Reich: 7 Hard Truths for Democrats—The Future Is Bleak Without Radical Reforms

Lambert here: Reich sets requirements for the inside part of the inside/outside strategy, described here (and here). Personally, I don’t think Democrats are “squabbling,” at all, since liberals (Clintonites) and the left (Berniecrats) are not “on the same side,” as Thomas Frank teaches us. They’re on different sides! The question is whether the Democrats will reinforce failure by leaving the liberals who produced a debacle in power. The Iron Law of Institutions suggests that they will; on the other hand, political parties in extremis have displayed adaptability in the past. Though the dramatic situation may be seen to vary, I’m reminded of a translation of Catullus 76 that I can’t find online: “You must do it, Catullus. You must do it whether it can be done or not.” Oh, and voter registration is key, as Reich suggests in his final sentence, and is a fine litmus test for DNC leadership.

By Robert B. Reich, who has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Originally published at Alternet.

The ongoing contest between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wings of the Democratic Party continues to divide Democrats. It’s urgent Democrats stop squabbling and recognize seven basic truths:

1. The Party is on life support. Democrats are in the minority in both the House and Senate, with no end in sight. Since the start of the Obama Administration they’ve lost 1,034 state and federal seats. They hold only governorships, and face 32 state legislatures fully under GOP control. No one speaks for the party as a whole. The Party’s top leaders are aging, and the back bench is thin.

The future is bleak unless the Party radically reforms itself. If Republicans do well in the 2018 midterms, they’ll control Congress and the Supreme Court for years. If they continue to hold most statehouses, they could entrench themselves for a generation.

2. We are now in a populist era. The strongest and most powerful force in American politics is a rejection of the status quo, a repudiation of politics as usual, and a deep and profound distrust of elites, including the current power structure of America.

That force propelled Donald Trump into the White House. He represents the authoritarian side of populism. Bernie Sanders’s primary campaign represented the progressive side.

The question hovering over America’s future is which form of populism will ultimately prevail. At some point, hopefully, Trump voters will discover they’ve been hoodwinked. Even in its purist form, authoritarian populism doesn’t work because it destroys democracy. Democrats must offer the alternative.

3. The economy is not working for most Americans. The economic data show lower unemployment and higher wages than eight years ago, but the typical family is still poorer today than it was in 2000, adjusted for inflation; median weekly earning are no higher than in 2000; a large number of working-age people—mostly men—have dropped out of the labor force altogether; and job insecurity is endemic.

Inequality is wider and its consequences more savage in America than in any other advanced nation.

4. The Party’s moneyed establishment—big donors, major lobbyists, retired members of Congress who have become bundlers and lobbyists—are part of the problem. Even though many consider themselves “liberal” and don’t recoil from an active government, their preferred remedies spare corporations and the wealthiest from making any sacrifices.

The moneyed interests in the Party allowed the deregulation of Wall Street and then encouraged the bailout of the Street. They’re barely concerned about the growth of tax havens, inside trading, increasing market power in major industries (pharmaceuticals, telecom, airlines, private health insurers, food processors, finance, even high tech), and widening inequality.

Meanwhile, they’ve allowed labor unions to shrink to near irrelevance. Unionized workers used to be the ground troops of the Democratic Party. In the 1950s, more than a third of all private-sector workers were unionized; today, fewer than 7 percent are.

5. It’s not enough for Democrats to be “against Trump,” and defend the status quo. Democrats have to fight like hell against regressive policies Trump wants to put in place, but Democrats also need to fight for a bold vision of what the nation must achieve—like expanding Social Security, and financing the expansion by raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes; Medicare for all; and world-class free public education for all.

And Democrats must diligently seek to establish countervailing power—stronger trade unions, community banks, more incentives for employee ownership and small businesses, and electoral reforms that get big money out of politics and expand the right to vote.

6. The life of the Party—its enthusiasm, passion, youth, principles, and ideals—was elicited by Bernie Sanders’s campaign. This isn’t to denigrate what Hillary Clinton accomplished—she did, after all, win the popular vote in the presidential election by almost 3 million people. It’s only to recognize what all of us witnessed: the huge outpouring of excitement that Bernie’s campaign inspired, especially from the young. This is the future of the Democratic Party.

7. The Party must change from being a giant fundraising machine to a movement.It needs to unite the poor, working class, and middle class, black and white—who haven’t had a raise in 30 years, and who feel angry, powerless, and disenfranchised.

If the Party doesn’t understand these seven truths and fails to do what’s needed, a third party will emerge to fill the void.

Third parties usually fail because they tend to draw votes away from the dominant party closest to them, ideologically. But if the Democratic Party creates a large enough void, a third party won’t draw away votes. It will pull people into politics.

And drawing more people into politics is the only hope going forward.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. EndOfTheWorld

    “If the party doesn’t understand these seven truths…….a third party will emerge to fill the void.” That’s what will happen, since the so-called “leaders” of the Democratic Party are not going to admit all that stuff, no matter how true it is. They’re not very smart.

    1. Carolinian

      Yes it’s hard to believe any of this will happen as even now the Dems are circling the wagons with “The Resistance.” Also is Sanders even a Democrat? Didn’t he go back to being an independent after the convention?

      And just a thought on “authoritarian.” Our greatest progressive president–Roosevelt–was accused by many at the time of being authoritarian with moves like packing the court. As pointed out yesterday he even created internment camps for Japanese-Americans which would horrify progressives today. It’s unfortunate that one must have power–that thing which corrupts–in order to accomplish anything in government so perhaps what ultimately matters is the character of the person wielding that power. Given that it’s now the Donald that may seem bleak–remains to be seen–but Reich’s distinction between the “good” populists and the the authoritarian ones is a bit artificial and simplistic.

      The Repubs have something at stake–their money–in every election and recognize that getting, or suppressing, votes is the key. Perhaps Lambert is right that what really matters is simply getting more people to vote.

      1. Richard Burt

        “Reich’s distinction between the “good” populists and the the authoritarian ones is a bit artificial and simplistic.” That inputting it mildly. But FDR had a Socialist Party to his Left. And he was elected four times in a row. It wasn’t until Reagan that FDR’s progressive programs and tax rates began to be dismantled.

        1. Brad

          Actually the FDR democrats had the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) to its left in the 30’s. The Socialist Party of America experienced an electoral collapse in 1836, as its voters naturally left this reform party for the reform program of the FDR Democrats. Indeed the Socialist Party split into a right and left wing. The right was represented by the Social Democratic Federation, comprised of the pro-war socialists who had split the old Debs party in WW1 and in reaction to the Russian Revolution, and in the Cold War formed the most fanatically anticommunist and pro-Vietnam War wing of socialism, from which Michael Harrington broke from, forming the present day Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

          Both left and right social democrats refused to constitute themselves as “parties”, the mark of envelopment entirely within the state-party Democrats. The Norman Thomas semi-pacifist rump of the Socialist Party followed in the 1950’s with self-dissolution. And why not, when the CPUSA essentially did the same from the mid-30’s onward all thorough WW2 under the “democratic front”, an Americanized form of the Comintern “popular front” with liberal capitalists, even dissolving itself as a party in 1944. However subordinated, the CPUSA provided the vital foot-soldiers for the mass industrial unionization drives in especially the auto and steel industries under the aegis of John Lewis and the CIO, and stood for “labor peace” during the War. But despite a formal ban on strikes, the WW2 period constituted the greatest concentration of industrial strikes in US history. But no socialists were available to lead these, they were either pro-FDR or in prison.

          That provided, temporarily, a social basis for the FDR liberals to act against the interests of their own class of the time. It was rather a latter-day American industrial version of the English Commonwealth of the 1650’s Interregnum, a reform liberal commercial oligarchy with FDR as Cromwell. IT IS A NON-REPEATABLE EVENT. The CPUSA was done in by Stalin and Khrushchev, just as later their Maoist progeny (Progressive Labor Party, etc) were done in when China took the capitalist road, and by the sterling example of the Khmer Rouge (backed by the same capitalist-roading China).

          The only socialists outside the Democrat fold were the anarcho-communists and Trotskyists, the “Levellers and Separatists” of that time. But they failed to break out of the post-New Deal political framework of the Democrats in the New Left period of the 60’s and 70’s, mainly because they did not understand the real material social conditions of the American Postwar, very different ones from the past. Now the Left has returned to where they left off with George McGovern in the 70’s when they all re-entered the Democrat fold. How’d that work out? should be the very first question.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        “Didn’t he go back to being an independent after the convention?”

        Yes he did (very quietly) and he really should start reminding people of that. He kept his word and fulfilled his promises to help Clinton but that ended with the election.

        And what does he get in return? Turncoat Dems making sure we all get to continue to pay more money for prescription drugs right out of the gate. If the Dems are going to continue to thwart the people’s agenda as they did with his prescription drug amendment, he needs to take the kid gloves off.

        1. Procopius

          “Turncoat Dems???” Corey Booker is one of the most likely to be the nominee in 2020! This is who the Democratic Party is. I think Bernie is just being realistic. He doesn’t have the connections inside the Party to be able to help with what needs to be done now. Given the Iron Law of Institutions, I am not optimistic about the future of this party.

      3. Will Bill

        “Also is Sanders even a Democrat? Didn’t he go back to being an independent after the convention?”

        So what if he did? Far more important are his ideals, his values, and his vision. They are right in line with the Democratic Party – of 1933, which is where today’s corporate party needs to return to get back in power and steer this country in a better direction.

        1. Anne Bailey

          Bernie don’t play in much of the South. I can’t sell him to the voters in my rural Virginia county, which includes a working-class suburb of Lynchburg. An aging hippy here or there might be turned on to him, but most folks would run screaming in the other direction.

            1. Brad

              I think so to. We got to get away form the liberal propaganda that says that the working class dispersed in suburbs, or in cities lodged in rural regions, are somehow “culturally unreachable”. BS divide and conquer. This includes the working class suburbs of major metro areas where the same basic problem exists. So it’s not just a problem of “country” vs “city”. It is a problem of “progressives” refusing to organize outside the urban core dominated by the liberal middle class urban gentry.

              1. Knute Rife

                Divide and conquer in one direction, and divide and control in the other. “You are all isolated and alone, and we’re the only ones who can protect you.” That’s what DLC/DNC identity politics has been about all along.

          1. sleepy

            Sanders carried the caucuses in most of rural and semi-rural Iowa. Clinton won in the larger cities–that and the five coin flips. Imho, Sanders would have carried the state in the general election.

            Rural Iowa is of course a different place politically than rural Virginia or the South in general, But having said that, both areas are culturally and socially conservative in some respects. So if Sanders can make inroads here, I think it’s at least possible that he could gain rural southerners with a populist agenda.

      4. Lord Koos

        Just to clarify — most people who vote Republican are mostly assuredly not wealthy. Republican politicians and donors are another story.

    2. Dirk77

      If anyone has ever lived in DC, you realize that being well educated doesn’t make you intelligent, and being intelligent doesn’t make you wise. That said, if in your life you’ve had success in doing some particular thing, it’s hard to change when it no longer works. Even Einstein, smart guy that he was, was an example of that.

      If the problems of the party go as deep as Reich says, it would be far more effective for the dems to just fire everyone at the top of their organization and replace them with random people they meet on the street.

    3. collins

      Precisely; Donald Trump was – and is- the Third Party candidate. That’s why the Republican establishment tried to destroy him. His ability to break into the GOP through the back door belies the media Imbroglio about his “inexperience”.
      But love him or hate him – or more prudently, reserve judgment for 4 years – he IS the Third Party candidate. I don’t understand why so many academics don’t get that. Around 3-4 yrs ago David Brooks warned that the landscape was ripe for a successful 3rd party prez, but he thought it would be a Tech billionaire.
      Which was faulty – Silicon Valley had the Democratic establishment already safely tucked away in the Cloud.

      1. Em Tee

        Bernie was the other third party candidate. The difference is that the press could not get a hold on Trump, was transfixed by Trump, his ‘trumping’-by-tweeting, and the constant coverage he was able to garner.
        On the other hand, the press purposefully shunned and shut the door on Bernie, on his wax from no-percent support to the groundswell in May and June. Remember the empty podium coverage waiting on Trump, and the no coverage of Bernie’s barn-burning speech in June. The press was supporting-at any cost- Hillary and the main-line Dem. system. And it WAS rigged.
        In Canada, they simply re-branded, to the NDP… the New Democratic Party.
        Personally I revile two party politics, and I think both parties ignore the new populism, and the rejection of party politics, at their peril.
        Perhaps the reason Occupy progressive populism, and the Democrats are foundering is their fundamental tolerance– they simply can’t hold their noses anymore to tow the party line at the obvious expense of those who are still being left out and marginalized. The main stream democratic party aids and abets at keeping the status quo going.
        Bernie said it best at the hearing the other day: we are NOT a compassionate country.

        1. sid_finster

          Trump and Bernie were the third party candidates. Bernie was in many ways the preferable of the two, but he was eliminated because he insisted on playing nice and not going for the jugular.

          1. Mel

            I don’t know. I was forced to watch the Republican convention, and I’ve got the impression that Trump won because the Republicans still believed in voting. Strange. Only Nixon could go to China, and only the Democrat party can dispense with voters.

        2. RepubAnon

          Bernie was classified by the right-of-center media as a McGovern re-run, a dirty freaking hippie (“DFH”) in the standard blogger shorthand. Trump was an owner-class New Yorker who the media felt was both a known quantity and also good for ratings, so they gave him as much air time as they could (for profits).

          The media treats all Democrats with disdain – they trashed Hillary because they had been doing so ever since the 1990s, and they ignored Bernie because they classified him as:
          (a) a DFH (who should therefore be ignored),
          (b) someone who had only switched parties because Hillary was a weak candidate that had successfully used the Democratic Party’s structure to become the inevitable candidate, and
          (c) was running solely to promote a DFH agenda rather than as a serious candidate for the nomination.

          The media types who wanted Hillary over Bernie were slavering for the Hillary versus the Republican Congress showdown – think of the ratings! Remember, they’re essentially lazy, and recycling endless, familiar anti-Hillary screeds is easier than creating anti-Bernie memes… and Donald Trump, for all his rhetoric, comes packaged with pre-written memes.

          The folks at the top of the Democratic Party aren’t so foolish as to ignore what just happened – after all, it’s easy to see one’s errors when they’ve been carved into your forehead with a salt-encrusted dull knife soaked in lemon juice. However, the memory of McGovern’s loss to Nixon remains in their instinctual responses, too. That’s the real battle – replacing people (especially campaign consultants) that keep losing elections with folks who can win.

