After a century of resisting monopolies, Democrats became the party of finance capitalism and it cost them the election


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/23/late-stage-capitalism.html


#2

I would say that the Democrats became “ANOTHER party of finance capitalism.” Really the wooing of Wall Street by Bill Clinton was the second part of the realignment of the two major parties so that they’re defined by social, rather than economic differences. The first part was the “Southern strategy” by the Republican party as a response to LBJs support for the Civil Rights Act.

So instead of both parties having socially liberal and conservative wings, with conservative union members in the Democratic Party and liberal"Rockefeller Republicans"; both parties now have establishment wings that “follow the money” that the finance “industry” hands out as well as economically populist wings. In the last election, the populist candidate won the nomination for the Republicans, and the Establishment candidate won the nomination for the Democrats. So Trump won the general election DESPITE all his baggage because the finance wings have become so divorced from the regular economy as to be unrecognizable to many voters.


#3

Bernie 2020 ! No, it’s not too early for that.


#4

Monopoly on business is bad, but monopoly on capital is a much bigger problem.


#5

I highly recommend Listen, Liberal. And several stiff drinks.

It changed my mind about wanting to go back in time to help ensure Bernie won the 2016 primary, to wanting to go back in time to punch Bill Clinton again and again and again.

If the Democratic Party hadn’t decided the New Deal was “outdated”, that the working and middle class were just a drag on the economy, and that they would win every election forever just because they weren’t Republicans, the US would be a very different place right now.


#6

There is an important detail which commentators in the West like to leave out. The period in question. The time when finance capitalism hijacked the left coincides with the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Correlation is not always causation.

But there is an argument to be made that capitalism was heavily restrained during the Cold War by the sheer existence of socialist countries which in spite of their many failings invested heavily in education and welfare provision. The West couldn’t be seen to be more evil, less caring.

After the Wall came down there was nothing to be compared to any more. The hijacking of Western democracies by finance capital is a far more complex phenomenon than the established Left Democrats and New Labour selling out.

The way the West (Regan / Thatcher / Kohl) “facilitated” the transition of Eastern European Socialist Republics, especially the re-distributed of public assets and especially in the Sowjet Union is a super important part of this puzzle.

The rules of the new world order were made by the victors and as it happened they were Reagan / Thatcher / Kohl i.e. conservatives. Clinton and Blair found themselves in fundamentally different political context than previous left leaning governments. Not to excuse but as a context…


#7

Look up the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, the Committee on Party Effectiveness, and the Democratic Leadership Council. They predate the end of the Cold War, and were based on the premise that McGovern and Mondale lost because economic populism doesn’t work and we needed “market-based solutions” (welfare “reform”, charter schools, free trade agreements, and opposition to single-payer health care).


#8

I’m not sure I would chalk up the Democrats loss to one thing in particular; I am not convinced that a Sanders/Warren ticket that stuck to principles would be assured of beating Trump and all his delicious lies and false narratives. “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

But, that said, returning to populist/progressive non-capitalista values is the only viable way forward for the party, and they better get their shit together.


#9

most frustrating thing to me is strong Dem friends who are in total denial of how the party has sold them down the river.


#10

It would be good if Warren would openly endorse candidates in the Dem. primaries, in order to help weed out the wolves in sheep clothing, and have those candidates follow Bernies campaign finance style.


#11

Comey’s last minute surprise
Russian hacking/influence
Racism
Clinton was a terrible candidate
Clinton actually WON
Rising insurance costs fueled an anti-ACA sentiment
Sexism
White working class resentment
"Drain the swamp"
Too many morons voting
(<–actual reason)
Third party candidates split the vote
Bernie Bros undermined support/enthusiasm for Clinton
Voter disgust at Sanders’ treatment by the Democratic establishment
Low Democratic turnout
America’s fascination with tv celebrities
Fake news

Democrats became the party of finance capitalism

Whew, glad that’s finally resolved!


Voter rights
#12

Ah, but counterfactuals like this are an easy way to feel virtuous and avoid having to get involved in the grubby realities of politics, where compromise is a constant companion.


#13

33 posts were split to a new topic: Voter rights


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#16


#18

I agree for a number of reasons, but it seems to me the Democrats’ resistance to monopolies has been pretty weak for quite a lot longer than that.


#26

Based on the history of non-incumbent Democrats winning the White House, it’s too late in the sense that Bernie is too old, by a lot.

Somebody who is under 50 today would be ideal.


#38

Heh. :slight_smile: Speaking a little more seriously, I do think that the Democratic party was derailed on this subject, by competing arguments involving skills premiums and capital-biased technological change. Monopoly power came to be viewed as something only Marxists cared about, and so antitrust enforcement became a joke, starting with Clinton. I first noticed this becoming a subject of discussion a few years ago, in a number of Krugman columns, including this one:

As many economists have lately been pointing out, these days the old story about rising inequality, in which it was driven by a growing premium on skill, has lost whatever relevance it may have had. Since around 2000, the big story has, instead, been one of a sharp shift in the distribution of income away from wages in general, and toward profits. But here’s the puzzle: Since profits are high while borrowing costs are low, why aren’t we seeing a boom in business investment? And, no, investment isn’t depressed because President Obama has hurt the feelings of business leaders or because they’re terrified by the prospect of universal health insurance.

Well, there’s no puzzle here if rising profits reflect rents, not returns on investment. A monopolist can, after all, be highly profitable yet see no good reason to expand its productive capacity.


#40

The atlantic ran a story on this a few months ago

probably part of a themed issue, but I only saw the one article.

… With key intellectuals in the Democratic Party increasingly agreeing with Republican thought leaders on the virtues of corporate concentration, the political economic debate changed drastically. Henceforth, the economic leadership of the two parties would increasingly argue not over whether concentrations of wealth were threats to democracy or to the economy, but over whether concentrations of wealth would be centrally directed through the public sector or managed through the private sector—a big-government redistributionist party versus a small-government libertarian party. Democrats and Republicans disagreed on the purpose of concentrated power, but everyone agreed on its inevitability. By the late 1970s, the populist Brandeisian anti-monopoly tradition—protecting communities by breaking up concentrations of power—had been air-brushed out of the debate. And in doing so, America’s fundamental political vision transformed: from protecting citizen sovereignty to maximizing consumer welfare.


#41

Interesting column. I’ve never understood why a monopoly has ever been considered good, in a country where “the market rules” and “competition!” I can’t list the number of places where I see one product made by one company, and a competing product made by the same damn company. The latest I noticed was baking powder of all things. I was comparing brands and noticed that Clabber Girl baking powder is made by Clabbergirl Corporation. Rumford baking powder is also made by the same company. They were the only two brands that were on the shelf in the grocery store. And it turns out Fleischmann’s and Royal are two more brands owned by them. WTF?


#44

Based on the turnout state by state in (edit)2008, 2012, and 2016, my prediction is that the Democratic party has nominated its last white Presidential candidate.