Marshall Auerback: The Democrats’ Globalization Dilemma

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By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Produced by the Independent Media Institute

Globalization presents a fundamental dilemma for the Democratic Party: Do you get to greater economic fairness by more redistribution in a globalized, financialized/IP-dominated economy, thus accepting open borders and innovation-led growth—or by rebuilding the profitable productive economy to increase domestic incomes and wages, thus embracing a robust industrial and trade policy to reshape global supply chains and to build productive enterprises? The problem if the party accepts the latter is that it moves it closer to Trump’s policy turf, with a wide range of mostly negative long-term consequences.

John Judis addressed this point starkly :

The bold supranational initiatives of globalization—a system of floating exchange rates in relation to the dollar; the unrestricted flow of capital; free trade (with few tariffs and government subsidies) monitored by the new World Trade Organization; the expansion of NATO and the European Union to ensure that former Communist states became liberal capitalist democracies—have unquestionably done some good. They helped expand trade and benefited immigrants who fled from less to more developed nations.

But in the United States and Western Europe, none of these initiatives really delivered as promised.

Judis is right. For decades, globalized trade, capital account liberalization (i.e., the freedom for investors to move around as much their money wherever and whenever they like), increasingly open trade, and liberalized immigration have all promised huge benefits to the citizens of the U.S. (and other parts of the West). And, as Judis acknowledges, many have benefited, notably in the coastal regions, where high tech (e.g., Silicon Valley) and the so-called “FIRE” sector (finance, insurance, and real estate) have dominated. But there has also been a large segment of the population that has been adversely affected by these trends, and many of these voters were receptive to Trump’s messages on trade, immigration and nationalism.

As Judis notes, however, there have been millions of casualties as well: the losers in free trade, the victims of global financial crises, whose savings were torpedoed by predatory, turbo-charged capital flows, and whose pensions were gutted by toxic, Wall Street-manufactured junk, which gradually replaced the stock of savings repositories once held in safer assets such as U.S. Treasurys. And workers’ wages have been stagnant, as U.S. corporations have increasingly sought to exploit increased capital mobility and open trade via offshoring and corresponding global wage arbitrage. In fact, Professor Randy Wray “Real wages for average workers in the United States… remain stuck at 1974 levels, contributing to a precipitous rise in household debt as Americans try to pursue better living standards without pay increases.” The recent progress on the wage front over the past few months does not come close to offsetting the previous decades’ stagnation.

Tied indirectly to these issues is immigration. There is no reason to embrace or advocate the harsh (and racist) nativism of the Trumpians. The political battles over immigration in the U.S. since its founding have been intimately tied to the framework of voting and elections and which party stands to benefit by who is allowed in. Consequently, modern-era immigration reforms that are common in other industrialized countries (such as a ) have proven very difficult to establish in the U.S. Having no progressive and fair immigration structure in place (which doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, as Trump ) is a major hindrance to the enactment of signature Democratic Party wishlist programs such as Medicare for All or a . The consequences have had a negative effect on the future of the Democratic Party’s voting bloc: All too many recent immigrants associate “being in the system” as a potential risk as it provides more scope for harassment and possible deportation. So there is an existential need for the party to get serious on the immigration issue.

The employer lobby—the companies in the U.S. doing the hiring—insist that any cut-off of illegal immigration must be accompanied by a commensurate expansion of guest worker visas (such as the H1B, ). These effectively function like indentured servant programs, because these workers are bound to their employers as a condition of their employment, compelled to return home after a fixed period of time, and do not get residency credit for those years, thereby making them ineligible to get green cards, and eventually, citizenship.

Of course most guest workers rather than return home will adjust their status to “illegal,” which no doubt the employer lobbyists have thought about and approve. In other words, the employers would have two ever-growing pools of non-citizen, unfree labor—guest workers and illegal immigrants—who get in via the guest worker program. So the cynical non-enforcement approach of existing laws (coupled with occasional amnesties but without any kind of employer enforcement mechanism such as e-verify) isn’t working for the Democrats. Failure to address this issue in a serious, but compassionate manner means an ever-growing caste of exploited foreigners as in the UAE or Saudi Arabia.

On trade displacement, the Republicans have by and large fallen into line with “,” named after Trump’s chief trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, who “scorns the multilateral approach in favor of bilateralism, or deals between two nations to lower barriers,” aggressively deploying tariffs ostensibly to level the playing field and re-domicile supply chains back to the United States. It may not work, but it plays well in the Rust Belt, states the Democrats have to reclaim if they are to become a majority party again.

For Democrats, that means taking on some of their own donor constituencies, such as Silicon Valley or Wall Street. It means confronting globalization in a manner focused on the impact of the American worker’s displacement (rather than simply accommodating employers who insist that domestic workers lack requisite skills for the jobs they offer), eschewing the , which preaches fiscal rectitude, another one of these seriously stupid ideas In reality, abiding by these fiscally hawkish fiscal rules will simply cripple a progressive agenda, as well as having zero economic logic behind it. It will leave Democrats .