          One start: convince all of Hillary’s campaign consultants to work for Republicans. Remember how Cindy Davis’ campaign for governor of Texas was taken over and lost by Democratic national campaign consultants? Let’s send them over to the Republicans, where they can stop hurting our candidates and, with luck, start helping the Republicans lose elections.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            Actually Bernie would have been good for ratings too, if they just let the man pick up the phone and talk to the tv station every day. Like Trump, and unlike Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton, he actually had something to say. The corporate media has corporate masters and they liked Trump, and were scared of Bernie. Also, in the beginning nobody thought The Donald had a chance, so he had that stealth thing going.

        3. different clue

          The press were all Clintonite Sh*tobamacrat scum. They were actively collaborating with the Clintonite Sh*tobamacrat Party to advance Trump as per the Pied Piper Policy. So of COURSE the Clintonite press did billions of dollars of free propaganda and free advance work for the Clintonite’s chosen Pied Piper.

          Let’s all rub salty glass into Clinton’s wounds by reminding her that it was SHE and HER party which PICKED Trump to be their designated “pied piper” to beGIN with. Trump truly was the “her own petard” upon which Clinton found herself hoist.

          1. Felix_47

            I keep thinking as I read the complaining in the NYT about Trump…….the complaint should be about Hillary. This was her election to lose. She and her advisors hand picked the Repub candidate…..their “Pied Piper.” I think the Wikileaks taught me a lot as I read their emails. The protesting women should be protesting the arrogance of the Democratic elites that cost them the election to someone who so far appears way out in right field. Protesting against Trump? Why bother? Trump was chosen by the DNC if the emails are to be believed. Protest against the DNC?…..that should be their target.

    4. Richard Burt

      You are so right. Sad! Strange to read Reich now after having seen him interviewed at the end of Adam Curtis’s documentary The Century of the Self and making similar points. How is going to solve the problem of moneyed elites? Sanders was the third party, the anti-establishment Dem. And look what happened. Corey Booker may be 2020 nominee. Looking very bad for Dems.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Booker doesn’t have a prayer. He’s basically the Democratic version of the Republican general the GOP jack booters get hot and heavy over periodically. The nominee in 2020 probably won’t be terrible if someone tolerable runs.

        The 2008 and 2016 primaries were dominated by Hillary and Obama/Oprah’s celebrity profiles. Everyone else has to campaign and interact with people they can’t pre-screen. The nostalgia voters won’t have a set candidate and will be two years along.

        Back in 2008, I went to New Hampshire during the season, and I stood behind Holy Joe Lieberman in a line at Dunkin’ Donuts. This is what Booker will encounter on the trail: actual voters. When he is asked about prescription drugs at every stop and has every local teachers union hounding him, he will be dropped by even the media that loves losers such as the Dandy Senator from South Carolina.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Booker doesn’t have a prayer

          I’ve always liked this passage from Terry Pratchett’s Guards, Guards!

          “Corporal Nobbs,” he rasped, “why are you kicking people when they’re down?”

          “Safest way, sir,” said Nobby.

          So as long as Booker’s down….

          1. Dave

            He’s down, and should stay down, because of his vote against reimportation of American drugs at Canadian prices.
            Typical corporate whore.
            Seniors should remember him, or be reminded of him by the commentariat.

            Same thing for Biden, all student loan victims should be reminded of his obedience to the banks as the senator from corporate bank H.Q. who made it impossible to discharge student loans, even those from fraudulent schools.

          2. Brad

            Agreed. Heard Booker ‘splain himself to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!. Total jibber-jabbering prevaricator. Booker claimed the Canuck Pharma thing was just a “sense of the senate” bill, not a “real enforcement measure”. Probably true, but then why not vote for a toothless bill instead of insisting upon “safety” clauses – this from a government that has permitted the mass poisoning and killing of “its own people” with opioids in broad legal daylight – and explain it to your pharma donors later as “just empty politics” in a clearly adverse post-election situation.

            The donors aren’t that stupid, but apparently Booker is, and won’t go nowhere as a result. Compare to Obama in the Senate before he was put forward in 2007-8.

    5. John k

      Totally disagree. Most successful people are smart, this is true of dem and rep elites. You’re confused re their objectives:
      To retain power and to make a ton of money. Jesse James was asked why he robbed banks… because that’s where the money is. Duh.
      Those that have climbed to their prominent and prosperous position by serving the moneyed interests will never consider a new role of serving the people, even recognizing that some of them will lose their position in this new wave because they make so much in retirement as lobbyists and/or some overpaid do nothing position at a bank.
      Either run progressives against them or start a new party.

      1. l anselmi

        John k, Exactly what you said — “…true of dem and rep elites …re their objectives: To retain power and to make a ton of money… will never consider a new role of serving the people … because they make so much in retirement as lobbyists…”

        *Unless and until there is a major shift in money and power…

      2. Yves Smith

        Sorry, I know many successful people who are not smart. And I don’t just mean the ones who inherited money.

        Being a suckup and in the right place at the right time will do wonders.

        And like having a British accent, having social status is at least 20 attributed IQ points.

    6. BobK

      I find Reich’s 7 truth’s (his analysis) intellectually dishonest. Reich’s intellectual dishonesty stems from his inability to step outside his credentialed class echo chamber and recognize that it is the credentialed class policies of neo-conservative foreign policy and neo-liberal economic policy that have proven disastrous for the majority of Americans. Intellectuals like Reich are THE major problem for progressives because they serve up seemingly cogent arguments that only serve to distract attention from the truth of the failed world view they espouse and provide cover for the arrogant meritocracy, for which they are card carrying members. Guys like Reich are apologists for 16 years of Clinton/Obama neo-con/neo-liberal governance that abandoned 90% of American citizens.

    7. PonyBoy

      Everything that Reish says Democrats need to stand for, is exactly what Bernie stood for. Yet, Reish and every other establishment Democrat endorsed the Corporate candidate. Go figure.

    8. sgt_doom

      It is even far simpler than that:

      In Seattle recently (Washington state, USA), our newly elected corporate dem, Rep. Jayapal (replacing congressman-for-life and faux progressive, Jim McDermott, who was a co-founder of the India Caucus, to replace American workers with foreign visa replacement workers from India), publicly vowed to lower the costs of medicines – – while the day before, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murracy, both faux crats, had just voted AGAINST lowering the costs of medicines!

  2. Richard

    Clintonites can be made to service Trump administrations washrooms complete with trendy tip hats and stools-

    Look for this action from genuine American all for one, and one for all people who are clearly set apart from the Trump hand maidens that wrought present-

    Love f l o w s both pos and neg balanced centered action and can be felt in any creature emanating an eagalitarian nature quite foreign to those referrred to as Clinton ite herein

    The cherry shaman in all will point the way… look for it!!!

  3. fresno dan

    4. The Party’s moneyed establishment—big donors, major lobbyists, retired members of Congress who have become bundlers and lobbyists—are part of the problem. Even though many consider themselves “liberal” and don’t recoil from an active government, their preferred remedies spare corporations and the wealthiest from making any sacrifices.

    The moneyed interests in the Party allowed the deregulation of Wall Street and then encouraged the bailout of the Street. They’re barely concerned about the growth of tax havens, inside trading, increasing market power in major industries (pharmaceuticals, telecom, airlines, private health insurers, food processors, finance, even high tech), and widening inequality.

    “They’re barely concerned about the growth of tax havens, inside trading, increasing market power in major industries …”
    au contraire – I would say they are very, VERY concerned…and that’s the problem.

    I used to believe “you can do well and you can do good”
    I don’t believe it any more.
    I suspect a good number of other people don’t believe it either

  4. Expat

    I think if the only thing Democrats take away from the election is “OMG an egotistical billionaire with dreadful hair and tacky taste has just become president” then they all deserve to be shipped to Somalia. (In fact, they do all deserve to be shipped to Somalia but that is not the point).

    The fact that America and the redneck, ignorant deplorables can elect Trump and consider him as a man of the people, a fighter for the common man, and someone who cares about America first tells you just how detached and elite our elected class has become. It’s like hiring John Wayne Gacy to babysit your teenage sons because all the other sitters creep you out!

    Democrats are not left-wing. They are, at best, centrist but mainly ego-centrist. Washington has sold out to the rich and powerful, mainly Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. The election of Trump was the desperate cry of America begging for anything other than bent, self-serving officials like Hillary Clinton.

    I don’t think Trump is the answer but I don’t think he will be as bad as we expect. I think Obama discovered that the establishment was more powerful than his desire for change. Trump will face the same forces, though I think it is possible that Trump will try to call their bluff.

    But as for the Democratic Party? Fuck ’em. Disband the party, arrest the members, waterboard them, and execute them all for treason. Then move on to the Republicans. When there are no politicians left, start all over. Ah, I can dream, can’t I?

    1. BINKY

      So a suicide pact. Government of, by, and for the people means you play some meager role and are thus a politician.
      Maybe step away from the gleeful destruction of what political structure we have and step up to be a solver instead. Oh, but one might have to test their cherished notions in the marketplace, or face up if they fail.
      What Reich really needs to be saying is that it is time to take back the reins and clean up the party. We are unlikely to become a multiparty state and the internet surveillance system will track down dissenters. The IWW used to break anti union towns by flooding the jails. Flood the party and you can own it as the nurses union did for Bernie. Or carp on the internet.

    2. RepubAnon

      Go read Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” for the backstory on why senior Democrats don’t like those they view as hippies.

      Also, note how Nixon’s team waited for Goldwater to lose badly to Lyndon Johnson, and then swooped in and took control of the Republican Party’s organizational structure. I’d suggest that supporters of Bernie’s vision may want to take over the Democratic Party structure rather than build a new party from scratch. Building a new party is a 20-30 year endeavor – taking over the existing Democratic Party structure could be done in 2-3 years.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Bernie lost in the primaries.

        I don’t think the voting membership is all that progressive. Support for both “major” parties has shrunk to barely 50%, which means neither one is major any more. And the polls showed that “independents,” also about 50%, were well to the left, collectively, of Dems, because the electorate as a whole is.

        20 or 30 years of increasingly right-wing policies have driven most progressives out of the Democratic Party; that’s why Bernie lost. Berniecrats can probably take over in some blue states like California or Oregon (even in CA, it was pretty close), but not the whole party. For one thing, there’s a firewall that goes back to the McGovern campaign. I think it consists mostly of money, but the break between the membership and the institutional party is extreme, even now. One reason they keep losing, and losing people.

  5. ChiGal in Carolina

    So it depends on the framing whether the rallies yesterday go towards #6, a movement, not a party.

    Though explicitly embracing an intersectional stance and NOT explicitly Dem or Rep, and while disavowing that it was more anti-Trump than pro rights, justice, health care, and equality, the pussy hats belie that too much of this was aimed at Trump personally and not the Establishment (Empire), whose policies D or R are literally killing us, whether on the battlefield or the home front. And the speakers were weighted toward Establishment Ds.

    We can dismiss the outpouring as not connected to an analysis of the underlying reasons for Trump (and initiatives spearheaded by women are usually dismissed).

    Or we can embrace it, build on it. I think a lot of unaffiliated voters were amongst the rank and file, so NOT all about Clinton.

    1. Art Eclectic

      I disagree with that to an extent. I marched yesterday and it was clear to everybody that it was way bigger than Trump. The fight is not against Trump, the fight is against everything the Republican Party stands for and Trump is just their current hood ornament. The Women’s March was the People’s March against all things Republican.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian


        I don’t think you even read Mr. Reich’s article. He CLEARLY speaks of how utterly corrupted by their elite-serving that the Democrat party has become, in many ways a mirror image of the Republican party, but exploiting their core voters in somewhat different ways toward their self-interested ends. So the protesters marching into the Democrats’ veal pen YET AGAIN fails to inspire any confidence. If all that it amounts to is them having a petulant frenzy against Trump instead of displaying any kind of understanding of the structural forces that they only reinforce by their abject co-optation by the neoconservative/neoliberal Democrats, then it was all for naught. ‘Cause this is exactly what the Democrat nomenclatura wants; an avoidance of understanding on the part of the voters of how class and its evil twin credentialism impact them. Absent those understandings, the identity group politics that they favor – divide & conquer – will leave them in the catbird seat in the future, and perpetually to the detriment of those who they lord it over, and do nothing substantive for.

        1. Art Eclectic

          What you call Identity Politics is what those of us who are not white, male, heterosexual, Christians call Civil Rights. If it were not for Identity Politics we might as well be voting for Republicans, except they’d prefer we not vote at all.

          The problem the Democrats have isn’t Identity Politics, it’s funding. In order to compete with the money machine of fat-wallet business interests on the Republican side, the D’s had to drink from the same well and now they are indistinguishable on any level other than civil rights. Democrats changing policy requires finding new ways to fund million and billion dollar political campaigns. Nobody so far is addressing how Dems are going to fund these people’s campaigns without big corporate donations. Go figure that out and get back to me on Identity Politics.

          1. Rather not

            ArtE —

            I think you’ve made the most valuable and important point in this discussion. Yes, it’s all about the money.

            After all, Bill Clinton, in kissing, hugging and dancing with Wall Street, solved a huge problem for the Democrats, but also began the slippery slide down for the party.

            Would you be in favor of limiting the duration of a presidential campaign, limiting the total amount a candidate can spend in a presidential campaign, providing free tv advertising on the public airwaves, the feds matching a candidate’s raised contributions, prohibition of corporate political contributions, and the like?

            Thanks for the great point.

          2. Marco

            A socialist raised $220 million in small donations AND almost took the Democratic Nomination. That kinda solves the money problem.

            1. Rather not

              Marco —

              So you wouldn’t advise reforming campaign financing? You would leave things the way they are?

              So future presidential candidates must each have Bernie’s political pull?

              My impression is that, save for Bernie and Strumpet, a presidential campaign goes for around a billion. Correct me if I’m wrong.

              1. Marco

                Not really. I was commenting on the money issue only. The next Bernie-type progressive raises half a billion in small donations AND plays footsie with some 501c3 PACs. I’m sure we could pressure a few eccentric billionaires. I agree that the “left” needs to be honest about the costs of a campaign WITHOUT compromising policy.

            2. Felix_47

              And the billion dollar Democrat machine was defeated by a cheapskate who spent relatively speaking almost nothing on the campaign.

          3. hunkerdown

            The belief that some people are more special than others is an admission that you believe that society should be competitive and zero-sum, isn’t it? Not playing your clientelism game anymore. You should have followed Dr. King Jr. all the way to the Poor People’s Campaign instead of being a proud house servant.

            Maybe these big “campaigns” that smell like evangelical revivals aren’t even necessary anymore, which conclusion I can see being very threatening to a lot of people’s rice bowls and self-regard. What happens when the people reject liberalism ad competition entirely? And why should I care for the injuries and losses of people fighting in favor of elitism and getting paid only in name checks nobody can cash? I’m simply not seeing the downside there.

