July 2018, Week 4


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 		 [ Clinton Democrats Embrace Losing Strategy To Combat
‘Sanders-Style Socialism’ In Midterms] [https://portside.org/] 



 Kevin Gosztola 
 July 25, 2018
Shadow Proof

	* [https://portside.org/node/17789/printable/print]

 _ Clinton Democrats Embrace Losing Strategy To Combat
‘Sanders-Style Socialism’ In Midterms _ 

 Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer at the "Inside Politics Press
Breakfast" in 2011, hosted by Third Way., Photo via Third Way on


Democratic Party elites are increasingly concerned the midterm
elections will be a “base election” and make their centrist
politics even more irrelevant, as insurgent candidates like Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez garner widespread support.

The think tank, Third Way, recently held a conference
[http://opp2020.com/] in Ohio with Democrats, who primarily adhere to
the politics of President Bill Clinton, and new recruits, who they
hope will counter “Bernie Sanders-style socialism.” They also
intend to defend corporate executives and wealthy people from
condemnation for their attacks on poor and working class Americans.

“Right now, in the Democratic Party, there is only one option on the
table: Sanders-style socialism. That’s the main option on the table.
We’re doing this now because the party’s got to have a choice,”
Jon Cowan, one of the presidents of Third Way, declared
“It’s going to matter a hell of a lot in 2020, and so while 2020
may feel a ways off, in our mind it isn’t. And the ideas primary
starts now.”

“So we’re actually doing this for a very straightforward reason:
to stand up and launch a serious, compelling economic alternative to
Sanderism,” Cowan added.

Similarly, former Delaware Governor Jack Markell whined
“The only narrative that has been articulated in the Democratic
Party over the past two years is the one from the left.”

“I think we need a debate within the party. Frankly, it would have
been better to start the conversation earlier,” Markell said.

Democratic Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio earned laughs when he
quipped, “You’re not going to make me hate somebody just because
they’re rich. I want to be rich!” The line went over well because
Third Way and the 250 insiders that attended the conference have deep
ties to hedge funds and various financial institutions on Wall Street.

As of 2014, “Two-thirds
of its 31 trustees [had] held senior leadership positions in
investment funds or big banks or served in some other capacity on Wall
Street.” However, corporate Democrats bristle at the notion that
their money ethically compromises them. Hillary Clinton even went so
far as to defend her speeches to Goldman Sachs by accusing critics of

Mitch Landrieu, a pragmatic liberal and former mayor of New Orleans,
warned during the conference, “Republicans have chosen their [path].
They’re going to run a base election, which means they have ceded
the middle of the road. In my opinion, Democrats would be making a big
mistake if they run a base election. We have to find common ground.”

The strategy of finding “common ground” is one the establishment
of the Democratic Party has touted for the past few decades,
particularly to ward off left-wing populist challenges. It was adhered
to by Hillary Clinton in 2016, President Barack Obama embraced it as a
core philosophy in 2008 and 2012, and Bill Clinton, along with Al
Gore, perfected the art of making common cause with corporate
interests to maintain power and influence in the United States

As Lance Selfa detailed in his book, “The Democrats: A Critical
History, ” Clinton and Gore broke with labor, civil rights, and
other liberal causes to push for the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). They backed welfare repeal, bills which fueled the
rise of mass incarceration, and signed a 1997 budget that slashed
millions for social programs, like Medicare and Medicaid. They put
corporations ahead of protecting the environment. They encouraged the
deregulation of industry, which greatly boosted Wall Street.

This tradition continues with former Labor Secretary, Tom Perez, as
the head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Perez was a major
proponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. He granted
waivers for UBS, Barclays, J.P. Morgan, the Royal Bank of Scotland
Group, and Citigroup while he was Labor Secretary, which allowed the
banks to go back to managing pension money even though they were
guilty of crimes. He also refused
[https://theintercept.com/2017/01/18/tom-perez-dnc/] to support a
revival of Obama’s ban on donations from corporate lobbyists.

The Democratic Party managed to defeat a strong challenge from
Representative Keith Ellison, who represented Sanders on the DNC’s
Platform Committee in 2016. So, Cowan’s suggestion that Democrats
have veered from his preferred course is far-fetched. But it does
indicate the leadership of the party still views a coalition of
progressives and democratic socialists within the party as a threat.