Instead, the focus should be on defending workers’ rights, embracing broad public spending on infrastructure, and increased public options for health care provision. However unpalatable in a short-term political sense, this also means placing appropriate controls on immigration (e.g., e-verify and a system that prioritizes needed skills, as immigration is a privilege not a right), while mainstreaming those already here (instead of preserving the current dysfunction at the border, which threatens the separation of families, all for the sake of cynically exploiting the prospects of a future emerging demographic majority politically).

The major challenge facing Democrats today is that race, gender, identity politics, and religion appear to trump economics, at least as far as politically engaged primary voters go. The old-line Democrats were an economic liberal party with socially conservative and socially liberal wings (the social liberals, in fact, were in a minority). The new Democrats are a socially liberal party with an economic conservative wing (neoliberals) and a progressive economic wing.  They all agree on social issues. They are loath to compromise on open borders (which is what the existing immigration dysfunction de facto gives us), transgender bathrooms, , or because those are the only issues that hold their economic right and economic left together.

The electoral challenge is that social liberals, particularly the avant-garde ones, remain a minority in the U.S. The polls obviously lie. Lots of voters tell pollsters what they are expected to say about various social issues in which the liberal position is the only respectable one and then vote for Republicans (which helps to explain why polls consistently understated the popularity of Trump in 2016 and likely do so today as well).

Ironically, there remains a center-left economic majority on many economic issues. But many of them are repelled by the Democratic obsession with identity politics to the exclusion of bread-and-butter economic issues, which keeps reinforcing what divides people rather than what unites people (in contrast to the strategy embraced by Jesse Jackson in the late 1980s, , “by making him aware he has more in common with the black steel workers by being a worker, than with the boss by being white”).

So the price of a new New Deal majority would be to let Democrats welcome abortion critics and opponents of mass immigration, so long as they favored a higher minimum wage, less “synthetic immigration,” and a pause on globalization (which facilitates international labor arbitrage). :

As long as corporations are free to roam the globe in search of lower wages and taxes, and as long as the United States opens its borders to millions of unskilled immigrants, liberals will not be able to create bountiful, equitable societies, where people are free from basic anxieties about obtaining health care, education and housing.

But if the party tries to do something like this, then its neoliberal donor base will dry up—and so policy ends up catering slavishly to the wealthiest sliver of American society. And we are all worse off as a consequence.

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60 comments

  1. Schofield

    The Americans learnt little from their so-called “revolutionary” war with the British. They failed to understand the important lesson the war wouldn’t have happened if the UK had tackled class relations based on the control of large volume capital by a narrow few.

    Reply
    1. chuck roast

      Yah, my musings and most recent readings of the revolutionary war bend towards a huge lack of liquidity in the colonies. The lack of cash and the tendency towards barter led to major conflict when the tax man came looking for coinage. There may well have not been a New England town where the King’s tax collector wasn’t under siege.

      So, the “taxation without representation meme” translated to “we got sheep, corn, fish and timber, but we ain’t got no cash.” Even after the revolution people still had no cash, but Hamilton (you know…the wonderful fellow in the play) was going to pay off the continental bond holders on the backs of the whiskey producers…who of course, had no cash. S-1, the first bill of the new Senate.

      Reply
  2. Rod Kitchener

    One serious impediment the Democrats increasingly face in all states save the coastal ones is that Republicans have in effect created a cultural meme where being Republican is equated with being a real ”American.” In contrast, being a Dem is seen as being a commie/pinko/insert additional epithets here. It becomes increasingly difficult for voters to consciously break with an unconscious mindset that they’re not even aware they have.

    Two cases in point. We see this Rs = Americans, Ds = outsiders in the Cruz – O’Rourke race in Texas and in the Donovan – Rose congressional race in Staten Island.

    Reply
    1. jonboinAR

      See his last 8 paragraphs. The modern Democratic Party disparages, demonizes, openly despises traditional American cultural values and those backward enough to adhere to them, as do many so-called progressives. This led to Mrs Clinton disdainfully dismissing a significant portion of the voting population as “deplorables”, to her loss. They make the Republican Party’s job winning over these “deplorables” easy.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        They make the Republican Party’s job winning over these “deplorables” easy.

        The old Democratic Party had economically liberal, even leftist, adherent, and often socially conservative, at least by today’s measures, and to a lesser extent the Republican Party too.

        The general American consensus was that of being socially conservative, but economically liberal. Those deviants or morally suspect people might have been deserving of scorn even punishment, and racism was and is a thing, but everyone deserved a real chance to succeed, and since anyone could be hurt, even destroyed by life, everyone should be given help. A strong economy for everyone and a strong safety net for those hurt or unable to support themselves.

        There has been great efforts by the wealthy and large business interests to destroy this. The liberal Democratic Party was converted into a neoliberal party and the the Republican Party tied the American tendency to be socially conservative to label the unfortunates as moochers, losers and parasites, which meant they did not deserve economic help. The two parties have kept expanding the neoliberal and ultra-conservative doctrines until they merged into a economically conservative justification for looting.

        Reply
  3. Henry Moon Pie

    I can’t find a thing with which to disagree in this essay. This sums up the situation about as succinctly as possible :

    The old-line Democrats were an economic liberal party with socially conservative and socially liberal wings (the social liberals, in fact, were in a minority). The new Democrats are a socially liberal party with an economic conservative wing (neoliberals) and a progressive economic wing.