          4. Fiver

            How much did Trump spend? How much in small donations did Obama or Sanders raise? How much money did the Clinton campaign just flush down the toilet while choking off all the rest of Dem candidates?

            The heart of the problem isn’t ‘civil rights’. In every socialist or democratic socialist movement or progressive movement since Marx equality of rights is a given, as in there is no argument – but what they all recognize to be as obvious and self-evident as those rights, is the completely indefensible nature of a political economy that consistently fails to produce justice precisely because it embodies a different, hostile principle, that being that any individual is entitled to accumulate however much money and power as his/her ability and character can deliver, i.e., meritocracy or some similar term. The minute you make climbing a ladder made out of other people the legitimate goal, all of the other stuff fails. It’s just absurd to be talking about ‘civil rights’ when the top 8 richest people in the US have more wealth than the bottom half. The Democrats are utter hypocrites for even pretending they care about protecting minorities from one or other form of discrimination when they have simply refused to engage or even acknowledge their own overwhelming commitment to a grotesquely unjust order, not to mention personal addictions to the finer things in life that corruption delivers up to those willing to sell.

            Clinton set up Trump to run against precisely because she and her idiot advisors thought ‘identity politics’ against Trump was a no-brainer path to victory. It’s not as if plenty of people didn’t wave great big warning flags well in advance of the primaries.

            1. Bigwig

              “I’ll have nothing to do with it,” answered Fiver in a low voice. “Dogs–you’re like dogs carrying sticks.”

          5. Detroit Dan

            What you call Identity Politics is what those of us who are not white, male, heterosexual, Christians call Civil Rights. [Art Eclectic]

            This is not quite right, in my opinion. Civil Rights advocates for equal rights, whereas identity politics advocates for certain groups of people based upon ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Paul Krugman, for example, was quite clear about endorsing this campaign strategy. Much of Hillary Clinton’s primary effoprt was a disingenuous campaign to disparage Bernie supporters on the basis of their age, gender, or race.

          6. koki

            Identity politics is used by the dem leadership as a cudgel to keep all other issues at bay and to keep people divided. That way, dems don’t have to address other important issues.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          “Absent those understandings”

          My point was, if that is the case then rather than dismissing them the goal should be to educate them.

      2. witters

        Wow, “against all things Republican” – so the last 8 years were just great! None of the warring and privatising and impoverishing then.

        If that is why they marched they are delusional. Truly mad.

        1. koki

          Yeah, but they had pink hats!! Pink hats, I tell you.

          That’ll show whomever that these people mean business.

          1. Yves Smith

            I know, I reacted the same way. This was like the lack of demands, and to the extent they had any, they were by implication for privileged women.

            For instance, the concern re preserving reproductive rights.

            Has anyone told these blue cities types that Nixon had sorted out the compromise: Have abortion be legal, but not paid for? And the states have become plenty creative re barring funding for and access to birth control and abortions. Just trying to hold the status quo is a lousy ask. They should demand single paying and that it include birth control and abortions in the first trimester. And if there is queuing or delayed access to an abortion, the timetable gets extended.

            This is not the way to be treated seriously unless you go full Optor into farce, and the farce needs to be aimed at the other side!

      3. lambert strether

        > the fight is against everything the Republican Party

        So, the women’s march was, in fact, a partisan event. Good to know.

        1. different clue

          And not even a Partisan event, really.

          Something much narrower, really.

          A Klinton Kult Koolaid event, really.

        2. Brad

          Yes, of course. It was a mobilization of the mass voter base of the liberal Democrats, jarred out of their 8 year long Obama Hopioiod sleep. Subordination to the Democrats means precisely a highly individualistic chaos where everybody brings their own tacky wacky sign. No organized contingents, no hint of a unity program. My observations from the SF East Bay in Oakland. My daughter, born and raised in Oakland and carefully sheep-dipped in the Battle of Seattle in 1999 at 6 years of age – by which I mean I quickly hustled her to safety as soon as the tear gas went off – refused to take part, saying “it was too liberal”.

          We raised her right :-) but I explained that you must first approach people from where they are at initially, and realize they are not going to automatically think like you. Point to the next goalpost. With this crowd there is only one thing worth talking about: The Problem of the Democrats. Not Trump or anything else.

          But it is just as much a mistake to make fun of the pink kat hats as it is “rednecks”, when they get riled up. Equality is for ALL.

        3. Oregoncharles

          Actually, i know a lot of Greens who made a point o f going – I think the party endorsed the march.

      4. sgt_doom

        Well, although I agree with you there, I wonder why anyone would support the past psychopathic policies of Carter, the Clintons and Obama?

        So you agreed with the Clintons creation of an Extraordinary Rendition Program in 1995 to kidnap pro-democracy Muslim activists back to Egypt and Libya for torture and death? (Might want to check out an ACLU web site if you are still ignorant of that, and ponder why you are still ignorant of that!)

        So you agreed with Jimmy Carter’s destabilization of the once-secular government of Afghanistan, which lead to the untold deaths of secular Muslims there? (Not to mention the long-term support for jihads by each administration afterwards.)

        So you agreed with the Obama/Clinton supported military coup in Honduras, and the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine?

        I’m curious about these psychotic beliefs . . .

        You agreed with everything the Clintons gave to the banksters, plus the number of times Obama invoked the Espionage Act?

        Maybe you need to closely read the following:

        Judgment Day

        There is one absolute, surefire way to judge each and every president — both American and other countries’ leaders — and that is during his or her administration how has the bargaining power of workers fared? Has it grown, shrunk or remained the same?

        Under the administrations of FDR and JFK, workers’ bargaining power expanded greatly; under Truman — who came right after FDR — it remained the same, under the rest of the presidents it was strictly downwards.

        A big drop during the Reagan Administration — an enormous nosedive under Clinton, Bush and Obama!

        When President Barack “Have I invoked the Espionage Act yet today?” Obama first entered the White House he was presented with a gargantuan opportunity to improve the lot of the American worker by promoting passage of the Employee Free Choice Act — instead he chose to ignore it, and with the subsequent loss of the House and Senate, that opportunity appears gone for good!

    2. different clue

      I suspect most of the Pussy Hatters are pro-Nazi on Ukraine, pro Jihadi on Syria and anti-Russianitic racist anti-Russianite on Putin. In other words, Clinton supporters.

      I remember once here reading an article by a radical feminist radically feminsplaining about how Hillary, Madeline, etc. represented a very class-privileged meritocratic pursuit of gender-equalized representation within the Oligarchy.

      Perhaps a simpler article on the same theme could be written for simpler people like me.
      I have a possible title:

      Goldman-Sachs Feminism and the Tiffany Glass Ceiling.

  6. IdahoSpud

    Odd that he never mentions how Dems either stick lefties in a veal pen or drown them in the bathtub…

      1. witters

        Neoliberal parties are neoliberal elite parties. Such parties can allow “populist” revolts from the Right, but not from the Left. From the Right as (with Trump) because it means no assault at all on matters of wealth and ownership. But a redistributive Left means this, and this is INTOLERABLE. That is why the real battle was Sanders/Clinton, and why the DNC went all out against Sander’s in a way it never did to Trump. (It is also why Sander’s should have fought all the way, instead of himself, at the end, converging right.)

        And now the empty identity politics rallies…

    1. Stephen Gardner

      I don’t know about you but I think we Bernie supporters busted out of the veal pen. Democrats can’t depend on frightening us into voting for whomever they put up because the alternative is too scary. When we have survived Trump’s reign the emptiness of the threat will be obvious.

  7. ChiGal in Carolina

    Damn, can’t get past moderation. Third, very brief try:

    It really depends on the framing whether the rallies yesterday go towards #6, a movement, not a party.

  8. stukuls

    “It will pull people into politics.”

    Of course third parties pull people into politics. Geez. Just not into your politics.

  9. David S

    If Bernie represents the future of the party then its sad seeing him stump around him Schumer who represents everything that is wrong with it. His best bet is to get away from the Democratic party and run as an independent, but alas the campaign finance problem. By operating inside the party, he’ll be nothing more than Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. He’ll be the Ron Paul of the Democratic Party.

    1. ChrisAt RU

      ~Sigh~ … yes, this … and the continued presence of Brock, etc etc

      There is no #killItWithFire option available for the architects to failed neolib compromise with the Dems.


    2. Em Tee

      I don’t think Bernie had a financing problem. The genius is that he did it truly grass-roots. The problem was that the democratic party power structure screwed him, was tone deaf, and lost to Trump, aided and abetted by the press.

      1. redleg

        And they are incredulous because they raised the most money EVAH! yet still lost the election, up and down the ticket. They don’t see any reason to change. At. All.

    3. HotFlash

      I wonder. Chuck might be hanging around Bernie, not the other way around. Perhaps because he smells a clue — politicians are supposed to be good at that. Or maybe he is Bernie’s minder.

      DNC Dems may try to marginalize Bernie, but 1.) he’s a crafty old guy, 2.) he got a *lot* of votes.

      BTW, another article on “what is wrong with the Dems” that doesn’t mention superdelegates. Until that is abolished, it’s all handwaving.

      1. johnnygl

        That is a good point. Looking at how the battle lines have been drawn on the dnc chair fight, schumer looks like a swing vote who got behind bernie. It was after that when the obama wing of the party resisted and pushed tom perez, who seems to be the biggest opponent of ellison. It really looks like the clintons are vanquished and the obama wing is now the right wing of the dem party.

        1. different clue

          Cancer isn’t vanished after the first cancer is removed. You have to find and exterminate every single malignant clintonoma cell.

  10. Carla

    Reich left out a key number: Democrats hold only16 governorships.

    “Among the states, there are 33 Republicans, 16 Democrats, and 1 independent that hold the office of governor.” Wikipedia.

    Here’s another error: “Even in its purist form, authoritarian populism doesn’t work because it destroys democracy.”

    Too late. The Democrats have already done that.

    1. Art Eclectic

      Exactly. A smarter Dem party would look at the strategy the Republicans used over the course of 20 years to get where they are today. Abandoning the 50 state strategy was the stupidest thing the Dems ever did, we can see exactly how well that worked by the numbers.

      ALL of who believe in equality, civil rights, tolerance, good jobs, health care for all, quality education for all, and an end to lobbyists and financial engineers running the country need to start running for those seats. The only way we take things back is to start local.

  11. PhilK

    Reich should win a Nobel Prize here — he’s right up there with Krugman and Obama.

    Shorter Reich: The confrontation of the Irresistable Force of populism with the Immovable Object of donor control will result in the Oxymoron of “radical reform”.

    1. jo6pac

      LOL Thanks

      Amerika had a round of radical reform and little Robert was standing right by big dog when he signed away Amerika to the banksters and jailers.

      The demodog party is dead

    2. craazyboy

      I’ve always been suspicious of Reich, but here I’ll give him an “A” for tuning in his snow filled crystal ball and delivering the “soul searching” critique of the Democratic Party many of us have been waiting for and expecting. Pretty much hits the nail on the head, I’d say.

      The caveat, of course, is that Reich is not the Commander in Chief of the Democratic party. Towards the end, I think he alludes to that too.

      1. Art Eclectic

        After yesterday, the Democratic party is running to catch up with where their constituency is headed. That March didn’t stop at 1 pm Saturday. They’ll attempt to get out in front, but Team Bernie will be there ahead of them.

        1. freedomny

          Spot on – the march did not end yesterday. They asked people to text ‘women” to 40649. I did and within five minutes they had my name and email address and wrote that they were looking forward to “working” with me. I am a bit more hopeful then I have been in the past – just think about how far the dialogue has come since Occupy. People are actually using the word “oligarchy” and “:elites” and they are more than aware that the present is rigged against them. I am hoping that we will start seeing a very demanding public….

      2. sgt_doom

        Please continue to be suspicious of Reich (and Stiglitz) — as I have always wondered whether they are both complete idiots or useful idiots?

        Reich is incapable of understanding multi-variable situations and events and also large data sets, while Stiglitz I don’t care about, I predicted to a buddy that he would come out in favor of the banksters’ agenda and their War on Cash, and just the other day he did, promoting the idea of doing away with cash and making all transactions online (so the banksters could charge us for everything, and their offshore buds could hack everything!).

    3. oh

      One more “populist” article by Robert Reich. I know he’s a party hack and will return to the fold once they tell him to sit down. He just provides a false air of “independence” to the bought and sold Democraps. People like him who keep returning to the fold are the very reason that the Dims are in trouble.

      1. sgt_doom

        Exactly, thank you!

        And when they continue the same mistakes — or agenda ?? — over and over again, like reelecting Nancy “my sone works at Countrywide” Pelosi, and Schumer, they are in major doo-doo!

  12. jim courtright

    This is a time for historians to review and to revisit the (“Fighting Bob”) LaFollette Wisconsin tactics in the early 1900s which came after nearly a generation of political corruption. Progressivism needs to integrate itself in some way into the current populism.

    1. Jagger

      It is time for historians to revisit the French political landscape of the 1930s. Definite parallels with America today.

  13. NotTimothyGeithner

    The Clinton wing* of the party needs to be wiped out. Bill ushered in the end of the 70 year Democratic majorities, destroyed the party at the local level, and led to George W. Bush. When the Clintonistas were sidelined, the Democrats won commanding majorities in both houses and the White House in two elections and established a major gotv operation. Obama brings in Rahm Emmanuel and kaboom. Clintonistas were tolerated and look what happened.

    *Don’t we really mean a few hundred voters connected to the Clinton Administration or campaigns that only hold power over people who are largely voting because of the “D” next to a name?

  14. allan

    To understand how utterly rotten the Democratic elite is,
    and unwilling to learn from the past, recent and not so recent, look no further
    than the tongue bath given at Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing to Joe Lieberman,
    who is literally a traitor to the party:

    Were the moment not so fraught with high political drama, it might have felt like a college reunion. Lieberman was returning to his old stomping grounds on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon to offer what bipartisan cover he could for Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary.

    “I’ve known Joe a long time,” Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, told me on Wednesday. “He’s a good guy. We served together.” …

    … in interviews, several members of the Democratic caucus spoke to their personal affection for Lieberman. “I think Joe Lieberman is a good friend of mine, and I think everybody has the right to say what they think,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner told me.

    “Joe’s a friend … Joe has integrity,” Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said in an interview in the Dirksen Senate Building on Wednesday.

    Added Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, the progressive Democrat who took his seat in 2014: “Lieberman’s a great friend, even if we disagree on important issues. … He remains a good friend, despite our occasional disagreements.”

