care if my government spies on me?
We know that they intercept every computer and install a back door so they can access our computers. What is to stop them from planting any evidence that they want to without our knowledge? Nothing.
Want to protest against the alt-left or right? What happens if it gets out of control and many people die? Or some other scenarios? They can plant evidence for anything they want. And then because of Obama's legislation, they can hold us without charges and no access to a lawyer.

Don't think this could happen? Are you sure?
This is going to continue to get worse until they make people get RFID chips. Conspiracy theory? Nope. This is already happening to some members of the military.
End game? Total compliance.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

Anja Geitz's picture

@snoopydawg

How outraged I was when Obama suspended Habeas corpus for American citizens suspected of being "terrorists". My family and friends stared at me slack jawed as I raged on about it sure I had lost my mind. I remember feeling very alone in my outrage. At the very least, I don't feel alone anymore. But you are right. They hold all the cards and are capable of anything to save their empire.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

snoopydawg's picture

@Anja Geitz

professor or whatever he was went unnoticed by his adoring fans. This is just one of the many legislations that he passed that further eroded our rights. How many more will we only find out about when shit hits the fan?

I wonder if we will ever know how much damage he did to this country? The fact that he did nothing while his friends the bankers continued to kick 9 million people out of their homes while the banks continued to commit fraud. Especially Trump's buddy who foreclosed on an elderly woman's home because she owed his bank $.24.

One of the things that his refusal to prosecute the CEOs that crashed the global economy is that finding a rental house is very difficult because the banks and other financial institutions bought up thousands of homes for pennies on the dollar and are now renting them out for ungodly amounts have become vacant slum landlords and their tenants are living in deplorable conditions.

These things are the things that we know about. How many more things are we going to find out?
Thankfully you are not alone in your outrage over what he did during his tenure. You are in good company here.

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Arrow's picture

But today is my day to express my skepticism of the idea of reform in the political process.
It explains a lot of the problems. I think it obly gets fixed through outside pressures. 'Liberals' ain't gonna listen.

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I want a Pony!

Cassiodorus's picture

Only by prioritizing the working class as a whole, in all of its diversity, can the Democratic Party craft the policies and messages that will create a durable electoral majority.

The problem is that so far the Democratic Party has shown no indication of being interested in the working class or in a durable electoral majority. They'd rather support New Democrat stuff, because that's where the money is. They'd rather commit election fraud in twenty primaries, in fact, than win an election. In fact, you'd have to be blind not to recognize the Democratic Party's single-minded dedication to elitism as such. So explain it to me again: what is the point of pieces like Mound's?

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

Anja Geitz's picture

@Cassiodorus

For constituents looking for the Democrats to change, doesn't it?

They'd rather commit election fraud in twenty primaries, in fact, than win an election. In fact, you'd have to be blind not to recognize the Democratic Party's single-minded dedication to elitism as such

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Meteor Man's picture

@Cassiodorus
I agree with you and Al that the Democratic party is beyond the Blue Event Horizon of Failure. Unfortunately, The Green Party is nearly, or perhaps just as hopeless. I really, really wanted to believe that Bernie and Liz could pull the party left. I voted for Stein because I really, really wanted to believe The Greens could pull the political pendulum back in the direction of sanity. I was wrong.

For me the article explains what is required for genuine change, and anything less is unacceptable.

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

Cassiodorus's picture

@Meteor Man It's a more interesting observation, though, when made by people who have put time and energy into trying to make the Green Party work.

And so far as I can tell there has been one, and only one, meeting of the activists about forming a new, competitive, political party.

Are you saying that what is required is for the neoliberals in charge of the Democratic Party to make some sort of fantastic transformation, after which they become what Bernie Sanders wanted them to be?

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

Meteor Man's picture

@Cassiodorus
The answer to your last question is yes. Absent a fantastic transformation of the Democratic party they are dead to me.

Having said that, I wish Bernie and Liz all the success in the world to transform the party, but I won't be holding my breath. I voted hopefully for Stein, but the dust up with that Cobb fellow quashed all hope for The Greens as well.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2004/08/07/how-david-cobb-became-the-green-...

Maybe The Working Families Party?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_Families_Party

I don't think poor planet earth has enough time for us to start a new third party from scratch.

