November 18, 2016


Are Democrats Over-Learning the Lessons of Trump's Victory? : The new conventional wisdom is that Democrats need to woo white working class voters who have been hurt by globalization. Not so fast, some say. (ALEX SHEPHARD, November 17, 2016, New Republic)

As the Democrats seek to put the pieces back together again, progressives and leftists are calling for a populist economic platform to be at the center of the party's new agenda and identity. No less a figure than President Barack Obama appeared to ascribe to this idea. In his first press conference since Trump was elected, the president simultaneously laid out a new political playbook and subtweeted the Clinton campaign, saying, "The key for us--when I say 'us,' I mean Americans, but I think particularly for progressives--is to say your concerns are real, your anxieties are real; here's how we fix them." He added that Democrats, going forward, had to be "attentive to inequality and not tone deaf to it," and had to reach out to "folks that are in communities that feel forgotten."

But it's one thing to embrace economic populism on a conceptual level, and quite another to translate it into a political platform and a governing agenda. To name just one issue: How does it square with the neoliberal championing of free trade, an issue in which Trump campaigned to the left of Clinton? Even Obama seemed to hedge on this issue, saying, "Yes to trade, but trade that ensures that these other countries that trade with us aren't engaging in child labor, for example."

For some Democrats, that won't cut it. Jane Kleeb, who is the founder of Bold Nebraska and sits on Bernie Sanders's post-election organization Our Revolution, said Democrats needed to do more to differentiate themselves from Republicans. "I think some Democrats have tried to run as Republican-lite and when a voter sees a Republican or a Democrat pretending to be a Republican they're going to vote for the Republican," she said. "So Democrats have to create a new path and show voters what it actually means to be Democrat again."

Benjamin Jealous, the former head of the NAACP and a key backer of Bernie Sanders, largely agreed. "Moneyed interests in both parties don't want to come to terms with it," he told the New Republic. "They know the public has already been reckoning for a long time with the fact that our trade policies are not negotiated in the interest of the most impacted communities of every color--that unionized factory jobs, good pay, and benefits have been replaced by service jobs with low pay and often no benefits."

This is in line with a critique made against the Clinton campaign throughout the election, one that has gained new currency in its cataclysmic aftermath. She lost partly because of her husband's support for NAFTA and her own support of many free trade policies, notwithstanding her turnaround on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which doubled as evidence that Clinton would take any position to get elected). Workers simply didn't trust her when it came to protecting their livelihoods. She was seen as being not on their side.

...the path back to political does not likely involve siding with the 40%,who oppose, over the 60%, who support, core neo-liberal ideas of the free movement of goods and people:

Majority of Voters Support Free Trade, Immigration: Poll (MARK MURRAY, 7/17/16, NBC)

In the national poll, 55 percent of voters agree with the statement that free trade with foreign countries is good for America, because it opens up new markets and because the United States can't avoid it in a global economy. That sentiment is shared by 60 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of independents and 51 percent of Republicans.

By contrast, 38 percent of voters think that free trade is bad for America, because it has hurt manufacturing and other key industries, and because there is no proof that trade creates better jobs. [...]

The poll also finds that 56 percent of American voters believe that immigration helps more than it hurts, including 73 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents, but just 35 percent of Republicans.

That's compared with 35 percent of all voters who say that immigration hurts more than it helps, including 55 percent of Republicans, but just 21 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of independents.

Posted by at November 18, 2016 8:56 AM