RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

writing for godot

Why Professional Democrats Don't Know How To Fight

Written by Carl Peterson   
Wednesday, 09 October 2019 00:37

“Well I don’t know.  That’s what they offered.”

Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential campaign, explaining why in 2013 she accepted $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for three behind-closed-doors speeches to mostly Goldman Sachs executives.

At least Clinton was not lying, which in context of the year-round, nation-wide blizzard of lies we now endure, is worth something.  But...somehow she interpreted Anderson Cooper’s question, “But did you have to be paid $675,000?” to mean, “How exactly was the figure $675,000 determined?”  The question was meant to probe why Clinton was taking such large bundles of cash from a bank implicated in the financial crisis of 2007-2008, and the so-called Great Recession of 2008-?; a bank that was bailed out by taxpayers; a bank that for its misdeeds paid a wrist-slapping $550M to settle a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission; a bank that unlike ordinary Americans came out richer than ever from the financial crisis it helped to create.  

No, Clinton was not lying, but expressing that inopportune, bizarre cluelessness that has partly characterized her long political career.  Of course, some heard in the words, That’s what they offered, the humble supplicant’s acceptance of whatever terms the Master offers, and that is not what they wanted in the presidential candidate of the party that claimed to represent the interests of regular Americans (a party that, however, never publicly discussed its subservient relationship to the wealthy interests rumored to own not only both major political parties, but the country itself.)  Could a presidential candidate who in that context uttered the words, That’s what they offered, possibly fight the good fight on behalf of regular Americans?  The answer--nearly four decades after Professional Democrats tacitly surrendered to the Reagan phenomenon--their loss of vitality suddenly apparent in that moment--remains, unequivocally, NO!

After losing presidential elections in 1980, 1984 and 1988, the Democratic party (DP) allowed Bill Clinton to draw up terms of this surrender, terms that for a long time infuriated Professional Republicans because it allowed Clinton to move in on territory they believed belonged rightfully only to themselves [The impeachment of Clinton was probably the only answer to this outrage they could think of.]: The terms of surrender were called triangulation, or The Third Way, which in practice meant that Bill Clinton would secretly court wealthy interests antagonistic to the interests of his own voters, and co-opt certain Republican policies, which he believed would please parts of the Republican electorate sufficiently to result in electoral success for himself, and through political prestidigitation, finesse the Democratic electorate into not noticing that he had sold them out.  Clinton was good at that.  For their part, Democratic voters were not good at paying attention.

By the time Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996, The Third Way had proved itself to Professional Democrats; The Way was absorbed into the institution of the DP.  Once institutionalized, The Third Way, or the way of the New Democrats, came to mean that not only had the Party voluntarily moved rightward without notifying Democratic voters, but it assiduously hid from its own voters the full truth about the terms of its surrender to the Republican party (RP).

Bill Clinton, like all New Democrats since (which includes every Democratic presidential candidate since), does not have a well-developed historical sense, unlike Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ), who foresaw and lamented that passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would give the South to Republicans “for a long time to come.”  In the case of the DP, its institutionalization of Bill Clinton’s terms of surrender to the RP has prevented it from fighting vigorously on behalf of its claimed constituency: the American people.  In Bill Clinton’s case, if he had LBJ’s historical sense, he would have observed as he drew up the terms of the DP’s surrender that he was handing America over to plutocrats “for a long time to come.”  It has been almost 40 years since PDs surrendered without a fight to the Reagan phenomenon, and 27 years since Bill Clinton introduced The Third Way.  Not coincidentally, the status of the American people--by multiple empirical markers of well-being--has been in uninterrupted decline for 40 years.