    1. anonymous in Southfield, MI

      The definition of friendship is stretched very thin when it covers over differences that spread between say the likes of Lieberman and Sanders. Sanders lambasted Betsy DeVos as she deserved to be; the woman lied to the Senate about her vice chairmanship of the Prince foundation-an organization that has devoted million$ to the concept of ‘converting’ gays, lesbians and bisexuals. She is obviously ashamed of her involvement (fairly recent as IRS documents show her listed in 2014) and for political expediency wants to distance herself from that scene. Competent psychological studies show that such so called conversion efforts always fail resulting in what has to be termed cruelty and deep disillusionment.That Lieberman would rise to such duplicity shows a complete lack of personal integrity. How someone with integrity could have such a ‘friend’ is to put the word friendship into the realm of meaninglessness.

    2. Vatch

      Casey’s praise for Lieberman doesn’t appear to be transferred to DeVos, since he intends to vote against her. That’s what’s important, since Lieberman hasn’t been nominated for anything.

      I’m not aware of a definitive statement by Murphy on whether he’ll vote for DeVos, but in the second half of this video, he clearly expresses disdain for her:

  15. GWJones

    IdahoSpud, Carla, fresno dan, stukuls and David S are all right on the money!

    Reich is a little better than Michael Moore (who yesterday told the demonstrators to put a call to their Congressional and Senate reps right there with brushing their teeth every day), but that’s not saying much. I didn’t even see the call for voter registration and against Jim Crow election fraud in his essay, just “drawing more people into politics”.

    Face it, the Democratic Party is irremiably sick to the point that it needs to be put down and a new party formed without the Clintonite DNA.

    1. different clue

      That would require drawing up an extensive Exclusion List of every Clinton collaborator at every state, local, national, and regional level . . . and denying them entry into that new party. Without such an exclusion list, Clintonoma cells and Yersiniobama plague germs will find their way in disguise and undercover into the “new party.”

  16. David

    An almost philosophical question: is there a “Democratic Party” as an institution, separate from the career ambitions of those who have just lost power and what to take it back? I rather suspect not, because that would imply a set of values and beliefs and institutional interests to which individuals would subscribe, and which, under certain circumstances, they might be prepared to put ahead of their personal ambitions.But, at least from across the water, I don’t get that impression at all; rather it looks like a group of ambitious and unscrupulous hacks, manipulating the politics of identity to provide themselves with a power base, but now finding that tactic doesn’t work any more. If that’s so, then the “Democrats” of Reich’s article are trapped in a vicious circle: they are only interested in reclaiming personal power, so they have no ideology or beliefs to offer a mass electorate, so they’ll never regain power. The best they can hope for is that Trump makes such a mess of things that a desperate nation turns to them for salvation. I suppose anything is possible.

    1. David

      If the foundation of one’s strategy is that your adversary fails, then you’ve already lost. The Dems need an overhaul, good and proper.

    2. Richard Burt

      That is a brilliant comment. My answer to your almost philosophical question is “No.” I think that identity politics will persist. Sad!

    3. anonymous in Southfield, MI

      I say that you make a very good point about Democrats not being able to find an ideological map; or rather more exactly: bleating loudly about following the map that the majority of voters want and ask to be followed and then sidestepping constantly to follow another path inimical to what is being proclaimed. Mr. Obama did that with his dance around the subject of universal health care or single payer. We, in the center of the progressive wing, were led to believe he was for it. Then he abandoned us to the expediency of the day by genuflecting low and high before the priesthood of the Health Insurance carriers and pharmaceutical companies. The latter essentially wrote The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which is tragically misnamed on both halves; it neither protects patients nor allows the vast majority of subscribers to find affordable insurance for themselves and/or their families.

      But this is typical of so called centrists such as Obama and the Clintons; they artfully present themselves as being on the right side of the map (protect the environment, keep Social Security and Medicare in place, form an alliance with minorities to advocate for an expansion of rights and liberties, to name some of the more visible tenets) and then betray their so called allies on a regular basis. The self proclaimed Liberals (they can’t be by the very definition of the word) get away with it because the specter of a very much more seriously flawed ilk is very real; it seems to be the sworn duty of the Republican party to regularly present the sad evil of a lessor nature. This time around, strategic planning on the part of Trump and total organizational incompetency on the part of Clinton caused her to throw out her chances. Essentially the Democratic party Centrists had their 60 year train of bluffs derailed by a clownish charlatan who delights in performing acts of cruelty and sadism in public.

      1. anonymous in Southfield, MI

        6. The life of the Party—its enthusiasm, passion, youth, principles, and ideals—was elicited by Bernie Sanders’s campaign. This isn’t to denigrate what Hillary Clinton accomplished—she did, after all, win the popular vote in the presidential election by almost 3 million people.

        There’s the nub of a major problem; what Hillary Clinton did not accomplish was to win votes that aligned with the map of each state in terms of the Electoral College. The map of Michigan shows what I mean; if the reader were to click on the blue counties in the SE portion of the state and find Washtenaw county one would see Clinton got 68% of the vote there. In a county that has one of the largest Universities (49,000 students and employees) in the country, a premier world class hospital system that has 26,000 employees (some overlap with U of M) and two high schools that in a rarity of aristocratic schooling, sill offer classes in the art of playing in a symphony orchestra-in such a county we find the heart of so called American Liberalism. Blue county indeed, blue stocking would be more like it. And I’m ok with all that.

        My point is that HRC appealed (Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein did too, the center of the Michigan Green party is in Ann Arbor, the Washtenaw county seat ) in large part to the people whose demographics are so clearly delineated in that county. By and large (broad brush here) better educated, situated in larger urban centers that are the vibrant hubs of the surrounding areas and most of all, people who are opinion leaders. So in Ann Arbor we have large dollops of college professors, medical and legal professionals, successful business managers and thousands of college students and millennials -many of whom followed the lead of the Democratic party into Hillary’s camp after Bernie was forced out by the duplicity of the party leadership. All of whom would have been very deeply engaged in the political swirl of activity.

        Wayne County, where Detroit is located, has some different demographics where the support of people of Color would be the major force. Hillary’s ability to gain support in the African American community is beyond my comprehension but it does explain what happened in the vote in Detroit.

        But the proclivity outside the Large urban centers (Genesee County, Flint, is much like Wayne County demographically) is steep and we see Clinton lost here as elsewhere across the country. Clinton lost out and the much ballyhooed Centrist Democrats lost because they did not speak to the average working class person who lives in dreadful fear of one thing-losing a good paying job and not having food, housing, clothing, transportation and medical care. Fear driven politics, as Bernie Sanders pointed out a kajillion times, is not a pretty picture. People Living in a world of fear is a good thing for Centrists like Clinton and Obama (Trump too) because it makes for a host of malleable minds open to manipulation.

        1. waum

          I disagree with your analysis. In Michigan, Hillary’s margin of loss was smaller than the drop-off in voting in Wayne county (which includes Detroit as well as other urban/suburban cities). What we saw was closer to a withdrawal of consent by the population. The votes are there for the left to win by large margins. But the voters must be asked for their votes through policies that provide tangible benefits. They (we) were already fooled once at the state level and national by a smooth-talking neoliberal Democrat that only offered more of the same once in office. The only thing that can turn this around for the Democrats is a discussion of real benefits and proposals that can only be delivered by government (e.g., single-payer healthcare). I am not sure this is possible in the “blue” states, where the party apparatus is still strong. I think reform in the Democrat party will have to start in the “red” states, where the parties have been decimated by neglect.

          1. John k

            Great thought. Bernie was in Arizona…
            not just red states and counties but all places where people not doing well. Rust belt for whites, Texas for hispanics and blacks, and south might all be fertile.
            The house has all up for election in 2018, and lots of dem senators are vulnerable then, too. Phoenix rose from ashes because competition was low. My thought was that a trump victory would be worth the cost to avoid confronting Russia but also to make room for progressives.
            Obama is trying to take on the Clinton mantle, we’ll see if Bernie can prevail against the dem forces that hate his positions.

          2. redleg

            Trump won IMO because, other than isolated islands, the electorate rejected the status quo/corporate Dems personified by both Clintons. The Dems were too concerned about raising money than running on issues up- and down the ballot.
            Leaving the DNC “leadership” intact after the last 4 elections of hemorrhaging seats in congress and at state levels across the nation is to ensure that the GOP dominates the nation for a generation like it did during the post Civil War era.
            Resistance only decreases momentum. If changes are going to be forced, something must be built that’s an improvement over what was rejected.

      2. oh

        The faux Dimocraps who fall for grifters like Obama and Clinton are to blame. They never learn and vote for the LOTE.

    4. JerseyJeffersonian

      Good work here, David. Thanks for giving us your perspective.

      In regard to the identity politics not working so well, I think it has found a new lease on life. A large body of white folks, not a few of whom are working class men, got tired of being used as the hate object for the Democrats captive identity groups, and have formed their own identity group in self defense. So as a result, identity politics got turned against the Democrats.

  17. Sound of the Suburbs

    Try thinking …..

    We know the neoliberal ideology tends to hollow out the middle class.

    This is most pronounced in the US where they have embraced the neoliberal ideology the hardest

    Let’s work out why …..

    Everyone has blindly followed Milton Freidman’s neo-liberal ideology without thinking.

    Trade Fundamentals.

    For free trade and an internationally competitive workforce you need a low cost of living so you can pay similar wages to your competitors.

    Reference – The Corn Laws and Laissez-Faire
    It’s all about the cost of living.

    The US has probably been the most successful in making its labour force internationally uncompetitive with soaring costs of housing, healthcare and student loan repayments.

    These all have to be covered by wages and US businesses are now squealing about the high minimum wage.

    US (and all Western) labour has been priced out of global labour markets by the high cost of living.

    What did Milton Freidman miss?
    The cost of full price services actually has to be paid by businesses in wages.

    Milton Freidman took costs off the wealthy and placed them on business.

    The West then let massive housing booms roar away raising housing costs through mortgage payments and rent, these costs have to covered by business in wages.

    Student loan costs are rising and again these costs have to covered by business in wages.

    2017 – Richest 8 people as wealthy as half of world’s population

    It is important not to tax the wealthy to provide subsidised housing, education and healthcare that result in lower wage costs because?

    I don’t know, you tell me, is it to maintain ridiculous levels of inequality?

    Why does the middle class disappear?

    The high costs of living in the West necessitates high wages and everything gets off-shored to maximise profits.

    Low paying service sector jobs that cannot be off-shored and highly paid executive and technical jobs are all that’s left, the rest was off-shored, it’s the way neo-liberalism works

    The middle class disappears.

    The populists rise and with a neoliberal left they turn right.

    Protectionism, it’s the only option, we’ve made such a mess of it all.

    1. Sound of the Suburbs

      With the hollowed out neo-liberal Western economy the Government has to make up the difference between low wages and the high cost of living (tax credits UK).

      (The private sector option – Payday loans – only 2000% interest UK)

      The high levels of unemployment, need high levels of benefits due to the high cost of living.

      Government debt soars and you can’t recoup it off the wealthy as it wouldn’t be neo-liberal.

    2. Sound of the Suburbs

      Trump may not have to worry about NAFTA as the Mexican’s have discovered neo-liberalism.

      They are removing the subsidies off petrol and foodstuffs, raising the cost of living and minimum wage.

      Mexico’s days as a low wage economy are numbered.

      If they then have a ridiculous housing boom to inflate housing costs like the West, the cost of living and the minimum wage will soon be the same in Mexico as the West.

      The land of cheap labour will be no more.

    3. sgt_doom

      Germany has the largest middle class and German workers have the greatest bargaining power.

      American workers’ bargaining power has been steadily decreasing — only rose greatly under FDR and JFK, nosedived under Clinton/Bush/Obama.

      America is rated near the very bottom of OECD countries in size of its middle class.

      1. Sound of the Suburbs

        Germany has a strong industrial policy and supports industry, they don’t leave it to the vagaries of the market.

        They focus on high end manufacturing ……

        Mercedes, BMW, (better not mention VW), Bosch ………

        Markets left to their own devices don’t produce companies like these, financial speculation is so much easier and more financially rewarding.

  18. edmondo

    After writing this dreck, flash forward to 2019 when Reich endorses Cory Booker for president as “a breathe of fresh air that America needs.”

    The Democrats are toast.

  19. PaulArt

    If Reich wanted a sign that would tell him how the Democrat elite will behave in the era of Trump then he need look no further than the women’s march that happened yesterday. It was the greatest single expression of identity politics we have ever seen. Trump wins by focusing on the economy and trashing women and the Democrat elite trot out women’s marches in response. Beautiful! While I doff my hat to every single woman and man who came out yesterday I am really sad that they missed a golden opportunity to stick their finger into the eyes of the Democrat elite by sitting at home. Propaganda and appeals to emotions still works wonders. It’s funny that we did not see any marches by women during 8 years of Obama when the Democrats sat on their hands and did basically nothing to empower women’s rights in anyway.

  20. Pelham

    Would voter registration really do much to remedy the situation with the Electoral College? Wouldn’t it be necessary for liberals and progressives en masse to leave their safe spaces in the blue islands and migrate to red or reddish outposts like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan? Or is that too horrible to contemplate?

    A few years back a libertarian group decided to target one state where they could move in great numbers to eventually bring about a libertarian paradise. After considerable study and strategizing, they settled on New Hampshire, a state with a small population already somewhat friendly to libertarian ideas that could more easily be tipped to a libertarian agenda. The result, however, was underwhelming.

    Reich is right, I believe, is saying the Democratic Party must unreservedly advance a very bold agenda to become a movement. But where is the motivation? As noted, the Iron Law of Institutions applies. The great majority of Dems with an iron grip on the party mechanisms are happy as clams with their wonderful combination of virtue signaling and money raking. In fact, right now with Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress, these Dems are in pretty close to the ideal situation. With minority status, they and their filthy corporate, financial and Big Pharma donors can virtue signal all the more flamboyantly and rest completely assured that they’ll never actually have to implement anything. Perfect!

    Meanwhile, the rest of us can fritter away our time believing that there is an “inside game” in the party when, in fact, there is no such possibility.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      There is no need to move to red country, Bernie would have smoked Trump.
      The problem was her.
      Let’s not overthink this.
      Posted from deep redneckistan

      1. Knot Galt

        “But where is the motivation? As noted, the Iron Law of Institutions applies.”

        I’ll be watching the State of Oregon where the Law of Institutions reigns. Here the state remains solidly BLUE and most of the population thinks neoliberalism is great because it starts with a latin term meaning “new”. The ignorance of complacency undermines the motivation for survival?

