The Future of the Democratic Party

What liberals can learn from conservatives

The future of the Democratic Party is the theme of the lead article in yesterday’s New York Times. The story more or less writes itself: you have Hillary Clinton, the face of the moderate Democratic establishment (and the spouse of the man who created it), versus Bernie Sanders, a socialist, in a battle most people thought she would have wrapped up months ago.

A lot of liberals like me spend our time wondering what the conservatives have done right—and why we can’t do it ourselves. The financial crisis and Great Recession should have debunked the ideology of deregulation, reinforced growing feelings of economic insecurity, and made people recognize the importance of the social safety net. Instead, we got the Tea Party and the most conservative Congress in living memory.

Seen in the broader sweep of history, conservatives have been relentlessly pushing the nation’s political agenda to the right on most issues (gay rights being almost the only exception), even as public opinion on most social and economic issues remains largely unchanged. Marco Rubio—just four years ago a darling of the Tea Party—is now the last hope of the Republican “moderate” establishment: what other proof is needed of the success of conservative ideology? Sure, extremism makes it hard for Republicans to win presidential elections. But although Democrats have won four and a half out of the past six contests, the result has been lower taxes on the wealthy, smaller government, no progress on climate change or gun control, and a solidly conservative federal judiciary.

So why can’t we do the same?

As liberals go, I spend a lot of time reading about conservatives, and particularly about the history of the modern American conservative movement. It was an important theme of 13 Bankers and a bigger theme ofWhite House Burning, and it will be an even more central theme of my next book (but that’s getting ahead of myself). There were many ingredients to the conservative ascendancy, including the wealth of conservative family foundations, the politicization of the business community, and the proliferation of right-wing think tanks. But one of the most important factors was the refusal to compromise.

Intransigence has been a core principle of the far right since the dark days of the 1950s, when activists seriously debated whether President Eisenhower was a practicing communist or merely a weakling who was soft on communism. Conservative true believers’ refusal to compromise has cost Republicans plenty of battles, from the futile quest of Barry Goldwater in 1964 to Ronald Reagan’s challenge to Gerald Ford in 1976 to the right wing’s abandonment of George H. W. Bush in 1992 (for violating the “read my lips” pledge.) But in the long run, it has enabled conservatives to take over the Republican Party, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and many state governments, and has given them a plausible shot at putting Ted Cruz in the White House. And they have accomplished all this while continuing to hold positions that many of us in the reality-based community think are simply absurd (anthropogenic climate change is a fraud perpetrated by the scientific community, human beings do not evolve, and Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Indonesia).

You can see where this is going. Liberals have been compromising every four years. From Dukakis to Clinton to Gore to Kerry to Obama, the left has faithfully rallied behind the moderate with the best chance of keeping the White House out of Republican hands, because of the unspeakable evil that would result otherwise. And we have gotten pretty much what we paid for. It was an Obama administration with large majorities in both houses of Congress that did nothing about campaign finance, refused to consider a single payer health care system, and saved the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in 2010.

In part, liberals’ willingness to fall in line is an acknowledgment of our overall weakness. With state legislatures and Congress drifting out of reach today, the struggle to hang onto the Oval Office has taken on increasingly desperate tones. In part, it reflects a lack of alternatives: Bill Bradley, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton—to take the last three runners-up—are not exactly the second coming of Ted Kennedy, let alone Robert Kennedy.

Whatever the reason, the thing liberals have not done—and that conservatives did—is stand on principle and vote for the ideas that we believe in.

That’s the choice we face between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, more clearly than in any nominating contest in the past thirty years.

Yes, Clinton is far more electable than Sanders—even if Sanders can attract new voters to the polls, and even though anti-Clinton sentiment is probably worth at least 40% of the electorate to whoever the Republican nominee is. Sanders is a socialist, remember, and not terribly charismatic except to people who already share his ideals.

But could Sanders be our Goldwater?

Barry Goldwater’s crushing loss in 1964 led, via Lyndon Johnson’s victory and the overreaching of the Great Society, to the collapse of both the liberal agenda and the New Deal consensus. Reading historical accounts of American conservatism, it is also clear that the Goldwater campaign was a significant milestone in the unification of the movement and a formative event for many of its future leaders—most notably Ronald Reagan, who became a national figure with his “Time for Choosing” speech and soon won the California governor’s office. The Goldwater campaign demonstrated that conservatism could be a national movement with a coherent, ideologically driven platform, which only needed to attract additional supporters. It made conservatives a distinct political force that had to be reckoned with—grudgingly accepting Richard Nixon in 1968, revolting against Gerald Ford in 1976, and finally gaining control of the national party with Ronald Reagan in 1980.

A Bernie Sanders victory over Hillary Clinton increases the risk of a Republican victory in November. But it could also be a crucial step in the development of a real liberal movement—one that can consistently fight for progressive values, shift the center of gravity of political debate, and one day reverse decades of gains by conservatives. A Sanders campaign could reshape liberalism from a motley collection of well-meaning sentiments—help working people, slow down climate change, reduce gun violence, increase access to health care, and so on—into a battle-ready ideology focused on the theme of leveling the economic and political playing fields. It could make the “Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party” a real political bloc rather than a figment of our imaginations.

Unfortunately, a Sanders campaign could also lead to a Republican victory with no silver lining. A loss in November could discredit liberalism and push Democrats back into the moderate-Republican arms of the Clintons and their allies. (In November 1964, most observers thought that Goldwater’s defeat signaled the bankruptcy of the conservative movement.) Liberals lack most of the artillery necessary to fight conservatives today: funders willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars for the long term; dozens of think tanks to incubate zealots and encourage zealotry during long years out of power; mass media organizations willing to attack the opposition without scruples or fact-checking; and activist organizations building a generation of leaders through elections to school boards and state legislatures. Without that infrastructure, a Sanders nomination could simply evaporate into the history books like the Occupy Wall Street movement.

