As the most solemn Christian Holy Day passed and we approach Easter, I can't help but see a modern day biblical story of betrayal play out. As Democrats, we have always expected our party to stand for a set of values that protect the interests of ordinary folks. It's been the party of the little guy and gal and was made so by the strong actions of moral giants like FDR, JFK and LBJ. Those political icons helped hammer out legislation like Social Security, Medicare, civil rights laws and labor laws that protect workers' rights. They are things that now form the fabric of everyday life. The values that helped those giants of the Democratic Party forge that legislation out of blocks of moral steel were held sacrosanct until Ronald Reagan occupied the White House.
When Bill Clinton was elected, the needle of the Democratic Party's moral compass started spinning wildly in the direction of corporate money! Clinton's answer to Reagan Republicans was to “triangulate” (his word) Democratic ideology, compromising so much of what we hold near and dear. Clintonistas always like to boast that Bill Clinton left the White House with a budget surplus, but at what cost? His administration helped to pass and sign enough deregulatory pro-corporate legislation to make a Republican blush! The damage that his legislation caused was like a toxic time capsule that is hurting us today!
Barack Obama has continued the Clinton legacy of corporatism by appointing Wall Streeters and industry insider CEO's to his cabinet and key regulatory positions. One of the troubling aspects of his administration is that no matter how altruistic they look, there is always something in his legislative initiatives that benefits corporations. Passing and signing The Affordable Care Act, instead of a medicare for all national health plan, is a prime example of that. I like to call it life support for insurance corps and big pharma. Can you say trickle down? Another example is his support of “free” trade agreements. Can you say NAFTA II? He even gave FDR a little zinger when he tried to institute stealth cuts to Social Security by championing the chained CPI method of calculating the cost of living. How Republican of him!!
In keeping with the selling out of Democratic ideals, certain leaders of the Democratic party have been trying to pre-ordain Hillary Clinton as their Presidential nominee. As such they have in subtle and not so subtle ways thrown the kitchen sink at the Bernie Sanders campaign, probably because he is a corporatist's worst nightmare. If Hillary does become their nominee, it will be an empty victory because either thinking Democrats will become independents in droves or a new third party will emerge that truly represents the ideals of FDR Democrats.
What it boils down to is that the Democratic Party can only continue to collect its thirty pieces of corporate silver at the expense of its soul which happens to be its identity as the party of the little guy and gal! Party leaders have to take a lesson from this quote from scripture; For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? - Matthew 16:26
Part Three Of The Five Part Series-Don't Be Upset With Us, At Least We're Not Republicans!
Examining the actual role of the Democratic Party In post Reagan America.
In the interest of brevity, I have chosen not to give George H. W. Bush an intallment of his own in this series. I would rather just make a brief mention of the fact that he was Ronald Reagan's Vice President and his "kinder and gentler" administration was, pretty much an extension of the Reagan Presidency.
Bill Clinton made a point of telling the beleagured middle class that he feels their pain. I really doubt that's the case because, to this day, his support of "free" trade has caused pain and suffering to middle class families. I am going to focus on the free trade aspect of his presidency and not on the overstated sex scandals or on his failed attempt at healthcare reform.
Bill Clinton was a strong supporter of globalization. He believed that, in a modern world, "free" trade was the way of the future. He didn't believe in our country using tarriffs as trade barriers to protect American industries. He actually believed and could say with a straight face that, while open markets would cost some Americans their jobs, we would get more and higher paying jobs in exchange as foreign countries opened their markets to our exports. Yeah, right!
President Clinton supported NAFTA, GATT and other trade agreements that eventually helped to send American manufacturing overseas at an accelerated rate. Believe it or not, Bill Clinton actually granted China "Most Favored Nation" trading status! As a matter of fact, President Clinton's views on "free" trade were no different that that of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Newt Gingrich or most other Republicans.
Needless to say, many unions are very uncomfortable with Bill Clinton's trade policies. Recently, Bill Clinton helped Blanche Lincoln Defeat Bill Halter in an Arkansas Democratic Primary campaign for a US Senate seat. He appeared in television advertising with a message that said that unions are interfering with local Arkansas politics by supporting Bill Halter. Unions are starting to feel that some Democrats are biting the hand that feeds them.
By now, you can probably see a pattern forming:
1- The Reagan administration, with it's attack on unions, did major damage to the middle class and the American dream. Reagans penchant for deregulating the very government agencies that protect the American citizen from corporate excesses has given corporations unbridled power that the robber barons of the past could only envy. The working person is on his way to becoming a mere serf.
2- The George H. W. Bush administration was essentially a continuation of the Reagan administration.
3- The Democratic Clinton administration, which should have been the light at the end of the Republican tunnel for working people, was just an oncoming train. His "free" trade agreements would make a "free" market Republican blush, they ushered in the era of job offshoring, US factory closings and the rise of China as a manufacturing power. Clinton's deregulation of the FCC helped to concentrate TV and radio station ownership into the hands of a few major corporations. His administration also instituted the concept of auctioning broadcast licenses to the highest bidder. I also want to mention the fact that his banking deregulation laid the groundwork for the mortgage crisis.
The pattern has been that Republican administrations take our country in a pro-corporate, anti working person direction. We always expect a Democratic administration to correct any damage caused by the preceeding Republican administrations, that never seems to happen. This pattern will become more apparent in the two final episodes of my series.
Next: Part Four, George Bushwhacks America!
Last year, we voted for and elected change. Why are the agents of change that we supported so concerned with placating members of a political party that strongly and consistently opposes change?
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