Democratic Party

How to Build a Majority

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/02/2018 - 6:05pm in

In a moment when the left remains small and weak, ideological purity is almost certain to be self-defeating. We need every ally we can find.

Belabored Podcast #143: Planning for a Post-Trump Future, with Rachel Cohen

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/01/2018 - 4:58am in

If the Democrats reclaim power in 2020, what should labor do?

The anti-Trump “Resistance” Is Nothing More Than a Democratic Party Fundraising Campaign

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/01/2018 - 1:03am in

One year after Donald Trump took office and the Women’s March supposedly marked the rise of a new anti-Trump Resistance, it is crystal clear that the Resistance amounts to nothing more than a campaign to elect more Democrats to high office. The only trouble is, Democrats never push for liberal, much less progressive or left, politics once they get into power. The Democratic Party is where the American Left goes to die…and Trump hasn’t changed that.

The Second Coming of ‘Yes, We Can’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/12/2017 - 6:40am in

Doug Jones’ convincing victory in Alabama is a hallelujah (and Hanukkah) moment for Americans who refuse to truckle under to the vicious, knuckleheaded maniac in the White House — not for one reason but for every decent reason a democratic majority can muster. But the Jones tide that washed over Alabama is more than cause for a day of exuberance. It points toward a solution for the wrecking-ball tendencies that have afflicted the Democrats since the election — and before.  Continue reading

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Bernie Sanders Is Now Backing Randy Bryce — Which Could Be Very Bad News for Paul Ryan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 30/11/2017 - 4:27am in

Randy Bryce took the political world by storm this June when he released a stunning television ad announcing his campaign to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan. Bryce is running for Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin’s southeastern 1st Congressional District, which straddles Milwaukee’s metropolitan border. Continue reading

The post Bernie Sanders Is Now Backing Randy Bryce — Which Could Be Very Bad News for Paul Ryan appeared first on

The Democrats Confront Monopoly

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/11/2017 - 3:56am in

By Polly Cleveland

In the 1970’s when I studied microeconomics in grad school, we got to monopoly briefly in one of the last chapters of the text. We learned that monopoly really wasn’t a such a problem. If a big corporation tried to raise prices to take advantage of a monopoly position, why, competitors would immediately rush in. So not to worry, it was in the interest of monopolists to behave. Moreover, monopolists enjoyed economies of scale, allowing the likes of Walmart to deliver lower prices to consumers than the mom and pop stores they put out of business. By that measure, laws like the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, designed to protect small businesses from anticompetitive practices…were actually anti-social as they kept consumer prices high. There was no hint of trustbusters’ original concern for concentrated political power, or exploitation of workers. This was the Chicago School theory of benign monopoly.

Since I knew the brutal history of some of the great monopolists like Standard Oil, American Tobacco, or AT&T, I took this lesson with a grain of salt. But I didn’t worry too much. Why? Because for the post World War II period, corporate concentration hadn’t notably increased. Yes, some big firms had merged, but others had broken up. Antitrust seemed to be doing its job. Little did I know how the Chicago theory of monopoly was even then taking the legal world by storm. That was the work of Yale Law School professor Robert Bork, who published The Antitrust Paradox in 1978. (In 1987, the Senate would deem Bork too conservative for the Supreme Court.)

The Democrats Confront Monopoly”, by Gilad Edelman in the November/December Washington Monthly, tells the story. Starting slowly in the Reagan Administration, then with gathering momentum, through both Republican and Democratic administrations, larger and larger mergers got the green light from the Justice Department and the courts. It was Bill Clinton after all, who took the Glass-Steagall shackles off the banks, allowing the disastrous merger of commercial and investment banking.

Meanwhile, economists began to notice growing inequality and wage stagnation. They came up with a variety of explanations: Maybe workers lacked skills to work with modern technology. Maybe it was competition with low wage workers overseas. Maybe it was just inevitable as machines took over jobs. I focused on a different explanation: Starting in the Reagan Administration, the tax system—federal, state, and local—increasingly favored what was not yet called The One Percent.

But in 2009, a book knocked me over: Barry Lynn’s Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism. Lynn, a business journalist, had seen a what we economists had missed: growing monopolization was making the American economy more unequal, less innovative and more unstable. In fact, the same was happening internationally, as multinational corporations took over more and more of the world economy. But Lynn didn’t stop with an exposé. Instead, he created a team of researchers at the New America Foundation, where he was a fellow. His team produced a whole series of eye-opening reports, published mostly in the Washington Monthly. Gradually the message got out, and was picked up by leaders on the left end of the Democratic Party, including Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken, and economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman.

Then, disaster, and a lesson. On June 27 this year, Lynn’s team released a statement welcoming a European antitrust action against Google. Google, a major funder of New America, apparently complained. Two days later, Lynn’s team were told to be out by the end of August. As observed in hundreds of outraged editorials and articles, there could hardly have been a better textbook example of the dangers of monopoly.  Lynn and his team have now set themselves up as the Open Markets Institute, but funding remains precarious.

Meanwhile, the team continues research and publication. In the same issue of the Washington Monthly, Phillip Longman explains How Big Medicine Can Ruin Medicare for All. Unless we address the growing monopolization of hospitals and their suppliers, Medicare-for-all or single-payer will resemble the Pentagon facing the defense contractors. (I can relate to the medical monopoly issue: In New York City, Mount Sinai Hospital has just taken over a number of other hospitals and medical buildings. Doctors practicing in these places were given a choice: sell their practices to Mount Sinai or get out. My gynecologist sold Sinai her practice; my shoulder surgeon angrily moved to an inconvenient midtown location.)

In June 2016, at an event organized by Lynn, Elizabeth Warren delivered a stunning speech on the damage of monopoly and the importance of reviving antitrust. Shortly afterwards, I attended a New York presentation by Alan Blinder, Hillary Clinton’s economic policy advisor. He focused on Hillary’s positions on issues vis-à-vis Trump’s and those of the median voter, complete with graphs. He suggested that Bernie had pulled her away from that median voter—a bad idea. Absolutely not a hint that Hillary should lead, rather than try to sniff out the densest patch of voters. One issue Blinder didn’t have on the list was antitrust, so I raised my hand and asked. “Oh,” he said, “that’s not a priority at present, but maybe after her first two years…”

What Killed the Democratic Party?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/11/2017 - 2:30am in

This post originally appeared in The Nation.

The Democratic Party lost just about everything in 2016, but so far it has offered only evasive regrets and mild apologies. Instead of acknowledging gross failure and astounding errors, the party’s leaders and campaign professionals wallowed in self-pity and righteous indignation. The true villains, they insisted, were the wily Russians and the odious Donald Trump, who together intruded on the sanctity of American democracy and tampered with the election results. Official investigations are now under way.

While the country awaits the verdict, a new and quite provocative critique has emerged from a group of left-leaning activists: They blame the Democratic Party itself for its epic defeat. Their 34-page “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis” reads more like a cold-eyed indictment than a postmortem report. It’s an unemotional dissection of why the Democrats failed so miserably, and it warns that the party must change profoundly or else remain a loser.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrives at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on July 25, 2017. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Democrats’ New Agenda Is Everything That’s Wrong With the Party

BY Miles Kampf-Lassin | July 28, 2017

Reading the particulars of this critique, I had the impression that maybe the party got what it deserved in 2016. I do not mean that Trump deserved to win. Indeed, “Autopsy” mentions Trump’s campaign largely in passing, and the Russians only once. But this analysis does suggest that Trump became president mainly because the Democratic campaign was inept, misguided, smug and out of touch with the country.