If liberals want to emulate the success of conservatives, we need more than Bernie Sanders. Barry Goldwater’s nomination in 1964 was not the cause of Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980; it was an effect of a historical trend that was already taking shape.

At the same time, however, the conservatives’ refusal to compromise their principles was a crucial element of their long-term success. Instead of compromising with the moderate Republican establishment on abortion, or evolution, or supply-side economics, instead of backing off of quixotic quests like illegal proxy wars in Central America or the impeachment of President Clinton, they stuck to their guns, recruited their foot soldiers, fired up their base, and waited. Eventually, the GOP came to them.

If liberals want to take over the Democratic Party, at some point we have to stop voting for Clintons and hoping for the best. We know where a Clinton nomination will lead: a decent chance of victory in November, four years of triangulation with Paul Ryan, and one or two Supreme Court seats—leaving us in more or less the same situation we’re in today. It will not fill the ideological gap that allows conservatives to reshape American politics despite losing the presidency over and over. At some point, aiming for the middle of a target that is slowly being tugged to the right becomes a losing strategy.

Voting for Hillary Clinton is doing the same thing one more time and hoping for a different outcome. Voting for Bernie Sanders is a way to show that liberals will stand up for their principles—while increasing the chances that the other side will control the White House for four years. That’s the choice we face. Conservatives in our position would go with principles. What will we do?

Also posted on Medium.

72 thoughts on “The Future of the Democratic Party

  1. “Moderate Republicans like the Clintons?” Really? Sure, Bill Clinton governed to the right of today’s Democratic consensus. But what has Hillary Clinton said in this campaign that sounds anything like a “moderate Republican?” Sure, she’s run further tithe right in the past, though never anywhere close to moderate Republican territory. If there is one thing she does well, it is reflect the desires of her constituents. As Democrats move left, she moves with them. But somehow she always gets ripped for caring about popular will?

    Honestly, I started out strongly supporting Sanders. I signed up to volunteer and made my first political donation to a presidential campaign since Howard Dean. But the more of these unfair hate fests against Hillary I read from Bernie supporters, even if disguised as a “tactics” article to help liberals long term, the less and less I am likely to vote for him in the primary. This article, and HA Goodmen, and all the rest are slowly turning me into a Clintonista.

  2. I am amazed, because I have been on the other side of this thing and feel the conservatives have done nothing but lose ground. I don’t even vote anymore. I think they pay lip service to our concerns, but they don’t want to solve anything because then what would they run on next election cycle?

  3. Or could it possibly be that both Party’s are terrible and when it really comes down to really bad Legislation for The American People, there simply is no difference between Democrats and Republicans?

    Washington’s Farewell Address is read on The Senate Floor at the beginning of each new session, it’s too bad whoever reads it only mouths the words because it’s clear politicians in CONgress sure as hell are not listening to the words.

  4. Simon, just as you harkend back to the war of 1812 in White House Burning, I suggest you look back at the US politics of the 1850s. It was a time when both parties were coming apart. The Republicans formed as an abolitionist/ industrialist party and ran a candidate in 1856. Lincoln won as a Republican in 1860, and we know what happened then. We may be at a similar divide as the oligarchs want a new world of post industrial serfdom. People are sensing that and the support of Sanders may be much deeper than you suspect. But he may also be, as you posit, the first wave of a political reallignment that could see the destruction of both parties and ultimately perhaps a religious war with the anti science faithful of the deep South. It promises to be interesting.

  5. There’s a lot to commend in this post (seriously), except for the self-destructive impulse that prevails at the end.

    Look what “a few Supreme Court seats” has meant for progressive causes over the past decade. Are we really ready to write off two or three more seats to the likes of Scalia, Thomas, and Alito when we have a chance to turn a 5-4 right wing court into a 5-4 progressive court? Think for a moment about what another generation of Citizens United and Hobby Lobby decisions will mean, not just for progressive values but for American democracy.

    Florida and New Hampshire progressives who stood on principle and voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 share responsibility for the catastrophes of the Bush years.

    It is irresponsible for any progressive to minimize what’s a stake in this election. I count myself a Warren Democrat, but now is not the time to take a flyer on Bernie and risk handing all three branches of the government to the radicals who control the GOP. Supermajority requirements will not save us. They’ll be swept aside in the tidal wave.

  6. I agree with most of this post, but to make the case, you really have to take on the elephant in the room: Nader.

  7. If the left voted in off-year elections in the numbers they do every four years in presidential election, conservatives wouldn’t have consolidated as much as they have. That said, I don’t know why people automatically assume Clinton would indulge in “triangulation” that way her husband did. I have to think that Hillary would want to very much want her own presidency and accomplishments. There was a political benefit to working with Republicans twenty years ago that doesn’t exist today. Reaching out to them the way Obama did in his first two years only led to his supporters staying home in 2010, squandering the momentum that swept him into office. Clinton is politically savvy enough to realize that. Whenever Ms. Clinton had gotten herself into “trouble” as first lady, it was because we wouldn’t be shoehorned into the traditional role that conservatives had in mind. To automatically think she wouldn’t be a progressive in her own right (her positions on many issues are far to the left of Bill Clinton’s), or that there is not a good amount of residual animosity toward Republicans for everything from impeachment to Benghazi assumes a lot. I’ll be voting for Sanders in the primary in my state because I think he is leading a movement that needs to be strengthened. But I think Hillary would surprise a lot of us if she were elected.

  8. There is a natural asymmetry though. Conservatives want to stop change from happening so opposition is usually an effective strategy. Liberals want to bring change which requires compromise or an overwhelming majority. As liberals are concentrated in urban areas, they will never hold overwhelming majorities, at least for long. Apportionment favors conservatives and it is only when disgusted with themselves that liberals have a chance. As conservatives have moved to a more activist agenda, even though reactionary, their failure becomes more prominent so long as they lack overwhelming majorities. As liberals move to a more preservationist agenda, their success becomes more prominent. For liberals, this is more a time to conserve and consolidate.