      2. Carla

        The problem was the corruption and bribery that Hillary exemplified. It was not limited to her of course, or even to the Democrats. But she was the Queen of corruption and that’s one thing nobody ever tried to tar Bernie with. Everybody knew and believed that Bernie never took the money. And the perception was that Trump didn’t have to take the money. It’s possible that Bernie could have beaten Trump, but our media would have made it awfully damned hard.

      3. SteveB

        Winner ! Winner !………………. I say, I say !!!!!!!

        From a recovering Republican (for now. already sent in papers to change to independent)

  21. Katharine

    Catullus 76?! I don’t think so, Lambert. I know my Latin is extremely rusty, but I see nothing there that could lead to that translation. As for what I do see, this is a family blog.

    But now I really wish you could come up with the source of what you quoted.

    1. craazyman

      it’s the 15th and 16th lines. Google it!

      Oy vey already . . . :-) worn down from the march?

      Step up yer game Katharine, are you tired?
      (that’s a Catullus-like line, here’s another . . .)
      What heavy signs and roars exhausted you,
      (and another . . .)
      When, with that great sexist Queen, Madonna
      You hurled curses that would make a whore flinch

      haha ahhahahahahha ahahahahha. I have one more cupcake to eat today!

      1. Katharine

        “it’s the 15th and 16th lines” of a fourteen-line poem.

        This is the first I heard cupcakes could make you see double–and vertically at that! Be careful you don’t fall downstairs.

        1. craazyman

          this is what I get Googling. It in fact is the 15th and 16th lines! no kidding . . . also it’s not at all a porno piece (not that he wasn’t capable of that), but if you read the English translation it’s very very spiritual.

          Carmen 76 (in Latin by Catullus) Listen to 76 in Latin

          Available in Latin, Brazilian Port., Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Rioplatense, Scanned, and Vercellese. Compare two languages here. Listen to this text here.

          Siqua recordanti benefacta priors voluptas
          est homini, cum se cogitat esse pium,
          nec sanctum violasse fidem, nec foedere nullo
          divum ad fallendos numine abusum homines,
          multa parata manent in longa aetate, Catulle,
          ex hoc ingrato gaudia amore tibi.
          Nam quaecumque homines bene cuiquam aut dicere possunt
          aut facere, haec a te dictaque factaque sunt.
          Omnia quae ingratae perierunt credita menti.
          Quare iam te cur amplius excrucies?
          Quin tu animo offirmas atque istinc te ipse reducis,
          et dis invitis desinis esse miser?
          Difficile est longum subito deponere amorem,
          difficile est, verum hoc qualubet eficias:
          una salus haec est, hoc est tibi pervincendum,
          hoc facias, sive id non pote sive pote.
          O di, si vestrum est misereri, aut si quibus umquam
          extremam iam ipsa in morte tulistis opem,
          me miserum aspicite et, si vitam puriter egi,
          eripite hanc pestem perniciemque mihi,
          quae mihi subrepens imos ut torpor in artus
          expulit ex omni pectore laetitias.
          Non iam illud quaero, contra me ut diligat illa,
          aut, quod non potis est, esse pudica velit:
          ipse valere opto et taetrum hunc deponere morbum.
          O di, redite mi hoc pro pietate mea.

          1. Katharine

            Many thank yous! My copy was apparently produced by one of those dratted editors who think they know a better organization, and his 76 starts and ends, “Paedicabo ego vos et irrumabo,” which the notes quaintly explain as “colloquial expressions of no particular force.” You can see why I was at sea!

            Now I’m going to have to find a source with conventional order and annotate this book so I’m not cast adrift again.

          2. craazyboy

            I’m still marveling at how he got that to rhyme? I’m thinking it may really be 5 separate limericks.

            But anyho, this means taking back the Democratic Party will be like the 12 Labors of Hercules? Is that meant to be motivational?

  22. Pespi
    FDR had to work to purge the Democratic party to change it from a half reactionary planters party into a progressive party. The Sanders rump will have to do the same, the leadership needs to be torn to shreds, neolibs and republicans in sheeps clothing like Tim Kaine need to be flushed down massive toilets. Or the party is dead, like the British Labour party

      1. Carolinian

        From the link–perhaps why you haven’t heard of it.

        the purge failed, at great political cost to the president

        Since I grew up around here I’m not sure when the South has ever been purged of conservatives. Now days however they are more interested in being toadies to big business than in getting out the fire hoses. It took other presidents to moderate the race problem.

    1. Em Tee

      Maybe a re-brand, led by Bernie, with a very simple few point platform, and then recruiting candidates at local, county, state and national level to pledge to tow the line (Think Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street becomes Occupy Elected Positions (for real small D democratic reform.)
      I’m OK with America first— I’d love to occupy fewer nations in the Mideast, stop killing brown folks, park the drone fleet, have health CARE (not insurance) for all where all pay in and all can benefit, lower-carbon renewable energy, income tax reform, re-instating the draft as national service, and converting the military back to a department of defense, amongst other bigger ideas.
      I think ‘we’ have about 14 months to get it together and going.

      1. Pespi

        And I think that’s a message that absolutely resonantes. I can talk to old folks who’ve been indoctrinated by fox news and younger people who just haven’t read anything and so believe in alt right foolishness, and we can all agree on basic principles. People need decent food, housing, good education for their children, and jobs they can do with dignity.

        What is the current democratic party offering to meet that criteria? If you’re so poor you can’t afford to drop a penny in a crack in the sidewalk you’ll be put on an (X)year wait list for subsidized housing? If you’re poor and can’t find a job we can put you on the shadow welfare system, disability. But if you find a job, you have to pay us back. You can have a pittance in food stamps if you’ve got no bread. As for the jobs, that’s a big middle finger, go take a 4.5 hour round trip bus ride to work in amazon warehouse, loser. I have friends who work in the social services and as they report it, things are grim.

        It’s not a winning program, it’s not an adequate program, it’s basically a social safety net tuned to be as painful and minimal as possible while still meeting some definitional criteria.

        Most people would also like to stop destroying random countries for the profit of about 18 people.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Unless and until people realize that the main and most important distinction is class and not whether you have a vagina or black skin or a southern accent…then we will just keep getting more of the same ‘ol jackboot on the neck.
          A single black LGBT mother has a ton in common with a redneck man…if they could just look above the first few rungs of their identity bubbles. They’re both getting royally screwed by the exact same system.
          Unity is strength. Division is weakness. That’s exactly how they want us, divided, and weak.

    2. John Wright

      Tearing the leadership to shreds appears to be the only solution, but is it even possible today, given that FDR had a massive and immediate economic crisis to force the change?

      When anyone casts about for “Progressive”(trademarked, Democratic party) Democrats, the same few names come up: Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, who in their support of H Clinton and Obama’s policies look more establishment than progressive.

      My concern is the only lesson the current crop of Democrats will learn from the shutting down of the Clinton Foundation is that their “personal wealth opportunity window” is closing as their power to deliver the goods to the elite is quite weakened.

      One can visualize them doubling down to become even more neolib than before while giving Obama like fiery speeches to their supporters.

      The Democrats have no bench depth. They don’t have a second team ready to play a different game.

      1. redleg

        Where are the Gen-Xers? I don’t see any at all outside of the Sanders’ camp (Turner, Gabbard, and ??).

    3. johnnygl

      Nice, now we have an instruction manual.

      Today’s dem party planter class still likes the sharecropper system of labor relations. It’s just been repacked as the gig economy or tracked relentlessly like amazon’s warehouse workers.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Just watched the book talk from Susan Dunn (author of Roosevelt’s Purge) on C-Span. Apparently, the purge was a complete flop. Back to the drawing board, it seems :)

    4. John k

      Depression made the country ready for real change.

      As did Gfc… but Obama lied, he was and is a neolib who lusted for the lucrative Clinton model. But the country was ready for a second Fdr that would bust banks, monopolies, and provide Medicare and college for all.

      And still is, but both parties plus Msm are supremely well paid to fight tooth and nail to prevent any such.

    5. different clue

      I am not aware of any FDR purge. I thought all FDR ever achieved was an uneasy coalition. The purge didn’t begin until Thurmond began the “self-purge” self-removal of Southern Democrats from the Party in 1948. Am I wrong about that?

  23. Anonymous

    Regardless of the issues and frailty of the Democratic party what keeps me up at night is realizing that the very process of democracy is at great risk. The aggressive free press/media that would need to fight for the truth has been whittled away over the years and fears their corporate masters. Now we have a President and Press Secretary who call every fact that goes against their intentions ‘fake news’ and from what I can tell their supporters simply believe them. Years of a weak press and unchallenged Fox News and talk radio have set the stage for this. The blatant lies about the numbers in attendance for the inauguration told by Trump and his Press Secretary and the refusal of the later to take any questions, sets the stage for a leader who will do and say anything and dismiss any facts or contrary opinions as invalid and ‘fake’. With a President enamored with Oligarchy who has no concern for ethics or earned respect and Republicans having dominance in Congress (and the usual love for power at any cost) how is actual democracy going to function. Are there actually any remaining checks and balances?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Let me terrify you some more. Half of Clinton supporters (per YouGov poll, link on request) believe that the Russians were responsible for ballot tampering in 2016, for which there’s no evidence at all. And all it took was a few months of propaganda. That epistemic closure on the liberal side is as readily produced as it has been on the conservative side is what keeps me up at night. Why, I’m so old I remember when “progressives” (whoever, in retrospect, they were) called themselves “the reality-based community.”

      1. Pespi

        Our ‘centrist’ mainstream media has always happily lied in service of war and fear, but the shift to fox news stylehysteria based on nothing, nothing at all, is shameful and might just kill it. Or maybe not, maybe it’s good for ratings

      2. johnnygl

        Hold on now, let’s look at the positives…

        1) corp media credibilty at record lows.
        2) republicans i’ve met don’t like sanders, but often respect him and find him honest.
        3) republicans defending wikileaks and calling intel agencies filthy liars.

        All these things make the next war a MUCH harder sell!!!

        1. peter

          All these things make the next war a MUCH harder sell!!!
          I wouldn’t count on it. I always thought the same with every war. Iraq surely would make the next war a much harder sell, but I learned that it’s a 5-10 year cycle during which the military and the opinion makers need to regroup/rewrite history and during which the public at large needs to forget and be reprogrammed as to the causes and the results.
          You’ll recognize when the time for a big war is right again, mainstream media start beating war drums slowly and people will be scared once again by the next Iraq, Iran, Russia or whoever it is next time. The news will be full once again about all the great intentions, its defense of democracy throughout the world, its love of freedom and how brave the military is.
          And one thing you can always count on, is that people will be convinced of all the lies once again. We’re talking about a nation in which almost 70% of its population really believed Saddam Hussain had something to do with 9/11, despite all the evidence to the contrary and the fact that it didn’t make sense at all.

      3. John k

        But I wonder how many Clinton supporters there really are.
        How many voted for her because trump? Anyway…
        She got 48%, so if half believe the prop, that’s 24%. And even so, few think she and Dnc ran a smart election.
        76% didnt get snowed, and as noted, press lost mucho cred in this election. This means blogs such as NC gained Cred.

        And elites in both parties have lost cred just like Clinton even with a quarter believing the prop… Think about it… neocons in both parties out of favor. And trump has a big health care problem… if they repeal and don’t replace they lose their base for midterms… and boost support not just for Medicare for all but for all progressive positions. And what can they replace with if single payer off the table?
        The rep revolution gets its chance, failure helps clear a path for a progressive revolution just like Clinton failure did.

      4. Kokuanani

        Thank you, Lambert.

        Everywhere I look, from Facebook entries of friends to even Bill Moyers & Dan Rather pieces, they’re chanting this “Ruskies meddled in our election” crap. [Keith Olberman even had a piece on this.] Not just the “hacked,” but the ballot tampering as well.

        It is thoroughly depressing how foolish and susceptible so many people are, and how willing Clinton and the Dems are to exploit that to cover their own shortcomings.

        How can we fashion a solution when we can’t accurately identify the problem?

        1. Paul Art

          Totally agree. The Clintons have an iron grip on the party. I posted a comment earlier which was censored. That comment pointed out the fatuousness of greeting the Trump inauguration with a women’s march. I suggested that this was purely coming from the HRC play book. Tell me, when did we last see a protest march against Wall Street or worker rights? Trump gets to the White House and suddenly the thing that is of paramount importance to the Dems is a Woman’s march? What is this if it is not pure identity politics?

          1. Outis Philalithopoulos

            Your earlier comment didn’t get moderated by someone – instead, the computerized filtering system somehow caused it to disappear. I have found the comment and it should be up now. Let me know (send me an email at if you notice something like this happening in the future.

    2. John Wright

      When was this glorious age when the USA had an “aggressive free press/media” that would fight for the truth?

      Haven’t we had government-elite managed news for a very long time?

      The Establishment press seems to be the last to arrive at any truth-fest held over the last 50 years, be it Vietnam War, war on drugs, middle east military actions overseas, prison-industrial complex, domestic spying, hollowing out of the middle class, tax policy, social security “reform”, or financial reform.

      Today, we may have the most aggressive truth seeking “press”, ever, with the rise of alternative media.

      Obama may have taught more of the USA population a valuable lesson, pay attention to what a leader does, ignore what a leader may say in a speech or press conference.

      That may be Obama’s greatest legacy.

      Trumps pronouncements may be largely ignored by an Obama fatigued population.

    3. Fiver

      Trump will discover soon enough he loses his crowd whenever they themselves can see the disconnect. In the instance, I think the Trump camp believes the press wasn’t ‘friendly’ in their coverage on Day 1, and from a ‘fairness’ perspective, I’d say it was not fair to compare the turnout with Obama’s 1st term, which many media outlets did. Trump has this thing about ‘respect’ – you know, thief to thief.

      1. Yves Smith

        Yes, that makes sense, and the pathetic thing is the Trump camp can’t frame their objections properly, and instead attack facts which cannot be contested.

    1. pespi

      There are a lot of young, charged up young lions and lionnesses ready to tear the democratic party to shreds and build a peoples party. This big march is a demonstration that the country doesn’t want the explicit rule of oligarchy. It’s up to us (cliche) to actually organize, actually support real left candidates for public office, from the city council of the smallest town all the way to the senate.

      Megacorps need to be afraid, they need to put 100% of their money in the republican party, because some ferocious democrats are going to grab whatever’s left over in the dirty money jar and spend it to chop their legs out.

      1. HotFlash

        I am hoping that the Women’s March(es) will at least show that there are others who have similar thought, like the yard signs for various causes do. And from that, organizations can grow and link. Apparently the DNC thinks that the “resistance” or whatever movement is interesting enough to co-opt (Debbie W-S speaking, for instance).

        And I hope the young lions and lionesses have sense enough to eat the old guard.