Much of the report’s specifics were already known in bits and pieces. But the evidence takes on a sharper edge and stronger punch as it is laid out in “Autopsy.” The task force that drafted the critique was led by journalist and media critic Norman Solomon, a Democratic convention delegate in 2008 and 2016; Karen Bernal, the Progressive Caucus chair of the California State Democratic Party; Pia Gallegos, a longtime civil-rights lawyer and activist in New Mexico; and Sam McCann, a New York–based communications specialist focused on issues of international justice. The writers are not promoting any candidate for 2020, though they are obviously kindred spirits with Bernie Sanders and his aggressive reform agenda. They do, however, want to provoke a showdown within the Democratic Party: the Clinton-Obama establishment versus the hurt and disappointed party base. The establishment has the money and the governing control; the rank-and-file agitators have the fire of their brave convictions.

This “Autopsy,” in other words, is a text for rebellion and a rough suggestion of what a born-again Democratic Party might look like. This is the heart of its indictment: “The mainstream Democratic storyline of victims without victimizers lacks both plausibility and passion. The idea that the Democrats can somehow convince Wall Street to work on behalf of Main Street through mild chiding, rather than acting as Main Street’s champion against the wealthy, no longer resonates. We live in a time of unrest and justified cynicism toward those in power; Democrats will not win if they continue to bring a wonk knife to a populist gun fight.”

The authors are clearly seeking a straightforward repudiation of the governing strategy on economic issues by the last two Democratic presidents. Neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama attempted to challenge corporate and financial interests, and neither did nearly enough to address the lost jobs and wages that led to deteriorating affluence and fed popular cynicism and distrust. Obama, for example, gratuitously appointed General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to the White House Jobs Council — an odd choice, given that Immelt’s company was a notorious pioneer in offshoring American jobs to foreign nations. Immelt subsequently admitted that he was motivated by GE’s bottom line: American wages were too high, he explained, so he intended to lower them. He succeeded.

The mainstream Democratic story line of victims without victimizers lacks both plausibility and passion.

— 'Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis'

In this context, blue-collar workers were not mistaken when they blamed the Democrats. During the campaign, Hillary Clinton was virtually silent on the party’s complicity. The Democratic nominee couldn’t very well quarrel with the party’s embrace of Republican dogma on free trade and financial deregulation, since it would have meant quarreling with her husband. On the central domestic issue of our time, she had nothing convincing to say. Clinton belatedly announced her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal championed by President Obama, but at that point it was already dead. The party platform paid the usual respect to liberal economic causes, but who could believe her? Clinton lacked authenticity.

A revealing example cited in “Autopsy” of the Democratic Party’s self-congratulatory mentality (and its cluelessness) is the fund-raising mailer it sent to donors in the summer of 2017 — eight months after its spectacular wipeout. The mailer was “designed to look like collection letters to its supporters,” the critique notes. “The DNC team scrawled ‘FINAL NOTICE’ across the envelopes and put ‘Finance Department’ as the return address. The message it conveyed, intentionally or not, was: you owe us.” The upstart critics observe: “That, not coincidentally, is a message the party leadership has been sending to core constituencies through its policies and campaign spending priorities.”

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Donkey (Photo by Georgia Democrats/ flickr CC 2.0)

Everything That’s Wrong with the Democratic ‘Reboot’ in One Lousy Op-Ed

BY Ian Haney López | July 24, 2017

The condescending approach of party wise guys may seem a trivial matter in the era of high-tech modern elections, but politics is still personal. The failure to sustain the attachments of shared experience and kindred loyalties can be fatal. Rep. Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, the Democratic House speaker during the Reagan era, used to tell this story about himself: In his first run for Congress, a family friend and neighbor, Mrs. O’Brien, told O’Neill that she would vote for him even though he had failed to ask for her vote. O’Neill was astonished. He hadn’t thought it necessary, since they were such close friends. “Tom, let me tell you something,” Mrs. O’Brien said. “People like to be asked.”

That kernel of political wisdom is what the Democratic Party has forgotten. All politics is local, as O’Neill taught. But the party moved uptown, so to speak, and lost touch with the old neighborhood. The party of working people failed to rally the stalwart regulars it could usually count on, and those folks failed to turn out in the usual numbers.

In essence, this is the core accusation leveled in “Autopsy”: that the Democratic Party neglected its most loyal voters. It not only forgot to ask for their votes; it ignored the general distress of working people (white, black, and brown). Furthermore, the party didn’t have much to offer those folks in the form of concrete proposals to improve their lives. That’s a controversial claim, but the authors of “Autopsy” offer damning evidence to support it.

For every blue-collar Democrat we lose…we will pick up two moderate Republicans.

In midsummer 2016, working-class enthusiasm for Trump was the hot political story, but Sen. Chuck Schumer, the soon-to-be Democratic leader in the upper chamber, assured party colleagues that they needn’t worry. “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia,” Schumer predicted. “And you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

At the time, Schumer sounded as though he was just blowing smoke to motivate donors. But in hindsight, this may actually have been the party’s strategy: Bet on middle-class suburbanites offended by the vile Trump to vote Democratic or stay home, which would offset the loss of working-class voters attracted to him. If this was, in fact, the strategy, the party bet wrong on every point.

What’s more, this approach may have encouraged Democratic operatives to shortchange black and Latino voters — two faithful groups that had powerful reasons to vote against Trump. The turnout for both was depressed compared to previous presidential elections.

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An attendee reacts while sitting on the floor during an election night party for 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton at the Javits Center in New York, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Why We Need a New Democratic Party

BY Robert Reich | November 10, 2016

According to the authors of “Autopsy,” the Democrats withheld funding for grassroots canvassing and failed to challenge outrageous Republican schemes to suppress the minority vote. Albert Morales, then the Democratic National Committee’s director of engagement for Latino voters, originally proposed a $3 million budget to increase turnout in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada and Texas. He ended up with $300,000. “It was just pitiful,” Morales said.

“Autopsy” warns that “what ought to deeply worry Democrats moving forward … is the massive swing of white working-class voters from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016 and the depressed turnout of black and Latino voters for Clinton relative to 2012 Obama…. To put it in marketing terms: the Democratic Party is failing, on a systemic level, to inspire, bring out, and get a sufficient majority of the votes of the working class.”

“As a result of these failures,” the report continues, “Democrats saw dips in voter turnout and voter support among people of color — dips that were disastrously concentrated in swing states. In short, these missteps likely cost the party the presidential election.”

Once again, people like to be asked. There is one more bloc of potential voters that the Democratic Party failed to ask — young people — and its failure here is ominous for the future. This new generation is far to the left of the current party, not to mention stone-age Republicans. Bernie Sanders was their man in 2016, and he will continue to be an influential leader in reshaping politics and the governing of the nation.

