NOTE: We have lots of challenges. But there’s also some great news about our party’s prospects for the future. If you’re looking for compelling information on how we can turn things around, click here after you read the post below. We have more power than we think and can definitely become a strong dynamic party that champions exciting candidates who WIN!).
We’ve all said it. “Why can’t we just put this all behind us, unify and move forward? We need to get on the same page to win.”
It is so important for us to unify. 2018 and 2020 are just around the corner. But what is it that we are unifying behind? It has to be more than just “winning” and “more of the same”. As Senator Chuck Schumer recently admitted, too many Americans don’t even know what we Democrats stand for anymore. We need to champion a compelling agenda that is clearly in the interests of the American people.
Attempting to push people to vote and unify only around “winning” would be like selling hamburgers that have only a bun and nothing inside. Sure, you can do it. But you’re going to be dragging people into the transaction rather than having them lining up thanks to word of mouth. Every single one will have to be coerced. And you’re also going to have a lot of dissatisfied customers.
To unify people in the party (as well as the all important independents and non-voters not yet excited about the party), we need something for them to unify behind. Pushing, scolding or insulting potential voters isn’t going to work. We’ve unfortunately sometimes forgotten that we don’t deserve anyone’s vote. We have to earn it. We obviously don’t want to follow the same strategy that brought the disastrous results of 2016 where we lost the White House to a totally beatable candidate and lost lots of congressional races too. The republican presidential candidate was so awful that we should have easily won in a landslide. (This kind of negates all those excuses of “but she won the popular vote”. The fact that we didn’t win in a landslide against a candidate as bad as Trump shows there is something wrong at our end. We need to stop making excuses, take personal responsibility for what happened and differentiate ourselves in an authentic way.
When we go through the list of things that separate our party from the Republican party, we inevitably get to “And republicans are on the side of the oligarchs and corporations.” But, as you’ll see on the list below, for the last two decades, our party has unfortunately been right there with Republicans championing a corporate agenda.
It’s not us folks “on the ground”. The millions of grassroots members of the party have done incredible work, of course. It’s the leaders of our party who have received increasingly large sums of money from corporations that have quietly aligned with Republicans on so many issues. Corporate interests have therefore been largely championed over the peoples’ interest in recent decades. (Detail on specific corporate policies championed by the Democratic party below).
This has been happening more and more every year since the Powell Memorandum was issued. That’s when the U.S. Chamber of Congress launched a systematic strategy for corporations to buy members of Congress – on both sides of the aisle. (They’ve been extraordinarily successful).
The results of this alignment between Congress and corporate donors have been catastrophic. Millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas, one out of every 100 U.S. citizens is in jail, nearly 50% of American children live below or near the poverty line, 78% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck, 47% of Americans couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency, the ecosystem is collapsing with an increasing number of species becoming extinct. Meanwhile, the wealthy and corporations are doing great (thanks to their interests being so thoroughly championed. Corporate profits are at record highs, corporations are paying record low taxes. 20 individuals have as much wealth as the poorest 150 million citizens (half the nation).
Obviously we can’t continue on like this. The American people are not blind. They see what’s going on. This also presents an opportunity for us to step up to the plate, tell the truth and offer a real agenda to turn things around. The great news is that we CAN turn this around.
Our party has done incredibly good things over the years. The Democratic Party has championed bold and historic policies that have changed millions of lives for the better. Our party is legendary for the small and large things it has accomplished for people. We’ve made changes that really matter. No one wants to disparage that in any way. What we want to do is honor that tremendous legacy by having our party live up to it. So many Democrats have made extraordinary sacrifices to help shape policies that will make life better for the American people. The problem is that, for the last 20 years (while we in the grass roots have been standing up for Democratic principles), our leadership has unfortunately gotten off track and aligned themselves with their corporate donors. As you’ll see below, this led them to do all sorts of things that put corporate interests over the interests of U.S. citizens. We might not like to admit it, but it is exactly this kind of Democratic championing of corporate policies (see list below) that have opened up our party to the legitimate charge that, in many ways, our party is not that much different than Republicans.
We obviously want to correct course and fix this (for the benefit of the party and the American people). We CAN definitely fix this. But first we need to understand what happened and own up to it. The people of this country know we got off track. They know we’ve been on the side of big business in the ways described on the list below. That’s why we lost the election in 2016. If we think we can “just move on” without changing anything, we’re kidding ourselves.