        1. Smarty Pants

          This is double-talk. Maybe the energy that went into the Women’s Marches was worth it. Time will tell, but the very first counter to Trump’s inauguration was yet another venture into identity politics, which, despite the large number of females and males who attended, does not convey a unifying message. We Democrats should be talking about Americans, not women, LGBTQ, Hispanics, African Americans, etc., etc., and we should also be talking about building a strong, jobs-producing economy for all Americans, not just those engaged in information engineering, rather than talking just about equality. The test of these marches will be if 1/1000 of the participants becomes actively involved in politics. Unfortunately, I expect that this will not occur because history teaches us that marches are not the building-blocks of political movements.

          1. TheBellTolling

            If you don’t see the marginalization of minorities as linked to the marginalization of working people then you’ve already forfeited the game.

            1. witters

              So one can only oppose kleptocratic oligarchs by championing transgender bathrooms? What game are you talking about?

              1. TheBellTolling

                To defeat the powerful, the powerless need to band together and support each other in solidarity. So we need to fight for rights of workers, transgender people, black people and beyond to win. It’s only by banding together that we win. HB2 was an assault on all marginalized people not just transgender people.

                1. Carlos

                  Elite women, elite gays and elite blacks are the same enemy as elite middle age white men.

                  Identity politics helping Trojan Horse enemies hide in plain sight?

          2. HotFlash

            I am not a Democrat. But I agree, although I would speak of ‘people’, rather than Americans — YMMV. As to talking, where have you been these 30 years and more?

            There is also the problem of how to produce job growth on a finite planet. And that’s a *big* problem, which has been ‘talked about’. Yeah, Occupy, they didn’t have demands!

  24. Gaylord

    Alt Golden Rule: money determines policy. Unless Citizens United is reversed and elections become a public service as intended, there will be no substantial change for the public’s benefit. With Republicans in control of Congress, this constitutional crisis won’t be resolved. Due to human shortsighted folly, the Revolution belongs to Nature.

  25. Eclair

    My in-laws live in south-western New York and north-western Pennsylvania, basically in the same place that their Swedish and German ancestors settled in the mid-1800’s. Our cousin still farms the same acres that his family purchased in 1863. My brother-in-law works for the county, mending roads in summer, snow-plowing through the nights of ‘lake-effect’ snow in winter. They both voted for Trump.

    When I talked to my brother-in-law, back last May, he told me he was making the same amount of money his Dad (a union trucker) had made, just before his retirement. He and his county co-workers have been squeezed for the last decade; ‘austerity’ has resulted in them doing more work with fewer people. He now rides alone, without a ‘wingman’, during the long dark nights of plowing on icy county roads. He has seen no help, no sympathy even, from the Democrats. He liked what he had heard about Bernie Sanders, but, by his own admission, didn’t know that much about him (thank you CNN for bloviating about Trump, 24/7). He felt that Trump was listening.

    Our cousin, the farmer, serves as an elected supervisor for his township. He, like many farmers, is deeply conservative and a hereditary Republican. Last weekend, on our usual Sunday night phone conversation, he expressed his horror that the county commissioners had paid $60,000 to hire a lobbyist to represent their county (not a wealthy one) at the state capitol. His comment: isn’t this what we elect our state legislator to do? He then went on to talk about the big topic of the day in the township, the spraying of township roads (all dirt) with saline solution to keep the dust down in summer. Turns out the ‘saline solution’ is waste fracking fluid, water combined with unknown chemicals. People living along the treated roads have been complaining that they don’t want this chemically-laced water sprayed on their doorsteps and our cousin agrees with them. If they don’t want it, don’t do it.

    I have always considered myself a Democrat; but I find myself in agreement on so many points with my in-laws who voted for Trump. A society has to give more respect, monetary as well as moral, to the workers who keep our roads repaired and free of snow; they perform a social good that keeps our economy humming. You can’t keep on squeezing them and then recoil in horror when they vote for someone who says he feels their pain.

    Our cousin is a family farmer, he conserves the land in the best possible way; he provides local food; veggies, fruits, eggs and meat. He is concerned about soil and water, the basics of life. He is trying to compete with corporate agri-businesses. He wants elected officials to do their job and represent their constituents. He has seen no help from the Democrats but, frankly, is not particularly sanguine about Trump.

    And then, at dinner last week, with a group of friends, most of whom are mid-Western conservatives, one of the women, usually quiet, started talking about the Ox-Fam report and how terrible it was that only a few billionaires had as much money as the poorest half of the population. Another friend, also conservative, countered with the usual, I suppose you want everyone to make $65,000 a year, but she was quickly silenced by the others who took the position that no one ‘needs’ compensation of $18 million.

    So, the fractures are appearing, the narrative of the 1% is horrifying even the free-market conservatives. We’re all getting tossed about in the big caldera formed by the disappearing legitimacy of the governing classes. If we can ignore the old divisive labels of republican, democrat, liberal, conservative, right, left, and begin to coalesce around a few major agreements; healthy communities with resources for people to have adequate food, shelter, clothing and education and satisfying work; clean air and water and productive soils that provide local food …. we have the opportunity to form a new political party. Or, maybe a couple of parties.

    But, reform the Democratic party? From what I have seen of our local establishment Dems, they are more concerned with holding on to their pitiful positions of power than they are with crafting a Sanders-like platform. They can no more envision crossing lines and allying with disaffected Republicans than they can see themselves shape-shifting.

    1. Light a Candle

      Thanks for taking the time to post your really thoughtful comment.

      I think in this American election, especially with the Democratic primary, a lot of progressive voters (not just in the States) woke up to what was really going on. That the DNC was deeply corrupt and that democracy is only a very thin facade.

    2. Annotherone

      Thank you for this recounting of your, and your family’s, experiences. I found it helpful – and oddly reassuring.

    3. TedWa

      I would have countered “yeah, I want everybody to make $65k a year”. That would have shut him up or stirred him into a mania about it. But yeah, why not? We’ve got to have wages that keep up with inflation and keep the oligarchs mindful that it’s us supplying the taxes needed for their infrastructure. How else can you afford the ACA?

    4. HotFlash

      Yes. In my county back in the US, the Dem “apparatus” is so weak, it would take just a breath to blow them away. Here’s hoping it happens!

      1. Fiver

        You may contest Oxfam’s methodology, as the article linked did not, but there’ve been hundreds of studies of income and wealth maldistribution, and in recent years, especially via the marriage of high tech and finance, and corruption of the regulatory regime, too many people in what has been rapidly transformed into very aggressive business culture are becoming just way too wealthy and powerful. It’s obscene and it’s dangerous for private individuals to be the ones making the biggest decisions for the public – entire areas of technology, knowledge, power in the hands of Big Name It.

        1. Yves Smith

          There are studies by highly regarded economists like Emanuel Saez who have been doing rigorous work on inequality for decades. They describe how it has been rising radically and their tone has been alarmed. Hysterically overegging the data, as OxFam does, is not helpful.

      2. Eclair

        Yes, I did point out to our dinner companions that there the OxFam conclusions were a tad overblown (thanks to NC information!) but …. it was pretty indisputable that inequality has been increasing at an increasing rate. And, as Donald Trump compares his real estate developments to Versailles in its glory days, one ponders on the fate of the Bourbons, as well as the Romanoffs. But, it can’t happen here.

        As for the remark, by one of our dinner companions, about everyone earning $65k per year, one must understand that my label of ‘Mid-west conservative’ was a shorthand for so many of the people I have met here (until 10 years ago, I was purely bi-coastal). They are admirable, hard-working believers in self-reliance, personal responsibility, community, family. And, to a man (woman), they despise big government and anything that smacks of ‘socialism’ or ‘government handouts.’

        So, the $65K remark, knowing the person who made it, was (I think) a disparagement of a socialistic government that would give people free money, despite their level of work ethic.

        That said, we all happily enroll in Medicare and have it pay for our hip and knee replacements. But universal health care for those under 65 is a no-go, ’cause that’s ‘socialism.’

  26. MB

    Half the country, well closet to 2/3 on electoral basis , and thats what counts, voted for someone like trump over clinton. The democrats and media is still in denial over WHY.

    So nothing will change.

    Whining like petchulant children.

  27. Orwell

    The nation was not born without great pain, and what will emerge from its remnants over the next century will resemble what we know no more than the infant U.S. in its day resembled the British Empire. Those who sit and wait for reform of irrelevant institutions (let’s start with our “three branches”) will still be waiting in ten years. Their ship has sailed, with or without them. Whether for better or for worse remains a destiny to be found out for, and by, every individual.

  28. casino implosion

    Lambert nails it in the intro. Quite a few of us Bernie Bros, like me, happily voted for Trump. It was worth every minute of his doubtless corrupt and incompetent reign to see the vile Clinton machine go down like a flaming Zeppelin. From the ruins will emerge a new Democratic Party. once the OWS kids are all out of grad school and ready to take charge of their new world.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      The OWS “kids” will be too broke and indebted for anything but obedience to their employer/master once they are out of grad school.

      1. casino implosion

        9 out of 10, probably. The remaining, spirited 10% constitute a broke, humiliated, disappointed, lied-to, intellectual elite with strong feelings of entitlement to the world they were promised as meritocratic test-acing tweens on the Ivy track. Just the sort of people who make major trouble for Establishments and should be causing those in power in the Democratic Party some sleepless nights.

      2. Stephen Gardner

        That’s clearly thinking like someone who has something to lose. These kids will be in such debt that losing it all will be a victory.

  29. John

    Debbie Wasserman-Schultz standing next to Kamala Harris on the podium at yesterday’s march does not bode well for the future of the Clinton gutted and failing Democratic party. She didn’t get to speak but she had slithered her way on the stage. The Democratic party will have to be pried out of their cold dead hands…or abandoned.

  30. Norb

    For those well versed in political science, when does political theatre evolve into a genuine political action-successful or not? In America, there is an atmosphere of unreality to most political protest. A sense that everyone is playing their particular part in a scripted drama. The desire for self preservation steers dissenters into embracing these scripted roles. Marching in “designated protest areas” and feeling the satisfaction of being arrested for the “cause” have proven ineffectual and can be seen as actually counterproductive, as the fake moral courage acquired by these actions are often used as a cudgel to beat down those who see this type of effort as pointless. These efforts only use display to challenge power, while leaving the underlying structure and ideology intact.

    A new manifesto must be written and circulated for the current age, allowing individuals to subscribe to stated goals or not. Reich’s 7 points elude to this idea of proclamation, but come off instead as a hapless plea. Those trying to resist the status quo are hopelessly stuck in trying to change the minds of the oppressors instead of rallying the oppressed to a new vision. Inequality and loss of opportunity must be addressed and those in power must be held to proclaiming their stand on the issue. Currently, they are allowed to lie or just not answer the question. This also explains much about the current Russia mania. The failures of capitalism must be obfuscated and alternatives quashed at all costs- period. For what does Russia stand for if not an alternative to capitalism. The anti-socialism and anti-communism conditioning will enter overdrive.

    Taking land and occupying it either directly or indirectly has always been the way to forge human societies or pull them apart. In the larger sense, finding ways to take and hold ground for use to a particular end is the foundation of power. Labor has been made passive in America. Labor not exercising its right to strike and boycott is powerless in the face of owners overwhelming use of force and violence. Compromise positions don’t work as proven out by our current situation. Fake opposition and desperately hanging onto utopian notions of a “fair and equal” capitalism, only allow the status quo to remain so.

    It seems capitalist evolution has a good chance in leading to a delusional authoritarian dystopia. A world in which everything is turned into a commodity worthy of exchange for profit. The needs of the time have so far outrun the political process that some drastic event seems the only way of breaking the stalemate.

    1. Phil

      Great observation, particularly on the “scripted” part. Drama speaks the truth about the society that creates it. In America, the dominant idiom for years has been reality tv, where everything is purported to be spontaneous and real, but is in fact planned and scripted in advance by the producers.

      To answer your question from observation of the European experience, I think change happens when these people stop marching and start striking. At that point they are taking a real risk. Corporations are the gods of the nation–superhuman, immortal, unbound by law, without shame or conscience, motivated by every human desire and afflicted by the worst human failings. Striking is the only thing that hurts them, and will be the only thing that brings about change.

      That is why striking is absent from the American political discourse: it is figuratively blasphemous.

      1. Fiver

        The strike was the means for labour to offset corporate power in an industrial economy dominated by large corporate operations – the operations most likely to be off-shored or relocated to anti-union States. The diffusion/dilution of labour power has made it very, very difficult to strike effectively, so much so that in my mind only a broad, general strike by labour could hope to change things. However, as we also know, a great deal of labour is ideologically brainwashed, so it’s difficult to see organized labour taking the initiative.

        That said, I’ve argued for some time that the weapon of a strike need not be limited to a particular employer/workplace/industry. The means exist to create a different kind of union, one that cuts across all lines of employment at all levels. Such a union would have millions of members who pay dues to an organization with an elected leadership for the purpose of advancing shared goals in myriad ways, but most importantly it would be able to leverage its membership on major issues, for example, to coordinate corporate boycotts, or, when the time comes, a form of strike, meaning that based on a collective decision, members from all occupations in all sorts of organizations would simply withdraw their services and stay home – even if just for a couple of days to a week. If every person who claimed to be a progressive in the US had the minimal courage and conviction required to join such a union, and answer the strike call on a matter of critical importance, the entire political landscape would be re-drawn overnight.

  31. Kpl

    My dear Bob, why talk of popular vote. Why not talk of counties won? You will understand that Trump won hands down.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > why talk of popular vote. Why not talk of counties won?

      Because talking about the popular vote is kinda like talking about yardage gained instead of touchdowns scored?

  32. mb

    Democrats and protestors in pussy hats, dont realize that the half of country that voted for Trump, hasnt begin to get aroused and angry yet. They are the half that pays for 90% of taxes, and they also have guns, which the liberals dont.

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      There are plenty of rich Democrats, some of whom pay taxes. Is your “90%” figure an estimate, or do you have a source for it?

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          Many Democrats disparaged poor Republican voters over the recent election cycle and you respond by disparaging the Democratic base as predominantly poor? Do you think this is a good strategy?

      1. kareninca

        Given that the top 20 percent of earners pay 84 percent of federal income taxes, it would not be surprising if the top 50 percent of earners paid 90 percent of federal income taxes (or even more).

        I think it is okay to trust the WSJ for this figure. No need for Snopes, haha.

        Actually, it seems to be even more extreme than what mb wrote, since half of Americans pay no federal income tax at all ( So the top fifty percent of earners must be paying 100 percent of federal income taxes.

        I think it is okay to trust NBC for this figure.