    And this accurately states the Democrat Party’s situation:

    But if the party tries to do something like this, then its neoliberal donor base will dry up—and so policy ends up catering slavishly to the wealthiest sliver of American society.

    Given this situation, I have two questions:

    1) Why do Leftists believe that they can take over the Democrat Party from the controlling
    Neolibs if the socially liberal Neolibs have as much at stake as they do?

    2) If the Democrat Party will be rendered destitute by a Leftist takeover, what is the value of taking it over?

    I’m skeptical that there’s a solution to our crisis lies in electoral politics, but I am a total disbeliever that the Democrat Party can be reformed or that it would be of significant value if it was reformed.

    Reply
    1. John Wright

      It says a lot to me that Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are still featured in the news.

      And that the best liked Democrat, Bernie Sanders, is not really a Democrat.

      I view the Democratic party as behaving similarly to a modern US corporation that sells off assets and buys back their stock.

      The Democrats sold out their old constituency, blue collar workers, as they catered to the financial industry and corporations seeking lower labor costs.

      And the donor money flowed in.

      The Democratic elite, like the corporate elite, do very well for themselves as long as the Democrats have something to sell.

      If the Democrats do poorly this midterm, they might view themselves more as the political manifestation of “Sears Holdings”, with little residual value.

      Reply
    2. Lee

      2) If the Democrat Party will be rendered destitute by a Leftist takeover, what is the value of taking it over?

      I’m wondering if the mass, small donor phenomenon has legs and if it can provide sufficient funds to produce meaningful electoral results. I view the trend hopefully. Ever the cautious optimist, me.

      Reply
      1. dcrane

        The demonstration of that phenomenon was one of the most important features of the Sanders candidacy. But the Democrats would apparently prefer that we forget it ever happened.

        Reply
    3. John k

      Dem value is ballot access the millions that automatically pull that lever.
      Pelosi Schumer hate Bernie’s small donor model because it diminishes their value as source of big donor cash…
      potential new alignment is a return to worker issues, bringing in traditional dems, indies and some reps. But restoring traditional share of production gains threatens Corp profits and stock market. M4a threatens insurance. Protecting SS prevents Wall Street takeover. Breaking up tbtf banks threatens them. Reducing immigration also hurts profits, but this is the sop trump throws to central states to allow him to do everything else.
      Huge opposition and huge opportunity.
      IMO Bernie smart to ignore foreign issues for now, not vote getters. Stay with the stump speech that still packs stadiums.

      Reply
    4. Inode_buddha

      The value in taking it over, would be to give the people some representation. I would be a very good thing if the neoliberal donor base dried up and went to hell.

      Reply
    5. Yves Smith Post author

      1. Small donations. Sanders raised almost as much as Hillary did.

      2. Inefficiency of Dem spending means $ isn’t dispositive. Hillary raised twice as much as Trump and lost. We later learned that something like $700 million went to 5 or 6 consultants. Even during the campaign, Lambert was joking that Hillary was having 15 people each paid $200,000 a year write each tweet.

      The Dems are only so so at get out the vote. Black churches and unions are part of their operation but the way Dems have been kicking workers, I’m not sure how effective the union push is overall. As Lambert points out, they only push voter registration because they really don’t want lower income people voting. Concerted voter registration, helping people get IDs in states where that’s required, driving old people and people without cars to and from polls would win a lot of loyalty from the voter to whom the Dems only give lip service.

      Reply
    6. Procopius

      I think the enthusiasm of small donors, aka voters who also provide money, has shown that the squillionaire megadonors are not the only way to raise enough money to win. It helps a lot if they also have policies that they actually talk about (not, “Go look at my website, you’ll find it all there.”) might help reengage with working people. Also, too, they really, really need to stop trying to engage with “the white working class.”

      Reply
    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      Both questions are interesting. I suggest two answers

      1) I wouldn’t know about Leftists, because I am not one. But IF SanderSocial Democrats, or New Deal Reactionaries, or whatever we are to be called, are numerous enough and patient enough and understand that taking over the DemParty is a years-long war of attrition and extermination against the Neoliberals; then we might be able to purge, burn and exterminate them from out of the DemParty.

      2) A SanderSocial Democrat New-Deal-Reactionary party might attract the huge numbers of small contributions that Sanders himself showed was possible. In which case, the SanderSocial Democrat Party would not need the Big NeoLib funders, who could follow the NeoLibs out of the DemParty into some other Party of their own.

      Reply
  4. Louis Fyne

    >>So the price of a new New Deal majority would be to let Democrats welcome abortion critics and opponents of mass immigration, so long as they favored a higher minimum wage, less “synthetic immigration,” and a pause on globalization (which facilitates international labor arbitrage).

    I think that it’s too late—too many litmus tests in the Democratic Party.

    We’ll see in two weeks if that opinion is right or wrong

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      The upcoming election won’t really tell us much — with a scant few exceptions, the overwhelming number of Democrat nominees for Congress are the new boss, same as the old boss. The success or failure of the CIA Democrats will make long-term reform more difficult — because they’ll have to be displaced twice (first in a primary, then a general election).

      The interesting change in the party is happening mostly below the radar, in state legislative races.