Many young people are even to the left of Bernie. A YouGov poll in January 2016 found that 43 percent of people under the age of 30 had a favorable opinion of socialism, versus just 26 percent unfavorable. A recent poll of 18-to-29-year-olds by Harvard University found that a majority of the respondents did not “support capitalism.” This was too much for Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader. At a postelection town hall, she bolted out of her seat to declare: “I have to say, we’re capitalists — that’s just the way it is.” Maybe it’s time for the Democrats to start a conversation with these young lefties.

The Clinton partisans who remain in charge of the party machinery will no doubt reject the conclusions of “Autopsy.” The report suggests that the Clinton-Obama crowd tilted the action away from the party’s core voter blocs—labor, people of color and young people — in order to court suburban voters and maintain the party’s alliances with high finance and multinational corporations. This might also explain why the DNC decided not to undertake its own postelection review. Suspicions are already circulating:

As Politico reported, “Party officials involved in fund-raising say donors repeatedly turn them away with a ‘try again next year,’ especially since it became clear there won’t be an official party autopsy from 2016.”

That donor-centric strategy was highly valuable when it came to raising money for Clinton’s campaign. It turned out to be not so good for winning her the election.

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A Feral Trump Leads the Feral Right. And Vice Versa.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 31/10/2017 - 3:18am in

EDITOR’S NOTE: Take a long look at the photograph above of Donald Trump speaking to the American Conservative Union, the umbrella organization of the right. The ACU was founded in 1964, the year conservative icon Barry Goldwater won the Republican nomination for president and was crushed at the polls that fall by the liberal, Lyndon B. Johnson. Keep that photograph in mind as you read my conversation with historian Rick Perlstein, which we might have subtitled “From Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump: You Must Be Kidding!” Perlstein has now written three best-selling books on the modern conservative movement. He still blinks at the thought of Trump’s triumph in capturing the Republican nomination last year and then beating Hillary Clinton. The photograph suggests the seminal moment in 2015 that led to both victories — as Trump convinced conservatives he was one of them. The legacy of both Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan is now his. So is the Republican Party. He tightened his grip on the GOP in the last few days when two prominent Republican senators who are leaving politics rebuked the president as “dangerous to our democracy,” even as some of their colleagues were rushing into Trump’s arms with wet kisses, fearing, perhaps, that if they were any less ardent, Steve Bannon would come galloping down upon them in a future primary with an even more radical challenger. I asked Rick Perlstein to talk about these matters.

                                                                                                                              —Bill Moyers



Moyers: So Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker gave up, and others, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, gave in. And here are the headlines in The New York Times:

Acquiesce or Go Home
Party With Less and Less Room for Older Breed Of Conservative

In other words, Donald Trump owns the Republican Party.

Rick Perlstein: That’s right. It’s like Ivory soap, “99 and 1/100 percent pure,” remember? Oh, the apostasy of Jeff Flake. The senator from Arizona gives this very histrionic speech about how Trump has introduced evasion and demagoguery and all these awful things into the Republican Party — and then announces he’s quitting. He’s really saying, “I’m not going to fight it. I’m going to surrender to it.” Remember, he’s voted 90 percent of the time with the Trump/Republican agenda. And then later that day, he and the other brave, bold critic in the Republican establishment, Sen. Bob Corker, both voted to end the rule that would have allowed people to sue banks and credit card companies that rip them off. They get to have their cake and eat it, too. They basically make a material contribution to the very damage to the body politic in the afternoon that they decry in the morning.
Moyers: Sens. Murkowski of Alaska, Collins of Maine, Sasse of Nebraska and McCain of Arizona — John McCain! — also voted for Trump’s giveaway to Wall Street. Political commentator Kyle Kulinski called it “Your daily reminder that establishment Republicans want Trump to do every single thing he’s doing minus the mean tweets.”

Perlstein: I read Jeff Flake’s book, Conscience of a Conservative, written in homage to Barry Goldwater. Here’s a guy staking out in his ideology in terms that are quite reactionary, in a book that supposedly decries the turn of the Republican Party to dangerous reaction.

Moyers: Who is now the Republican establishment?

Perlstein: So interesting. I once saw a letter from H. L. Hunt, the purported richest man in the world in the 1960s, the oil billionaire, probably one of the first billionaires to bankroll Barry Goldwater. He said, “Beware the cunning of the establishment.” Richest man in the world. Didn’t think he was in the establishment. Now there’s Robert Mercer, billionaire extraordinare, and his daughter Rebekah, showering money on Steve Bannon to overturn the Republican establishment — are the Mercers not establishment? Are the Koch brothers, who have billions of dollars to spend, the establishment? The establishment is a very plastic concept. But as a Supreme Court justice said of pornography, maybe we know it when we see it. Establishments replace one another. The Republican establishment used to be Nelson Rockefeller types, and then it became Ronald Reagan types, and then it became Newt Gingrich types and then Bush types. It is a moving target and right now we don’t have a good answer.

Moyers: I’ve been thinking about that piece you wrote in The New York Times earlier this year in which you said, “I thought I understood the American right. Trump proved me wrong.” Do you still stand behind that confession?

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 a promise to “deconstruct the administrative state,” deregulate business and assert national sovereignty through immigration and trade policy.

CPAC Dispatch: How Donald Trump Killed Movement Conservatism

BY Adele M. Stan | February 24, 2017

Perlstein: Oh, yes. What I got wrong about the American right was the idea that it succeeded in the 1960s by purging its crazier, more reactionary, more paranoid elements and becoming respectable. Historians are beginning to rethink that formulation, which is really the conservative’s own self-representation. It’s a very self-congratulatory representation. What if the crazy paranoid fringe was in fact the vanguard? What if they were kind of the people who created the political energy that allowed the establishment to float above it all and make their ex cathedra pronouncements, as William F. Buckley did for so many decades, while they were really working in a complicated partnership, in harness with one another, toward taking over the party? 

Moyers: You said before the election last year that Trump had raised energies in the Republican electorate that may not be so easily contained.

Perlstein: Right. And I think it’s the next frontier for both historians and other sorts of analysts and journalists trying to figure out how the Republican coalition works and how conservatism works and what is different — what is the break between conservatism, say, from Goldwater to Reagan to Gingrich to Boehner and the conservatism of Trump and Bannon. The metaphor people have reached to describe how conservative politicians of a previous generation reached out demagogically to the feral impulses of the electorate was the dog whistle. They would use racist codes. You know, Richard Nixon running TV commercials in the South in 1968 with country singers talking about how they didn’t want Washington folks butting into our business. They wouldn’t come out and say, “Those dark people are taking over.” And when Richard Nixon even did that kind of thing, it was through a front group — through “Democrats for Nixon.” There was a distancing. And then of course there was Ronald Reagan and the welfare queen in 1976, and Reagan giving his famous speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1980, near where the three young civil rights workers were killed by white supremacists — the only time in the campaign he mentioned states’ rights. And then in 1984, saying the South shall rise again. Dog whistling. 