  9. Yes, conservatives hold the upper hand most of the time. The opportunities for progressives come through historical “accidents” (assissinations in the cases of TR and LBJ) or the collapse of the established political order (Lincoln, FDR). Otherwise, it’s incremental progress or rear-guard action for us.

    The bankruptcy of the dominant economic and political ideologies, today, is now crystal clear. Bernie and Trump are the voices declaring the bankruptcy. From a progressive perspective, the problem is that too many people are confused about who’s responsible.

    In 1932, after three years of failure to stem the depression, it was abundantly clear who owned the state Americans were in. We haven’t had that epiphany yet in this cycle. Obama pulled us back from the brink, we resumed business-as-usual, and the conservative propaganda machine put the onus of soaring deficits and a weak economy on you-know-who.

    We know the bad news if the GOP takes full control in November. The good news is that who drove the country into this cesspool with *probably* be revealed. But it’ll be real ugly for awhile. Then progressives will have a resurgence for 5 years or so. There seems to be a four-generation cycle to this dynamic.

  10. There is only one party, and this satanical gvt will default with NO notice at all, possibly quite soon too.

  11. Looking beyond 2016, what does the next generation of Dem leaders look like? Is there a movement of young Bernies, or something else? I think that’s as key as 2016.

  12. Because of what the Republicans have become, a Democratic loss this election would be a disaster for the country. We do not have the right to take that risk.
    Goldwater was only one small part of the right-wing rise. The Republicans could afford to run a throw-away candidate because no Republican could win in ’64. The Dems have a good chance of winning in ’16 and absolutely must not blow it.
    Remember George McGovern in ’72? No one does, for the simple reason that his run led to nothing.
    I disagree that the Great Society overreached. It was Vietnam, not the Great Society, that destroyed LBJ and split the party… Unless you are referring to LBJ’s civil rights legislation, which, as he himself predicted, lost the South to the Democrats. But that was precisely because LBJ didn’t compromise his principals on that issue.
    I think Hillary will win and will govern to the left of Bill. After all, she does channel Eleanor Roosevelt!

  13. Simon

    As always, you made me think.

    But Im not persuaded.

    What the Democrats lack in this election is a good declared candidate, meaning one who can reach over the heads of Republican politicians to the Republican electorate — Ronald Reagan in reverse.

    The two dominant candidates have precisely the opposite effect, for all their declared intentions to “work across the aisle”.

    For lack of such a Reverse-Reagan on the ballot, the risks are high.

    Its not that the Democratic party lacks such a leader, its just that she has not entered the race. She should so so, immediately.

    Peter Doyle

  14. I tried to write a book on how we got into this mess of moving to the right over and over again, but I couldn’t find a publisher. Read the summary I wrote years ago, and let me know if you want me to send you my research materials. –

  15. Excellent analysis except that you attribute Conservative success to a refusal to compromise while not mentioning the shift of the south to become a conservative stronghold as a result the Civil Rights Act other liberal legislation.

    I don’t see anything of similar mega importance now that will benefit Democrats in the future. Do you?


    Just in Time for the Political Revolution: A Revolution Newspaper
    By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 12, 2016
    (Despite the NY Times’ attempt to read a tea leaf over tea party politics in the USA, there are other rumblings that actually address polemical structure in transition in more compelling context);
    “Political revolution is also in the air in the state of New York where a group called “Fed Up New Yorkers” has just launched a newspaper whose stated purpose “is to lessen Big Money’s grip on our political system and on our society.” The newspaper founders say their project is both “a publishing project and a political plan.”
    Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the project is Neil Fabricant, retired president of George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and a former legislative director of the New York Civil Liberties Union…”
    [and, among other items]Political revolution is also in the air in the state of New York where a group called “Fed Up New Yorkers” has just launched a newspaper whose stated purpose “is to lessen Big Money’s grip on our political system and on our society.” The newspaper founders say their project is both “a publishing project and a political plan.”

    Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the project is Neil Fabricant, retired president of George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and a former legislative director of the New York Civil Liberties Union….
    [and, among other offerings]:
    “One of the most intriguing articles in the first issue of the newspaper
    is the story of how Lewis Powell, a wealthy corporate lawyer and former President of the American Bar Association, who was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Nixon, wrote a memo in 1971 that ushered in the “historic shift from share-the-wealth to winner-take-all capitalism,” according to the newspaper.

    Powell’s thesis was that capitalism was being destroyed by everyone from students on campus to communists to members of the press, textbook authors, and activist judges. In what sounds like an exact page from the Koch brothers’ current playbook, the newspaper reveals how Powell mapped out the counterattack plan for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

    “Capitalism would be destroyed unless corporate America played the long game across virtually every institution in American life. With targets that included textbooks and television (‘the national television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance’), scholarly journals and magazines (‘there should be a fairly steady flow of scholarly articles presented to a broad spectrum of magazines and periodicals’) and mass-market paperbacks (‘the newsstands — at airports, drugstores and elsewhere — are filled with paperbacks and pamphlets advocating everything from revolution to erotic free love’), Powell called for a massive corporate commitment to reshape American society, its culture and institutions.”
    Powell also noted that “The judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change.”
    Powell’s full memo can be read here.
    The drift of current political campaigning falls squarely under the deep shadow of this contentious history, and the currents of power that currently blur the foundation with personality games and rubic cube lexicon merely shuffle the deck to obscure this history. We are not in a fight to reconstruct a simple party long since given over to class bias and financially nested interests, but to reclaim democracy.
    We are not going to manage that with old concepts and new money. Especially so if we let the media pick the language. One thing we did learn in this campaign trial is that the media believed it had a political handle on theory and action until they made fools of themselves second guessing Trump day to day and then week to week. It is not analytical political science anymore and it is not homogenized party politics standing in line for their turn; but at this point we are all contrarians!