      Lincoln’s strategy in building the Republican Party was to talk only about the issues that united them, and say and do nothing on those issues that divided them. That’s probably the appropriate strategy for those who wish to remake the Democrats into a real party — talk about bread-and-butter issues, and kick the can down the road on “culture”.

      Reply
  5. Octopii

    I get a bit annoyed when LGBT safety (i.e. bathrooms etc) is lumped together in criticism of identity politics. For trans people especially, this issue can literally be the difference between life and death. I do agree that the Dem focus on identity is counterproductive when it excludes numerous other important issues from the platform, but rights for minority populations within our society is still a worthy ideal.

    Reply
    1. Kurtismayfield

      I get a bit annoyed when LGBT safety (i.e. bathrooms etc) is lumped together in criticism of identity politics. For trans people especially, this issue can literally be the difference between life and death.

      Has there ever been a murder because a transgender person has used a public restroom?? I have not found evidence of one. I think the whole uproar over the trans bathroom bills is just a load of crap personally, and it must be difficult for transgender in dating situations. (This is where I found the majority of the murders arose from). But it really doesn’t matter who is using the stall and sink next to you in a public restroom.

      Reply
      1. tiramisu

        It might be due to the irrational but creepy feeling that someone of the opposite sex is in the next stall… too close for comfort.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I hate to tell you, but I know women (I am not one of them) who are extremely uncomfortable with trans in the women’s room. They view them as cross dressing men and that could conceivably include men who would costume themselves to corner women in a bathroom (which presumably have no cameras) and rob them. I agree that this is more that a bit paranoid, but the point is the worries aren’t all on one side

        Reply
        1. Kurtismayfield

          Fair enough.. It might be time for a third public bathroom then. Some stores already have one for “Families”, but it could be for anyone that wants privacy.

          Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      The trouble is, with all its legitimacy as an issue, this is the perfect distraction for neoliberals. It gives them plenty of room for moralizing, posturing, virtue-signalling, and patronizing the “deplorables” — without actually doing anything to address systemic inequality.

      Not a single Democrat in Washington had anything whatsoever to do with making marriage equality the law of the land. That was accomplished in spite of Obama and Democrats, not because of them. They’re just using LGBTQ issues — and people — as props.

      Reply
    3. Dave

      As the father of 2 daughters I am concerned about the obsession with allowing trans men to use the same restroom as my daughters and wife. I do not care what anyone says, this is a BS cause to fight over. All it does is alienate people for a very very small group who can cope with where they can poop and pee. Of all the crap that is wrong with this country (and there are LOTS OF REALLY BIG issues) this is the one some chose to hang their hat on? Really?

      The percentage of people who ID as trans is somewhere between 0.5% to 3% of the population.

      The Democrats absolute obsession with identity politics helped elect Trump.

      Reply
    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Breathing while black can be a life-and-death matter for the black citizen if he/she finds him/herself in the presence of a roid-raging Police Officer.

      Reply
  6. Anthony Wikrent

    I do not disagree with what Auerback and Judis write here, but I think it important to make the following observation. Before the 2008 election, bigotry seemed to be more contained. Some of this no doubt was the result of Republicans and conservatives being chastened by the GFC.

    Mitch McConnell’s and the Republicans’ decision to oppose anything and everything Obama did as President included an acceptance – if not encouragement – of open bigotry, including the “birthers.” Trump merely propelled this bigotry completely into the open, to the point of malignant militancy.

    Hamilton, Madison, Adams, and other Founders explicitly recognized the danger of ideologues playing upon the irrational passions of the people. Why have not the left generally and Democrats recognized and fought this danger on as high a level as the Founders did?

    There are two reasons I think.

    First, the Founders themselves, to secure funding for their military campaign against Britain, compromised with the concentrated economic power of rich creditors, despite classical republican (small r) theory that the rich are as much a threat to republican government as a standing military. And, to secure unity in the fight against Britain, the Founders also compromised with Southern slave holders. (It is more than interesting that most of the economic ideology of today’s conservatives can be traced back to Southern slaveholders, particularly South Carolina senator John Calhoun, and were revived as part of a political fight to oppose racial integration. See, for example, Nancy Mclean’s recent biography of conservative economist James Buchanon, Democracy in Chains.)

    Second, the left generally has abandoned any understanding of what the Founders did and why, because the left has embraced a view of the Founders as creating a new government designed to perpetuate white power and privilege. There is certainly some basis for this view, but it many crucial respects it is historically inaccurate (for example, the view that Hamilton was elitist is wildly inaccurate). Most important, it cuts off the left from any understanding of classical republican theory and therefore cripples the left’s ability to properly identify and accurately target threats to the republic, such as Newt Gingrich.

    The left has basically carried along most Democrats in these views to the extent that there simply is no deep understanding of what a republic is, and why the Republican Party of today is a monstrous misapplication of the name. Also, the Democratic Party leaderships is unwilling to separate itself from its rich donor base, repeating the mistake the Founders made.

    The end result is that since the Republicans must continually red meat to their base, racism and bigotry are now in the process of being normalized and therefore much more of a civic danger than before Obama’s election.

