A battle for democracy within the Democratic Party is underway and the heirs of Bill Clinton’s New Democrats are trying to stack the deck, says Norman Solomon.
By Norman Solomon
Twenty-five years ago, the so-called New Democrats were triumphant. Today, a fundamental battle for democracy is in progress—a conflict over whether to reduce the number of superdelegates to the party’s national convention in 2020, or maybe even eliminate them entirely.
That struggle is set to reach a threshold at a party committee meeting next week and then be decided by the full Democratic National Committee before the end of this summer.
To understand the Democratic Party’s current internal battle lines and what’s at stake, it’s important to know how we got here.
After a dozen years of awful Republican presidencies, Bill Clinton and running mate Al Gore proved to be just the ticket for the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Clinton settled into the White House in early 1993 as the leader of pathbreaking New Democrats. Many media outlets hailed him as a visionary who had overcome left-leaning liberalism to set the party straight.
Although candidate Clinton had criticized Republican trickle-down economics and spoken about the need for public investment by the federal government, as president he proceeded along the lines of what Washington Post economics reporter Hobart Rowan described as a formula of “fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.” That formula provided a template that the next Democratic president, Barack Obama, deftly filled.
Both Clinton and Obama were youthful and articulate, breaths of fresh air after repugnant Republican predecessors in the White House. Yet our two most recent Democratic presidents were down with corporate power—not as far down as the GOP, but nevertheless in the thrall of Wall Street and the big banks.
Deference to Oligarchic Power
From the outset of the Clinton and Obama administrations, top appointees reflected and propelled the deference to oligarchic power. Robert Rubin went from being co-chair of Goldman Sachs (paid $17 million in 1992) to serving wealthy interests as director of Clinton’s National…