Moyers: And Lee Atwater and the elder George Bush in 1988 with the Willie Horton ad.
Perlstein: Yes. The revolving prison door — all that stuff. And there’s a plausible deniability. And what people have said is that Donald Trump takes the dog whistle and turns it into a train whistle. If only you could be a fly on the wall in the councils of power in the Republican Party in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and be privy to these conversations where these strategies are unfolding! Because I think that people who really have their finger on the pulse of the American electorate understand that there are always these kind of feral energies, wild savage energies, abroad in the land. Even Lyndon Johnson — when he’s heard talking on the Oval Office tapes about whether to escalate in Vietnam, will mention 1950 and what happened when the Republicans, especially Joseph McCarthy, started raising the cry that the Democrats lost China. As you must know, Johnson feared that this sort of paranoid, reckless madness would again be loosed in the land. I think sophisticated political actors all the way through George W. Bush understood this as a danger, and even as they tried to ride and surf and use that danger, they sought somewhat to contain it.

Moyers: How did George W. try to contain it?

Perlstein: He campaigned using those traditional Republican tropes, but then after 9/11, you see something very interesting. He calls Islam a religion of peace. He goes to a mosque. I compare this to Ronald Reagan in 1978, when he’s beginning his run for the presidency and there’s an initiative on the California ballot called Proposition 6 that will ban gay school teachers, and he comes out against it. This is a time in San Francisco — gay men were being cut down in the streets. Reagan in effect says: “I don’t want to be part of unleashing those energies.” And maybe you were there when Barry Goldwater was the Republican candidate for president against LBJ in 1964, and he paid a courtesy call on LBJ right after rioting in Harlem following the shooting of a young black person by a white cop, and Goldwater said something like, “This is really frightening stuff. If my supporters start exploiting these riots and start exploiting racial turmoil in the United States to get me elected, I will withdraw from the presidential campaign.” There was some realization in all this that civilization in America is a very thin veneer and you have to master the savage energies — you have to contain them. And Trump does not understand that game. So now we see a certain class of Republican literally saying these lowborn, kind of louche, ill-bred “populists” are taking over from the “principled intellectuals. “Remember the National Review last year — Buckley’s old magazine? Their mantra was “Never Trump!” 

Cover of National Review, Feb. 156, 2016. (Image from the National Review Twitter feed)

Moyers: Is Trump more paranoid and dangerous than Nixon?

Perlstein: Oh, I think there’s no question. I mean, he really takes Nixon’s worst qualities and turns them up to 11. People have been talking a lot these days about Richard Nixon’s famous “mad man” — the idea that if you made the North Vietnamese Communists believe this guy [Nixon] is crazy and might do anything — he might launch a nuclear weapon — then they’re going to rush to the negotiating table and give us concessions. But Richard Nixon said you never get mad unless it’s on purpose. At least this was a conscious strategy on his part. It was a feint. A hustle. Now, today, we may have an actual mad man in the White House. I mean, these are not clever negotiating tactics he’s using. When Trump goes on TV and a reporter says, “So, Mr. President, you said that you were going to keep the 401(k) in the tax negotiations, but your Republican congressional negotiator said you’re going to get rid of the 401(k). Which is it?” And Trump says, “Well, maybe we’ll keep the 401(k) as a negotiating chip.” That level of stupidity — you don’t telegraph to the other side what your bargaining chips are. This is 10-year-old stuff.  

Moyers: Could it be his opioid is revenge, not power? 

Perlstein: That’s an interesting distinction. 

Moyers: Well, it comes from considering his cultural upbringing, his father’s purported KKK activity, his relationship to Joseph McCarthy’s hit man Roy Cohn. You’ve pointed out Trump’s apparent interest in New York movies like Death Wish. He never seems to leave his fantasies.
Perlstein: And consider how his racism played out here. Quite remarkable. He was an executive in his father’s company in the 1970s when the Justice Department discovered that they were putting little “C’s” next to the colored applicants in their housing and using testers. A white couple would come in and say, “We’re looking for an apartment” and be told, “Oh, we have plenty.” And a black couple would come in, say “We’re looking for an apartment” — and be told “Oh, I’m sorry. We’re filled up.” And then in the Central Park jogger case in 1989, Trump took out full-page ads in New York newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty because a white woman had been raped by minorities and he said they should die — that was what happened in the days of lynching. Trump was calling for a lynching. A white woman has been raped and attention must be paid and punishment meted out. Now, those youngsters were exonerated and the real perpetrator eventually apprehended, yet Trump still called for them to be kept incarcerated. We are talking here about the president of the United States. He’s fanning the most feral forces there are within the American political culture. 

Moyers: Any insight into what’s going on inside his psyche?

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The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Robert Jay Lifton and Bill Moyers on ‘A Duty to Warn’

BY Bill Moyers | September 14, 2017

Perlstein: I defer to your friend [the psychohistorian] Robert J. Lifton. There’s something sufficiently deep-seated in his psyche to almost constitute a psychopathology that keeps him from literally seeing reality as it is. 
Moyers: So you’re a historian, not a psychologist. Find anyone in the presidency like him before? We’ve had many flawed presidents.

Perlstein: It pops up from time to time. When Lyndon Johnson insisted that race riots must have been stoked by the communists, [Attorney General] Ramsey Clark came back and said, “We’ve really searched up and down and we don’t see any evidence,” and Johnson basically told him to go back and try again, because it has to be true. I’m sure that at his worst his paranoia matched Trump, but he had so many redeeming qualities he transcended it. With Trump, it’s just paranoia and vengeance all the way down, even in his moments of victory. 
Moyers: And taking the Republicans beyond restraint?

Perlstein: I think he has. And to their shame, a lot of Republicans who understand precisely how dangerous this is have decided to stick around for the ride. Trump is their ticket to getting their tax cuts, among other things. We need to understand it much better — the dance that’s been going on within the Republican Party and the conservative coalition, this dance between feral populism and an establishment kind of “principled intellectual conservatism.” And of course that’s not how they work. 

Moyers: You mention tax cuts. So last year during the campaign Trump promised tax cuts to the middle class. He said specifically the hedge-fund guys would be paying up — the Wall Street crowd. But from what’s being circulated in Washington, the Republicans, apparently with Trump’s blessings, are backing tax cuts that would give 50 percent of the benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent and the top one-hundredths of 1 percent of earners would receive more than 40 percent of the benefits, while the bottom half would receive collectively something near 13 percent.

Perlstein: Yes, it’s pretty remarkable, isn’t it?

Moyers: Trump and the conservatives get their votes from angry populists. They get their money from rich people—

Perlstein: Yes. 

Moyers: —and from corporations. But what if it all springs back? Suppose that sooner or later the populists in the coalition wake up and realize they’ve been had — swallowed up in a great historical hoax?

Perlstein: Well, that’s where some very dark forces come into play. 

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President-elect Donald Trump and Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, embrace during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The End of a Political Era: Movement Conservatism Gets Real

BY Heather Cox Richardson | August 16, 2017

Moyers: Dark forces?