    Reply
    1. Schmoe

      Can you expand on this quote: “First, the Founders themselves, to secure funding for their military campaign against Britain, compromised with the concentrated economic power of rich creditors, despite classical republican (small r) theory that the rich are as much a threat to republican government as a standing military.”
      Not that I disagree, but I have read a lot about about the Revolution but am not familiar with that, although I am aware of the financial difficulties the revolution faced. Did such agreements impact the later writing of the Constitution (or than with respect to slavery?).

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        That comment is rife with errors and faulty logic.

        The statement about “The Founders” confuses events during the Revolution with events that happened decades later. The “compromise” didn’t occur until the Constitutional Convention of 1787 — four years after the Revolutionary War ended. There was no systematic method for funding the war, at all — other than to print money, a strategy which failed. The only financial means for waging the war came from the treasuries of France, the states (such as were willing to pay anything), and a few private operators like Robert Morris.

        John Calhoun wasn’t even born until 1782, and was not a force in national politics until the 1820s.

        Alexander Hamilton made no effort to hide his disdain for democratic ideals and the common people, and his only role at the Constitutional Convention was to propose an American monarchy. If Alexander Hamilton, of all people, was not an elitist, then there is no such thing.

        Reply
    2. Mark Pontin

      A. Wikrent wrote: ‘to secure unity in the fight against Britain, the Founders also compromised with Southern slave holders’?

      Come on. All the names signed on the Declaration of Independence that we remember and that get taught in American grade school civics classes were those of slaveholders.

      The Founders were slave owners.

      Reply
      1. John Wright

        41 of the signers did, at one time, own slaves, 16 never did

        John Adams and Samuel Adams are two “names” that never owned slaves or freed them when they inherited them.

        Reply
        1. Mark Pontin

          Thank for the correction. Yeah, John and Samuel Adams — that makes sense.

          I was parsing matters by saying “the names.” I knew that there were exceptions among the signers, but that Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, all the crowd Americans are taught to revere as freedom fighters were slave owners.

          I’m kind of with Samuel Johnson on this. Thomas Paine went back to England after two years, heartbroken at how the American Revolution turned out.

          Reply
      2. Lambert Strether

        Lawrence Goldstone’s Dark Bargain: Slavery, Profits and the Struggle for the Constitution is very good on this history.

        “Southern slaves on Yankee bottoms” was the phrase; New England ships handled the triangular trade, hence brought “cargo” to the slave pits of Charleston. Nobody was innocent. That said, actually owning the slave and wielding the whip is a different from not doing those things. (It has often occurred to me that the Founders were so concerned to build a system that avoided tyranny as per Montesquieu was that they themselves knew very exactly what tyranny was.)

        That said, this from Madison remains as true now as it was then:

        If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

        The ridiculous prating and faux majoritarianism of liberal Democrats about their 3 million advantage in the popular vote, in an election and Democrats show no inclination to expand their base, is kinda where we are on this whole question of being a Republic….

        Reply
        1. Big River Bandido

          Along similar lines, HRC’s constant crowing about defeating Sanders in 2016 by “millions of votes” rings hollow in light of the Democrats engaged in during the primary.

          Reply
    3. neo-realist

      Second, the left generally has abandoned any understanding of what the Founders did and why, because the left has embraced a view of the Founders as creating a new government designed to perpetuate white power and privilege

      That might be true of corporate center right democrats, but not that of what is considered the Sanders left. I can see the neo-liberal Clinton-Obama faction perpetuating the status quo more or less in economic and domestic policy, but the present day left pushes for policies that would enable everybody to enjoy the economic and social fruits of living in a democracy, all colors, everybody in the 99%. Unfortunately through a combination of bought and paid for government and media by the oligarchs, the left has been frozen out of the ability to effect change on a mass level. That perspective may be true if one believes that neo-liberal democrats are the left.

      Reply
    4. Newton Finn

      The left has helped to defeat itself by applying a strict constructionist interpretation (a method it usually despises) to the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence. When read as living words to be understood in a contemporary context (the liberal construction method the left usually prefers), the soaring language of the Preamble elegantly captures the very essence of what the left has always stood for. Take a moment to read it again…if the words are not inscribed in your memory. Then ask yourself how such potent ammunition to win over American hearts and minds could have been so foolishly squandered to harp on something everybody knows: the founders’ obvious racism and hypocrisy?

      Reply
  7. Daniel A Lynch

    So the price of a new New Deal majority would be to let Democrats welcome abortion critics and opponents of mass immigration,

    Abortion was not a big issue until politicians made it a big issue, and there is no support for mass immigration anywhere in the world.

    When given a meaningful choice, most people will vote their pocketbook. Racist white Southerners voted for FDR, and even voted for LBJ after he passed civil rights legislation (contrary to current spin). Racist white Southern evangelicals voted for lefty Huey Long. Southern whites only abandoned the Democratic party after LBJ sent their boys to die in a stupid war and Jimmy Carter crashed the economy, but Democrats won’t admit they did anything wrong so no lessons have been learn and here we are. Russia, Russia, Russia!

    Reply
  8. William Hunter Duncan

    The elite of both parties for at least four decades have tacitly allowed illegal immigration, to stagnate working class wages, and glory in the increased wealth captured by the professional, managerial, executive classes. At the same time the elite of both parties have allowed corporations foreign and domestic to plunder America and it’s working people like this is a third-world country.