    Bernie Sanders’ Plan to Tame Wall Street Riles Team Clinton
    By Mary Bottari on January 6, 2016 – 9:49am
    “Clinton objects to the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act on the grounds that the 1935 legislation doesn’t address the modern “shadow banking system,” and players like Lehman and AIG. (For a great primer on what shadow banking means, see this piece by Vermont Law Professor Jennifer Taub.) –
    Sanders Wants to Restore Glass-Steagall
    Sanders Wants to Implement a Financial Transaction Tax –
    Other Components of the Plan:
    Putting Ratings Agencies Out of Business:
    – See more at:

  18. “The mainstream media continues to be shocked that Bernie Sanders keeps gaining traction against frontrunner Hillary Clinton. However, if you look at what Sanders actually stands for, it is well within the mainstream of what used to be the Democratic Party.”
    “Meanwhile, the American economy has turned viciously against ordinary people. Banks, corporations, and the one percent have more power than ever, political as well as economic.”
    So there is a pent-up demand for a candidate who can articulate popular frustrations.
    Robert Kuttner wrote a new post Bernie Sanders Is About as Radical as Harry Truman
    See more Robert Kuttner on issues here:

  19. Bill Black : @ The Real News Network
    The Black Financial and Fraud Report
    “Well, Bernie Sanders is the only candidate in either party who has made it clear what is actually inescapable about this crisis but never talked about by leading politicians. And that is it was brought upon by the three most destructive fraud epidemics in world history.”
    “That’s, to me, one of the biggest takes from the Sanders story. Now, we know also that major differences that we’ve discussed with the viewership previously, in terms of Sanders wants to end the systemically dangerous institutions, Senatory Clinton wants to keep them alive.”

  20. Sanders has a once-in-a-generation chance in this election to crystallize exactly what progressives are fighting for, and the danger of allowing the status quo to continue unchallenged. I’m referring specifically to the very real prospect of Trump being nominated, and Michael Bloomberg joining the race thereafter.

    Just consider the prospect of Sanders, running an unabashedly progressive campaign with no support from the donor class, facing off against TWO billionaires, both financing their campaigns with a small fraction of their personal fortunes. The struggle between democratic values and plutocracy–between populism and the loathsome greed of the superwealthy–could not be any more stark.

    It would be terrible if, somehow, Trump won the election, but it would be a tragedy to miss this opportunity to frame progressivism as a struggle shared by people of all colors and creeds to shape the world toward a shared prosperity.

    Clinton, for all of her strengths, can’t deliver that message.

  21. @skunk – how meaningless all this blathering of words like “progressive” and “conservative” is….but hey,why not this guy for Prez instead of Sanders since he also entertains the 1%ers with a carefully crafted schtick of what the 99% are “angry” about – ahahaha!

  22. The biggest threat to our democracy is the money in politics. With their ruling on Citizens United, the Roberts Court handed the Republicans an enormous handicap that affects everything from how news gets reported in mainstream networks eager for ad revenue to redistricting (which affects who gets elected to the House). In the current climate, it’s more or less pointless to espouse an ideology without financial backing. It’d be sort of like the Charlotte Bobcats hoping to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers–sure, it could happen once in a while, but generally, it’s not going to happen.
    To get the money out of politics, we have to get rid of Citizens United. Getting rid of Citizens United would have a huge effect on shifting the center of our political landscape towards the left, where the center would actually be right now, if not for the distorting power of all those billions injected into our system. Once Citizens United were nullified, over time, most other things liberals care about would begin to fall into place.
    We can’t ignore the risk of losing a Supreme Court nomination–it trumps literally everything else. Unfortunately, there is no way a Republican Congress that has benefitted from the distorting effects of Citizens United, is ever going to pass legislation thwarting Citizens United. There is also no way that the highly-politicized current Supreme Court would ever overturn Citizens United. This means that, to get rid of Citizens United, which is all we should really be focused on, we have to change the bench. Scalia is one Stuffed Crust Meat Lover’s Pizza away from kicking the bucket. If he were replaced with a liberal justice, getting rid of Citizens United would become a very real possibility. The playing field would be leveled and we could vote our hearts and minds, as the conservatives began to do with Goldwater.
    The main problem with Bernie Sanders is that he has no money, relatively speaking. Post-Citizens United, this more or less means he has no shot. He also insists on self-identifying as a socialist, which is a huge turn-off to anyone that lived through the Cold War. Like Lincoln Chafee, he’s also from a small state in New England. He also seems old. He has better ideas on foreign policy than the other candidates, but has no real experience in foreign policy, which is all most people care about (most people only care about foreign policy as it relates to the threat of being attacked by bad people). 
    Unfortunately, I think the Clinton nomination is more or less a foregone conclusion. They’ve got the endorsements and money they need. Like the Underwoods, even if Washington insiders dislike the Clintons, they won’t go against them, for the very real fear of retaliation.
    Although I don’t think he can win the nomination, I’m voting for Sanders in the primary because the Clintons should know they still have to appease the progressives rather than simply doing deals with Paul Ryan that undermine our economy and future. And if Hillary gets the nomination, as much as I dislike her and think it’s a huge step backward, I’m obviously not voting for Trump.

  23. Wat Tyler, the first half of your analysis is spot on, but the second half, not so much. To elect HRC and flip the court, we cannot afford to have her limping into the general with Bernie’s supporters pissed at the outcome. Bernie is doing a service by pulling and anchoring the party to the left, but there is a risk that by persisting too long, Bernie and his supporters are going to replicate the damage Nader did in 2000.

    The electorate is volatile and if the economy turns south or a significant terrorist attack occurs on US soil, the GOP could come out of the general controlling the entire government. Why add another risk factor?

  24. Publiustex, Sanders has said he won’t run as an independent. Nader ran as an independent in 2000. They are not the same thing.