        But, there are state taxes, Medicare and OASDI (and other state things) taken out of one’s paystub. Lower wage people get nailed that way.

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          Yes, kareninca, but the original comment referred to “the half of the country that voted for Trump,” not “the top 50 percent of earners.”

          1. kareninca

            Oh, I see what you mean.

            Well, Trump voters had a median income of about 72,000; Bernie and Hillary voters a median income of about 61,000. Not a big difference.

            Anecdotally, the people I know who voted for Trump are either very well off (their salaries are not necessarily high but they are very thrifty and have accumulated assets) or very poor (employed, but terrible jobs terribly paid)(they are from working class backgrounds and will take whatever job they can get).

            The people I know who voted for Clinton are either (for the most part) superficially well off (high paid jobs, but not a lot of assets since they are spenders; they can’t imagine being thrifty; thrift gags them) or are long-term unemployed and have given up looking for work (they are not willing to take low status jobs)(which may be rational of them; they feel that if they do they will never again be able to get a higher status job).

            mb is working with his own anecdotes, I imagine. Anecdotes don’t mean much; I’d like to see data but I’m not seeing any yet so I’m stuck with anecdotes too.

        2. Yves Smith

          That’s only income tax.

          Throw in FICA and you get to the bottom half paying about 1/3.

          And you forget gas taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes (which renters pay via their rents). Lower income people pay a higher % of their incomes that way than rich people do. Even people who pay no income taxes pay all these taxes. And there are other hidden taxes. Your airport ticket cost is about 60% taxes. At least in your phone bill they show many of them.

          Nice try. Get better stats before you try that BS again.

  33. Norm

    The current dregs that make up the Democratic party are people who have neither ideals nor courage. That’s why Bernie looked so good compared to them, but when push came to shove, Bernie’s guts and idealism went AWOL. None of these people will ever be transformed or transform themselves into something other than loathsome non-entities. The same is true of the Republican party, but while it is much hated by the public, the same public keeps them in power because they appear less loathsome than the Democrats. But any notion that the Republican establishment had a lock on all those people who vote for them was torn to shreds by Trump, and to a lesser extent, by his fellow non-establishment-sanctioned candidate Cruz.

    The Democrats will not fix themselves. Possibly the remains of the party apparatus will be taken over, Trump style, by some capable demagogue who can fire up the voters. We can hope that whoever this may be it will be an improvement over our current prospects. A slim hope indeed, but despair is lousy option too,

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Oh, bullshit. As we’ve said over and over, Sanders did exactly what he promised he would do. If you didn’t read the packaging before buying the product, that’s on you. And if you thought you were getting a savior instead of the best alternative, that’s on you too. I’m sick of the whinging on this, not only because it’s untrue, but because its disempowering.

      1. John k

        I was pretty disappointed at the extent to which he campaigned for her, especially as Dnc leaks emerged, but I’m over it. He’s clearly critically needed now to push progressive agenda forward.

        I do wish he would speak mor for single payer and less for Obamacare… as reps struggle mightily for a way to repeal the latter without angering the part of their base that has no alternative, there may be a real opening for something better… how about this compromise; the group with greatest need is elderly under 65, maybe drop age to 55, get nose further under tent.
        And non health corps should support, reduces health care costs to corps that do provide coverage, plus covering sickest workers cuts overall costs of covering a work force so encourages corps that don’t to begin covering workers… this last bit might mollify insurance a little, maybe give extra tax break to corps that cover. Some cuts to corp taxes better than others…
        And a 50-year old will see a benefit that kicks in pretty soon, he’ll like the change even though it doesn’t yet affect him. Trump demographics…

        How about a list of the top 100 opportunities for progressive candidates, whether the hopefully vulnerable neolib opponent is dem or rep?

      2. Archie

        Remove the 2nd sentence and the comment is not only “whingeless”, it is right on. There will be no “empowering” until the vast majority really understand and criticize the fecklessness of the Dem party as a whole.

        Personally, I don’t find Norm’s take at all whinging, but i allow that ymmv.

      3. Eureka Springs

        Sanders promising to cut and run doesn’t make it better. It just makes most of his supporters bad listeners at best. And cutting and running for Clinton after team D stealing it from him… well anyone worth their salt wouldn’t have responded the way Sanders did.

        In hindsight I very much doubt he would have prevailed over Trump since he wouldn’t fight the D party the way Trump did the R’s and Clinton. Nor had Sanders won would he have fought for what promised anymore than Obama did.

        1. Yves Smith

          That is just dishonest.

          He ran as a Democrat. If he had run any other way, he never would have gotten past 2%.

          The deal if you run on a major party ticket is you agree to back the winner.

          Your demand is tantamount to saying someone could join a pro soccer team and show up with a horse and polo mallet because he felt the rules were unfair to him.

          1. Eureka Springs

            I’m sorry, I wans’t thinking of whether he should have run as a D or not. So I don’t see where or how I am being dishonest.

            I was saying the D party and team Clinton broke the rules… and Sanders had every reason, in fact I’m saying he had an obligations with millions of supporters and a quarter billion of their bucks invested to take the gloves off and fight dirty once they did so. To honor his promise after the rules were broken by the other side was just weak and cowardly. Even worse when he sat back in the nose-bleed seats and told so many of his supporters to shut up and support despicable rule breakers who were killing every platform position they stood for. You don’t step in as an outsider and expect to win without a street fight.

            It’s more like everyone agreed at first to play soccer and when they played rugby he just said – well, you win, and I support you but I’m not going to get dirty or even point out all your shenanigans. And I think you are terrific… so even though you lie, cheat, and stand against most everything I’ve been saying to the people for a coons age… I support you.

            He should definitely go down in pathetic history next to Gore and Kerry, Dukakas and Mondale.

        2. dcrane

          I was a big Sanders supporter and I’ve never understood comments like these. From the beginning it seemed clear that Sanders believed running from within the Democratic Party made sense because otherwise he would risk very likely splitting the left-side vote and just handing the election to the Republicans. The same logic would mean that he would support the eventual D nominee if he failed to win. And yes, the DNC put a big thumb on the scale, but that alone didn’t explain why so many longtime Democratic voters felt so loyal to Clinton. Most of Bernie’s gains from mid-2015 on consisted of slowly vacuuming up the non-Clinton vote. I’d say the media deliberately ignoring Bernie until way after he had become a huge phenomenon was a much bigger player in explaining his loss.

  34. Mark K

    To my mind, Reich’s #4 doesn’t go far enough. If the Democrats want to get serious about radical reform, they need to completely forswear the cultivation of “major donors,” and rely on small donations. Sanders’ campaign showed it can be done; there is no reason it should not be a sine qua non of running as a Democrat going forward.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I agree completely. Of course, that would make it harder for lizards like Brock to sun themselves as shindigs for donors in Florida, but maybe Brock would consider taking one for the team.

    2. Marco

      You think the “small doner” category is really open to Team D? I think Sanders was able to collect so much simply because he was NOT a democrat.

      1. dcrane

        To anyone on Team D with a message as convincing as Bernie’s, I’d say. Which admittedly is almost nobody else at the moment.

  35. Heliopause

    Many good points but I would say #5 is the most important. Instead what I’m getting from major media & many Dems is the same garbage they’ve been giving us all along. Be nice if they were actually FOR something.

  36. skippy

    Trump or Hillary? Wrong question. Rather, we need to realize that in so far as it is the choice the leaders propose, it is a trap, which now we cannot escape but from which we can take instruction for the future. In the liberal culture in which we have all been educated—Republicans or Democrats–we are used to looking for saviors from above. We attach ourselves to the powerful. We look upward for emancipation, but radical change and democratization come from below. That’s where the hardness is, but that’s what scares us. We are soft because we don’t know our own strength, and as long as we don’t know it, we are subjects–not citizens.

    We should see in both the Trump and the Sanders partisan defections from the mainstream parties the glimmer of a potential—in fact, a necessity–of organizing a party of the people. We could even call it Party of the Basket of Deplorables, for if we exclude the “messy masses” (the term Marx and Engels used, to mock the contempt in which they were held by the arrogant elite), we admit that democracy hasn’t a prayer. They are “messed up,” but are they to blame, who have ceased to matter, or even exist, on the front of the class war that has been launched against democracy—that is, against us all?

    The color line must be erased. That is an imperative for unity. In America, racism is the endemic, the recurring plague. It is the root of our political disunity. So that is the first task: educate it out of existence. Engels, who shared his life with Mary Burns, Irish Republican radical, well understood the racism against the Irish pervading the English working class. This was no mere psychological disorder. It arose because the manufacturers of the Midlands imported Irish labor as scabs to break strikes. Nevertheless he saw in the English working class the strength required for a social revolution:

    “England exhibits the noteworthy fact that the lower a class stands in society and the more ‘uneducated’ it is in the usual sense of the word, the closer is its relation to progress and the greater is its future.” – snip

      1. José

        According to Paul Lafargue, Marx’s son-in-law, Lizzy (Burns) was “in continual touch with the many Irishmen in Manchester and always well informed of their conspiracies.” He even suggested that “more than one Fenian found hospitality in Engels’ house” and that they were involved in the dramatic rescue of the Fenian leaders Kelly and Deasy in September 1867. There is no evidence for this, although their house at 252 Hyde Road was close to the rescue site.

    1. Persona au gratin

      How are British/Irish conflicts even remotely racist? I appreciate the mutual hostility, but how could they even tell each other apart, other than relatively minor speech patterns and social habits? That’s hardly racism. Your larger point is well taken, but race and class issues in the US are a bit more entrenched and complicated than your analogy might suggest. By design, I think.

      1. Outis Philalithopoulos

        The “relatively minor speech patterns” would have entirely sufficed to make the distinction. There are parts of the world where people from towns only a few miles apart can be distinguished through fairly minor intonational differences. See also the history of the word “shibboleth.”

      2. David

        Indeed, there’s little direct antagonism between the English and the Irish today and hasn’t been for a long time. By contrast, the “racism” discourse in the US seems to persist because it serves the political interests of certain groups. Most of the rest of the world has gone beyond this way of thinking and I’m always surprised the US is so far behind.

      3. Donald

        I read part of the debate between Kingsley and Newman once — these were two well known figures in Victorian England. Newman shocked the country by converting to Catholicism.

        Anyway, I won’t look it up, but there is a passage in Kingsley’s rant where he speaks of the Irish. The contempt is palpable. Racist? Hell yes.

        1. David

          In those days certainly, but the Irish then largely played a role (drunks, lazy, criminals etc) which was subsequently attributed to other immigrant groups. The whole situation became much more complicated after Partition (when there were effectively two Irelands) and much more so with the Troubles from the 1960s onwards. My impression is that nowadays you do and can get antipathy between the two, as you do with other national groups with complicated histories, but I’d be hesitant to call it “racialism”, at least if we want to preserve the sense of that term.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          In my experience of working class communities in the English midlands, discrimination against Welsh people is even more intense that for Scots. The English have a sort of wary respect for the Scots – much less so for the Welsh.

      4. PlutoniumKun

        If you don’t think the British/Irish conflicts were racist then I can only suggest you read some history, from the town laws of medieval times (native Irish were forbidden to sleep in settler towns, hence the establishment of favelas with names like ‘Irishtown’ outside town walls), through the export of Irish as slaves to the Caribbean in the 17th Century, the Penal Laws of the 18th and 19thC., the various Acts of Settlement – up until 2013 a catholic could not ascend to the Throne of England (which was implicitly intended to exclude the Irish from contaminating royal blood – German blood being apparently entirely acceptable).

        There are numerous examples throughout the world of people who’s ethnic/religious/cultural difference is discernible only to locals. This does not mean that policies intended to discriminate are not racist.

      5. skippy

        You might want to familiarize yourself with Jane Elliott’s Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise.

        Disheveled…. which leaves us with the question of induced or natural tendencies, and the ramifications of that answer….

    2. Carla

      skippy — I am wowed by your comment. Agree with every word, but most emphatically regarding America’s original sin:

      “The color line must be erased. That is an imperative for unity. In America, racism is the endemic, the recurring plague. It is the root of our political disunity. So that is the first task: educate it out of existence.”

      The recurring–or perhaps we should say constant — plague. Thank you, thank you.

  37. TedWa

    The main street media has us in a vice grip where they say they can not properly cover more than 2 parties. (!!??) This 2 party system is bursting at the seams where every election is a tie or hairsbreadth away from a tie. As long as we keep electing the same people, the democrats are going nowhere, and their neolib philosophy will hang on to the every end – because it pays. They don’t care that they’re going to hell.

  38. Jess

    “Democrats have to stop squabbling and understand the dire future ahead of us.”

    Good fucking luck with that.

  39. Jess

    “The Party’s moneyed establishment—big donors, major lobbyists, retired members of Congress who have become bundlers and lobbyists—are part of the problem.”

    No, they are the core of the problem.

    1. different clue

      Well . . . the millions of eager members of the Klinton Koolaid Kult are also a problem. They will never ever vote for a Sanders figure. Never ever. They will nourish their lust for vengeance against the Sanders primary voters and workers for decades to come.

      Just go read a blog findable under the words Riverdaughter The Confluence and read the comments and you will see what I mean. Put your nose up real close to the screen so you can smelllll the Klintonism.

      1. Marco


        It’s not just the tiny doner class. And I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say they number millions. The credentialed entitled 10%

      2. peter

        Same in Britain regarding Corbyn. If you read comments on any Guardian article involving Corbyn, the vast majority is extremely hostile towards him, as is mainstream media of course. Really nasty stuff. And it’s mostly traditional Labour voters too. I guess most are ‘Blairites’. What they lament most is the believe that Corbyn could never, ever win a general election as he’s ‘too radical’, not in tune with the conservative nature of the Brits, so apparently an internal coup is needed. My thought is that anything can happen in 4 years. You never know. Who knows you’re only one financial/economic disaster or bad war away from power. Better go back to the grass roots, be consistent, on-message and sincere/radical than to have a wheeling and dealing phoney Blairite/Clinton type as the head of the party because he or she may be more electable.

        1. Fiver

          If Corbyn can just dig in and stay cool, he is going to get an excellent opportunity to become Prime Minister with a big majority once she and Trump careen off the rails.

  40. blucollarAl

    In June, 1858, in one of the great speeches in the history of our country and our politics, Lincoln declared, quoting the New Testament, and in the teeth of the undeniable and unresolvable antagonism between pro and anti-slavery citizens, that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    Lincoln’s hope was that this country would not “dissolve”. But at the same time he foresaw the inevitably of civil war as the only realistic albeit tragic way in which an America divided on grounds as fundamental as slavery for some versus (political) freedom for all, could resolve its “crisis” and “cease to be divided”.

