Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Clinton, speaks of real progressive economic change and how to restore the relevancy of the Democratic Party. His points on the former would almost make one think there’s a shred of socialism in his DNA. Perhaps so, but there’s a gaping hole in his genome sequence; his reliance on the Democratic Party to achieve equity and fairness in our economic woes of today.
The tax code today, given to us by both the Democrats and Republicans, in Congress and in the White House, favors the filthy rich and the corporations. It is ironic that the last time the wealthy had to pay their fair share was during the Eisenhower administration, where the tax rate on the highest earners was 91%. Today, it is they who have complete control over who pays for their lifestyle.
The last time the Democratic Party had a spine was during the Johnson administration. Whether one approves of their policies or not, their control of the White House and Congress pushed through their legislative agenda. Now, inferring from Reich, the agenda that today’s administration promotes is that of the Republicans’. These days, you can always trust a Democratic candidate (when elected) to carry out the campaign promises of the Republican Party.
What we have today in the Democratic Party is the near surgical removal of a spine, or perhaps it has simply morphed into an amorphous waxlike centerpiece with the GOP stamp of approval on it. Mr. Reich has called for economic policies that would restore the relevancy of his party but fails to see that that is impossible for a variety of reasons.
First of all, maintaining power is both party’s ultimate goal. We see how Dennis Kucinich folded on the public option in order to save the Obama administration and then he went on to fund raise for his party. Principles be damned. Party comes first.
Secondly, what Reich fails to point out is that the guiding principles of the Democratic Party is a capitalist agenda. Whether one goes to extremes with the GOP or a milder form of pain and inequality among the Democrats, the basic foundation of our economic system is sacrosanct. We see this perfectly played out in Wisconsin. Of course, Obama gives lip service to the striking and threatened teachers in Wisconsin. He needs organized labor’s money for his re-election and the election of his party. But his take on the situation is no different than that of Governor Walker’s. For both of them, seemingly on ‘opposite’ sides, believe in the euphemism of ‘shared’ responsibilities. What they truly believe in is ‘one-sided’ responsibility. We all know that the teachers didn’t cause the problems in that state or any other. In fact, teachers have already bared the brunt of this collapse by giving up raises, for years in some jurisdictions, and taken on more economic responsibility for health care and pensions. When Gov. Walker erased a surplus with a deficit by granting tax breaks to corporations, we saw no outcry from the White House or any leading Democrat on the Hill.
One would not expect that. This present administration has long followed the mantra of shared responsibility (as long as the pillars of capitalism aren’t touched). Matt Taibbi asks, “Why isn’t Wall Street in Jail?” The obvious answer is that Wall Street owns Congress, the White House, and the Judicial Branch of government. To think otherwise is naive to an extreme.
A radical transformation of the Democratic Party is necessary for it to be relevant. But then it would no longer be able to extol the virtues of free trade, fiscal irresponsibility (on the backs of workers), and economic unaccountability (without consequences). I’m sorry but that is not, and can never be, the Democratic Party.
We unfortunately have two capitalist/corporate parties which are also two wings of the same bird of prey. They should merge as they would represent only a minority of those eligible to vote. What’s missing is either a bona fide Socialist Party that isn’t some wacko Stalinist or Trotskyite sect that chases away those not committed to their doctrine, or a Labor Party to represent the millions of service workers, blue collar and white collar professionals, like teachers and nurses, without the confines of an existing party that successfully pretends to be on their side.