  25. I meant, Nader ran as a Green Party candidate in 2000. My point was that while Nader siphoned votes from Gore in 2000, Sanders can’t siphon votes from Hillary because he’s not a third-party candidate.

    If you trust Hillary to do “the right thing” with respect to Wall Street or companies like Walmart (her old job), without being pressured to do so, I think you are a bit naive.

  26. I’m aware of that of course. Sanders is at risk of playing the Nader role inside the party through the primary process by extending the battle to the point that he damages Clinton’s odds of winning the general by reinforcing misgivings some progressive have about just how progressive she is. We progressives (I’m one) are making the great the enemy of the good and risking the election of the truly horrific.

  27. I’m not trusting HRC to do the right thing on the banksters. I’d like to see her appoint Warren to the Fed where she can get at the bastards directly, but in any case, I expect HRC will do some of the right things re Wall Street.

    But I’m not casting my ballot on that issue alone. I’m confident that she’ll do the right thing on a wide variety of progressive issues and will nominate a progressive to the SC, our only shot at overturning Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, etc. Whether she or he is confirmed depends on whether we take back the Senate. We’ll have a better chance of doing that with HRC at the top of the ticket than Bernie.

    If the GOP wins in November, we’ll lose the SC for another generation. You can inagine what a majority of Scalia-type ideologues would do over the next 20 years.

  28. Woych-

    There’s a debate going on within the community of progressive economists about whether restoring Glass-Steagle is the best, or even an effective, way to rein in the banks. For example, Simon Johnson and Paul Krugman are on opposite sides of the question. But both agree that HRC is advocating much strong interventions with the TBTF banks and Wall Street.

    The fact that HRC “has not (yet)”, in Simon’s words, endorsed some version of a modernized Glass-Steagle does not mean she’s in Wall Street’s pocket. This is campaign rhetoric of her opponents.

  29. What’s the evidence that Clinton is more electable than Bernie? Polls suggest it’s even or slightly tilted to Sanders.

  30. Publiustex, I think your worries about Sanders hurting Hillary’s chances in the general election are unfounded, so long as she does enough to appease progressives between her nomination and Nov 6. The right running mate would help. How, for example, would you trust her to pick the right running mate (ie a progressive), unless she feels pressured to do so? Despite all the unfounded statements to the contrary, Hillary is not a progressive.
    Given what happened in the 2008 financial crisis (among other things, the packaging of mortgages for use as investment instruments), it’s obvious that we sorely need a return to the separation of commercial and investment banks that existed under Glass-Steagle. That doesn’t mean the reforms should end there–we obviously have to do something about credit default swaps and other derivatives. But to say you don’t want to return to Glass-Steagle because it didn’t go far enough, without presenting an alternative, is a convenient way to dodge the issue. That, combined with the millions in contributions she’s received from Wall Street, is evidence she’s in the pocket of the banks. What evidence is there that she’s not in their pocket? If there is any, please share it with us. Until that time, assuming she’ll do the “right thing” re: the banks is merely a regurgitation of platitudes originating from her own campaign.

  31. The betting sites have a better track record than polls at this point in a race, and they’re giving HRC a 75-80% chance of winning.

    Sam Wang said this today: “If Sanders defeats Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, we still believe that Clinton will be the nominee — though she may limp into the Philadelphia convention if the contest turns into a long, painful slog. For those who point to national surveys that show Sanders scoring bigger victories than Clinton against the top Republicans, we suggest that Sanders’ novelty has something to do with it. Except in a fractured, multi-candidate field — and maybe not even then — it is very difficult to imagine a 74-year old socialist becoming president of the United States. ”

    This is exactly my point (which I made before looking up Wang’s assessment). Sander’s threatening to damage HRC’s chances in November and is highly unlikely to win if he vets the nomination.

    Just because the GOP is self-destructing doesn’t mean we’re obligated to follow suit.

  32. Only 2 moving parts – Capital and labor and the REALITY is that LABOR is what “creates” capital.

    So if only two major political parties are “allowed” to exist in a “republic” – even though the majority of registered voters self-identify as “Independent” – then the sharing of power among Executive, Legislative and Judicial is based on the representation of LABOR and capital. Democrats were supposed to represent labor, so they are the biggest back stabbers. Rethugs were “capital” and completely went psychotic in thinking “capital” creates the “labor force”. It doesn’t. But all kneel to the new priest class, the worst ever, the Shamans of Technology with their all-powerful gizmos, their Math God ideology – More misery for others = More $$$$ for me – and their FIAT issued $$$$.

    All we have is a political system of majik words completely outside of any kind of “governance” in a material world still operating by laws of physics.

    People have been DELETED from meta-databases tracking unemployment – and that is not “illegal”. Deleting the existence of “workers” over 50 who never got back into the workforce….only way to give the Math God the number he wants for unemployment.

    But the IRS still has those deleted names – they are the “cleaners” set up to get it ALL. A person who took out a 5K personal IRA from CHASE in order to not be homeless got on the IRS radar for not paying a tax on that withdrawal even though total income for that person for the year was UNDER 10K.

    @Sloth – I got it….here’s HOW the cabal of Shamans of Technology have been keeping each other up to date:

  33. publiustex, I guess your response means you have no evidence HRC is NOT in the pocket of the banks. (Incidentally, using Hillary’s initials to make her seem somehow like FDR is a clever idea.)
    I should add that, in terms of damaging the coalition going into the general, Sanders has run a positive campaign thus far, while Hillary has already trotted out her negative ads. Which is more damaging to the coalition?

  34. You’ve got to be kidding. Riddle me this: why should we give any credibilty to the the former cockroach exterminator turned right wing political hack. Unless because be has some experience with indictments, oh, and convictions, for that matter.

    I’m sure he has excellent contacts with people at the top of the Obama Justice Department.

  35. Wat. Jeeze, I wish I’d thought of that. Maybe I was going for Honest ABE. If that works, we’ve got some braindead people on this site.

    You know, of course, that it’s impossible to prove a negative. Google this: modus tollens in propositional logic.