Burying our heads in the sand, saying that 2016 was everyone else’s fault but ours and demanding unity isn’t going to change the fact that the public knows we got off track.
We’ve all felt the following sentiment as well: “Let’s just win and we’ll figure out what we stand for later.” But then it dawns on us: That’s what got us in this mess in the first place. Again, Chuck Schumer recently admitted this.
Below is a list of some of the things that our Democratic leaders have done as a result of being beholden to corporate donors. Many of the items on this list systematically alienated our base over the years, opening up the opportunity for a strong man like Trump with false promises to swoop in and win over those disaffected voters. He also won over a whole lot of people who hadn’t voted in a while because neither party seemed to care about them. That’s our fault for abandoning our principles and championing corporate interests over the interests of American citizens.
Many American citizens noticed we had “turned somewhat corporate” and were turned off by the party as a result. People sometimes argue “but Hillary won the popular vote! There’s nothing wrong with the party.” The problem with this thinking is that we should have won 2016 in a LANDSLIDE. Deep down, we know that. We can react to that with anger if we want to: a) We can scold people for not voting and tell them to vote for us. b) We can scold people who voted for candidates other than ours. And c) We can scold people in our own party who care enough about the party and the country to question whether we’ve abandoned our core principles. Those 3 reactions are shortsighted because they cut us off from understanding why people are having such concerns about the party.
Rather than scolding people and demanding votes, we can instead connect with these dissatisfied “customers” and try to identify WHY we weren’t attractive to them. We can also embrace people within the party who have concerns in order to understand why they are suggesting we’ve abandoned our core principles. We’ll be a better party if we make those connections because we’ll understand our party better, face what we’ve been ignoring and come out stronger! More importantly, we’ll have a real message that resonates, one that attracts people to the Democratic party in droves.
To get there, we’re going to have to be honest with ourselves and admit some of the many reasons we weren’t attractive to so many Americans. You know the old saying: “When people act like they don’t care about you, believe them.” In this case, we have to realize that it isn’t only the last few months or years that people have in mind when they form an opinion about a party. We have a track record that they are well aware of. They’ve felt the painful results:
- NAFTA was passed under President Clinton with the help of both Democrats and Republicans. It shipped millions of good paying jobs overseas. Corporations were thrilled. Remember, they don’t care about the human carnage or damage to the country.
- Mass incarceration with unconscionable mandatory minimums began under the Clinton administration as well as a result of Clinton’s triangulation strategy. Mass incarceration hit African American families particularly hard. It also gave rise to the movement to privatize prisons. Corporations had a whole new profit center.
- The Glass Steagall Act was eliminated under President Clinton. It had been put in place right after the great depression to keep big banks from getting too big and it worked. Many leading economists agree that the elimination of Glass Steagall set the stage for the 2008 financial crisis where countless Americans lost their homes and their jobs. (Big banks did great though! They got the upside of the new policy and then we bailed them out when the downside came. As described, it’s all about what’s best for corporations in neoliberal doctrine. Human beings take a back seat.
- Democrats (including our 2016 presidential nominee) voted for the catastrophic regime change war in Iraq. Over 5,000 American soldiers were killed, tens of thousands injured or disabled and over $1 trillion wasted for no reason (except the enrichment of corporate defense contractors). That war we democrats helped support also led to the rise of ISIS because 500,000 Iraqis died as a result of the war (160,000 of them were civilians) and this radicalized countless people. Democratic leaders have also backed numerous other regime change wars and conflicts.
- We democrats championed a conservative republican health care package that was developed by Mitt Romney. It left 20 million people uninsured. And we did it because our Democratic Leadership was awash in cash from the insurance industry and pushed back hard against Universal / Single Payer Healthcare (Medicare for all). So Democratic leaders turned to us and said, “Oh, it’s just impossible. We can’t do that.” They followed corporate donor orders well and 20 million people have suffered as a result. After the success of the Sanders campaign, centrist Democrats (including Chuck Shumer) are now beginning to talk about single payer as a possibility. Let’s see we they rally and follow through.
- So-called “welfare reform” was passed under President Clinton. It made life harder for poor people but wealthy donors loved it. When you take money away from needy people, you can shift it up to rich people and corporations in the form of tax breaks. The polite term for that is “upward redistribution from the poor to the rich”. The not so polite term is “rich people stealing from the poor”.
