June 24, 2015


So Long, Centrist Democrats (Peter Roff, June 24, 2015, US News)

During Barack Obama's presidency, the ground has shifted considerably under the Democrats. The party's base is becoming more liberal according to the latest Gallup poll.

The firm, which has followed shifts in the ideological leanings in each party for some time now, reports that "47 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents now identify as both socially liberal and economically moderate or liberal." Previous surveys revealed the affinity for such terms was much lower. The one taken the year Obama was first elected president, 2008, found that only 39 percent of respondents regarded themselves that way. In 2001 that number of 30 percent.

It's a far cry from the time Bill Clinton, riding the horse of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, came to the party's rescue in 1992. Placing himself firmly in the middle of the road, he eked out a narrow win against George H.W. Bush with less than 50 percent of the popular vote in a three-way race. Four years later he managed to do it again, also in a three-way race, by governing from, as historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. put it, "the vital center" of the country and through a strategy that used to be called "triangulation."

Labour's choice: neoliberalism or more neoliberalism (BEN WHITHAM, 24 June 2015, Open Democracy)

The weeks since Labour's crushing general election defeat and the run-up to the party's leadership election have been characterised by calls for major changes to its economic policy. Of the four candidates that will appear on ballot papers in the leadership contest, three have demonstrated at least one shared commitment in this regard:

"We can't be set against the government's recent cut in corporation tax for the future. Our rhetoric can't be set against the wealth creators and drivers of our future economic growth. We can't be set against business." 
Yvette Cooper

"Today I want to focus on another weakness: our relationship with business. I am clear that no political party can win a general election in Britain if they convey a sense of being anti-business, wealth creation and success."
Andy Burnham

"I champion wealth creation, because without a dynamic economy in every part of the country, we won't get the decent jobs or public services people need." 
Liz Kendall

Before pulling out of the race early, leadership favourite Chuka Umunna had also suggested that one of the most important reasons for the party's electoral defeat was that "we allowed the impression to arise that we were not on the side of those who are doing well" and "we talked too little about those creating wealth and doing the right thing." [...]

So who are these "wealth creators" and "drivers of our future economic growth"? Like everyone from Tony Blair to Alan Sugar, Burnham, Cooper and Kendall are all clear that they are referring to what we now tend, euphemistically, to call "business leaders" ("capitalists" just sounds too archaic in the post-Steve Jobs world)

This cycle has repeated itself over and over in every Anglospheric nation for the past thirty years.  A party of the right pursues the 1st Way, of the left the Second Way, making it uncompetitive at the national level.  A leader--Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, George W. Bush, John Howard, Stephen Harper, John Key, etc.--runs on the Third Way and wins.  His party's activists convince themselves that those national election results mean that the public accepts the old Way and demands the fealty to those ideas of the next leader, who promptly loses, to a party that has been willing to jettison the old Way because it has been in the wilderness.  

Thus, the GOP will nominate a Third Way candidate as the Democrats force their nominee to run har Left.  And Labour will return to Blairism.

Posted by at June 24, 2015 8:18 PM

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