    As for Bernie damaging HRC, I don’t know who you are or your credentials, but I do know Sam Wang’s credentials and I’m inclined to weigh his assessment over your opinion.

  36. publiustex | January 28, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Thanks for raising the question. The politics and the rhetoric are two different animals in the same zoo. Of course there is history…, but then these days history is in the eye of the shareholder. Krugman is something of an intellectual thug in a collegiate suit. You might enjoy this review (with links internal to satisfy the incurable truth seeker):
    Krugman’s Cowardly, Dishonest Attack on David Dayen Over Krugman’s Misrepresentation of Sanders’ Financial Reforms
    Posted on January 28, 2016 by Yves Smith
    It’s hard to choose just what paragraph from this comprehensive article should be selected to represent it; but I will pick this and recommend that you go and read the entire item; it’s a gem!
    “The fundamental issue here is that there is deep disagreement within the Democratic Party over values, not over methods. The argument that Hillary and Bernie represent different methods for the same goal is the essential lie of the Krugman/Konczal/Klein world. Krugman and his merry band really want a world shaped by technocrats without accountability or responsibility. This is a world where people in power can ignore who they want (like Dayen) and take money from whoever they want (like Peterson and Enron) and support who they want (like Clinton and Obama) without being held responsible for the policy outcomes that emerge. All opposition is cynically chalked up to racism, as opposed to the inherent evil of a world run by elitist corrupt professionals.”
    Now that is direct speak; no double speak here or obfuscating history here. This is Yves Smith’s gold standard of foundation building truth. As I mentioned above, the article is rich in detail and loaded with live links to the work and articles that back up the position presented.

  37. REFERENCED FROM Yves Smith’s ARICLE @ Naked Capitalism

    What the Liberal Attacks on Bernie Sanders Are Really About
    By David Dayen
    January 22, 2016
    “Related: Here’s How to Break Up the Big Banks

    Liberal reformers used to get this. In fact, Krugman and most of his backers pull from the work of Mike Konczal, who lately has led on the idea that Glass-Steagall restoration wouldn’t be a particularly effective goal. But back in 2010, when Dodd-Frank was being debated, Konczal co-wrote a chapter in a report for the Roosevelt Institute called “Creating a 21st Century Glass-Steagall.” He understood then that “the real problem of this crisis is in the overlap between investment banking and commercial banking.”

    Konczal wanted mostly to extend regulatory strictures to shadow banks. But much of the thinking behind his solution in 2010 looks like Warren’s solution in 2016: preventing ordinary commercial banks from concentrating resources in the riskiest areas, and limiting shadow banks’ funding advantages. When you dig into Warren and Konczal’s seemingly disparate arguments, they come to a rough equilibrium: Let’s reduce risk by adding resiliency to the financial system. Everyone in the Democratic coalition concurs with this; the differences are a matter of degree.

    But denying this consensus, and delegitimizing structural reform as silly and shortsighted, only does the work of banks and their lobbyists, who want to preserve the current system and cut off any avenues for a more far-reaching redesign.”

    Why in the world are people who call themselves liberals helping them do it? Those wondering why Warren hasn’t endorsed Hillary Clinton yet should consider whether it’s because Clinton and her minions are delivering a mortal wound to the cause of Warren’s life.

  38. (Once more “credits” to Yves Smith for the reference here)
    Meet the New Harry and Louise
    Vox’s attack on Bernie Sanders is sold as a policy critique. It’s actually a dishonest exercise in managing the Democratic Party base.
    by Seth Ackerman
    “…when it came to principles, the Democrats had the better of the argument. ”

    “The predicament the party finds itself in now, judging by the new poll numbers out of Iowa, is that it faces a base that took it at its word. And now sites like Vox — key actors in what might be called the party’s “base management system” — are forced to spring into action to patch things up. But it’s not easy to hold up both halves of that maxim, enunciated by famous liberal Immanuel Kant, regarding the proper attitude of a subject toward his sovereign: criticize, but obey.

    Right now, the system may look a little unsteady. And maybe it is, we’ll see. Still, if I were the base — the liberal base, the progressive base, the radical base — I wouldn’t get too complacent.”
    I can not agree with James Kwak that Conservatives stick to principles and that Democrats should emulate that sacred trust; I do think that when it comes to principles (at least in ideal talking points) the Democrats have the better argument…
    …but I do see Kwak’s dilemma as accurate:
    “Voting for Bernie Sanders is a way to show that liberals will stand up for their principles—while increasing the chances that the other side will control the White House for four years. That’s the choice we face.”
    (of course risk aversion is not all its Kwaked up to be!).
    Sanders’ 4 part Bill online: Too big To Fail
    To address the concept of ‘‘Too Big To Fail’’ with respect to certain financial entities. IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
    introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred
    to the Committee
    A BILL
    To address the concept of ‘‘Too Big To Fail’’ with respect
    to certain financial entities.
    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
    of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
    This Act may be cited as the
    ‘‘Too Big To Fail, Too Big To Exist Act’’.

  39. > But although Democrats have won four and a half out of the past six
    > contests, the result has been lower taxes on the wealthy,


    > smaller government,

    Now just as large as in 1996:

    > no progress on climate change

    The Paris agreement? It remains to be seen what its effects will be, but it is not nothing.

    > or gun control,

    You’ve got me there :-(

    > and a solidly conservative federal judiciary.

    Both Clinton and Obama have appointed/will appoint more federal judges than Bush: Clinton 373, Bush 324, Obama 320 and counting. See Wikipedia.

  40. Lets not lose site of just how corrupt and deep into denial most all institutions and politicians are, born to run on empty and using the same failed policy’s they violate the constitution and look the other way as they reap great rewards. Then refusing to discuss their denial or needing to study something to death becomes the norm for them, resulting in a 360 degree pain in the ass for the general public as the the public watches the establishment sink further into its final destination. There will be no place to hide when the wall of political debris comes to town, and you aint gonna like plan sea. It’s safe to say, you have well been warned.