    Meanwhile the elite of both parties would be happy to maintain that status quo, with the excception of elite Republicans who would be happy to say, raise the age of Social Security, even as the lifespan of their base is decreasing – which you would think that would leave an opening for Democrats, but they are too busy pandering to every grievance not economic (except for generalized white power/supremecy), to offer up any kind of real difference for any economically marginalized.

    All I have heard from most democrats since Clinton, whenever I have talked about the very real consequences of letting 50+% of the population be impoverished is, too bad, that is the way of the world, that is inevitable, they should deal with it.. Then don’t complain when they vote for a guy like Trump, and don’t be surprised when they vote for someone a hell of a lot worse for you and the rest of the top 10%, after Trump.

    It surely is the way of things, the way of empires, for the elite and their minions to aggregate wealth until such time as the poor eat them for breakfast. Probably if elite dems want not to be eaten for breakfast eventually, put people before corporations, banks and billionaires.

    Because at this stage of American empire this working poor white boy from the breadbasket is about ready to put the elite of Washington and Wall Street to work in nursing homes washing bottoms and bedpans for about ten years for $9.67/hr, for at least a decade, to feel what wage stagnation and social condescension feels like….

    Reply
  9. Altandmain

    The major challenge facing Democrats today is that race, gender, identity politics, and religion appear to trump economics, at least as far as politically engaged primary voters go. The old-line Democrats were an economic liberal party with socially conservative and socially liberal wings (the social liberals, in fact, were in a minority). The new Democrats are a socially liberal party with an economic conservative wing (neoliberals) and a progressive economic wing. They all agree on social issues. They are loath to compromise on open borders (which is what the existing immigration dysfunction de facto gives us), transgender bathrooms, making room for pro-life members, or gay married couples’ wedding cakesbecause those are the only issues that hold their economic right and economic left together.

    To be fair, I will give Bernie Sanders credit for this one.

    I think that immigration is like global warming for the right these days. The conservatives can’t accept it because it would mean regulating corporations and undertaking other reforms. So denial is a better weapon, as is calling people socialists.

    The left cannot accept the idea that open borders and allowing illegal immigration can hurt working class Americans. So they call people racists and deny that this is a problem. The problem is worsened by the fact that most liberals are highly educated and work in professions unaffected by illegal immigration.

    Ironically, there remains a center-left economic majority on many economic issues. But many of them are repelled by the Democratic obsession with identity politics to the exclusion of bread-and-butter economic issues, which keeps reinforcing what divides people rather than what unites people (in contrast to the strategy embraced by Jesse Jackson in the late 1980s, when he sought to align himself to the white steelworker, “by making him aware he has more in common with the black steel workers by being a worker, than with the boss by being white”).

    So the price of a new New Deal majority would be to let Democrats welcome abortion critics and opponents of mass immigration, so long as they favored a higher minimum wage, less “synthetic immigration,” and a pause on globalization (which facilitates international labor arbitrage). In the words of John Judis:

    I know that some NC members here might find this disagreeable, but I think the compromises may be:

    – Adopt a firmer line on free trade and protecting manufacturing
    – Reduce legal immigration and accept that some illegal (if not all) will see deportations
    – Compromise on abortion
    – Compromise on guns
    – Drop all identity politics as the main platform and stop many programs related to that. There would be a tolerance for some form of nationalism.

    In return for the support of a large number of supporters who support the New Deal. The compromises the right will have to make are:

    – A New Deal project, higher minimum wages, universal healthcare, stronger worker rights, and various left wing social programs that we expect from a social democracy. A big part of this will be the promotion of domestic manufacturing
    – Higher taxes for the rich, far stricter regulation on business, especially finance
    – Subsidies and social programs for demographics they find disagreable (minorities), along with young people (student debt relief, free university tuition, etc).
    – Anti-war foreign policy, reductions in the military budget, and a more passive foreign policy
    – A far stronger stance on stopping global warming.

    I think that a good chunk of the Trump base and independents would be willing to make these compromises.

    Reply
    1. neo-realist

      – Adopt a firmer line on free trade and protecting manufacturing
      – Reduce legal immigration and accept that some illegal (if not all) will see deportations
      – Compromise on abortion
      – Compromise on guns
      – Drop all identity politics as the main platform and stop many programs related to that. There would be a tolerance for some form of nationalism

      I’m fine with most of this, however, I don’t know how you can compromise on abortion? It’s an either/or sort of choice and the right doesn’t want it at all; it’s not interested in compromise on this issue unless one considers rape or the life of the mother in peril as a compromise which really isn’t much of one at all.

      In return for the support of a large number of supporters who support the New Deal. The compromises the right will have to make are:

      – A New Deal project, higher minimum wages, universal healthcare, stronger worker rights, and various left wing social programs that we expect from a social democracy. A big part of this will be the promotion of domestic manufacturing
      – Higher taxes for the rich, far stricter regulation on business, especially finance
      – Subsidies and social programs for demographics they find disagreable (minorities), along with young people (student debt relief, free university tuition, etc).
      – Anti-war foreign policy, reductions in the military budget, and a more passive foreign policy
      – A far stronger stance on stopping global warming.