Landrieu’s fear of a “base election” is striking, given the fact
that such an election is what Democrats need to bolster voter
enthusiasm for candidates in November so they can potentially take
control of the Senate and/or the House of Representatives.

Also, the leadership of the Democratic Party did everything it could
to prevent a “base election” from taking place in 2016, when
Sanders gained momentum against Clinton. It took steps to aid Clinton
so she would remain the inevitable nominee. Clinton ran a poor
campaign that promoted centrist politics as a counter to President
Donald Trump’s right-wing populist message and lost the election.

Corporate Democrats, like House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, point to
candidate Conor Lamb’s victory in Pennsylvania as evidence
their “moderate economic” message can work.

“Conor Lamb won with a message that I think is a Democratic message:
The tax bill was not for you. They’re trying to take your health
care away,” Hoyer said. “Clearly, what we found in the polls was,
[voters] will listen, they’re not happy.”

Indeed, the tax bill was not for most Americans. It was for
corporations and wealthy elites. They plan to take Americans’ health
care away to pay for their tax cuts. But that message is not one that
meshes well with the center-right politics of corporate Democrats. It
is truly a message to be bolstered by the socialist politics of
insurgent candidates.

The Democratic Party has floundered throughout Trump’s presidency
because it refuses to articulate an alternative vision to Trumpism
that addresses the material conditions which many Americans endure.
Among Sanders Democrats, there is an alternative vision with
grassroots energy that could be seized. However, Clinton Democrats
cling to the role of sensible steward for corporate elites so tightly
that they will not embrace critiques of capitalism and offer policy
solutions that address root causes of systemic problems.

As a result, what Third Way proposes is a set of bland focus-grouped
policies, such as “a massive apprenticeship program to train
workers, a privatized employer-funded universal pension that would
supplement Social Security, and an overhaul of unemployment insurance
to include skills training.”

The emphasis on training workers is indicative of centrist Democrats
compulsion to triage the impacts of capitalism on poor, working class,
and middle class Americans rather than support measures that could
lift up the 99 percent.

In fact, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer suggested in an op-ed
for the New York Times in 2017 that employers, “particularly small
businesses, a large tax credit to train workers for unfilled jobs.”
He contended this “Better Deal” would help Americans in “smaller
cities and rural areas, which have experienced an exodus of young
people who aren’t trained for the jobs in those areas.”

It was like a proposal
Hillary Clinton put forward during her presidential campaign in June
2015. She called for tax credits for businesses for “every
apprentice hired as a way to boost employment among young adults.”

Schumer’s announcement ultimately flopped. The Democrats scrapped
the “Better Deal” message last week. They now believe, based on
their most politically connected public relations consultants, that
“For the People” is better. But what that means for policy is
anyone’s guess.

Other ideas touted by Third Way include a “small business bill of
rights” and “BoomerCorps,” a national service program where
seniors can earn money to supplement their dwindling Social Security

The idea of “BoomerCorps” is rather offensive. It basically says
to Americans, who have labored for decades to fuel the U.S. economy,
“Hey, why not break your back some more for America if you really
want to retire?”

Nevertheless, the narrative pushed by Clinton Democrats into the media
should not fool anyone into believing they cannot get their message
out, that voices in the party have drowned them out, or that Sanders
Democrats had a “head start” and now they must battle their way
back to challenge them before they cost Democrats seats in the midterm

These Democrats are the very individuals who collectively shepherded
Hillary Clinton to a presidential nomination. They have fended off an
insurgency for the past two years and stunted efforts to develop the
Democratic Party into an actual opposition party that will
meaningfully challenge Trump. They have responded to dissent against
Trump by complaining that “incivility” is not the answer. They
even will go so far as to accuse Sanders Democrats of dividing
Democrats by running challengers against incumbents.

Clinton Democrats or followers of the Third Way still have the power,
and that is part of what is holding back an agenda for working people.
They stand in the way of a movement that believes the country should
move away from destructive corporate politics, and until their
obstruction is overcome, progress on economic, environmental, racial,
and social justice will be exceptionally difficult to achieve.

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also
produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

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	* [https://portside.org/node/17789/printable/print]







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