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

Cassiodorus's picture

@Meteor Man to wake up from the capitalist fantasy into one that has, maybe, something to do with the world outlined by, say, physics -- thus a new party might actually help with that.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

Unabashed Liberal's picture

@Cassiodorus

at one of Pete Peterson's annual deficit hawk shindigs.

I'll let it speak for itself, as to whether or not I believe that the Dem Party can be 'reformed.'

[President Bill Clinton: Entitlement programs | The 2011 Fiscal Summit, YouTube]

I'll post this video again at EB, if Social Security goes on the chopping block in the tax reform bill. Both Pelosi and Schumer have laid down the gauntlet--they will not accept tax cuts unless the Dem Party 'Pay-Go' rules are first applied.

Partial video transcript:

Ifill:

. . . His question is,

"Why is there so much focus on reducing entitlement programs, as opposed to the military or other forms of spending?"

WJC:

"Well, for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks--that's where the money is."

Dash 1

IMO, if FSC had won the election, it would practically be a given that we would end this Congressional session, having reached a Grand Bargain. In the past, I posted a blurb about O's glowing assessment of Paul Ryan, and his willingness and expectation that he could 'work with him' (as Chairman of The Ways and Means Committee) to effect a GB. Obviously, that didn't work out.

According to Boehner, O was more than willing to sell out his base (by slashing entitlements), and had even sealed the GB deal with a handshake. It was only after O demanded more revenue, that Boehner backed out of the deal. Several times in the past, I've posted Matt Bai's excellent and detailed piece about the terms of this almost-reached Grand Bargain.

Mollie


"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures--they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive."--Gilda Radner

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."--Will Rogers

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

snoopydawg's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

Bill was close to signing privatization of social security. Fortunately for us he couldn't keep his pants on and the Monica Lewinsky story broke.
Hillary for sure would have worked with the republicans to privatize it. This would be on top of continuing what Obama had been doing for 8 years which was continuing what Bush did for his 8 years.
The democrats said that they were willing to work with Trump and the republicans on tax reform and other legislation.
One person wrote that the democrats voted to save the ACA. No they didn't. The legislation never came up for a vote.
Good ole Lawrence Lewis from ToP wrote a diary saying that they should take credit for the republicans not being able to pass their legislation to take the ACA away from us.
What no one mentions is that the ACA didn't have to pass in the first place because they used reconciliation to pass it which needed only 50 votes to pass which they had.
The ACA was a $400 billion giveaway to the insurance companies. I doubt that they would have allowed the republicans to vote for taking it away. This was another game of kabuki theater.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

It is gratifying when the experts confirm what the rest of us could see and feel in our guts. How many times have we said the Dems don't want to win? When Obama had 60 freaking votes and couldn't pass shit, every alarm bell went off and said, 'ha, got you'.

Thanks for the analysis. I will post this on our FB page and then head off to read it.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

Many Trump & Bernie voters have a lot of common interests. When Trump is finally seen as the fraud he really is, I'm hoping the folks who picked him over HRC can join those of us who are willing to give up Identity Politics. Patriot Prayer may be a halting, first step in our direction from the right after Obama crushed OWS.
It will take a mass movement to reform the duopoly but I think it is possible. Meanwhile the MSM and the Oligarchs will try to convince us that this is really about Antifa vs. Nazis, and that we need a militarized police force to maintain order in the streets.
Thanks for that Obama, you slug.

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chuck utzman

TULSI 2020

Tony Wikrent's picture

I want to explain why I post. When people dismiss the idea of reforming, or even working with, the Democratic Party, I want to ask "which Democratic Party are you talking about?"

I have been involved with the Democratic Party at the local, precinct level, for the past 20 years, in two states: Virginia, then North Carolina. And I have concluded that there is NOT a monolithic national Democratic Party. Rather, there are groups of local Democrats who, during national elections, cluster around campaigns for high offices that are quite distinct and separate from the Democratic Party. This was especially pronounced in the two Obama campaigns, which, in my area at least, had its own offices and own staffers independent of the local and state Party offices and staffers. Apparently, the same separation characterized the 2016 Clinton campaign, judging from the stories of local Democrats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan trying desperately to get the Clinton campaign to understand that Clinton was losing those states.