If You Have Surrendered You Cannot Fight        

Part of the surrender deal was that wealthy vested interests (plutocracy) would hold no prejudices against the DP when it came to campaign donations, while the DP would continue to maintain silence about the plutocracy’s true role in American governance, of which, of course, it was very well aware.  This further meant that the DP could not criticize the RP for being in the pocket of the plutocracy, because by the terms of surrender both parties were equally in the pocket, free within limits to squirm against each other over issues that did not readily implicate the plutocracy, but while the modern RP had never criticized the harmful effects of disproportionate wealth on the American democracy, [That would be heresy] once upon a time, in an earlier era when like today a plutocracy was making its move to assume full rulership in America, Democrats under FDR had fought, openly and relatively freely, and had done it in some cases with vigor and elan.  You might say, correctly, that the wealthy have always had a disproportionate effect on the American democracy,  but the problem since Reagan has become worse year by year by degrees, and there comes a point when the difference in degree becomes a difference in kind.  That point came with the institutionalization of The Third Way in the early 90s.  From that point on, there was no role for any Professional Democrat as a vigorous public fighter on behalf of ordinary Americans.  From that point on there were many more things a Professional Democrat could not say in public since that transformation in kind meant that the DP had been fully absorbed, like the RP long before, into a secret game excluding the American people and that promised never to present a threat to the plutocracy.

Now, after nearly three decades of The Third Way, Professional Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, Steny Hoyer, Chuck Shumer and many others who were weaned as New Democrats have no idea about how to actually fight with feeling, to mix it up in the interest of achieving what they claim to believe in, to be, as Hubert Humphrey was once upon a time dubbed, a Happy Warrior.  In their defense, Pelosi, Shumer, et al. have been doing this for so long that they are possibly not even fully aware that their party sold out regular Americans a long time ago. That is knowledge they would repress.  But they know that New Democrats are supposed to behave a certain way, and it makes them uncomfortable when some of the younger Democrats in Congress do not appear to understand that they are to behave in public according to the terms of Bill Clinton’s surrender.   

Notably, Speaker Pelosi has seemed to be less comfortable with the “the Squad”: Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley than she is with her presumed main antagonist, the president.  Despite the array of inadmirable features our president brings to the table: the lying, self-absorption, infantilism, bigotry, hatefulness, absence of normal human emotional response, ignorance, idiocy, etc., these are traits that Pelosi has surely seen time and again in her political career, only in this president the agglomeration of repugnant qualities has been amplified by mental illness to shatter every fun house mirror.  Partly because Pelosi thinks the president is at worst a caricature of people she has dealt successfully with before, she has not seen him as the serious threat to America that he is.  Toned down versions of the president are everywhere in the two worlds she inhabits: politics in her professional life and extreme wealth in her private life; many such mini-Trumps have no doubt been successfully integrated into the secret con game involving both parties and the plutocracy.  But the Squad represents something that in Pelosi’s opinion is more dangerous, not more dangerous because the Squad is a direct threat to the American democracy as the president is, but because Pelosi reflexively feels that the Squad represents the danger that the American people will in large numbers begin to break into the political space occupied by Bill Clinton’s Third Way.  The institution of the DP that was formed by Clinton’s surrender is her identity, it is her success; it is who she is, and the same goes for the other senior Democrats in Congress who almost 30 years ago cut their teeth as New Democrats.  They don’t know anything else.  None of them knows how to take the gloves off and fight skillfully and joyfully.  But worse, they want to enforce strict limits on how other, younger and more vigorous Professional Democrats fight.  They want to maintain the terms of Bill Clinton’s surrender.  

The game that these old New Democrats want to protect at all costs is coming apart anyway, and the threat is not coming from the Squad.  Elizabeth Warren, definitely not a New Democrat, and Bernie Sanders, definitely never a New Democrat, both who know how to fight with feeling,  have in so many words been calling bullshit on the secret con game hiding in plain sight and involving both parties and the plutocracy.  According to recent reports, some Wall Street plutocrats claiming to be Democrats have been threatening to throw their donations to Trump should Warren win the Democratic nomination.  That is the clearest plutocratic announcement yet of the true nature of the game begun by Bill Clinton 27 years ago.  It is also a clear sign that Warren and Sanders are on the right track.     your social media marketing partner
Email This Page


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.