      I think that a good chunk of the Trump base and independents would be willing to make these compromises.

      A lot of the Trump base and independents would like the policies, particularly free or reduced health care, but the oligarchs and their bought and paid for congresspeople would man the barricades to stop such policies, brooking no compromise period. Using cable news stations to talk them down as ruinous to the budget; Using their right wing radio talk show tools to portray illegal aliens and black and latino baby mamas with multiple kids overwhelming the health care system, which would turn off many Trump supporters and some independents.

      Bernie from most of what I’ve heard is first and foremost bread and butter economics with occasional forays into the issues of race. That’s the way for progressives to go.

      Reply
      1. Altandmain

        I’m fine with most of this, however, I don’t know how you can compromise on abortion? It’s an either/or sort of choice and the right doesn’t want it at all; it’s not interested in compromise on this issue unless one considers rape or the life of the mother in peril as a compromise which really isn’t much of one at all.

        It would mean available, but with restrictions (like conservative movement has been aiming for 20 weeks).

        There are a lot of right wing types that would want to ban abortion in the case of rape as well. We just need a critical number on the anti-abortion side to come to an agreement (probably the more moderate 50% and that’s it).

        I’m pro-abortion myself, but I can see that in the Red States, if you are anti-gun and pro-abortion, you’re simply not electable in many areas. I think that often the left calls for proportional representation, which is practiced in Europe, but even in such systems, there are compromises. Not during election, but during the legislative process. It has also enabled the far right to arise in Europe.

        Using their right wing radio talk show tools to portray illegal aliens and black and latino baby mamas with multiple kids overwhelming the health care system, which would turn off many Trump supporters and some independents.

        It is a barrier. I will concede. In fact there have been studies that have found that the higher the percentage of African Americans, the weaker the welfare state.

        We are going to have to try to make the case that they have more in common as a class. Yes I know this was the Liberal strategy, but they never got anywhere because they’ve always looked down on such people. Rural people, people who have a strong Southern or Texan accent, were always seen by those on the coasts as unintelligent. That alienated a lot of people.

        The relative popularity of Bernie Sanders, who openly refused to look down on such people suggests to me that with a more charismatic candidate and earlier preparation, it might be doable.

        Be ready to stand up for working class white as well:

        A good read:

        The goal is to make a compelling argument for enough independents. It’s not to win hard core Trump supporters, Evangelicals, etc.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          forgive my tardiness
          as I’ve said before, it is entirely possible to get a majority of republican voters(and non-voting hangers on especially) on board with a New New Deal…so long as it’s worded and sold in a manner that doesn’t push all those artificial buttons that have been implanted in their collective Ids by the Forty Year Mind$$ck.
          In my regular ad hoc forays into the store, the hardware store, the produce aisle and the beer barn, I find that everyone in such places agrees that folks who work shouldn’t be poor(living wage), that healthcare shouldn’t be a “market” when it isn’t(M4A), that the Mexican/Black Person/Queer standing next to them is a human being to be afforded dignity and compassion(how come “Human” is not an identity to be defended?)
          I can go on for days with anecdotes of interactions and observations of this kind in my deep red place.
          The Righty echo chamber is only partly to blame. The lack of a coherent, universal, and Believable narrative to counter the unhinged hate fest is the biggest problem.
          How am I to advocate voting for a Democrat, when dems are so obviously hypocritical whores for wall street?
          The Bathroom Thing in Texas, the last few years…as well as running Wendy Davis almost solely on Abortion…is stupid, divisive and counterproductive.
          Bernie’s program resonates even way out here.
          Fie.

          Reply
  10. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for this post. The title doesn’t do justice to Auerback’s broad-ranging discussion of the effects of “globalization”, “financialization”, “deregulation”, “identity politics” and whether the Democrats can chart a campaign strategy and policy course that addresses both the economic desires of their donor base and the economic and other needs of large swathes of American voters. In reality, I think this issue applies equally to the Republican Party. Illusion, division, diversion and obfuscation will only carry the day so far in my view.

    Barry Ritholtz argued in a Bloomberg piece yesterday that Trump’s apparent adoption of a neoliberal “Kansas model” approach that is consistent with the desires of his wealthy and politically influential Wichita-based constituents, while tossing overboard policies such as those employed by the state government of California, is a policy error. I generally agree with Ritholtz’ post, absent his apparent lack of appreciation of MMT; nonconsideration of ISDS features in the TPP and other multilateral trade agreements; damage and displacement due to dumping, wage arbitrage, failure to employ environmental or OSHA laws, etc.; and inherent differences attributable to climate, geography and other physical factors.

    I do agree with the bilateral approach that Auerback mentioned is favored by Trump’s chief trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, who he said favors… “deals between two nations to lower barriers, and aggressively deploying tariffs ostensibly to level the playing field and re-domicile supply chains back to the United States.”

    Reply
  11. Kirk Hartley

    One might note that Pelosi and Schumer are from states that have done well economically under the noted policies. That’s part of why they need to go.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And in fact they are from the coastal fringe parts of those states which have done well with International Free Trade Conspiracy policies. The coastal fringes have made a fortune off the country’s misfortune.

