The Democratic Party’s long sojourn into corporate-friendly politics – and neglect of its old working-class base – has led to the shocking result of an erratic and untested outsider becoming President. But is there a route back, asks Joe Lauria.
By Joe Lauria
A new political force in America was unleashed on Tuesday and how the Democratic Party reacts to it could determine its future as a major party. Millions of discontented Americans who have lost out to the computerization and the globalization of the economy – and who have been disproportionately called on to fight America’s “regime change” wars – have made clear that they aren’t going to take it anymore. And any party or politician going forward better listen or they will be tossed out, too, including Donald Trump if he doesn’t deliver.
This election has struck what should be a fatal blow to the Clintons’ Democratic Leadership Council movement. Bill Clinton moved the Democratic Party to the center-right at about the same time that Tony Blair did with the British Labour Party. Both parties cut many of their traditional ties to labor unions in the 1990s to embrace the economic neoliberalism of their 1980s predecessors Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: welfare reform, deregulation of the financial sector and “free trade.”
The effect on workers across the old industrial belts has been devastating. Millions have been pushed out of a middle-class lifestyle. They have seen their plants close and jobs shipped to cheap labor markets overseas. Or they have lost out to robotics.
They’ve also seen the economy shift from production to financial speculation. And they’ve seen the greatest transfer of wealth in decades to the obscenely rich. Wealthy liberals who’ve benefited from this shift often act as if they are morally superior to the system’s “losers” who hear Hillary Clinton put them in a “basket of deplorables.”
On Tuesday, these downwardly mobile workers spoke out, giving Trump the votes he needed in the Rust Belt…