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Galindez writes: "The time has come to stop trying to be more like the Republicans to compete for corporate cash. It's time to be Democrats again and represent the people. As Bernie Sanders is showing, the people will reward the party that represents them."

Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: John G. Mabanglo/EPA)
Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: John G. Mabanglo/EPA)

Bernie Is Pointing to a "New Way" - Well, the "Old Way"

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

11 May 16


“In politics, the Third Way is a position akin to centrism that tries to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. The Third Way was created as a serious re-evaluation of political policies within various centre-left progressive movements in response to international doubt regarding the economic viability of the state; economic interventionist policies that had previously been popularized by Keynesianism and contrasted with the corresponding rise of popularity for economic liberalism and the New Right. The Third Way is promoted by some social democratic and social liberal movements.” – Wikipedia

s this the last gasp of a dying political philosophy? Will the “Third Way” ushered in by Bill Clinton end with Hillary Clinton? I do not see a Third Way candidate emerging as the leader of the Democratic Party again. I believe the centrist movement will die with the end of the Clinton machine. Let’s look back at the history of the Democratic Leadership Conference, the architects of the “Third Way” in America.

It was 1985, and Walter Mondale had just lost to Ronald Reagan. Many Democrats were pointing to Jimmy Carter as the only Democratic candidate who had won the White House since LBJ. They were looking for a way to nominate a moderate Southerner instead of Northern liberal. We will focus on the US, but the “Third Way” movement had already swept through Europe, with politicians like Tony Blair in the UK and Gerhardt Schroeder in Germany. The idea was that they could be socially liberal while being fiscally conservative.

The first attempt for the DLC was the 1988 Presidential election. It was the first “Super Tuesday.” A bunch of Southern states – Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia – came together and held their primaries on the same day, with the goal of nominating a Southern moderate. Jessie Jackson spoiled their plan and had the best day. The results did nothing to boost the prospects of their rising star, Tennessee senator Al Gore.

The centrist movement did not surrender; they instead recruited another Southern rising star, the governor of Arkansas, William Jefferson Clinton.

The DLC wasn’t the beginning of the move to the right by the Democrats. After Ronald Reagan clobbered the Democrats in 1980, a young congressman from California named Tony Coelho took over the DCCC. His philosophy was that the party needed to compete for corporate money. What he told the corporations was that as long as Democrats controlled the House they (corporations) were going to have to deal with us. The logic was that it was cheaper to influence the incumbent Democrats than to fund challengers in districts that were safe for Democrats. Coelho was successful, he convinced Tip O’Neill to hire Chris Matthews, and the rebranding of the Democratic Party began. It was the end of the days when the Democrats were the party of working people. They were now the party that was competing with the Republicans for corporate cash. That cash of course came with strings, and big business got the results they were looking for. Here are just a few things the DLC and corporate cash brought to the billionaire class.

  1. NAFTA and other trade deals. In the 1970s, if unions opposed legislation, the chances of getting support from the Democrats were slim. Of course there were the Dixiecrats, but with the DLC and the new source of cash many Democrats, including President Bill Clinton, sided with big business and ignored labor’s opposition to NAFTA.

  2. Welfare Reform. The New Deal, the war on poverty, had become the war on the poor. Despite strong opposition from labor and other traditional constituencies of the Democratic Party, the Clintons and a Democratic Party-led House of Representatives forced millions of people into deeper poverty. The Clintons have championed welfare reform for over 20 years, despite study after study showing that it has severely harmed poor families and driven a historic number of black and Latino children into deep poverty. In the early 1990s, they designed a strategy to lure white voters back to the Democratic Party: capitalize on white disgust toward “dependent” black and Latina mothers on welfare. It wouldn’t have passed in the ’70s.

  3. Crime Bill. Okay, Bernie voted for this too. But would it have passed through a traditional Democratic Party-controlled House with opposition from the Black Caucus? The mandatory minimum sentences and other measures have led to a country that leads the world in incarceration. There were some good portions of this bill. Those portions would have gone forward in a progressive Congress without the bad parts that were there at the request of the “new Democrats,” who again were exploiting white middle class fear of black criminals. The Clinton-led centrist Democrats were reaching out to the same electorate that Donald Trump is reaching out to in 2016.

  4. Deregulation. This may have been the biggest win for big business. Deregulation of the banks plus the telecommunication and agriculture sectors of the economy benefited the billionaire class at the expense of consumers. The Democratic Party was no longer looking out for the interests of the little guy. They became one of two parties that were in the pockets of the one percent. Deregulation of the banks has created a banking industry that is now too big to fail. The question is if the Democrats hadn’t moved to the center to do the bidding of the one percent, where would the country be today?

Bernie Sanders is not proposing anything new. Bernie is trying to bring the Democratic Party back to its roots: The party of FDR and the New Deal, the party of LBJ and the war on poverty. Of course there were flaws. Dixiecrats, Hawks, Blue Dogs were there. It wasn’t a perfect party. But Labor, feminist, civil rights, environmental, and peace groups had a much larger influence than they do today It’s time to end the “Third Way” and move back to the old way. This time we can let the bigots take the hawks with them. The Dixiecrats have already left.

As Harry Truman once said: “Given a choice between a fake Republican and a real one, the public will choose ... the real Republican every time.”

The time has come to stop trying to be more like the Republicans to compete for corporate cash. It’s time to be Democrats again and represent the people. As Bernie Sanders is showing, the people will reward the party that represents them.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner
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