In my own local area, the people involved with the Democratic Party at the local level are far more radical and progressive than the people who have achieved state and national prominence as Democrats. So, if you are going to organize an insurgency against the status quo, do you ignore these local Democrats? I do not think so, because these people are among the most politically aware and active of all citizens. In some locales, it may be that the Green Party or the Working Families Party, or some other group, might have attracted the the most politically aware and active of all citizens in that locale. If that is the case, I have no problem walking away from the local Democratic Party.

In fact, in North Carolina, dissatisfied Democrats have organized a formal Progressive Caucus. I have been in most, not all, of the local meetings to form this Caucus. Not surprisingly, almost everyone involved supported Sanders over Clinton. Also not surprisingly, the careerists at the pinnacle of the state Party are very wary and uncomfortable with the idea of a Progressive Caucus, and have insisted on a rigorous adherence to Democratic Party rules and procedures through out the process of creating and forming the Caucus. I am not sure yet whether this Caucus will prove to be an effective vehicle for challenging the status quo, but I have absolutely no doubt that the people involved in creating it are going to do everything they can to make it so.

As for myself, I honestly do not believe that the Democratic Party will be replaced by another, independent party. I believe that what carry us into a more hopeful future is exactly the kind of insurgent maneuvering I have now witnessed in the birthing in the Progressive Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Now, step back a minute, try to achieve some objectivity, and look at the two different paths to possible futures. The only time a major party has been replaced in American history is when the Whig Party broke apart over the issue of extending slavery in the 1850s. Abraham Lincoln was the second candidate the Republican Party had run for President, and he did not win a majority of the vote, only a plurality, thanks to the Democratic Party also splintering over the issues of slavery, secession, and the need to continue the dominance of slave holders over national politics and government.

This history does not mean that insurgent political forces have no chance in USA politics. To the contrary, the success of insurgent political forces has most often come as the result of an active and deliberate campaign to seize control of one or the other of the two major political parties. This is what the Tea Party has done to the Republican Party. The problem with the Tea Party, of course, is that it is a channel financed and controlled by rich reactionaries.

The Tea Party seizure of the Republican Party is not a new phenomena in USA politics. In the 1880s and 1890s, the agrarian revolt (see The Populist Moment, by Lawrence Goodwin), from whence sprang the populists, not only backed insurgents in both parties, but managed to get a few dozen members of the Peoples Party elected as Congressmen and state legislators. So did the Greenback Party in the 1870s and 1880s. In the 1910s, the Non-Partisan League took control of North Dakota, and nearly gained control of Minnesota. The NPL never formed its own political party, but ran its own members as either Democrats or Republicans, usually based on the personal preference of the NPL member running for office. Note that the founder of the NPL, Arthur C. Townley, had left the Socialist Party in disgust at the SP's ineffectual electioneering.

It may be that a new party arises to replace the Democratic Party, or perhaps the Republican Party. It would probably be a development that I would support. But I think we are more likely to achieve success in resisting and finally replacing the status quo, by learning the lessons of history.

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- Tony Wikrent
Nation Builder Books(nbbooks)
Mebane, NC 27302
2nbbooks@gmail.com

@Tony Wikrent Adam Schiff, the House lead on all things Russian conspiracy, presciently noted back in January that he feared that opposition to Trump could radicalize the democratic party base. And thus make the base uncontrollable. It seems what Schiff feared is coming to pass in various state parties. However, there is also great push back to this progressive insurgencies. In CA from what I understand, party power brokers had to use their version of super-delegates to elect a lobbyist. And then the stab in the back by Anthony Rendon over single payer. But instead of going away, the fight continues in spite of the establishment.

Given how thoroughly the Clinton/Obama wing and their front groups like CAP and various unions (including I would now say Planned Parenthood: great work, lousy party lackies) control the national party, the national party is hopeless and dead as a competitive electoral force. It will never embrace an economic populism across race and class which what is needed for winning elections. Clinton is now touring the country and marginalizing progressive and populist economics as "ponies".
As the article states, a regular activity after losing elections--purge the party of progressives/leftists.

It will be these state insurgencies which will save the party if they can succeed.

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mimi's picture

this site is lucky to have you post here. Much to learn for an outsider. Thanks.

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mimi