    For Lincoln there was no other alternative. There are many times when inhabitants of the “house” disagree. Such is to be expected and disagreements are normally resolved sooner or later. The house endures. But there are those other (rare) times when “agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented”. A “crisis” is reached, and eventually the nation “will become all one thing or all the other.” Civil war cruelly declares a victor and a loser.

    There was no way to compromise. The deepest narratives by which each side, pro-slavery and pro-“freedom” (Lincoln’s word), understood the meaning of the American Republic, the great Enlightenment-inspired experiment in representative democratic government, and ultimately what it means to live in community, organize ourselves politically, socially, economically, and what counts to being a human person, were mutually exclusive. How do you “negotiate” away this conflict? How do you dialectically transcend it? Either the laborer in our cotton fields and plantation households is a human person or not. When the organization of society depends on how we answer explicitly in argument and slogan or implicitly in our unquestioned assumptions, questions about the origins and purposes of life itself, war could only appear to Lincoln as inevitable, even if he refused at this point (1858) to come right out and say it.

    A question for us to think about: When, since the time of Lincoln, slavery, and the Civil War, has America been as fundamentally divided as it is now, today, 2017? When have the basic stories that we tell ourselves and that we have assimilated into our habits of head and heart, been more deeply and irreconcilably opposed? Where and what is the dialectical resolution between coastal cosmopolitans chasing a “good life” understood as an ever expanding, protected, and affirmed “market” for individual choice and self- inventing “lifestyles”, and the flyover country provincials living in communities devastated by the corrosive solvency of aggressive finance capital on the make, weakened by disappearing communities, impotent traditions, mocked religion, broken families, and constant anxiety about providing the daily bread? And when have the imaginations of those so opposed been less able to conceive workable solutions that embrace both sides? Are there solutions that are able to embrace both sides?

    Can the institution of representative democracy, arguably a product of the Age of Reason with its belief in “nature and nature’s God” and the “inalienable natural rights” that can be discovered by the enlightened human intellect, survive in post-Enlightenment post-modernism with its hermeneutics of suspicion in which there are no admitted “facts”, no unifying “truths”, and “right” is a function of “might”, the Will to Power.

  41. oho

    It’s the battle of the Septuagenarians—the Pelosi/Clinton/Hoyer camp v. Sanders’ camp.

    I imagine somewhere in there is a lesson about leaders voluntarily stepping aside after a number of years/age to make room for new blood.

  42. nothing but the truth

    the US gets a taste of its own medicine.

    another “color revolution” (pun intended) sponsored by Soros – “Open Society” comes your way.

  43. Karl Brantz

    “Taking over” the remains of the Dem Party would be akin to taking over the bridge of the Titanic after it had hit the iceberg. Skippy kindly points out the obvious: WE are the party, not some self proclaimed “leader.” WE have the power, if we can only realize it and take it. Bernie showed us that the TRUTH is a very powerful weapon, and that the big corporate money is powerless against millions of small donors. Wikileaks exposed the rotting carcass of the Hillary/Dem machine for all to see. Trump is only a speed bump in this weird road, so hang on and try to focus on our own strength and power. Oh, and grow a pair, OK?

  44. slorter

    1.How many of the people who think they knew the outcome of the election in the United States knew that 90000 people in Michigan left the choice for President blank!
    2.How many showed her losing the white women vote by 10%
    3.How many showed the vote in union households split 50/50
    Forget the Russia crap start analysing the real problem!

    National elections are almost exclusively about economics or more properly how people feel about their economic security! Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump recognised the sour mood of the electorate and the dark economic malaise afflicting Americans, regardless of race or gender: stagnant wages, rising home foreclosures, crippling consumer and student loan debt, vanishing manufacturing jobs!

    1. Carla

      “Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump recognised the sour mood of the electorate and the dark economic malaise afflicting Americans, regardless of race or gender: stagnant wages, rising home foreclosures, crippling consumer and student loan debt, vanishing manufacturing jobs!”

      Yes, but Bernie wanted to alleviate those conditions, and I fear the Donald only saw a way to make a buck on them. Certainly, that’s what his cabinet appointments signal.

  45. Altandmain

    What Reich won’t understand is that the Democrats are just like the GOP. They are in bed with Wall Street. Just because they try to use identity politics instead of GOP dog whistles doesn’t make that any different.

    Basically, those who are not rich and who supported Clinton over Sanders were pretty much useful idiots for Wall Street. It’s funny – people thought that about the Tea Party, but it looks like the Clinton base was the one that was out of touch. They misread too the level of outrage with the status quo and thought that Clinton’s gender would magically fix it all.

    The cruel reality is that most of these politicians are self-serving careerists. Sanders was abnormal because he chose to fight for his principles. The tragedy is that we saw him endorsing Clinton and that politicians like Sanders are the exception rather than the norm.

    1. Carla

      Of course Reich understands it. He simply justifies it by repeating to himself and others that Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, etc. were Democrat programs. That’s what ALL Democrats who benefit from the status quo do.

      Stop buying the shit that they don’t understand it. They’re the lesser of evils, don’t you know? And we can only have a choice between evils in the US of A, greatest democracy on the face of the earth.

  46. Tom Westheimer

    We now live in a corporatocracy so parties are irrelevant. Until we fix that relationship the law makers are employees. Take a few minutes and see this take: has a long term plan for a long term fix. As others have said if the Democratic party keeps blaming Russia they are doomed!

    1. Carla

      Thank you, Tom. Really good to have someone other than me beating the Move to Amend drum on this site.

      The Ohio Move to Amend Network has now passed citizens’ initiatives in 10 Ohio municipalities supporting a U.S. constitutional amendment stating that 1. only human beings (and not corporate entities) are entitled to constitutional rights, and 2. money does not equal speech. In addition, the city councils of 12 municipalities around the state have passed resolutions in support of such an amendment.

      House Joint Resolution 48 in support of a 28th amendment stating the above was co-sponsored by 23 members of the 114th Congress. It will be re-introduced in the 115th Congress in the next couple of months (timed to retain the number “48,” for continuity). One Republican (Walter Jones of North Carolina) has signed on and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) was the 23rd Congress member to co-sponsor. All of the co-sponsors in the 114th Congress will be in the 115th and are expected to sign again, along with many more. Here is a link to the text of HJR -48:

    2. Tony Wright

      How about one vote, one value , instead of that crazy electoral college system? But that is too obvious and not going to happen in a country with gun laws as insane as the US.
      Maybe the ascent of the narcissistic bully to the Presidency will be like old fashioned magnoplasm applied to a carbuncle – it might bring all the political and economic pus (no, Donald, pus….) to the surface so it can be cleaned away.
      Sadly, though,this will also mean a lot of “collateral damage” to many good people, and our life support system, the Planet Earth.

      1. Lynne

        Sure, if you want to perpetuate the contempt and disregard the party power brokers have for the economically dispossessed in the majority of the country. Knock yourself out.

  47. VietnamVet

    Robert Reich ignores the Ass in the Room. The Democrats are corrupt and cannot reform without changing their source of funding from oligarchs to the people. Then they would have to do what is best for American citizens. The current middleman politician won’t do this. Instead, they are going insane. Blaming Russia for their incompetence and risking a world war.

    He also ignores the current battle between globalist and nationalist oligarchs over who controls the looting in the West.

  48. Oregoncharles

    Does anyone seriously think any of that is going to happen? Even Reich himself? He’s drawn a diagram of impossibility. It’s also laced with bits of unmitigated propaganda:

    “Meanwhile, they’ve allowed labor unions to shrink to near irrelevance.” No, “they” have deliberately DRIVEN unions into irrelevance, thus shooting off their own foot.

    ” This is the future of the Democratic Party.” Over many powerful peoples’ dead bodies as we saw last year. Indeed, they drove many of the most active into the arms of the Green Party. I should be more grateful.

    “Medicare for all;” which the party is adamantly against, as their actions have proven.

    “This isn’t to denigrate what Hillary Clinton accomplished—she did, after all,” LOSE to Donald Trump; unfortunately for her, the popular vote doesn’t count. As everyone knew going in, especially Al Gore.

    Every time I read Reich, I lose more respect for him. He’s a sad figure – though he does acknowledge the possibility that “a 3rd party” could, eventually, eat the Dems’ lunch. And should. He seems to think that would be horrible thing, even though he just outlined, in some detail, just how evil and useless the Democratic Party is.

  49. Skorn

    The Dems are not capable of party reforms that dismantle the neoliberal economic order. I attended the Boston March and every single protest sign outside of “Trump is a sexist buffoon theme” (why I went) was a variation of the “how dare the racist-sexist-xenophobics-in the backwater territories-10th grade drop out half-wits elect such a disgrace to my coastal-best and brightest sensibilities”. There were no serious discussions of the Escalation in suffering written about in the Case Deaton report. It was a gathering of mostly true believer “liberals” incapable of self-reflection.

  50. Dick Burkhart

    Friday night I went to a socialist rally in Seattle that was 3 times as big as I had expected. Then Saturday the women turned out more than 10 times what I thought would be possible – at least 5 times the biggest demonstration in Seattle in the last several decades. If the establishment Democrats prevail, third parties could grow explosively.

    And it’s not just Wall Street that has destroyed the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. Ironically, for all its devotion to identity politics, it’s the Democrats lack of inclusion. Specifically, the white working class, which voted overwhelming for Trump our of shear desperation. At one time the white working class enjoyed real “white privilege” in the form of access to well paying industrial jobs. Most of those jobs are gone, and along with it, most of that privilege. Today the life-expectancy of the least educated whites has fallen precipitously and is lower than that of their black counterparts They are despised and forgotten by the Democratic establishment, and finally, after 35 years they have given up on establishment politics, both from the left and the right. Our agenda is simple: Smash Wall Street and the corporate monopolies and start helping the poorer people in our society, no matter what their identity.

    1. Phil

      Part of the reason for the exclusion of the white working class has been the almost willful ignorance adopted by at least a significant minority of that class. How do I know? Rust belt roots, here. (escaped many years ago).

      The working class was made fat and happy by a series of happy accidents (like WWII) that left the USA as the only nation standing, for a LONG time. We got spoiled; we got used to the idea of American exceptionalism – things like “Trump could *never* happen here (liberals/progressives); or, America could *never* end up like Greece, or Spain (conservatives/tea party). Guess again.

      We are steadily squandering our international social, financial, and intellectual capital – we think we have forever..because…America. Guess again, Americans!

      Do we have it in us? Do we have enough social glue to make a real social/economic/political revolution happen? A revolution that is so compelling that people will “get it” to the degree that it feels inevitable and *good*? Where Americans start to feel a shared sense of destiny? We’ll see.

  51. different clue

    Someone should write an article about the kind of feminism Clinton believes in.

    It could be titled:

    Goldman-Sachs Feminism and the Tiffany Glass Ceiling.

  52. baldski

    The Democrats should promote two changes to the Constitution and overrule the Supreme Court.

    1. Corporations are not persons and can be “killed” by removing their charters for bad behaviour. If they are not persons, they cannot give money for political purposes.

    2. Money is not speech. It is words, not money!

    If they can take up the fight for these two things, it will go along way to getting something done for the people.

  53. Sound of the Suburbs

    Banging the nails into the coffin of the neo-liberal consensus.

    1) Let bankers run riot on Wall Street by removing regulations.

    2) The inevitable Wall Street Crash, laying low the once vibrant global economy.

    3) Unconditional bailouts for bankers

    4) Austerity for the people

    5) The Central Banks use QE to maintain asset prices for the 10% of the population that own nearly all the assets.

    6) Secular Stagnation

    It’s dead, time to move on.

  54. Phil

    When one looks at the rise of automation in the production of *all* goods and services – combined with a rising world population and coming displacements from climate change – one is not looking at a pretty picture.

    Shortages, massive structural constraints, and acute desperation – combine this with coming easy access by terrorists to more destructive technologies. This is going to create a near-long-term series of serious challenges to world leaders and their respective populations. Worldwide, how many from the latter group (populations) are going to be feeling so screwed that they will be easy fodder for authoritarians? I’m betting quite a few – i.e. the majority,especially in underdeveloped regions.

    We are at a turning point, where power will be looking for even more substantial ways (surveillance, first generation, proteomic self-improvement technologies, etc.) to sustain itself. It’s hard to see where this goes, or what it leads to, but we are fast approaching a watershed moment whose horizon is barely out of sight.

  55. Steve Sewall

    The overriding problem with American politics today is mainstream political media’s stranglehold on political discourse. The dominant feature of this stranglehold is media’s polarizing, hyper-emotional obsession with individual politicians. Social media, as currently used by citizens (including President Trump), radically exacerbates this obsession.

    The obvious antidote to this vapid and alarmingly antagonistic politics would be a non-partisan, issue-centered media-based political discourse system focused on ongoing, community-based, citizen-participatory searches for solutions to any and all of the issues the confront communities of all sizes in America.

    But no one talks about creating such a system. Why not? So far as I can see, our heads – including those of our best and brightest – are stuck in the sand of our broken two-party system. Take Charles’s Reich’s piece. It’s brilliant. Even though it’s conceived from within the existing two-party system, it beautifully captures the tensions shaping America today. Among its deeper insights is its awareness that the mistrust of ruling elites that underlies both authoritarian and progressive strains of populism is itself fueled – literally bankrolled – by the manipulative, citizen-disempowering “fundraising machines” of the Rep/Dem establishment. A fundamental insight.

    But something keeps Reich from taking the next, logical step: that of simply stepping outside the crumbling box of Rep/Dem politics to call for the creation of an alternative political discourse system that will make allies, not enemies, of authoritarian and progressive populists in shaping the best futures of the three communities – local, state and national – of which every American is a member. This system will furthermore make rich and poor, and citizens and governments, responsive and accountableto each other in defining and solving problems like poverty, immigration and health care.

    So what keeps Reich from taking that next step? I wish I knew. Could it be that he sees Trump’s populist supporters as beyond the pale of reason, as people he cannot possibly communicate with? I don’t think so. All I can say is that like virtually all liberals, has yet to see the wisdom of shedding his outworn ragged ideological skin in favor of something newer, fresher and more sustaining.

    That skin, I trust, will fall off in time. Hopefully in time to help America create political discourse that brings out the best in us, not the worst. Let’s face it: the clear alternative is fascism or civil war towards which the nation is fast heading. There is no intrinsic reason why America cannot have a politics that respects and empowers the intelligence and experience of ALL Americans, not just those of one’s party, background or economic status.

    America will have this constructive politics when the nation’s mainstream political media – especially network and cable TV – connect Americans on BOTH sides of the political divide instead alienating us via an identity-driven political media that literally destroys citizenship by targeting voters precisely as Amazon targets consumers. Enough of that!.

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