Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Robert Reich Shows How Democratic Leadership Remains Oblivious to the Anger of Americans

In the article linked below, Robert Reich calls on the Democratic leadership to wake up already, and take a look at what's happening. He blasts them for going right back to catering to moneyed interests. Those with potentially big funds to donate were granted all manner of special privileges, including time in the Clinton family box, and other prominent Democrats in the posh surroundings of the best that Philadelphia had to offer were virtually rubbing their hands together and overheard discussing the potential of all the money that can now be brought in through fund raisers. Still others were overheard discussing the opportunities at possibly joining privileged and highly profitable corporate boards.

Frankly, it sometimes appears to me that the elites controlling the Democratic party are the only one who did not learn any lessons from this election season.

Let's take a look:

On the Republican side, the anti-establishment candidate who claimed that he could not be bought or corrupted swept to a convincing victory.

And on the Democratic side, the anti-establishment campaign managed to obtain some huge sums of money from ordinary people, all through small donations, and it really rocked Hilary Clinton, probably more than she or her mainstream supporters within the party are willing to admit. He started off with a measly 3% support, but remained on message about a system that had taken over the country, and which favored the wealthiest at the expense of the vast majority of Americans, who were forced to foot the bill for all of these privileges.

This message clearly resonated with people, especially since, as a Democrat, he was campaigning to people who have a history of fighting against social ills. His campaign grew and grew, and he became a very formidable challenge to the heavily favored favorite daughter of the Democrats, Hillary Clinton. He began to win states, and for a while, he had a pretty solid winning streak against her, takin gone state after another, and keeping her from her anointed nomination for a surprisingly long time.

Yet, the Democrats learned nothing, as Reich's piece perfectly illustrates. They still are looking to get access to the most privileges classes, rather than fighting against their excesses and restoring some semblance of balance and economic fairness within the country. Frankly, I do not believe that Hillary Clinton even has the imagination to find some way to go about doing that in any real sense and, still worse, it is hard to believe that she cares enough to try. And the elites within the Democratic party who so staunchly support her cannot be trusted to hold her feet to the fire to make sure things get done, either. That means four more years of the status quo, basically.

Instead of taking Bernie and his masses of supporters seriously, the elites within the party, who really are so "moderate" as to basically qualify as Republicans, have already put all of that behind them. They will ignore the anger that the American people clearly have displayed during this election, and they will assume that Hillary will be just like her husband Bill, that times for the country will be as good as they were in the 1990's (and really, were they actually that good?), and that her approval ratings while in the White House will be fairly strong, despite so much cynicism and distrust from so many voters. After all, Bill Clinton sure had a lot of critics and haters while in office, as well, didn't he?

Hillary is different than Bill Clinton, and these times are radically different than the 1990's. People apparently have the same ability (or is it meagerness?) that allows politicians like the Clintons to get away with one massive scandal after another. However, Hillary does not have quite the charm and charisma that her husband had, and she will not be able to talk herself out of low approval ratings. Her apparent inability to understand that the anger towards corrupt political insiders just like her (and she really is the poster child for these entitled souls in the popular imagination at the moment) will get her in trouble. Moves like adding Wasserman-Schultz onto her campaign almost as soon as she was forced to resign from the Democratic leadership because of her role in wrongdoing is the kind of exempt attitude that Americans are truly fed up with, and Clinton cannot rely on having yet another clownish opponent in the next election. Finally, people liked her husband's presidency because times were different, and the United States seemed to own a more privileged position in the world. Remember, that world was pre-9/11. The Cold War had just ended, and many Americans felt overly self-satisfied about the results, which were perceived as an American victory. Russia seemed to be weak, and the country stood alone as the world's only superpower.

Things are very different now. China recently surpassed the American economy in terms of how much money it generates in transactions (but not in GDP - at least not yet). Russia has risen from the ashes, and seems to be rising in power and influence again and, not surprisingly, tensions between the two countries are on the rise. Once again, Russia seems to be a serious rival. And, of course, there is the never ending war on terrorism. Recent terrorist attacks in Europe and in the United States have shown that this appears to be more and more common these days. Plus, the Brexit vote that shook up the world just weeks ago will continue to play out over the next few years.

And that is just looking at foreign policy!

On the domestic front, the economic recovery is still quite sluggish, and the supposedly big numbers that President Obama has been bragging about have hardly been felt by a majority of Americans, who feel that this recovery is very fragile, to say the least! People have clearly grown sick and tired of the same old processed and recited answers by politicians, and they have grown tired of their plastic smiles. A guy like Marco Rubio would have been a dream candidate in elections past, but his inflexible, overly perfect style proved to be a big liability this time around. There is an increased sense of insecurity because of all of those terrorist attacks, particularly the San Bernardino and Orlando attacks, although the memory of the Boston Marathon bombings are still quite fresh. Plus, there is the general discontent - actually, anger is probably the stronger and more appropriate word - about the growing income gap, and the sense that prominent corporate and political leaders are actively helping this gap grow wider and wide.

