THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Not Much Left of the "Left": A Fairy Tale for 2018
As I recently wrote: “We’ve got a Democratic party that avoids crafting a coherent message because they can’t please the people AND their donors simultaneously.” The Dems are supposed to be the opposition party, working for the people. But today’s Democratic leaders are not visionaries with great ideas on how to help us, they’re just great at obtaining funds and following directions ... and I’m not talking about the people’s directions.
Democrats are paid to be weak. Sometimes it seems like they’re paid to lose. And they don’t plan to alter their structure, tactics or funding source. In fact Nancy Pelosi recently stated, “The people don’t want us to change.” What, really?
How did they turn into the party of the affluent, professional, knowledge class (see Thomas Frank)? Gather ‘round the fireplace and I’ll tell you what I know.
Once upon a time in this very land, there ruled a president named Bill and another named Barack. Barack and Bill were both pretty and pleasing and mimicked their ancestor FDR. And when they asked, “Who’s the fairest of them all,” the mirror always answered “you are, of course.” And the people agreed. And the corporations were delighted.
Because they offered the people a shiny red apple coated with a sweet-tasting potion, the people didn’t notice that together they adopted seven lovable Republican-inspired policies. And the policies promised, "If you embrace us, we’ll bring you and your donors great wealth.” (They had a jealous female relation too, but that wasn’t a story until 2016).
1. Bashful: The seemingly populist Bill waved his wand in 1994 and passed NAFTA (whereas Bush 41 couldn’t) and unions and manufacturing were devastated. In 2008 Barack promised to re-negotiate NAFTA, but he wavered. Labor was lost.
2. Happy: Bill’s Crime Control Act of 1994 fueled the prison boom (private prison industry and mass incarcerations). Bill’s welfare reform program of 1996, a cornerstone of the Republican Contract with America, increased homelessness and income inequality. Together these programs proved that Bill was tougher than the GOP. The poor and the brown were lost.
3. Dopey: After Bill’s Telecom Act of 1996, we had only six massive media corporations and they all served their masters faithfully. An independent press was lost.
4. Sneezy: Bill’s reversal of Glass-Steagall in 1999 led directly to financial disaster. Barack enacted George W’s Wall Street bailout without tightening controls or helping Main Street. Homeowners were lost.
5. Sleepy: Although Barack talked “anti-trust” to small farmers in 2007 (agricultural monopolies controlled all the prices), he wavered again. Farmers were lost.
6. Doc: Barack’s health plan of 2010 implemented RomneyCare, even though he had a filibuster-proof majority for two years. The physically and mentally ill were lost.
7. Grumpy: In 2012 Barack passed the NDAA, granting the military the power to legally detain CITIZENS indefinitely, without trial, in military prisons and off-shore penal colonies - journalists not excepted (see Chris Hedges). Due process was lost.
To ensure his legacy, where once there were Iraq and Afghanistan, Barack gave us Syria, Libya, Yemen, Niger and Somalia too, and all the disenfranchised could now go to prison OR to war.
But one day the people were kissed by a prince from Vermont. They awakened from their trance and voted Progressive. And we all lived happily ever after.
If only. Well, we are telling fairy tales.