Perlstein: Yes, what happens when the white working-class voters who supported Trump begin to feel the sting of economic dispossession in a new and profound way? Let’s say there’s a stock market crash, or the economy takes a dive. Let’s say their tax bills go up. That that’s when the scapegoating begins. I don’t know what happens when people start getting their tax bills and realizing that they were played for fools. But of course the people around Donald Trump control their own media — Fox, talk radio, the “alt-right” press — which means they control their own reality. And their propaganda is very much designed to work neurologically, not intellectually, to hit the amygdala of the brain in its fear center. If people don’t know what’s happening to them or who’s making it happen, it’s very hard for them to place the finger of blame in the appropriate place. “Dark forces” come into play. 
Moyers: Can a democracy die of too many lies?

Perlstein: It’s certainly happened before. 

Moyers: The right seems to be even more fueled these days by some powerful resentments. 
Perlstein: You know, the club that Richard Nixon started at Whittier College, because he wasn’t allowed into the one fraternity, was called the Orthogonians.

Moyers: Orthogonians? 

Perlstein: Orthogonians, which kind of meant squares. You know, the right angles, the guys who were commuters and, you know, they weren’t from all the right families. The club that they weren’t allowed in was called the Franklins. So Richard Nixon always saw the world in terms of Orthogonians and Franklins, you know, the silent majority and the liberal elite. And if you think about it, all of us at some point of our lives are Franklins and all of us are Orthogonians. We’re always feeling the sting of resentment. So it’s a very powerful message. 

President Nixon bowls with the winners of the 7 International Bowling Federation Tournament. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

Moyers: Trump struck many people here in New York City like that. He hungered to be accepted by the establishment. It was palpable.

Perlstein: An Orthogonian — that’s correct.
Moyers: He was always trying to get into the—

Perlstein: Trying to get into the club. Trying to buy the World Trade Center to do it. And now feral greed seems to drive him, even as president.

And that’s the interesting thing, because we had a bait-and-switch. Of course Donald Trump doesn’t ever seem to have intended to govern in the interest of the blue-collar dispossessed white working class in whose name he claimed to speak. He handed over the keys almost immediately to the Goldman Sachs bankers and the plutocrats. And now there’s Stephen Bannon going off half-cocked on his own behalf and claiming to be the true avatar of the Trumpite revolution — you know, more Trumpier than Trump, I guess. So we’re at a pretty interesting crossroads as we speak here. 

Moyers: Your books show how resilient the conservative movement has been in our time. It keeps rising from the grave to move the Republican Party further and further right. Defeated with Goldwater in 1964, back in 1968 with Nixon. Defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976, back with Reagan in 1980. Defeated by Clinton in 1992, back with George W. Bush in 2000. Defeated by Obama in 2008, back with Trump in 2016. Everyone kept saying the Republicans were finished unless they purged the conservatives. Now it’s the conservatives purging the Republicans. 

Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon Meet in the White House on Jan. 20, 1969. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

Perlstein: So let’s talk about the transition from Carter to Reagan. That’s the subject of my historical research right now. Basically, you have the bounty of America’s postwar boom that was built upon the fact that all of our economic competitors were damaged by war. It was built upon cheap oil and cheap resources, and then on the social legislation of the 1960s that was offered on the assumption of a post-scarcity era — that we had basically solved the economic problems. Economists were confident, through Keynesian means, that they could keep recessions in check with low inflation. All that breaks down in the 1970s for various complicated reasons. And the response of a lot of Democrats — from people in Congress like Sen. Gary Hart, who essentially declared the New Deal tradition his ideological enemy, to Jimmy Carter, who said that the challenge of the future was accepting that we had to live in a period of austerity, to Jerry Brown in California, who backed a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution — all of them were saying, basically, folks, look, the party’s over. You can’t have all the nice things anymore. 

And this is precisely at the time that Republicans like Ronald Reagan are saying, “The problem is that taxes are too high.” Remember, Republicans for generations had been saying with great frustration since the New Deal, “We can’t win elections because no one shoots Santa Claus!” Santa Claus could no longer deliver those things the Democrats were voting for the people from the public treasury. So basically Democrats in the late 1970s said, “We’re not going to be Santa Claus anymore. We’re going to be the responsible grown-ups in the room.” The Republicans had to figure out a way to be Santa Claus. In fact, Jude Wanniski — remember him, the guy from The Wall Street Journal, one of the brilliant propagandists of supply-side economics? — called his theory of why tax cuts were great politics and policy of the Republicans “the two Santa Claus” theory. Of course, it turned out to be complete poppycock. You know, it was just nonsense. 

Ronald Reagan delivers his acceptance speech at the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

Moyers: Supply-side economics? 

Perlstein: Yes, supply-side economics was just the sheerest invention. But as politics, the conservatives were able to take advantage of Democrats abandoning the field of, basically, populism in the same way you have Bill Clinton deciding that the answer to the recession in the early 1990s is giving in to the bond-holders.
Moyers: And then there’s Barack Obama. 

Perlstein: And you have Barack Obama, for all his administrative and communication skills, deciding that the important thing to do when the economy melts down after the big crash is to foam the runway for the banks and ease their soft landing instead of making people whole who literally had their homes stolen by banks. So the Democrats are not blameless in this. 

Moyers: Are you saying Democrats provided the conservatives with the source of their resiliency?

Perlstein: But the fact of the matter is, liberals have always been too glib about the power and resilience of the reactionary tradition in America. Remember, half the country went to war to preserve slavery in this country — and it wasn’t just slavery; it was an entire feudal system in which basically society was ordered — the great chain of being from the slave to God. 

Moyers: This is where your first book, Before the Storm, about the conservatives after the Goldwater defeat, tapped into historical DNA, connecting the modern conservative movement way back to people who were appealing to—

Perlstein: Whiteness — the white picket fence — the nuclear family— 

Moyers: Yep— 

Perlstein: —and Kevin Phillips called the other side — the liberals who were basically plunging ahead with all this social legislation that in a way rewired how people experienced their relationship to the state and to each other — he called them “the toryhood of change.” The snobs who are telling people how to live. They’re a toryhood. They’re controlling. They experiment with people’s lives.

Moyers: That’s obviously not how we saw it.

Perlstein: I’m sure. But unfortunately, the state can be a very scary thing, and benefits that are delivered by the state can often very easily be recast as oppressive to people, especially when their relative position in the pecking order is weakening. It’s not a zero-sum game. We know that as liberals when we invest in people who have been disinvested, that’s a rising tide that lifts all boats. But it can be a very traumatic thing to lose one’s sense of power and privilege in a changing world, and the conservatives recast themselves as not merely the preservers of order but the forces of dynamism. They saw themselves as cutting through this kind of sclerosis of liberalism. As the New Right leader and strategist [and] founder [with Jerry Falwell] of the Moral Majority Paul Weyrich put it, organizing discontent, finding places where people feel the world slipping away and gaining a toehold and turning that into political power, and if they have to lift a Trump on their shoulder to cross the finish line, well… 

Moyers: You’ve spent years studying the infrastructure by which conservatives prepared for this moment. What do you see as the singular opportunity that enabled them to seize the opportunity in 2016, after eight years of Obama?

Perlstein: What was the discontent? I think that there are two kind of broad wellsprings of that discontent. One is economic — the fact that people weren’t made whole after the traumas of 2007 and 2008, the fact that the heartland Main Street America is being emptied out, that capital continues to flee overseas, that factories continue to close, that people are exploited by credit-card companies and student loan companies and all the rest. That sort of economic dispossession. But another wellspring, frankly, is the sense that one’s symbolic power that comes with being white and Christian and sitting behind that white picket fence, is not what it once was, especially in the hands of what they identified as “this foreign Kenyan usurper, Barack Obama.” 