- Did see the big statement about Standing Rock by our Democratic presidential nominee where she stood up for the environment and the rights of native people? Yeah, me neither. It didn’t happen because it would have upset corporate donors.
Yep. We democrats are unfortunately largely responsible for the election of Donald Trump. And Trump is positively horrible. In countless ways. One could fill a book with all the things that are dangerous and awful about him. But the truth is that, if we get rid of him (and I hope we do!), we will not get rid of most of the problems we are facing today that helped give rise to Trump. That one policy of neoliberalism (the systematic pursuit of the interests of corporations and the wealthy — in very specific ways) is responsible for much of our economic trouble, our environmental devastation and the rise of fascism (remember how economic hardship created the conditions for fascism to rise in 1930’s Germany)?
Here’s a recent article from the Guardian on neoliberalism (gives an overview and describes how the International Monetary Fund just admitted the damage that neoliberal policies are doing):
(Neoliberalism explained in more detail below in this post. Also provided are powerful effective ways that we can BEAT neoliberalism and turn things around. We actually have a lot more power than we think!).
Here’s the thing: Both the Republican and Democratic parties have been championing neoliberal policies for the last 20 years. Those policies put corporate interests above the interests of human beings in some very specific ways. THAT’S why we’re in the mess we’re in today. That’s why Donald Trump was elected. That’s why we see nazis in the streets. That’s why half the children in America live at or near the poverty line. That’s why our environment is being damaged at an alarming rate: because our policies have consistently championed corporate interests and the interests of the wealthy over the interests of most citizens.
When you look at it that way, it’s not hard to understand why so many Americans would be turned off by our Democratic leaders hobnobbing with (in other words “begging for money from”) hedge fund managers and Wall Street titans up in the Hamptons. It’s also not hard to see, with how urgent the human and environmental problems are, why many voters are turned off by Democrats consistent cry for “incremental” change. It’s starting to sound to many people in the country that “incremental” change promised by neoliberal Republicans and Democrats (who are championing corporate interests) is just another way of saying NO change.
We need to champion an bold people’s agenda with policies that favor American citizens over corporate interests. That will attract voters from all segments of the nation, rather than just relying on the loyalty of party faithfuls.
By not championing people’s interests but still expecting their vote, we have discouraged a lot of people and narrowed our coalition. For example, we have to own up to the fact that, by championing policies like NAFTA (which sent millions of blue color jobs overseas), we lost a key part of our base. Our reaction to that was to turn around and call them “deplorable”. Many experts in political strategy have decried that move as one of the worst political blunders in modern history. We need to broaden our coalition rather than narrowing and dividing it. It turns out that we who have been demanding unity without change, have been some of the biggest dividers of all.
You can’t fight racism by broadly labeling everyone a racist. Fighting racism and fascism is vital. It must be confronted wherever it arises. In addition to fighting it wherever it arises, we also need to take the additional step of ending policies that create a climate that has historically been conducive to racism and fascism.
Unfortunately, by championing the corporate policies described above, the leadership of the Democratic party has unfortunately worked with Republicans to help create economic insecurity and suffering. That economic insecurity and suffering has, throughout history, made it more likely for racism and fascism to arise. When party leaders (including the current party chair) DIVIDE people rather than unifying them, actual CREATE racism and they really undermine their credibility with their voters and the American people in general. We still admirably address the fires of racism as we should. But unfortunately our own policies are helping to create the conditions for those fires to start in the first place.
We are largely responsible for electing Trump because we spent 20 years alienating sections of our base with the above policies (people eventually stop voting for you when you help ship their jobs overseas, help lay the ground work for things like the 2008 financial crisis, send their family members into unnecessary wars, etc.). Citizens have been hurting. And they’ve grown tired of hearing promises from Democratic leaders while they kept seeing them cavorting with hedge fund managers and movie stars in the Hamptons and voting for corporate-friendly policies.
Americans felt like their vote was being demanded and expected by the Democratic party, but their interests were not being championed or represented by the party.
Here’s an article from the Guardian on neoliberalism and the election by award-winning journalist Naomi Klein. And here’s an brief excerpt:
“Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present.”
**** (POST CONTINUES BELOW. . . and gives context and solutions.)
WHAT WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT OUR LEADERSHIP HAS, DURING THE PAST 20 YEARS, BEEN MORE NEOLIBERAL THAN IT HAS BEEN LIBERAL.
What is neoliberalism?
Liberalism used to be mainly associated with FDR new deal policies where people took care of each other by supporting strong social programs.