  41. Well done Twoflower. However, they don’t have you on gun control. The Brady Handgun Bill and the assault weapons ban were passed in 1994 under Clinton and, btw, contributed mightily to Democrat losses in the 1994 debacle.

    Both laws were allowed to expire under W and the NRA-controlled Congress we’ve enjoyed most years since then, snd if we nominate Bernie, we’ll continue to enjoy. We have a shot at taking the Senste with HRC at the top. Not so with Bernie. That’s not just my opinion. That’s what our candidates and incumbents in red and purple states are saying.

  42. Woych,

    “Krugman is something of an intellectual thug in a collegiate suit.”

    This is exactly the kind of progressive-on-progressive fire we don’t need. I greatly admire Warren, Sinon, Kwak, Yves, Taibbi, Moyer for the war they’re waging on Wall Street. But it’s not our only war, or even our most important war.

    Our top priority in WWII was Europe. The Pacific came second. Our top priority now has to be electoral reform: campaign finance, voting rights act, voter id’s, automatic registration, vote by mail, voting hours. All of our agenda depends on breaking the right wing/oligopolist grip on our elections.

  43. publiustex, you’ve already lost the war, in the form of delegates, do you recall how delegates came about in the first place? I’m certain it’s no so let me tell you, the voting public was voting more than once, even more than twice, and the political solution was to create a new system to counter the popular vote in the form of a delegate system of votes. This would reduce the ability of groups of individuals to sway an entire country and limit it to a regional or state conflict to keep the popular votes more in line as a whole for the country. The war was lost once the citizens no longer had the ability to vote more than once, why?
    Because of the human greed for power to control others using politics, the temptation was to great and the memory of the citizens was to short to do the right thing, so another wrong was carried out by greedy politicians simply by doing nothing or ignoring any resistance for proper change. These examples of political uncorrectness have only mushroomed over time, as the sky is the limit for power thinkers, have only added to the mistakes of politics. Politics is a lost cause when the majority is on the wrong side of nature and denial is the only meal being served.

  44. Skunk,

    Thanks for the 8th grade (student, not teacher) lecture on the history of reform of the nominating process! Very helpful. (Btw, I lived that history as a pro-civil rights, anti-war liberal Southern Democrat in the ’60s and ’70s. Where were you then?)

    Whatever Bernie does in Iowa and NH, he’ll be done after the SEC Primary on March 1. Why? Delegates. Count them come March 2.

    To be helpful, the correct words are “too” not “to” and “incorrectness” not “uncorrectness”. Also, I recommend lessons in the use of punctuation and avoiding run-on sentences. Good luck!

  45. Correctness in punctuation is NOT my strong suit, abusing the language seems to be yours though, do you control people with language too? Profile and stereotype them? Sorry to be such a pain in the neck, I was in the Chicago taxi drivers union during the 60’s and 70’s, Good luck with the pain in the neck, mirror mirror on the wall and all.

  46. I apologize for getting under your skin.

    Was the Chicago taxi driver strike the one on TV where the Chicago police beat and tear gassed the street protestors. Or maybe it was an action taken in sympathy with the defendants in the trial of the Chicago 7. Sorry, I didn’t keep up with local taxi drive union disputes.

  47. publiustex, I have to assume you’re volunteering for the Hillary campaign. You don’t know who I am, but we also don’t know who you are. Your “link” in your name goes to a blank website.
    Re: Hillary being in the pocket of Wall Street:
    I find your response to be dishonest. I wasn’t suggesting PROVING a negative, like we’re in 8th grade geometry class. I was asking what your evidence was that Hillary’s NOT in the pocket of the banks. I mean, is there anything that even indicates she’s not in the pocket of the banks, other than campaign rhetoric? If there is, I’d be happy to hear it. (To prove your point, you could simply point to some legislation she passed as senator from New York.) But I’m tired of Hillary supporters (and Hillary) dismissing criticism without actually addressing it.
    You might think progressive fears that the Clintons are corporate bootlickers are irrelevant, but please remember that it was Bill Clinton (the Clintons are a team) who, along with Republicans in Congress, got rid of Glass-Steagle. This was a large factor that led to the financial crisis of 2008. So it actually matters that the Clintons are in the pocket of the banks.
    Don’t even get me started on the fact that Hillary voted for us to go to war in Iraq. I can’t think of any more clear evidence that she’s unwilling to step up to Republicans.
    In terms of the strategy of voting for Bernie in the primary so that the Clintons have to appease progressives, it’s actually taken directly from the Hillary playbook. In 2008, there were many calls for Hillary to drop out of the race sooner, as her negative campaigning was “hurting” the Democratic coalition needed to elect Obama. She stayed in the race and stayed negative to gain leverage with the Obama campaign. That’s the main reason Obama tapped her to be his first secretary of state.
    This was a smart, calculated move on the part of the Clintons. I have great respect for the Clintons as political tacticians. I’m simply saying Sanders should do the same thing with respect to Hillary that Hillary did with respect to Obama.
    I should also mention I was a Hillary supporter in 2008 because I thought Obama couldn’t get elected. But after I was proven wrong, the idea of going backwards seems unpalatable, to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, the Clintons were exactly what we needed in 1992, but it’s not 1992 anymore.

  48. Wat,

    I’m not a volunteer in the Hillary campaign but I’ve given her some money. Not as much as I wish I could. I supported Obama in 2008, not HRC.

    I know of no link in my name that goes to a website, much less a blank one. How does that tell you who I am? Other than telepathically. I’d tell you straight out who I am but I’m not willing to take the abuse that comes with it. Been there, done that.

    You’re mighty presumptuous. I was a senior political appointee in the Clinton administration Treasury Department when Glass-Steagall was repealed. As an economic liberal and knowing the history of Deal Deal financial sector reforms, I spoke against the repeal but didn’t have the clout to stop it. It was a freight train.

