If Franklin D. Roosevelt were alive today, he’d probably be just as ashamed of the Democratic Party as Lincoln would be with Republicans. It’s amazing how far we have fallen as a nation in such a brief period with both parties being shadows of their former selves. It can all be traced to one man.
Democrats and Republicans alike love to refer to President Ronald Reagan as the great communicator. In fact, he was more of a Great Divider. The man who demanded the Berlin Wall be torn down certainly put up walls of his own. Economic walls to be exact.
The modern use of the term Neoliberal can be traced to the 1971 Powell Memo. It was a call to arms to the business community to counter criticism of the free enterprise system. President Carter may have got the ball rolling, but Reagan unleashed it on steroids.
The Steroids in question would be tax cuts. When you take laissez-faire capitalism and weld it together with tax cuts on the wealthy, you essentially get Reaganomics, or trickle-down economics if you prefer.
Reagan’s eight years in office was spent lowering taxes on the wealthy and on corporations as well as deregulating industry from top to bottom. He attacked unions and embraced globalization and free trade. Reagan was the first step in rolling back Roosevelt’s New Deal and Democrats embraced it. The party hasn’t been the same since.
Bill Clinton was a popular President, but he was a progressive nightmare. To some extent he was a bigger Republican than Reagan. He ended traditional welfare, deregulated Wall Street as well as the Media. These are but a few wet dreams come true from a conservative perspective. He embraced laissez faire capitalism like his Republican predecessors and with it, the rise in income inequality.
The extreme form of Neoliberalism we see today has been practiced by every president since Reagan and has been embraced by both major political parties since the late 1970s. There are many factors as to why both parties went down this road, but the simple explanation is money.
Corporate money has been flowing into our political system since the late seventies (see First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti) thanks to corporate personhood. It has gotten even worse with every Supreme Court decision (see Citizens United). Corporate money is why the voices and wages of the working class have been silently regressing for the past forty years.
In 2016, with the slow economic recovery and ever-increasing inequality still fresh in people’s minds, some Americans began to wake up. People began to reject neoliberalism and Reaganomics on both sides, but it divided Democrats like never before.
The Democratic Primary came down to one simple decision. Do you support the candidate who rejects Reaganomics (Sanders) or do you support the candidate who has traditionally stood up for it (Clinton)?
Since the election loss, the divide within the Democratic Party has grown even wider, with both sides accusing the other for the loss. Centrists and leftists within the party have never been further apart and economic policy is at its core.
Centrists can’t seem to understand that the economic policies the United States has been practicing for the last forty years is one gigantic failure. It doesn’t matter what color you are, what religion you follow or which sex you make love to. Progressives will never embrace a candidate that doesn’t lookout for their interests.
To make matters worse, since Reagan, and every other President since, stopped enforcing the Fairness Doctrine in the late 80’s, the corporate media has been able to put profit over truth and journalism. It is why Neoliberalism and laissez faire capitalism are embraced and its links to income inequality are never discussed on Fox News and MSNBC. The information we receive and don’t receive is a major part of Democratic Party divisions. You can see it plainly on social media.
Since the election, I’ve been extra hard on centrists, Neoliberals, whatever you want to call them within the Democratic Party. I despise the conservative direction they’ve taken the country and the Republican economic policies they’ve pushed since President Reagan. When I share these articles on Facebook however, I’m greeted with outright hostility by so-called liberals.
Some of these people actually say things like “Corporate Democrats should be trusted because corporations hire the most employees.” These are actual Democrats/liberals saying this! Most of the time though, they just complain that I’m dividing the Party with my progressive ideals, which is what the party used to stand for in the first place.
I’ve said it once and written about it a thousand times. If there are Democrats who prefer to take corporate money and still support laissez faire capitalism or Reaganomics, the party will never unify. No one in their right mind would vote for a candidate just so they can take their hard-earned money and give it to the wealthy, corporations or war mongers… Well, Republicans maybe.
I must add, some people are under the impression that we need to unify first, get elected and then change things. That is a false premise. Obama ran on change, but changed nothing, even with a filibuster proof majority. Clinton ran her campaign on not changing anything and lost to the most unpopular candidate in history. Once the corporate money takes hold, change is impossible. It must be rejected from the start.