Mike Konczal is one of the best economics writers out there. He’s worked his way up from obscure journals to a nice post on Vox. His current piece is one that Tom Perez, Keith Ellison and every Democrat needs to read and chew, and ruminate on and really, carefully consider.
In short, Democrats kid themselves when they believe that big business, whether it’s healthcare or finance or whatever, will back Democrats over Republicans because they’re more stable, responsible, and historically better for those businesses. If Republicans are promising deregulation and tax cuts, no matter how nuts they seem in general, like the drunk woman across the bar that seems hella unstable they will go home with them at closing, rather than the upstanding citizen in the suit that pretends to be on both sides.
Business thinks Democrats are the enemy no matter how much they cozy up to them, so at the very least, be aware of that and actually, why not go back to siding with labor and being a real counterbalance. Go after real regulations, prosecute white collar criminals, don’t just say you’re on the side of labor while collecting money from their bosses.
Democrats have come to view themselves as neutral caretakers of the existing economic system.
Stewardship conveys ideas of looking after and keeping order. Democrats now see their role as serving as a fair broker among the competing parts of the economy. They insist they can come up with an arrangement in which capital and labor are simultaneously better off, and that they are the ones who will make the hard decisions, in contrast with the feckless Republicans.
How much are Democrats kidding themselves? We’ve already established that business will support the GOP. The labor union establishment side of the equation supports Democrats out of some ancient commitment and the knowledge that the other side wants them dead. The actual workers have either peeled off to vote with their neighbors and embrace the anti-union Republicans, or they mistrust the Democratic establishment and were excited by the Bernie Sanders candidacy. Clearly the “neutral caretakers of the existing economic system” is a disastrous electoral stance.
One key question for Democrats is the old labor one: “Which side are you on?” The Democratic Party used to give the answer, as Harry Truman did in 1948, that it “is pledged to work for labor.” In recent decades they’ve given an answer that was essentially “all sides, for the common good.” After 2016, Democrats should pick a side again.
The Democrats chase after professionals and well-educated managerial suburban Republicans has been a mixed bag. A success, yes. But not enough to offset the loss of the working class who chose Trump and the mistrust of the younger generation who chose Bernie. This is what Thomas Frank has been writing about for a while.
Ultimately, the way forward for Democrats is clear. Be Democrats, not Republican lite. For years we’ve heard the saying in a campaign between a real Republican and right leaning Democrat, conservatives will always choose the real Republican so there aren’t many jurisdictions where Democrats will profit from leaning right. So why do they keep trying to straddle the line as if only middling is credible? You get no credit for it.
Go left, choose left, veer left, support left and sell it like you believe it.
You do believe it, don’t you? Labor unions, regulation, progressive taxation, universal healthcare, universal education, government as a counterweight to business, etc. Embrace it all! Believe it all! Sell it all! The people will follow that banner.