27 March 2017

These Folks Are Never Going Away, They Just Change Their Name

I am referring to the now-shuttered Democratic Leadership Council, which declared war on the poor and allied itself with Wall Street and the Koch Brothers.

The DLC still exists, of course, it's just renamed itself the "Third Way" while promulgating the same cruel and parsimonious policies:
Stringer Bell had a problem. On HBO's show "The Wire," the rather learned kingpin was concerned that the drugs his gang sold on the streets of West Baltimore were too weak, which jeopardized their control of the streets. So, in a memorable scene, Bell, who was taking economics courses at a community college, asked his instructor, "What are the options if you have an inferior product in an aggressive marketplace?" The instructor offered him some prescient advice, mentioning how WorldCom (now MCI Inc.) once faced a similar problem.

"The company was linked to one of the largest fraud cases in history," he said. "So, they decided to change the name."


The world of politics and ideas is an especially aggressive marketplace. Here, so-called centrist "New Democrats" adopted a very similar approach. For many years, Democrats proudly associated themselves with the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a powerful group founded in the 1980s that sought to build a Democratic Party "liberated"­ from labor and grounded in "support for free market and free trade economics ... an end to the politics of 'entitlement' [and] a rejection of affirmative action."

At the height of its power the DLC was the dominant force in the party, boasting President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as its acolytes. But like Bell's weak narcotics, the DLC, which supported the Iraq War and received money from the likes of the Koch Brothers, soon became a tainted brand. Long before 2011, when the organization dissolved, the DLC label hung around politicians like a scarlet letter. Even President Obama publicly distanced himself from the organization in 2004 as he ascended as a national figure.

So, eager to maintain power and influence, New Democrats did what Stringer Bell ended up doing. They changed the name.So, eager to maintain power and influence, New Democrats did what Stringer Bell ended up doing. They changed the name.


Now, as Democrats face an existential crisis in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump, these fundamentally conservative organizations, armed with millions in corporate donations, are working with a renewed aggressiveness in the public sphere. They are attempting to convince the party to shun its base and further embrace the so-called "vital center," and the corporatism that has long defined these groups.

If Third Way succeeds, the Democrats will leave an opening for right-wing "populism" to thrive long after the Trump presidency. If this happens, Americans will increasingly (and correctly) see Democrats as a party run by the establishment, and serving the interests of its donors, rather than the working class. This is why progressive activists are fighting hard to rid the party of Democrats who embrace this agenda.
These are folks are saying that "Now is the time for unity," and that no meaningful changes need to be made to both the structure and the policy of the Democratic Party.

Labor and the working man need to get more than lip-service, Wall Street needs to be kicked to the curb, and the corrupt and incompetent political consultants need to find new work.


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