You know, back in Weimar, Germany, as Hitler was making his way to power, the socialists used to say anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools. And by that they meant when you’re being screwed by the boss and you blame the Jews instead of joining our socialist party in which we’re fighting to give you power in the workplace and power over the economy — well, that makes you a fool. But that interplay between ethnic scapegoating, religious scapegoating and a sense of economic dispossession — which doesn’t necessarily mean poorness or privation, it could mean a sense of economic vulnerability, the fear of falling that Barbara Ehrenreich a long time ago called the secret to the inner life of the middleclass — creates a situation where everyone’s place in the economic pecking order is ever precarious. Especially in America where we don’t have that safety net, that social democracy. I think that’s the enabling condition for a lot of this. 

Moyers: And then there’s how you have put Donald Trump in the context of a sociological concept called “herrenvolk democracy.”

Perlstein: Oh, yes, which basically means social democracy for the favored race as a way not of expanding liberty to all citizens but only to the accepted in-group, people like us. 

Moyers: The benefits were intended for the herrenvolk — universal for them but limited to them.
Perlstein: And that’s always been the struggle. Think of the original populists, the People’s Party of the 1890s. Often described as very white. But there’s a book that just had its 50th anniversary. The Tolerant Populists, by Walter Nugent. And as against interpretations of the populists that were popular among certain mid-20th century historians and social scientists, Nugent actually read populist newspapers that were often German-language newspapers, revealing that among the populist party nominees in Kansas in the late 19th century were African-Americans, women, Jews — that there has in fact been a tradition of multiracial class-based political mobilization that is a spark, a flame we can fan, a heritage we can claim. And consider this: For all the compromises that Franklin Roosevelt made with Southern white segregationists to get his New Deal legislation passed, the fact of the matter is that African-Americans across the United States put pictures of Franklin Roosevelt on their walls. They knew that this guy had his heart in the right place. John F. Kennedy’s picture was up on the wall in African-American homes all across the country. They knew he had his heart in the right place, even though he was very slow to find his way to proposing a revolutionary civil rights act in 1963.

RELATED: Justice

President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

Trump Tears Down LBJ’s Great Society Piece by Piece

BY Christina Greer | August 16, 2017

Moyers: Yes, when President Johnson traveled through Appalachia, or other impoverished places, he couldn’t get over it. Hadn’t he just signed the Civil Rights Act of ’64? The Voting Rights Act of ’65? But there, on the wall, were photographs of JFK.

Perlstein: Life’s unfair, no? So I’m saying, I wouldn’t get too hopeless. Some interesting things are happening now. 

Moyers: I don’t recommend any rose-colored glasses, Rick. You have written over and again that our society has never been one of consensus. Americans are always in conflict, polarized, competing and fighting.

Perlstein: Our national community builds in the act of transcending original wounds. If you think back to the late 18th century to the constitutional convention where delegates were trying to figure out a way to hold together a nascent commercial society in the North and a feudal society in the South, and doing it over the bodies of enslaved Africans and yet at the same time were superintended by a new Constitution professing ideals of liberty and individual dignity — man, that’s very heady stuff and not something that lends itself to easy accord. We’d like to believe that we’re united and at peace with ourselves and that we have the will to transcend and even repress those original psychic wounds— 

Moyers: But we’re yoked to reality, including human nature—

Perlstein: Which gets us in a heck of a lot of trouble. So I try to get people to face hard truths in the interest of a difficult healing and a grace that is not cheap. 
Moyers: The most somber realist in the White House, despite passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was Lyndon Johnson. He kept watching [Alabama Gov.] George Wallace campaigning in primaries rallying white Democratic voters. Wallace would in effect say things like, “I’m all for the New Deal. I’m just not for it for black folks.” Johnson saw the blowback coming.

Perlstein: Yes, that’s herrenvolk democracy. Social democracy only for the white majority. I understand that in that 1964 campaign, the great Daisy commercial guys — Doyle, Dane and Bernback — cut commercials celebrating the Civil Rights Act. But they were not run, correct?

Moyers: Correct.

Perlstein: Because you guys knew better than the liberal majority and the people at The New York Times what was going to happen. The Times ran a headline the day after the ’64 election saying, “White backlash does not develop.” Well, they didn’t notice [what happened] that very day in California, which voted by a million votes against ending housing discrimination. 

Moyers: And two years later, in 1966, California elected Ronald Reagan for governor. Democrats lost heavily in the congressional races.

Perlstein: But look, at the same time after he signed the Civil Rights Act, when Lyndon Johnson told you that he thinks he’s just given up the South to the Republicans for his lifetime and yours, I like to think there was an implied second part to that sentence, which is, “We have cemented the loyalty of Northern African-Americans for your generation and mine.” And that was a dialectic too. 

Moyers: Well, a lot depends now on whether Donald Trump is an outlier or the representative of a new and even more adamant conservative politics. 

Perlstein: You know, a lot of African-Americans traditionally have said, “Give me an outright Southern racist than the polite wink and a nod of a Northern racist any day, because at least you know what you’re dealing with and you can fight him out in the open.” So I think that Trump’s radicalism represents a certain opportunity to the people who have been trying for generations to instruct white people about what it is like to be black in America, what it is like to be an immigrant in America, what it is like to be Mexican, what it is like to be of a minority religion or no religion, and women who are trying to instruct men what it’s like to be under the gun of constant harassment and sexual objectification at the office. Things are becoming a lot clearer now. The edges, the invisible lineaments that divide us from each other are becoming a lot more perspicuous, a lot more visible — and I think that’s a useful tool for social change. 

Moyers: So the turmoil and conflict we’re experiencing today might be because we are beginning to strip the whitewash off the history of our country.
Perlstein: I think it’s happening in a way that we haven’t quite seen in the past, and maybe we can hold out some promise for some interesting developments. 

Moyers: We haven’t talked about guns, and the fierce religious zeal conservatives attach to guns. More than we can imagine at the moment, I sense we’re going to have to reckon with guns on the road ahead.

Perlstein: (Pause) I have a hard time understanding why conservative politicians don’t denounce what the National Rifle Association is doing with those video spots, in the figure of Dana Loesch, that really come straight from the propaganda files of Goebbels in Nazi Germany. They talk about how liberals are destroying truth and undermining our way of life and that guns are the only way that we can be safe. When are we going to demand Republicans start distancing themselves from a National Rifle Association that has literally become an anti-constitutional insurrectionist organization? 

Moyers: But Republicans, conservatives, the NRA — are all part of the same ball of wax.