    I knew at the time that Brooksley Born was right. Greenspan’s, Rubin’s, Summer’s, and Levitt’s behavior was shameful. Warren, Ted Kaufman, and Simon were right that the Obama WH’s opposition to Kaufman’s amendment to Dodd-Frank was misguided, to put it charitably. Thank you, Timothy Geithner.

    You’re style of political purity would have denied progressivism, and the nation, of Lincoln (a racist, by any modern definition, who didn’t seek to end slavery until the war demanded/enabled it), TR (a warmonger and America imperialist), FDR (an American aristocrat if there ever were one), Truman (a corrupt, machine pol-haberdasher), JFK (son of a right winger who sympathized with Germany and brother of a senior attorney on HUAC), and LBJ (we all know his record before passing the ’64 CRA).

    Instead, you offer us the gratifying principled failure of Bryan, Stevenson, McGovern, Dean, and Nader.

    Too much is at stake this year.

  49. I was the last ride out during that strike and know of no police beatings being reported at that time, I attended the convention and that party was my affair with politics.

  50. We’ve missed you. If they can’t convert you, they want to turn you into a cynic and acquiesce. Either way, they win. It’s been a good strategy for them.

  51. Today’s gvt Annie is on the wrong side of nature and in complete denial about it. They should be ashamed of themselves rather than acting like the British Empire, they raise the cost of living and then hold you accountable financially. It’s a competition for insanity without compromise, a formula of the A students to control the masses financially, it’s a tragedy, a travesty of justice. If they were capable, or wise, they should be educating rather than holding people accountable to their failed ideals. It’s a hideous, embarrassing, sick and ridiculous gvt we live under, it’s satanical, a pain in the ass, drenched in Unforgivable Sin, and it’s days are numbered as they should be.

    Weather all make it through or not remains to be seen, but you and the war on woman shall not be forgotten in the long run, froze from fear perhaps of the methods used to even the odds of his disaster, yet don’t let that bug ya, you could be stronger afterwords from it all, and just remember, it’s was for a good cause. Regards, as the hands of time are black and white.

  52. Mr. Kwak,
    I can’t agree more with what you say, especially ” The financial crisis and Great Recession should have debunked the ideology of deregulation, reinforced growing feelings of economic insecurity, and made people recognize the importance of the social safety net. Instead, we got the Tea Party and the most conservative Congress in living memory”.

    But i think we are unintentionally, whitewashing the role that democrats have played in the conservative posture of this country. Is a Liberal, Ms. Pelosi?, who recently undermined Bernie Sanders by stressing no new taxes (even for single payer)? Is a liberal, Mr. Max Baucas, who removed single payer from contention in the health care debate? Is a liberal Barney Frank, who helped pass a toothless financial bill and then went to work for Wall St.? The liberals in Congress have passed no meaningful, financial, energy or health reform. They have been zeros. Why differentiate them SO from the GOP – who are, admittedly, so abhorrent?

    At the very end, you mention that we need to end voting for non-change. And yet, we are to vote for another democrat? Sanders is a good person. I am sure. But he can’t change the structural economic problems of our country. And i reason that because he doesn’t have any forign policy initiatives that change our EMPIRICAL footprint. That needs to be changed first. He still blames Russia for Ukraine. He thinks the Saudis should play a bigger role. He doesn’t advocate ending selling record weaponry to the Saudi gov’t. He confirms that Israel is defending itself. What leader, who is responsive to change, supports ethnic cleansing? Apartheid?

    I voted for Nader 3 times. I voted for Stein last election. Those people understood, in my opinion, the corporate/govt merger and its deleterious effects on our society and government. They represented change. How many times do we support a democrat (like Obama) because he is the better of 2 evils? The country, after 7yrs of Obama has more inequality. Has more corruption. Has bigger banks. Has extended NAFTA to TPP. Has more $$$ going to the Defense industry. Has raised the ‘terrorism’ facade to ever greater heights. Better of 2 evils again?

    The late Alexander Cockburn, writing in THE NATION, said, i believe! that we should vote for Romney in the last election. Just to end this nightmare and let things get bad instead of keeping the masquerade of this ponzi scheme going.

    I am convinced that things won’t change under the democrats. Things won’t change, i believe, until THINGS ARE SO BAD, THEY HAVE TO CHANGE.

  53. It’s when you lose the capacity to differentiate between Democrats and Republicans that you get a $3 trillion hellhole in Iraq, torture of prisoners, 4500 American dead and 32000 wounded not to mention the Iraqi casualties, fanatical opposition to any kind of health insurance expansion, a SC that gives us Citizens United and Hobby Lobby and guts the Voting Rigbts Act, immediate and universal deportation, the war on science, the war on choice and contraception, the war on LBGT, I could go on.

    As much as you might dislike both parties, don’t delude yourself that it makes no difference which one wins elections.

  54. We the People are all “Charlie Brown” wanting to have “faith” that “Lucy” is not going to yank the football away….which candidate won’t pull the “Lucy” is the question….

    What is torture when greed is good?

    Cannibal Capitalism supported by Nihilism, Hedonism and Anarchy.

    Prove me wrong. You can’t.

    Shamans of Gizmology – worse professional priest class ever to walk the earth….and that says a lot….

  55. C’mon, if people are DELETED from being counted as “unemployed”, why does the IRS come after them for taxes due on cashing in a Chase IRA when the total income the deleted unemployed person had 4 years into unemployment that year was under 10K with that IRA cashed in?

    Vicious merciless Kangaroo Court of the IRS using “anti-wha’ever” lists to turn up the volume on their law-breaking irrational murdering jealousy of the “chosen competent” middle class LABOR who “made America great”…the only reason I can figure why they continue to go after you even after they know that they took it all, already, is because some algorithm that feeds the “dark pool derivatives” depends on IRS feed of the deleted unemployed…


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