June 9, 2016 (San Diego) We are witnessing a moment in American History that is not just historic, but should raise serious concerns. While the likely nomination of a woman to the Presidency matters, and is historic, so is the brush fire that neither party comprehends, or has fully dealt with. The party unity project is not going well, for neither party, though the reasons are slightly different.
First the Democrats. The party brand has been that of a populist party, concerned about organized labor and the middle class. Mind you, the working class has not been mentioned in decades. The party polices could not be further away from the brand. Starting in 1992 the party started on the road towards Neo-Liberalism, embracing business and the gutting of public services and ultimately the privatization of these services. It can get confusing for the average voter, since a liberal is a liberal, right, not quite.
These economic policies put business ahead of anything else, with as little regulation as possible. They are 19th century economic ideas that led to monopolistic practices, and trusts that placed more and more wealth in the hands of less and less people. It also embraces austerity to deal with economic downturns and it is a full deviation from the policies of the New Deal. It is a return, if you will, to the philosophical roots of the 19th century Democratic Party.
The problem is that enough of the base noticed. Sanders’s revolt was about that. It was an attempt to turn the Democratic Party from that rightward turn. And I can hear it now, but they supported LGBT rights! Of course they did. That does not cost anybody real dollars and cents. Now ask this same party to actually break up the system of mass incarceration that was finalized in 1994. You will get lip service about mass incarceration, but nothing more. Too many people are getting very rich, and giving money to politicians on both sides. Moreover, privatizing public services is a Neoliberal policy plank. These practices are not just limited to the United States.
There are other areas of the plank that have hurt working families. Among them are Free Trade Agreements, as well as the suppression of organized labor. This is what this revolt, led by Sanders, was about.
In the bubble that the party elites live in, this wild fire has been extinguished. They will ask those same progressives that just spent a year fighting the party to vote for them. But many of those voters are now wise to it. Voting for Neoliberals is not in their economic or political interest. They are not going to hold their noses. How many will not is a good question. After all Donald Trump is crazy and dangerous. So the manipulation and soft extortion has started. The rumors that the ticket will have Elizabeth Warren as the Vice President pick also fuels speculation that there might be some level of concern for the party.
For the moment, after a good shaker, Democrats are showing some cracks in the walls and the foundation. Yet, they are still going to ignore it, because in the end they cannot see that one part of the coalition is fed up with the games and with having their votes taken for granted. They also forget that while two majority parties dominate the landscape, they are hardly the only parties. None speaks in seriousness about third parties, but that is because there is this illusion that it is a waste of your vote.
Well here is this little nugget from the 1928 Socialist Party Platform:
“A system of unemployment insurance.” (Part of Social Security system)
If that one comes as a surprise to you, it does to most people. Social Security, at least the early years, was not a Democratic Idea, but the socialists did very well in 1932. They almost hit 5 percent of all ballots cast.
I can hear it now, but they did not affect the election. Granted, they did not. The blip though was large enough, and the social environment was one of almost open rebelion in some places, that is why the Democrats adopted as their own, part of the socialist platform.
Here are more things that entered your daily life, due to that revolt.
“A system of health and accident insurance and of old age pensions as well as unemployment insurance.” (Part of Social Security system.)
“Shortening the workday” and “Securing to every worker a rest period of no less than two days in each week.” (Legislated by wages and hours laws that require overtime for more than forty hours of work per week.)
So the question will be if the party ends it’s historic realignment right, essentially becoming a right wing neoliberal party, or not. But as you can see, and this is rarely discussed. those brush revolts at times have to put that pressure from the outside of the majority parties. For the moment, the Democratic Party is still counting on that FDR part of the coalition it keeps demanding votes from, to do so, as it dismantles the New Deal.
This year the Green Party might get a boost. Many progressives are looking that way, and how many will vote Green this year, is still an open question. It is not like it is polled.
That revolt from that base succeeded. The party is fracturing. Ironically it started earlier, and for the same reasons, that Democrats are having issues. They kept taking parts of the base for granted. Like Democrats, it is not like those unhappy with the current path can really go anywhere? What are they going to do? Vote Democrat? Nope, not quite. (In their case there is the Libertarian Party) The party of Lincoln is in the process of fully imploding the party and getting rid of politicians that have been playing them for fools. At least this is how many base Republcians feel and they are fed up.
Donald Trump is well on his way to the nomination, and changing the party into something we have not seen since the George Wallace run in 1968, except that unlike Wallace, he might actually win. He is already running a full fledged attack on Hillary Clinton, no real surprise there. His attacks have taken on the very real issues surrounding Clinton’s years as Secretary of State. Her private server while serving as Secretary of State and today he added a bundler for her who got a choice assignment to a national security commission. This is just the beginning.
While at it he is also running well to her left on jobs, promising to bring back jobs to the urban cores, decimated by those same free trade agreements both Democrats and Republcians have pushed for years. While at it, Trump is adding a dash of open fascism by promising to keep Syrian refugees out and make the United States a Christian nation. Some in the Republican elite are talking a coup at the National Convention. In doing such, Cleveland will be a real happening, but not for the usual reasons. Conventions tend to be boring marketing affairs. This effort, if carried thought, guarantees a very interesting convention.
It is surprising is how tone deaf both national party elites are. None of this is happening just because. Both Democrats and Republicans are having trouble unifying. To what extent, time will tell. It seems the American voter is tired of a political system that does not respond to his or her needs. The voter has finally figured it out. They are not happy.
Oligarchies do not last forever. It will be a choice for the elites, but this is no longer sustainable for either party. The people are no longer falling for the games or the tricks, or the branding. The Republicans are splitting, but so are the Democrats and neither elite is getting why.
As we wrote back in December, this is not a normal election.