That last thing is probably what Democrats should be paying attention to most because, quite frankly, they have lost touch. I remember how, in the 1980's and very early 1990's, the news kept reporting that Democrats were tired of always losing, and that younger people were quicker to associate with Republicans since, at the time, they were always winning. Some even speculated that they might sink under 25% support, and lose their status as one of the two major parties. But then Clinton won the election, and won reelection four years later, and all of that was quickly forgotten. Democrats began to win more often, although the Republicans still managed successes of their own. Clinton, however, had perhaps saved the party from the brink, and so I believe that many Democrats still feel that they owe the Clintons their appreciation, and will bend over backwards to show their appreciation. After all, in many respects, Bill Clinton was the Democrat's answer to Ronald Reagan.

The thing is, just like with the conservatives infatuation with Ronald Reagan, and overlooking some of the less than savory aspects about Reagan (such as the tendency towards favoring corporations at the expense of the regular American folks), liberals infatuated with Bill Clinton tended to overlook some of the less savory aspect about him and his presidency (such as the same tendency towards favoring corporations at the expense of regular American folks).

Yes, if the so-called "Reagan revolution" brought in a new age of elitism and corporate supremacy in America, and the Bush years continued on this course, then the Clinton years refined and perhaps even perfected this new elitism, extending an olive branch to political correctness and the appearance of some form of progressiveness. It certainly was not progressive - frankly, the more I think of those years, the less progressive Bill Clinton looks - but it was successful, and Democrats and liberals seemed to enjoy this supposed repudiation of Reaganism.

But elitism was what prevailed. Policies increasingly did harm to the poor and to middle classes. NAFTA favored corporations and hurt workers. he set up the system of big banks that have proven so detrimental to average people, and allowed top CEO's and elites in the corporate world to get away with making a habit of sealing from the masses. The crime bill and prison reform set up the now infamous and failing for profit prison system that has allowed "the land of the free" to have far more people behind bars than any other nation on Earth. His environmental record lacked both spine and substance. In short, the Clinton presidency that many Democrats viewed as a victory seemed to resemble a conservative, even Republican (some referred to it as "Republican light") presidency, rather than what was traditionally known as Democratic party priorities.

Now, after eight years of a similar kind of president under Obama, Democrats want still more. They want to be known as winners, want to support somebody who, they feel, can continue their winning streak. And wouldn't you know it? It's another Clinton. Hillary, this time. And much like her husband, she wants to be all things to all people. She poses as a real progressive, but her policies and overall approach seem to suggest other priorities. Many self-proclaimed liberals and mainstream Democrats love the idea of winning a third straight term in the White House, and the elites within the party, as well as those funding the party from the outside, are obviously loving it, as well. So used to winning have they become, that they cannot imagine a system where they do not systematically skim as much as possible from the masses in order to line their own pockets.

Not all that long ago, frustrated Democrats watched in horror as Reagan electrified his conservative base with an approach to politics that seemed both friendly and tough, and which lightly mocked opposition. It was a tough formula to beat, and Reagan's popularity was astronomical. People just liked him, and they forgave him for everything. He fired the airline strikers. Nobody cared. He popularized "deregulation" and gave more power to the rich and elite corporations and banks. Everybody believed his arguments equating this to freedom. He sold weapons to Iran in order to illegally fund a war in Nicaragua. Everybody forgave him, or looked the other way. Nothing could stop this guy, no stain could stick. Despite policies that were actively doing harm to the country, many people still view him as the ideal leader. Democrats railed against him at the time, and tried to urge the American people to wake up and realize what was happening. The changes were slow, however, and it seemed like the economy of the country truly was booming. So, benefits and salaries were growing stagnant. Surely, many people were asking too much, anyway. It was time to cut down on the excess, right?

Fast forward to the Clinton years. Much of the same, although Clinton was able to disguise this with a soto voce approach. He sounded like the ultimate sensitive guy. He was from the middle class himself, and so surely, he represented something. Besides, he reminded us that he believed in a place called Hope, which I believe is one of the best closings of any political speech that I have ever heard. Clinton was an overly polished politician with a team of advisers making sure every hair on his head was in place, and every word in his speeches were weighed carefully. I guess you need a team of advisers when you are president, these days, since it is a big business!

But what it is not is good for the average citizen. Some like the idea that Donald Trump, if elected, could run this country like a business. In truth, however, this is more likely to be the case under Clinton. After all, she has her powerful friends and connections, and has never allowed the conflict of interest of personal profit to stand in her way before.

And the Democrats have simply gotten way too comfortable with this trend. Eventually, it just might cost them.

Earth to Democratic Leadership: Americans Are Angry as Hell About Big Money Corrupting Our Democracy By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Facebook Page 30 July 16:

No comments:

Post a Comment