Friday, November 11, 2016

The First Step: We MUST emphatically and unequivocally repudiate Neoliberalism

The inability of the liberal class to address our reality leaves the disenfranchised open to manipulation by demagogues. -Chris Hedges
That insight from Chris Hedges describes in the most succinct way possible what took place on Tuesday.

"Neoliberal globalism is NOT at all a model of "economic deregulation," and it does NOT promote "private initiative" in general. Under the ideological veil of non-intervention, neoliberalism involves extensive and invasive interventions in every area of social life. It imposes a specific form of social and economic regulation based on the prominence of finance, international elite integration, subordination of the poor in every country and universal compliance with US interests." -- from the Introduction (by Alfredo Saad-Filho and Deborah Johnston) to Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader, (2005, Pluto Press, London)

In other words, neoliberalism is ALL about austerity. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties are all about neoliberalism. The Democratic primary contest between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton was fundamentally a potential revolution against the Democratic Party's deep-rooted neoliberal ideology. The neoliberal candidate won the nomination. But shockingly lost the general election.


I have been extremely uninspired to write about politics since May 2016. By that time, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee had undermined Bernie's campaign and candidacy. Bernie then did the right thing by campaigning for Clinton. I am personally appalled at the gall exhibited by Trump since Tuesday. The next few years will be tumultuous.

However, I just never could muster any fire inside me for Clinton. Yes, she was (IS) highly qualified. I voted for her. Jill Stein on the other hand was and is not qualified, despite having values that line up with the Progressive movement and my world view.

I'm not going to bash Stein voters. They are NOT the problem. The problem is NEOLIBERALISM. That's a major factor underlying how and why Clinton never connected with Blue Collar voters. Yes, many (but NOT all) Trump voters are deplorable.

Clinton's fatal mistake was in her handling of the Wall Street speeches. Everything else (or, at least enough of it) could have been reconciled to address voter concerns had she been contrite and leveled with the American people. She lost Independent and Blue Collar voters who could have put her over the top.

Refusing at THAT time (last Spring) to realize that she had lost the necessary margin of victory (percentage of the electorate) is what made Trump victorious in spite of his morally dubious personal values and business practices. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.

Had she admitted her error and gotten real with the Working Class, Clinton likely could have salvaged a victory. Yet, she acted as if she believed doing so would jeopardize her ability to have raised enough money to wage a victorious campaign. But Bernie proved there was a better way to raise money. Elizabeth Warren proved it a couple of years ago and Bernie adopted that approach. Those two, Sanders and Warren, connected with the necessary voters. Clinton did not.

I admire Clinton's persistence. But ultimately SHE lost the election. She owns it.

The DNC, complicit in highly questionable conduct, also owns it (joint tenancy with right of survivorship).

Anyone who embraced Clinton and her approach to the campaign must NOT be elevated to head the DNC. That includes my friend Ruben Gallego. Ruben, though young, bright and energetic, has a history of locking into support for neoliberal candidates. Besides Clinton, in 2012 he unequivocally supported Third Way candidate Andrei Cherny who ran in the primary against Kyrsten Sinema. Sinema now holds the seat for Arizona's Ninth District in Congress.

That is, unless Ruben repudiates neoliberalism and the concept of superdelegates loud enough and in ways that empower rank and file Democrats to hold him accountable to that repudiation. If he does so, it might become reasonable to consider him for the DNC chair position.

We will have social and political problems over the next couple of years. One friend captured the zeitgeist well when he said that the Blue team will come roaring back next time.

But it won't come to pass unless we make the right choices in setting the direction and leadership for the next two years. If the next DNC chair is someone who embraced Clinton, the concept of superdelegates and/or neoliberalism, it won't matter how bright and energetic that person is. He or she will be doomed to fail because he or she will not have learned the necessary lesson from the 2016 presidential campaign.