RELATED: Society

NRA Issues Call for White Supremacy and Armed Insurrection

BY Bill Moyers and Michael Winship | June 29, 2017

Perlstein: Well, the thing about the Second Amendment that’s so interesting to me as a historian, Bill, is that it’s the only part of the Constitution that really affirmatively mentions regulation as a good thing — “a well-regulated militia.” It’s such a bizarre text in the first place. But in the second place, a constitution is quite literally a machine for governing without violence. Without a constitution, it’s a war of all against all, and the person who can dominate the other person physically wins. As interpreted by the NRA and unfortunately by the Supreme Court as an individual right, it almost deconstructs the whole point of the Constitution, which is that people shouldn’t have to carry around guns. Our founders gave their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor for a government of laws and not a government of arbitrary— 

Moyers: Coercion. 
Perlstein: Coercion, yes—
Moyers: Enforced by guns.

Perlstein: Yes, again. Every clever college freshman will tell you that ultimately a government is the monopolization of the use of force, and if you resist the rule of law you are going to be physically removed from the body politic. That’s the last resort. But there’s a first resort — and the National Rifle Association, at the behest and by the funding of the weapons industry, has created it: the first resort of insurrection. 
A member of my family works for an investment bank. She once showed me a securities report — you know, one of those things that bankers come up with for analyzing an industry, whether it’s a buy or a sell. And it was so fascinating to read, in the cool rational jargon of bankers, the idea that the gun industry does great when there are Democrats in power because then they can scare the bejesus out of people that they’re going to take their guns away — an utter and rank lie, but one that the cunning forces of capital also have deployed as a profit-making strategy. It’s a very dangerous reality. And now we’re seeing it now. This did not get a lot of publicity but in Gainesville, Florida last week, when Richard Spencer was there— 

Moyers: Leader of the white nationalists.

Perlstein: —leader of the white nationalists, and they had the largest police presence on a college campus in the history of the school. But that didn’t keep another white nationalist, who thought that he was being physically menaced by someone with a stick, to fire a shot at left protesters. They missed, but that sort of escalation by people who are trained to believe that they are under literal physical threat — demagogues like Dana Loesch and organizations like the National Rifle Association — may just cause an escalation of violence that is becomes extremely dangerous to all of our liberties. 

Moyers: Do you ever go online to some of those gun sites? Do they frighten you?

Perlstein: Very scary. Because there’s an almost religious ideology that unless you are prepared to meet any threat with violent force, you, your family, the women and children you are charged by a kind of patriarchal ideology to protect, are endangered. I went to one site that offers tactical training on how to clear a room, how to get off the maximum number of rounds in the shortest period of time, what clothes to wear with breakaway pockets so you can shoot faster — there’s an entire narrative of how the world works, and the core of that narrative is that there are bad people who are not like you who are out to kill you and you have to kill them first. 

Moyers: Do you write your history books to oppose the people you are writing about? 

Perlstein: Do I write my books to oppose? I don’t think so. No, I think I write my books to affirm. Ultimately, I write my books motivated by a fascination, by the challenge of the various tribes of America to live together. I take great pleasure in making connections and in reaching readers and hopefully edifying them and enlightening them. I like to think that I use my work, my books, my journalism to create a community, a community of readers, of thinkers, of citizens. So ultimately, I think I do see it as an affirmative act. I’m not nihilistic, I’m optimistic. 

Moyers: Thank you, Rick Perlstein.

The post A Feral Trump Leads the Feral Right. And Vice Versa. appeared first on

How to End Crony Capitalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/10/2017 - 4:30am in

This post originally appeared at Robert Reich’s blog.

The largest corporations and richest people in America — who donated billions of dollars to Republican candidates the House and Senate in the 2106 election — appear on the way to getting what they paid for: a giant tax cut.

The New York Times reports that business groups are meeting frequently with key Republicans in order to shape the tax bill, whose details remain secret.

Speed and secrecy are critical. The quicker Republicans get this done, and without hearings, the less likely will the rest of the country discover how much it will cost in foregone Medicaid and Medicare or ballooning budget deficits.

RELATED: Economy & Work

Representatives of progressive political activist groups join members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for a news conference outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Oct. 4, 2017. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Robert Reich: Five Reasons the GOP Tax Plan Is a Cruel Joke

BY Robert Reich | October 11, 2017

Donald Trump has been trashing democratic institutions – the independence of the press, judges who disagree with him, uncooperative legislators — while raking in money off his presidency. But don’t lose sight of the larger attack on our democracy that was underway even before Trump was elected: A flood of big money into politics.

Lest you conclude it’s only Republicans who have been pocketing big bucks in exchange for political favors, consider what Big Tech — the industry that’s mostly bankrolled Democrats — is up to.

It’s mobilizing an army of lobbyists and lawyers — including senior advisors to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — to help scuttle a proposed law requiring Google, Facebook and other major internet companies to disclose who is purchasing their online political advertising.

After revelations that Russian-linked operatives bought deceptive ads in the run-up to the 2016 election, you’d think this would be a no-brainer. But never underestimate the power of big money, whichever side of the aisle it’s aimed at.

Often, it’s both sides. Last week The Washington Post and 60 Minutes reported that Big Pharma contributed close to $1.5 million to Democrats as well as Republicans in order to secure enactment of the so-called “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.”

Trump is trying to straddle both by pretending he’s a champion of the working class while pushing for giant tax cuts. But if my free-floating focus group in Kentucky and Tennessee is any indication, the base is starting to see through it.

This shameful law weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration’s power to stop prescription opioids from being shipped to pharmacies and doctors suspected of taking bribes to distribute them — a major cause of the opioid crisis. Last year, Americans got 236 million opioid prescriptions, the equivalent of one bottle for every adult.

Overwhelming majorities of House and Senate Democrats voted for the bill, as well as Republicans, and President Obama signed it into law.

There you have it, folks. Big money is buying giant tax cuts, allowing Russia to interfere in future elections, and killing Americans. That’s just the tip of the corrupt iceberg that’s sinking our democracy.

Republicans may be taking more big money, but both parties have been raking it in.

Average Americans know exactly what’s going on.

I just returned from several days in Kentucky and Tennessee, both of which voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

RELATED: Money & Politics

President Trump speaks to world leaders at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Noam Chomsky: How the Trump Presidency Is Enriching the Rich

BY Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian | October 3, 2017

A number of Trump voters told me they voted for him because they wanted someone who’d shake up Washington, drain the swamp and get rid of crony capitalism. They saw Hillary Clinton as part of the problem.

These people aren’t white nationalists. They’re decent folks who just want a government that’s not of, by and for the moneyed interests.

Many are now suffering buyer’s remorse. They recognize Trump has sold his administration to corporate lobbyists and Wall Street. “He conned us,” was the most polite response I heard.

The big money that’s taken over American politics in recent years has created the biggest political backlash in postwar American history — inside both parties.

It’s splitting the Republican Party between its large corporate patrons and a base that detests big corporations and Wall Street.

Trump is trying to straddle both by pretending he’s a champion of the working class while pushing for giant tax cuts. But if my free-floating focus group in Kentucky and Tennessee is any indication, the base is starting to see through it.

Which you might think creates a huge opportunity for Democrats heading into the 2018 midterms and the presidential election of 2020.

Think again. Much of the official Democratic Party is still in denial, continuing to debate whether it should be on the proverbial “left” or move to the “middle.”

But when it comes to getting big money out of politics and ending crony capitalism, there’s no right or left, and certainly no middle. There’s just democracy or oligarchy.