New liberalism (commonly referred to as “neoliberalism”) maintains the old liberalism’s protections against discrimination and concern for people on that particular front but it leaves citizens highly vulnerable to suffering in a whole new way. Neoliberalism adheres much more to a free market ideology and is more aligned with big business, the wealthy and capital.
Neoliberalism is a corporate-friendly free-market ideology PRACTICED BY BOTH REPUBLICAN & DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL LEADERS. It puts the interests of corporations and the wealthy above those of the rest of us and the planet.
- Neoliberals practice austerity (partnering with corporations to shift wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich by cutting social programs and redistributing the money in the form of tax breaks for the wealthy).
- They champion privatization (starving government entities of resources, pointing to the resulting dysfunction and then swooping in as “saviors” to take the asset for pennies on the dollar).
- They champion regime change wars (which happen to enrich corporate defense contractors).
- They champion deregulation, allowing corporations to have more freedom to pollute, treat their workers how they wish and be as irresponsible as they deem fit in their communities and countries. When restrictions are relaxed, it doesn’t take long for competing firms to feel fearful of falling behind. This leads them to take advantage of relaxed rules which often causes harm to people and the environment.
- They also champion laissez faire trade deals like NAFTA that shipped millions of good paying blue collar jobs with benefits overseas, devastating a huge part of the population. These trade deals benefit corporations, though, because they can get cheap labor. Those corporations don’t care about the human cost. And any congressmen who fail to fail in line behind such trade deals will find themselves penniless at the next election.
This leverage is all possible because of Citizens United and other weak sections of campaign finance law. We need to overturn Citizens United, end corporate personhood status and enact campaign finance laws with teeth. And there are definitely ways of doing this (link at the bottom will take you to a pretty exciting list that shows you that we have way more power than we think. In fact, we hold most of the cards. More on that in a moment.
Neoliberals in the Republican & Democratic parties champion policies of all types that favor a small class of people and corporations at the top. Neoliberal policies result in extreme wealth inequality (20 people in the U.S. have as much wealth as the 150 million poorest), environmental destruction and a whole lot of other harm.
Essentially what’s going on here is 300,000 big donors (the .1%) are getting their needs served at the expense of the other 300 million of us and the earth. Wealthy donors and corporations buy influence in Congress. That allows them to change policies and systematically tilt the playing field so most of the marbles roll into the pockets of a few. That happens, of course, at the expense of the many (us). If you’ve noticed it’s “getting a little hot in here,” that’s why.
In a recent article in the Guardian entitled “Neoliberalism: The Idea that Swallowed the World”, the International Monetary Fund finally admitted the adverse effects of neoliberalism.
When one of the world’s newspapers has a headline about an idea that “swallowed the world” and we have no idea what it is, that’s not good folks. That means we have been blind (due to having our eyes closed). Most of us have missed this policy hidden in plain view. Its results have so many tentacles (economic catastrophes, unnecessary wars, rise of fascism, environmental damage, extreme wealth inequality, etc.) that we were dazzled by the details. We were mesmerized by all those tentacles thinking they were all separate problems with separate solutions and didn’t realize it was one octopus beneath the surface that we were dealing with. Ending this one policy (corporate neoliberalism) will solve countless problems. There’s no shame in admitting we missed this octopus. Most of us did. But now that we know, it’s time to open our eyes and act before it’s too late.
In the U.S., neoliberalism has been practiced by both Republican & Democratic political leaders for more than 20 years. It’s essentially created a rigged poker game where the super wealthy (300,000 people) keep winning (because the politicians they own have shaped policy in a way that totally favors their interests). It’s hard to say what will happen when the other 300,000,000 people at the table realize the game is rigged. It’s the job of neoliberal politicians on both sides of the aisle (who receive all those big campaign donations) to sell rigged policies to the public by claiming the new rules will be beneficial to them.
These neoliberal politicians are also charged with keeping 300,000,000 of us from rebelling. They do that by promising that eventually a lot of that wealth concentrating at the top will trickle down. So far, the trickle down hasn’t occurred, but they’ve been successful at keeping us thinking it’s on its way. We’re waiting patiently at the table and we keep putting money in the kitty. Not many people have have caught on to the sheer size of the game that’s being run on us. Some people HAVE caught on. Many of them pushed back peacefully against neoliberal policies. Typically they’re permitted to make some noise (to let off some steam) but not for long. If they keep it up, they are dealt with swiftly and violently to set an example. The message to the rest of the 300,000,000 is “Stay in line.”
