If the election of Donald Trump and Republican Control of Congress is to serve as a “wake-up” call to those on the Left Wing of American politics, then our response must come with an understanding of who WE are and what WE believe in.
The American political set up has evolved into a system where the entire spectrum of politics is constrained within a Two Party System. Ostensibly the Republicans represent the Right Wing of the political spectrum and the Democrats the Left Wing. It is obvious though, that this causes problems because the political spectrum is diverse and doesn’t lend itself to being shoe horned in such a manner. Back in March I wrote about this in a post America’s “Two Party” System Isn’t Working:
Having two party’s, each encompassing an entire spectrum of political views, limits the philosophical and political choices of the party and the electorate. Stultified leadership structures evolve and the “party establishment”, as humans are wont to do, focus as much on maintaining their own power, as they do on the Party advancing its’ own needs for power. Now there are arguments to be made that in America the two party system has added to the country’s stability and there is some merit to that, especially seeing the rather messy and sometime dangerous effects on a country’s stability in parliamentary Republics. However, conversely there is a great argument to be made that the American “Two Party System” has served as an impediment to progress in providing all the citizens of America with socioeconomic equality and justice under the law.
For much of our history our “Two Party System” has proven it can supply a good mixture of stability and growth, even though there was a terrible price to be paid if your skin was dark, if you were an immigrant, or if you were born without wealth. However, we saw that to make the system work what was necessary was a general agreement to abide by the Law and by the traditions of the system. As long as most members of one of the two parties agreed that cooperation under the existing structures was necessary, than the “Two Party System” could be viable generally, while failing many specifically.
For many Americans that terrible price appeared worth it as long as they maintained their belief in the American Dream. I wrote about the illusion of this belief in American Dream, Not An American Reality, in the context of the 2012 Presidential race between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. There I made the point that both candidates on the stump could sincerely talk about their belief in the “American Dream”, because though they had widely different backgrounds, the lives of each man surely represented an American Dream. Contrasting that with what I saw as the American Reality
I contrasted the lives of these Presidential contenders with the work of Professor James Karabel in his article: Grand Illusion: Mobility, Equality and the American Dream.Karabel discusses the fact that the American Dream fluid upward mobility was a myth and belied by reality:
“[T]his cherished view of America is now a myth. The reality is in fact quite the opposite: Family origins matter more in the United States in determining where one ends up in life compared to other wealthy democratic countries. This is a recent development. Studies of social mobility as far back as the 1950s and 1960s showed that rates of movement in the United States were generally comparable to other developed countries. This finding itself challenged the longstanding image of America as exceptionally open, but it is a far cry from today, when the United States rates at or near the bottom in comparative studies of social mobility.
To take just two examples, a study by Jo Blanden and colleagues at the London School of Economics found that a father’s income was a better predictor of a son’s income in the United States than in seven other countries, including Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom. And a review article by Miles Corak at the University of Ottawa, based on 50 studies of nine countries, found the United States tied with the United Kingdom as having the least social mobility, trailing not only Norway and Denmark but France, Germany, and Canada.”
In that post I went on to quote many studies that all showed that the American Dream mythology, was just that, myth-making in the service of maintaining the status quo. It is important for us to understand this true American reality, as we on the Left Wing of American politics fight against enormous odds to regain power in our country. Our daunting task is to take back power from the billionaire oligarchs who have it firmly in their grasp at this point in history. We must understand though two salient examples of our past success and failure to grasp how we must proceed.
The single greatest success of Left Wing politics in America, came under the leadership of a scion of one of America’s most Patrician families, Franklin D. Roosevelt. When FDR introduced his New Deal, he had become President of a country struggling through the greatest economic turmoil in its’ history. So great was the sense of despair and dislocation throughout the nation, that there was a distinct possibility of a takeover by the forces of Fascism sweeping Europe, fueled/facillitated by the fears of the upper classes that their wealth would be swept away in a “Communist Revolution“. FDR was called a traitor to his class for proposing the “3 R’s” that encapsulated the aims of the New Deal: “Relief, Recovery, and Reform: relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy to normal levels, and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.”
So successful were the ideals and programs of the New Deal, that they were the agreed political standard of the United States for four decades. This was the mainstream American political philosophy and its’ ideals led the U.S. into becoming the dominant economic and political power on the Planet. Liberal America lasted until a cabal of ultra Right Wing billionaire oligarchs engineered the election of a fading actor, with early onset Alzheimer’s, as President. This cabal, which dominated the mainstream media and the punditry that fronted for it, so frightened the then leaders of the Democratic Party into believe that there really was such a thing as the Reagan Revolution. Instead of stiffening its’ backbone and remaining true to its’ successful New Deal Ideals, the Democratic Party was corrupted by a group called the Democratic Leadership Council and its’ strategy of Triangulation. The DLC took over the party and elected Bill Clinton twice as President and gaining complete control of the Democratic Party’s leadership.
The Democratic Leadership Council, frightened by the “Reagan Revolution”, mistakenly believed that the coalition that supported the New Deal was hopelessly broken and a new Party model for a new coalition was needed for electoral success. The new model rejected the labor movement and its’ unions, in favor of more highly educated Americans with technological skills. They believed that the Democrats could partner with corporate America and lead this country into a “new era”. They gave up on rural America and American Manufacturing as well in bowing to the demands of a Global Market. No small part of their strategy was due to the fact that American politics had become dominated by political advertising which required vast sums to power it. Corporate America and the oligarchs among us was where the money was and so their needs became paramount to the DLC types. The fatal mistake of the DLC was that their policies were merely a pale copy of the policies of the Republican Party and left Democratic Politicians appearing to be feckless imitations of their opponents.
Barack Obama and his supporters perceived the flaw in the DLC campaign strategy. They defeated Hillary Clinton for the nomination and John McCain for the Presidency by running a Left of Center campaign that mirrored New Deal ideals. However, once in office, Obama an excellent person, but a Beltway novice, found he headed a Party controlled by DLC Democrats and yielded to them in failing to forcefully follow through on punishing those who caused the 1988 financial meltdown. He also installed the awful and corrupt Debbie Wasserman Schultz as Democratic Party Chair. Schultz, a DLC true believer and eager recipient of corporate largess, scrapped Howard Dean’s successful 50 State Strategy in favor of one that shifted funding to Democratic incumbents and abandoned large swaths of the Country she considered “unwinnable”. The result of her incompetence today are control of a large majority of Governorship’s and State Legislatures by Republicans.
We need to be aware of all this history in order to understand how we can save this country from the depredations of mentally unstable, narcissist and a Republican Party bent on redistributing our country’s wealth upward. We’ve had enough of the equivocation of some Democratic Party leaders and office holders, as they strive to appease the corporations and billionaires who campaign money they seek to maintain themselves in office. We must return again to the ideals promoted by the New Deal’s “3 R’s” “Relief, Recovery, and Reform” by re-defining them to meet the reality of today:
RELIEF: From the inequities of an American System that neglects the middle and working classes to service the upper classes, while punishing people of color in order to continue White Privilege.
RECOVERY: Of the American Economy from one where the vast majority of wealth is in the hands of only a very few and where the majority of people have a chance to succeed in their working lives.
REFORM: Of an American Financial system skewed to the manipulation of billionaire oligarchs and of a campaign system that favors the interests of the wealthiest among us.