Democrats should be fighting for commonsense steps to reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests — public financing of elections, full disclosure of all sources of political funding, an end to revolving door between government and business, and attempts to reverse the bonkers Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

For that matter, Republicans should be fighting for these, too.

Heres’a wild idea. What if the anti-establishment wings of both parties came together in a pro-democracy coalition to get big money out of politics?

Then it might actually happen.

The post How to End Crony Capitalism appeared first on

Do Democrats Really Need Wall Street?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/10/2017 - 7:51am in

Halloween is coming and fear mongering seems to be the order of the day — not just on the part of Republicans, but apparently no less so on the part of “centrist” and conservative Democrats who are expressing growing anxiety about offending big donors who see politics not as the pursuit of justice but as the pursuit of their interests.

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More than 1 out of 10 nonvoters (11.2 percent) said they lacked acceptable voter ID and cited the law as a reason why they didn’t vote; 6.4 percent of respondents said the voter-ID law was the “main reason” they didn’t vote. (Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A New Study Shows Just How Many Americans Were Blocked From Voting in Wisconsin Last Year

BY Ari Berman | September 27, 2017

Douglas Schoen, said to have been Bill Clinton’s favorite pollster during his presidency, has taken to the op-ed page of The New York Times to warn center-right party members and friends that ‘all Hell will break loose’ if the Democrats embrace a platform promising “wealth redistribution through higher taxes and Medicare for all” and utilizing democracy to challenge the power of money. Don’t be bewitched by the fantasies of folks such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Schoen counsels, for if you do, the American financial elite will not keep the party’s “coffers full.” Indeed, he argues, “Democrats should strengthen their ties to Wall Street,” for “America is a center-right, pro-capitalist nation.”

“Memories in politics are short,” Schoen wrote. And he wrings his hands over the amnesia that robs people of remembering that the center-right assembled under Bill Clinton enabled him to balance the budget, limit government and protect essential programs “that make up the social safety net.” Leaving behind “that version of liberalism,” Schoen writes, has cost Democrats several elections. He even claims that Hillary Clinton lost in Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016 because she “lurched to the left.”

Yes, memories are short indeed, but they are made even shorter by the likes of Schoen. The horrors he prophesies make it clear that he does not want us to remember. He wants us to forget, and therefore to tame our aspirations for social democracy and an economy that serves everyday people instead of the one percent.

RELATED: Democracy & Government

 President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares war on "Princes of Privilege" during his speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination at Franklin Field in Philadelphia before an audience of more than 100,000. Roosevelt pledged a battle to the finish to wrestle the freedom of the nation from "royalists of the economic dynasties."

The Year FDR Sought to Make America ‘Fairly Radical’

BY Harvey J. Kaye | June 20, 2016

Schoen wants us to forget that Hillary Clinton lost the Upper Midwest not because of her supposed “lurch to the left,” but because many working people could not erase from their minds her lavishly paid Wall Street engagements and her adamant refusal to “release the transcripts” of those flattering speeches to the bankers. To many a Rust Belt voter she was the “Goldman Sachs” candidate, something Schoen would consign to the memory hole.

Moreover, he wants us to forget that she likely lost the blue state of Wisconsin, where I live, because she took it for granted. Defeated here by Bernie Sanders in the primary election, she never returned to Wisconsin to campaign against Donald Trump, who visited the state several times and took advantage of the impact Russian-sponsored ads on Facebook and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s voter suppression drive that deterred thousands of minority voters from turning out.

More critically, Schoen also wants us to forget how Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton turned their backs on the Franklin Roosevelt Democratic tradition and proceeded to turn liberalism into neoliberalism. He wants us to forget how Carter alienated working people, opening the door to the conservative administration of Ronald Reagan, by deregulating key sectors of the economy and instituting, in Carter’s own words, “austerity” in government while corporations were exporting jobs, busting unions and devastating communities.

And Schoen, who has been paid handsomely as a lobbyist to several large corporations (something The New York Times did not point out), would erase from our awareness President Clinton’s sabotage of labor and environmental movements as he pushed the GOP’s pro-corporate North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through Congress, and then proceeded — after declaring “the era of big government is over” in his 1996 State of the Union Address — to encourage ever greater corporate concentration of ownership in telecommunications; inflict “mass incarceration” on individuals (mostly poor) and communities (mostly black); end “welfare as we know it” at the expense of families who needed it, and — egged on by right-wing Republican senators and Wall Street Democrats whom he had named to run economy policy — killed the New Deal law prohibiting commercial banks from speculating with depositors’ money for risky bank activities, thus putting America on the road to the Great Recession of 2009.

Shoen knows damn well that if we do remember the history that really happened … we might well stop fearing. We might in fact start remembering that we are descended from revolutionaries, radicals, socialists, progressives, populists, labor unionists, feminists and civil rights and environmental activists who made America truly great.

Most critically, Schoen wants us to forget the democratic roots and achievements of what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “the long Age of Roosevelt.” He utterly effaces from the Democratic story the historic and history-making “center-left coalition” that FDR and the New Dealers built — the coalition of tough-minded liberals and progressives, backed by working people in all their diversity, which regulated ruthless capitalism, taxed the rich (who nonetheless still seemed to be living high on the hog), rebuilt the nation’s infrastructure, improved the environment, created social security, empowered labor, rescued and supported farmers, fueled consumer movements and enlarged the “We” in “We the People.”

Here, again, Schoen suffers his own memory loss — of how this coalition led America in the fight against fascism, expanded democracy at home, enacted the GI Bill and launched a postwar economic boom that not only made the nation richer and stronger, but reduced inequality. Then came legislation for civil rights and voting rights, immigration reform, Medicare and Medicaid, environmental protections and laws to make both the workplace and marketplace healthier.

Schoen would have us forget both how Democrats once upon a time won national and state elections not by deferring to the demands of corporations but by challenging the power of predatory money, enhancing the rights and benefits of working people and directly addressing inequality and poverty. He obviously would not have anyone read Listen, Liberal, by Thomas Frank, who described how neoliberal Democrats turned the Party of the People into the Party of Financial and Professional Elites — the 1 Percent.

I’ll wager Schoen actually knows those histories. And yet he wants us to forget them. Why? Because he knows damn well that if we do remember the history that really happened, not the past he is conjuring up, we might well stop fearing. We might in fact start remembering that we are descended from revolutionaries, radicals, socialists, progressives, populists, labor unionists, feminists and civil rights and environmental activists who made America truly great by refusing to bow to the powerful and wealthy and instead fighting to extend and deepen freedom, equality and democracy. The poet Carl Sandburg spoke lyrically of that possibility 100 years ago: When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer forget…

Schoen, who spends a lot of time on Fox News as a commentator, appears to be doing the work of Fox & Friends, of conservatives and neoliberals, and that cabal of fixers, white-shoe lawyers and the political strategists and moneyed crowd of Washington that accelerated America’s race to the financial debacles of 2007-09.

Are we to make the Democratic Party all the more the Party of Wall Street? Sure – and follow this pied piper right to oblivion?

So, dear reader, my recommendation is to celebrate Halloween by getting yourself a Douglas Schoen mask, knocking on neighborhood doors and handing out this homemade sign to anyone who answers: “‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Don’t forget!!

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