Monday, August 22, 2011

Vila Web: Naomi Klein on Democracy vs Neoliberalism

Source: Vila Web- Naomi Klein-
Source: Vila Web: Naomi Klein on Democracy vs Neoliberalism

In 1989 or so a new Center-Left movement emerged in the Democratic Party. People who are called New Democrats who are Liberal and Progressive Democrats, who wanted to take the Democratic Party back from the social-democratic New-Left McGovernites who emerged in the party in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Who saw the Democratic Party just lose three-straight presidential elections for the first time in like sixty years. Going back to the Calvin Coolidge Administration, as well as losing control of the Senate for the first time in a generation in 1980 with the Reagan Revolution. As well as the Republican Party holding on to the Senate for two more elections in the 1980s, for the first time in probably sixty years. And their were a group of Liberal Democrats who were somewhat moderate, led by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Gary Hart, Dick Gephardt to a certain extent, Bob Kerry, Joe Lieberman, etc. Who in the 1990s would get dubbed as New Democrats. Who saw their party get hammered in election after election and decided it's time they fought back. They concluded that the Democratic Party was still a viable party, but that it started to move out of the political mainstream of American politics.

The Democrats became unelectable as a party on the national level, because they were seen as tax and spenders, soft on crime, soft on defense, soft on welfare, soft on corruption, etc. You can go down the line perhaps you've heard these terms before. And decided to put organizations together to promote their new way of thinking and their policy's and recruit political candidates who think like they do. Organizations like the Progressive Policy Institute that's still in business, notice that word progressive. That's still business today thats not a social democratic institute as that name might indicate. But a moderate-liberal institute, left of center, a little too moderate for me, but that's a different story. As well as the New Democrat Coalition and they wanted to promote a new way of thinking to deal with the issues that the country was facing. And then recruit the political candidates to run on these policy's and try to put them in place once they are elected. That wasn't government centered and focusing on creating new Federal social insurance programs. But that was people centered focusing on empowering people to handle their own problems. The 1996 Welfare to Work Law is a perfect example of this.

Moderate Liberal New Democrats wanted to promote a new agenda that wasn't government centered, but still hold true to the values of the Democratic Party. Using government to help people in need help themselves and move past the days of indefinite public assistance and empower people in need to get themselves on their feet. But Welfare to Work wasn't their only objective. Things like fiscal responsibility and government living within it's means. The 1993 Deficit Reduction Act being a perfect example of this, that had a lot of budget cuts in it as well as tax hikes on the wealthy. Getting rid of the soft on crime image that killed the Democratic Party in 1968, 72, 80, 84, 88 by getting tough, but smart on crime. By having violent offenders serve out their sentences and serving long sentences for serious crimes. But also measures to prevent crime and addressing at risk youth with after school programs so they could be constructive after school. As well as free but smart trade so we can sell our products oversees at low tariff rates. NAFTA and GAT in 1993. And national security, so we can still be strong, but be intelligent in how we send our troops. And not send them everywhere.

The Democratic Socialist Left in the Democratic Party saw this movement and saw New Democrats take over the Democratic Party and saw their power and influence diminish. Because New Democrats were getting elected governor and to the Senate and not Democratic Socialists. Where most of them are still in the House representing House districts and not being able to get elected statewide for the most part and especially not nationally. The last Democratic Socialist that won the Democratic nomination for President, was Senator George McGovern back in 1972. How the Democratic Party has changed and for the better for my perspective as a Democrat. But I wish our leadership was more liberal on social issues. So what Democratic Socialists like Naomi Klein and others, when they are critiquing neoliberalism, they are talking about New Democrats who are not socialist enough for their point of view.