Neoliberal corporate-friendly policies have been pursed by Democratic & Republican politicians and political leaders around the globe for more than two decades and we are now dealing with the environmental and human devastation resulting from that shortsightedness. As a result of specific neoliberal policies:
- 50% of children in the U.S. live below or near the poverty line.
- 20 individuals now have as much wealth as the poorest 150 million Americans (half the nation).
- A study by the Atlantic found that 47% of Americans were economically insecure and couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency.
- Good jobs have been shipped overseas so highly profitable corporations could get even richer.
- The environment is clearly being damaged at a rapid pace. (See images towards the bottom for more info).
- Neoliberalism is also in favor of regime change wars. Notice how both Republicans and Democrats supported the war in Iraq? We spent more than a trillion dollars for no reason. All it did was enrich corporations in the business of war. Over 5,000 American soldiers died as a result and tens of thousands were wounded and disabled. 500,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of the war (160,000 of them being civilians). This radicalized all sorts of family members of the deceased and the result is that we created the conditions for ISIS to form. That’s just one example of a regime change conflict that Democrats and Republicans supported.
Again, corporations don’t care about the human cost or damage to peace or the nation. They just care about corporate profits.
- Additionally, since neoliberalism creates such enormous economic distress, it creates a climate that is conducive to the rise of fascism and racism (think about 1930’s Germany and how a strong man swooped in to take advantage of the economic conditions to exploit race, religion, sexual orientation and ethnicity to create divisions).
If you’re looking for some good news after you finish reading this post, click here to see how we have more power than we think and can definitely WIN!).
To put it more simply, Republican and Democratic leaders who have both been practicing neoliberalism created the conditions for the rise of Trump, those Nazis you saw marching in the streets and the armed militias you saw escorting them. As we wag our finger accusingly at Trump and push against him and his policies (as we definitely should with all of our heart and soul — he’s awful and dangerous), we should also remember that, by supporting neoliberal politicians during the last 20 years, we helped drive blue collar voters into the arms of Trump and hand him the White House. And our neoliberal policies have created economic distress that historically gives rise to racism and fascism. We better do more than put out the fires when they appear.
If we are really against racism and fascism, we need to stop neoliberalism because the economic conditions it creates are exactly what is giving rise to the xenophobic tendencies we are struggling with today. It’s good to decry fire. It’s even better to eliminate the things that give rise to it (especially when they’re you’re own policies).
So, the next time you hear a politician say that the practical reasonable thing to do is to stay the course and make incremental change, consider that what they are really doing is placating you so you stay at the poker table and don’t cause any trouble. When they tell you that those looking for big changes are being “pie in the sky unreasonable”, what they really mean is that they themselves can’t make any changes because their own corporate donors would abandoned them and they would lose their seat in congress.
How about a little sense of URGENCY?
Lastly, don’t bash government. There’s a fine line here. A strong government of the people and by the people is the only thing that can stop corporations from ruling this earth (that’s why corporations are always demanding deregulation and smaller government). It’s not government that’s the problem. It’s corporate hijacked government that’s the problem. Corporations have bought our congress. We need to take it back by overturning Citizens United, enacting campaign finance reform with teeth and ending corporate personhood status. (Corporations are people under the law and they shouldn’t be — if they are people, they’re psychopaths).
Even CEO’s know the jig is almost up. Watch what the CEO of Interface Carpets (the largest carpet manufacturer in the world) admits in this 30 second clip (and please don’t miss the photos at the bottom of this post):
GOOD NEWS – We can beat neoliberalism and become a winning political party of the people and by the people, one that champions shared prosperity that results in a dynamic and prosperous nation. Here’s how:
The Washington Post recently ran this fascinating article on how to heal the divisions in the Democratic Party so we can win in 2018 and 2020. This is good stuff!! Be sure to read this 👍
Here’s some very interesting information about Martin Luther King, Jr. and holding political candidates feet to the fire in here. This is a good read. Don’t miss the section in the center on MLK Jr. This article also gets into how we Democrats anoint and vet our candidates:
For a shorter synopsis of the policy of neoliberalism and ways to stop it, please click here:
Here’s more detailed information on neoliberalism:
Here’s a recent article from the Guardian on neoliberalism:
Here are some other great articles about Neoliberalism from around the world
198 Methods of Nonviolent Resistance (this is amazing)
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