The political scene: Links & comments 11/10/14

It’s Al From’s Democratic Party: We Just Live Here by Matt Stoller for Medium (via Naked Capitalism)

The new corporate-friendly Democratic Party did not come out of nowhere.  It was created by the Democratic Leadership Council, which included Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Joe Biden and was organized by a little-known (to the public) operator named Al From, whose book, The New Democrats and the Return to Power, was reviewed by Matt Stoller in this important article.

Al From’s basic aim was to move the Democratic Party away from redistribution and toward growth in productivity, the rising tide that supposedly would lift all boats.  In order to do this, federal policy should serve the needs of high finance and high technology industry and appeal to a rainbow coalition of minorities, feminists and gays rather than organized labor.

From’s New Democrats also strove to eliminate governmental waste and governmental programs, especially welfare programs, that don’t work (which in itself wasn’t a bad thing) and to demonstrate their independence and impartiality by attacking historical Democratic constituencies, such as public school teachers.

The problem is that growth in productivity lagged, and the benefits of increased productivity were captured by a small financial elite.  Nevertheless the New Democrats still dominate the Democratic Party.

“The president is basically in hiding”: Thomas Frank unloads on Dems, Kansas and crushing midterm losses for Salon.

unnamedThe GOP’s poisonous double-speak: Thomas Frank on how Republicans hijacked the midterms for Salon.

The Democrats put themselves in a position in which the Republicans were able to pose as the defenders of the common people against the financial and governmental elite, wrote Thomas Frank.   The Republicans are no such thing, but the leading Democrats put themselves in a position in which they had no effective reply.

Six Points on the Midterm Elections by Rich Yeselson for Jacobin magazine.

In earlier posts, I consoled myself with the thought that Americans, even while rejecting Democrats, voted in favor of labor and against big corporations in referenda and local elections.

But Rich Yeselson pointed out that the American electorate also is strongly against tax increases, which will be necessary to maintain public works and public services.   Taxes on the upper 1 percent won’t be enough, he wrote.

He noted that the Republicans won the governorship in Vermont, based on tax issues, which means the end of that state’s attempt to provide single-payer health care.

Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite? by Robert Parry for Consortium News (via Cannonfire)

Answer: Yes, but not very Lite.

Screenshot+2014-11-09+at+8.15.23+AMWith Democrat Hillary Clinton Likely 2016 Neoconservative Standard Bearer, Republicans Should Offer a Real Alternative—such as Rand Paul by Doug Bandow for Forbes (via Cannonfire).

Fat chance of the Republicans ever doing that!  Aside from Rand Paul being a lightweight, the Republicans would not nominate a defender of civil liberties or advocate for peace.

Democracy on the critical list: How do we escape this toxic political cycle? by Andrew O’Hehir for Salon.

I think the American people are highly discontented with U.S. politics, the U.S. economy and both political parties.   This discontent has not coalesced into a political movement, but someday it will.  I can’t predict what direction the new movement will take.  It could be very good for the country or very bad.

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