      Upper State New York has suffered the general misfortune. But Schumer doesn’t have to care about that.

      I don’t know how non-Coastal California has done under Forced Free Trade as against how it did before.

      Reply
  12. Alex Cox

    The New York Times writer approves “the expansion of NATO and the European Union to ensure that former Communist states became liberal capitalist democracies.” The author adds, “Judis is right.”

    Both are wrong. NATO is a war-making alliance dedicated to the defeat of America’s enemies. Membership of NATO is usually conflated with EU membership (I saw this propaganda at work first hand in Spain, together with the inevitable grafitti, “Europa si, OTAN no”), but it has nothing to do with European economic union, nor with the creation of “liberal capitalist democracies.”

    The USSR first applied to join NATO on 15 December 1952. It was rejected, as were subsequent applications. How could the United States let Russia join? Who would they have to fight against? What would become of all their customers?

    Reply
  13. Jean

    Cheap Chinese crap in the marketplace, or a manufacturing job that allows a family to remain in the middle class? Tough choice. The majority of Americans don’t give a damn about improving workers lives in some Asian slave pit, or the lives of minority Americans, when their own economic fortunes are declining. That is why Trump will be reelected, whether you like it or not.

    Reply
  14. Left in Wisconsin

    Once again an outlier – I found this post quite confused. Auerback keeps using the term “the Democratic Party” inappropriately:
    1. signature Democratic Party wishlist programs such as Medicare for All or a Job Guarantee Program. Say what?

    2. Globalization presents a fundamental dilemma for the Democratic Party. No. Globalization presents absolutely no problem for the DP because they are 100% in favor of it. It does present a problem for many of us on the left that would prefer the DP to adopt a more sensible policy opposed to global wage arbitrage. But they just call us protectionist and deplorable.

    3. For Democrats, that means taking on some of their own donor constituencies, such as Silicon Valley or Wall Street Who in the DP has suggested taking on either? No one.

    I guess the point of the post is Auerback’s take on what the DP should do. But he confuses the issue by suggesting there is some kind of real debate on these issues inside the party. There isn’t.

    In addition to Biden and possibly HRC, I understand Kerry is seriously considering running again in 2020.

    Reply
    1. Duck1

      Yeah, I had to get a Heimlic maneuver done on me after reading “signature Democrats wishlist programs such as Medicare for All or a Job Guarantee Program”.
      Now ACA is a signature Democratic program.
      A Full Employment Act was passed in 78. Ever since . . . Crickets.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether

      > there is some kind of real debate on these issues inside the party. There isn’t

      There is a real debate. Just not at the leadership level. It is, in fact, the role of the leadership to prevent that debate. As I keep saying, the #1 policy priority of the Democrat Party (taking the leadership as a proxy for the party) is preventing #MedicareForAll.

      Reply
    3. Marshall Auerback

      The Job Guarantee and Medicare for All are becoming increasingly identified with significant elements in the Democratic Party. You are of course right to point out that this is not settled dogma because there is a massive split between the base (and its progressive supporters in Congress) and the DNC and the main parts of the leadership core. That’s a big part of the problem. There is debate but I agree that while the leadership pretends to hear the message, they do not listen.
      As an aside, I think this also explains the obsession with Mueller and Russiagate. It helps to bind the whole party together, and enables them to ignore debating the kinds of points you highlight here.

      Reply
      1. Left in Wisconsin

        The Job Guarantee and Medicare for All are becoming increasingly identified with significant elements in the Democratic Party.

        As Lambert would say, “significant” is doing an awful lot of work there. For that matter, so is “increasingly.”

        Medicare for All is at least on the table now, thanks to Sanders and the sh1tshow that health care has turned into and outlets like NC. You can tell that because Republicans have started calling it out specifically. But achieving that is going to be exceedingly difficult even if the DP is on board, which they clearly are not. Yet. The Job Guarantee is not even part of the discussion. Yet.

        there is a massive split between the base (and its progressive supporters in Congress) and the DNC and the main parts of the leadership core. That’s a big part of the problem.

        I’ve tried to count how many true MfA and JG-style progressives there are in Congress and I have a hard time getting to 10, none of whom are anywhere close to power. I don’t know who you call a “progressive supporter in Congress.” I would also disagree that there is a massive split between the leadership and the base. It’s growing but it’s hardly massive.

        I have little disagreement with any of the policy or politics you voice. It just reads to me as incredibly naive about the magnitude of the struggles ahead.

        Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        The way to solve that problem would be to purge, burn and exterminate the DNC and the main parts of the leadership core from out of the Democratic Party. If it can be done.

        Reply
  15. Beta Metani

    So you saying democratic socialist globalist party believes in distributing wealth. My question is whos wealth they are going to distribute? Their own wealth? Or they going to take the wealth from the hard-working middle class and give it to the poor people?

    Did the Germans do that to the Jewish people? Communist countries did something before and didn’t work.

    So If you want to distribute wealth? Distribute from rich elites give it to the middle & poor class and we all be equally in society. I think that might be an excellent idea, but the rich elites can’t live in a middle class mans income? The rich man doesn’t know how to work and earn their income as we do.

    Reply

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