I read a number of articles recently to the effect that liberalism has failed. I whole heartedly disagree. How can liberalism have failed when there has not been a liberal congress or president in nearly forty years, and then only if you consider Jimmy Carter to have been a liberal, which he sort of kind of was. What has failed is neoliberalism.
Now you may think that Bill Clinton was a liberal. If you do then answer this question. What did Bill Clinton fight for in his two terms as President? He started out with health care reform, but he didn’t really fight for it and threw in the towel fairly quickly. He did fight for five things that I can remember.
- Welfare reform, which moved 800 to 900 thousand children into deep poverty, hardly a liberal thing.
- NAFTA, which has been devastating to working class people.
- The Anti-Crime Act of 1994, which greatly expanded the prison population.
- A tax increase on the rich. Now you may think that that was a liberal thing, but what did he use the money for? He used it to reduce the deficit, a conservative fetish, as long as a Democrat is President, once a Republican takes office they forget all about it.
- The repeal of Taft-Hartley. He didn’t really have to fight for that one since the Republicans fully supported it, but it contributed greatly to the 2008 financial crisis.¹
All in all a much more conservative than liberal list of accomplishments, which would be typical of the neoliberals. I don’t know what the accepted definition of a neoliberal is, or even if there is such a definition. I think of them as compulsive centrists in that they are always wanting to pivot to the center. That may work well as a campaign strategy but as a governing strategy it leaves a lot to be desired. With the Republicans moving ever farther to the right to the point that the party as a whole is borderline fascist the most the working class can expect from a compulsive centrist is a holding action. To make matters worse I recently read that the DCCC was recruiting blue dog Democrats to run against incumbent Republicans in 2018. So the DCCC thinks the best way to respond to the Republican moving ever farther right is for the Democrats to move to the right themselves.
Now there are signs that the Democrats in Congress are starting to take seriously some parts of the Democratic platform which would appeal to working class folks, such as the $15 minimum wage and free college. This is good, very good, but I don’t think it is enough. Besides, if the Democrats regain control of Congress by moving to the right it would still result in a Congress not particularly interested in helping the working class, and you would still have a Democratic establishment which is equally uninterested in helping the working class.
So, what to do? I think we need a new political party whose primary focus is the well being of the working class. Now I don’t know a whole lot about organizing a political party, especially about building a new party from the ground up. Notice what I just said ‘building a new party from the ground up’. The problem with new political parties in the recent past is that they have all tried to build their parties from the top down and that simply won’t work. If you really want a new political party you have to start by fielding state and local candidates to include mayors, governors, and state legislators plus congressional candidates. Once you have some people in place at the lower level people can see what you really stand for and who you are really trying to benefit. If they like what they see then your new party will grow and prosper. If they don’t like what they see then you will deservedly fade away.
Now, as I said, I don’t know much of anything about starting a new political party so what I am going to do is create my own hypothetical party, the Progressive Working Class Party or PWCP. Starting next Monday, the 21st, and each Monday for a few weeks thereafter I will propose a new plank for the PWCP platform ( one nice thing about having your own political party is that the party platform will be exactly what I want it to be).
Here is a list of my proposed planks:
- New SS system
- War tax
- Secession procedure
- Tax Reform
- End the war on drugs
- Replace NAFTA
- Libel Reform
- School funding
- Gun control
- High school curriculum
- Short term corporate thinking
- National ID
- Worker’s rights
- Guaranteed minimum income
As I post them I will create a link in the list. Note that this list is not necessarily the order in which I will post them, nor is the list indicative of which I consider most important.
- Paul Krugman and others maintain that the repeal of Taft-Hartley was not the cause of the crisis but rather the collapse of the shadow banking industry that caused the crisis. I agree that the collapse of the shadow banking industry precipitated the crisis but it was the subsequent collapse of the big banks that caused the real problems. To put it another way, if Taft-Hartley had still been in effect would we have spent several hundred billion dollars bailing out the big banks? I don’t think so.