Monday, April 02, 2007

Wall Street's takeover of the Democrats ending?

Kerry was getting his advice from Wall Street and not the unions which is one of the reasons why his lower middle-class support did not meet expectations. Another is, of course, his poor tone-death campaign and a non-responsiveness to incredibly vicious attacks occurring off the media radar in rural and Christian media dominated America. Clinton also governed as an Eisenhower Republican.

One result of this main-street Republican tilt of the Democratic party has been a worsening situation for children. USA and the UK are now being held up as negative examples in a UN study. “A baby boy from a family in the top 5 per cent of US income distribution will enjoy a lifespan 25 per cent longer than a baby boy from the bottom 5 per cent.” We are no longer the best country to have your child grow up in.

NPR has a good series on rising income inequality. According to the Pew Poll this is a growing concern of Americans. "... An increasing number of Americans subscribe to the sentiment “today it’s really true that the rich just get richer while the poor get poorer.” Currently, 73% concur with that sentiment, up from 65% five years ago. Growing concerns about income inequality are most apparent among affluent Americans; large percentages of lower-income people have long held this opinion."

The DLC has been Wall Street's representative in the Democratic coalition but even it is moving left to avoid becoming irrelevant. Presently Obama and Edwards and Kucinich are Democratic candidates without ties to the DLC. The Democratic gains in 2006 were often by the economic left of the Democratic party with Congress and the country tilting toward populism. Sen. Webb is a perfect example of the new breed of populist anti-Wall Street Democrats. "As Webb suggests, the hidden story of the election was the appeal of economic populism in a country whose middle class is increasingly feeling the squeeze. Coast to coast, Democrats running for local and national office campaigned on raising the minimum wage, repealing welfare for Big Oil and opposing trade deals lacking protection for workers and the environment, and their message resonated with an electorate anxious about the economy. Half of all voters rated the economy not good or poor, and a full 69 percent said their family's economic situation had either gotten worse or stayed the same since the last election. Democrats won both these groups by wide margins."

Democrats put the big center-left coalition back together in 2006 and the DLC and New Democrats, while shifting to the left, are still more marginalized than at any time since Clinton came to power. The DLC organized a pushback against Dean as the outsider in 2004 in a battle for the soul of the party but his continued rise in influence demonstrates the weakness of the Wall Street wing. John Edwards started in Congress as a DLC but has swung to populism. When the DLC fully embraces Edward's positions it will be at the center of the Democratic Party again. With all the influence Big Business has in the Democratic Party, the business connections of 25 top Democratic consultants, that won't happen soon.

The left side of the Democratic Party is not very happy at where the party stands now. "The Democrats, as Thomas Edsall frequently points out these days, represent two very different and largely incompatible population universes. Two out of five Democratic voters fit the stereotype of ‘well-educated, well-off, culturally liberal professionals’, but the rest of the party’s base are people who are ‘socially and economically disadvantaged’ in the new Gilded Age: the Black and Latino working classes, white women in lower-end information-sector jobs, and white men in traditional but rapidly shrinking industrial occupations. The post-New Deal Party led by the Clintons is entirely mobilized to articulate and defend the interests of affluent knowledge workers and the globalized industries in which they work; the rest of the Democrats ride in the back of the bus on the cynical assumption that Blacks, immigrants and Rustbelt whites have nowhere else to go and thus are an automatic blue vote." The New Left fears an alliance of populists from both the left and right which will unite against immigrants and the rest of the world.

If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Presidential candidate, Wall Street will still have much more say than the shop floor on Democratic policies. One of her advisers heads a union-busting PR firm. Her positions are not those of Republican big business but those of moderate business leaders and new tech industries. For example, she supports getting rid of anti-union restrictions and reversing the anti-union regulations the Bush administration enacted. As even women Democrats say, she is never really bad, and is better than a Republican.

No comments: