by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg: In yesterday’s post, Politics of the Next 4 Years – Part 1 (Rise of the ‘Dirtbag Left’), I discussed the fact that a very potent grassroots movement has emerged to the left of corporate, neoliberal Democrats. This self-described “Dirtbag Left” and its allies have the potential to not just drive the Democratic Party into extinction, but also ultimately challenge Trump on the national stage. Although I’m not a Democrat or a leftist (I’m not a Republican or conservative either), I welcome this development for a number of reasons.
First, if economic populism becomes aggressively embraced by those who lean left, it will force Trump to become genuinely populist on at least some issues in order to compete in 2020, as opposed to the fake populism he has enthusiastically embraced since the election. Second, it will present corporate Democrats with a choice, either “bend the knee” as the folks at Chapo suggested, or die. Nobody believes in neoliberal ideology other than donors and their corporate media spokespeople. The entire thing is a discredited failure and isn’t coming back. As such, today’s post will explain why this is the last chance for the Democratic Party.
The political world was abuzz yesterday with chatter related to Charles “Chucky” Schumer’s op-ed in The New York Times in which he suddenly proclaims himself an economic populist, and disingenuously claims the Democratic Party has somehow changed. It consisted of many comforting phrases, but I wouldn’t believe a single line of it until I see actual action on the ground. It’s easy to talk a big game when you have zero power, but talk is cheap, as we all should have learned from both Barrack Obama and Donald Trump.
Before I get into some specifics about what I think all of this means, let’s take a look at some excerpts.
Americans are clamoring for bold changes to our politics and our economy. They feel, rightfully, that both systems are rigged against them, and they made that clear in last year’s election. American families deserve a better deal so that this country works for everyone again, not just the elites and special interests. Today, Democrats will start presenting that better deal to the American people.
What took you so long? Serious question, considering this deplorable situation has been obvious for a very long time, and was already entrenched when Obama was President and Democrats controlled Congress.
Today’s working Americans and the young are justified in having greater doubts about the future than any generation since the Depression. Americans believe they’re getting a raw deal from both the economic and political systems in our country. And they are right. The wealthiest special interests can spend an unlimited, undisclosed amount of money to influence elections and protect their special deals in Washington. As a result, our system favors short-term gains for shareholders instead of long-term benefits for workers.
And for far too long, government has gone along, tilting the economic playing field in favor of the wealthy and powerful while putting new burdens on the backs of hard-working Americans.
Democrats have too often hesitated from taking on those misguided policies directly and unflinchingly — so much so that many Americans don’t know what we stand for. Not after today. Democrats will show the country that we’re the party on the side of working people — and that we stand for three simple things.
First, we’re going to increase people’s pay. Second, we’re going to reduce their everyday expenses. And third, we’re going to provide workers with the tools they need for the 21st-century economy.
We are in the minority in both houses of Congress; we cannot promise anyone that this Congress will begin passing our priorities tomorrow. But we have to start raising our voices to present our vision for the country’s future. We will seek the support of any Republicans willing to work with us, but more important, we must start rallying the American people to support our ideas.
This is key. It’s easy to make Santa Claus level promises when you have no power and can’t actually deliver. He’s basically using the same old tired language of Obama and saying “it’ll be different this time.” Why should anyone believe him?
In the last two elections, Democrats, including in the Senate, failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there. We also failed to communicate our values to show that we were on the side of working people, not the special interests. We will not repeat the same mistake. This is the start of a new vision for the party, one strongly supported by House and Senate Democrats.
It’s not so much that Democrats have “failed to articulate” stuff. It’s that Democrats constantly fail to take action on what they articulate. David Sirota put it perfectly yesterday:
Obama campaigned for president promising to "bring a new era of responsibility & accountability to Wall Street.” Then he prosecuted nobody.
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) July 24, 2017
It takes quite a bit of nerve for Chucky Schumer, the consummate corporate Democrat to pivot toward populism. While he mentions various industries in his piece, he fails to mention financial institutions or Wall Street even once. This is extremely telling considering the grave danger this industry presents to the wellbeing of the nation.