A Message to 2016 Democrats – How to Unite the Democratic Party to Create The New “New Deal” Democratic Party
A few tips on how to unite the Democratic party, beat Donald Trump with a message of peace, love, and social justice, and create a new “New Deal” coalition.
TIP: This page is obviously “opinion” focused on Democrats, you’ll note it is labeled as such. Also, this was written before Hillary won the primary, which makes it outdated, yet, it has some smart views and historical value. Take it for what its worth if you read it.
With only Bernie and Hillary left (update, now just Hillary, but party is still split here in late August 2016), the Democratic party is seeing division and infighting, this is exactly what Trump needs to win (not just Trump, but state Republicans who stand against healthcare reform on the ground level!).
Trump held a mirror up to the Republican party, and it turned to stone. Democrats need to hold a mirror up to their own party, and take a deep look.
To beat a figure like Trump, the Democratic party must unite under a message of positivity, correctness, and core values. This will mean both factions on the left making concessions and taking an honest look at themselves, history, and the country.
Our main advantage right now is that Trump split the Republican party to win his position, the disadvantage is he ran on an “anti-establishment message” which will attract Bernie supporters if Hillary wins the primary. The Democratic party must retain the Bernie supporters at all costs (Hillary supporters won’t defect if Bernie wins, but we do lose Moderate conservatives and gain anti-establishment independents, both have their pros and cons, anyway, not the point of the article).
For the Democratic party to unite, we must first come to terms with who we are. (See Political Party Platforms of Parties Receiving Electoral Votes: 1840 – 2012 if you need a reminder of what it means to be “progressive”, what it means to be “a modern Democrat”, and what the ideology of the right is. I also wrote a detailed essay on this here. In words, it is supporting policies that support the people and social justice, but keep America strong).Trump: Unity is winning too, we have to win. This is the Trump / Republican point of view on the issue (after Trump saying “although it would be nice, he didn’t need to unify the party”). Although this page is written with Democrats in mind, there is always something to learn. The other side should always be listened to, as President Obama explains in the video below.
TIP: To be clear, Trump doesn’t yet have the Republican nomination. This article assumes he will.
The Two Factions of the American Democratic Party
There are two main types of good hearted liberals in the big tent called the Democratic Party:
Neoliberals – This simply means more classical liberal than social liberal in terms of trade and economics. It is sometimes used as a derogatory term, but I don’t see it this way. Rather, it just describes economically minded liberals. Neoliberals are your Clinton’s and Obama’s who know voter turnout is low, GOP obstruction is high, and the stakes are the future of the world. They have been on the front lines fighting tooth and nail, doing what it takes, and that isn’t always pretty. The wealth gap is widening, and the bailouts are getting nerve-racking (and nerve-wracking for that matter). For all the real progress made, Trump’s base is ready, waiting, and primed to go on the offensive against Neoliberalism with a Jeffersonian-esq populist message (ignoring that the GOP is pro big business and Trump is a “billionaire”). It is likely Neoliberals alone won’t survive a Trump coalition without the social-populist-anti-corporate-welfare left, who is likely torn between the social progressivism of Bernie and libertarian populist message of Trump. Trump destroyed the GOP single handed with his rhetoric, the idea that Hillary is safe is an underestimation of Trump. The idea that we can just rely on Goldman Sachs, without the support of populists, jeopardizes the core values of the Democratic Party… and the good name of the party for the next century (and the economic health of the world)… and of course, this jeopardizes the health of the left’s often unsung invisible allies in the .0001% who are on the rung above Sachs. Maybe Trump is pro-business, maybe he is driven by ego and simply wants to go down in history, I don’t feel safe with him as President… do you?
Progressive Populists – This simply means voters who put social issues first, the are more social liberal than classical liberal in terms of trade and economics. Sometimes called social-democrats, just socialists, or sometimes the disenfranchised masses who think the idea of building a wall is racist, but also feels shafted by the pro-corporation left. Your populists are your Bernie’s, Chomsky’s, and MLK’s. They aren’t so far left they don’t accept how America works in practice, well sometimes, but they are still within the sphere of American values (and importantly Democratic values). They dislike neoliberal corporate welfare, but everyone likes Whole Foods, Starbucks, Facebook, Xbox, and Apple, and so there is room to talk. What populists have in idealism, they tend to match in naivety, and I think this is the main gripe of the more established left. A lot of this crowd is young and turning up for the first time. Their principles are no different than the core principles of the New Deal Democrats, but the methodology they embrace to get there is. A populist is less Hamilton and more Jefferson in methodology, but all are FDR and LBJ in what we want to see accomplished. They want universal healthcare, so they demand it loudly, the Neoliberal takes the ACA and waits for their next move, the Populist sets up a pup tent outside the White House and makes a sign about the 1%. This is good because the Neoliberal isn’t typically ready to do that, and we need people on the ground floor. Truly, it is a perfect marriage.
How to Unite the Democratic Party – Tempering the Populists and Neoliberals to Create a New “New Deal” Coalition
Tempering the two factions on the left is easy theoretically, we all just need to focus on core values and then compromise. Here are a few ways that works, depending on what the universe hands us:
- Our 1%, our most blessed of Patriarchs, i.e. where all the money goes when it doesn’t go to people like Trump, essentially have the power to fix everything on their own. Instead of giving the people just enough to keep them happy (Bernays, Lippmann, Neoliberalism) they give the people what they want within reason, and then they keep just enough to be happy and ensure it remains this way. As Goliath, they choose to allow David equal footing, and thereby become David & Goliath as equals, instead of one or the other. They exchange the self-interest of a short term power grab (inflation and amass wealth over X years to become the new world patriarchs) in exchange for the self-interest of building a long-term monument. This monument would be creating a new world where democracy, people, and education was the name of the game. A new Athens, a new Alexandria, a utopian America. One that says, “oh, I get what Adam Smith was actually saying, yes, morality should be the end goal”, let us not let the world fall to the merchant class, but to Truth, Justice, and a just Republic. That is real power… With all that optimistic idealism said, this move would involve asking allies to act as progressive social liberals, and that is realistic. And of course those who do act this way catch a ton of flak (imagine a progressive with tons of power trying to ensure progressive values; pretty sure this is was the last Wikileaks was about, so we have a complex problem).
- Next, more realistically, since the aforementioned would require more influence than I have, or I assume anyone else does, and even still isn’t likely practical… Let us say Bernie wins. We have to be comfortable with LBJ or FDR style change. To be an LBJ, Bernie needs an MLK and the masses behind him. We sort of have that, but I think we all fear they will go back to playing video games after the election cycle. This group will likely need the experience of the Hillary camp to remain vigilant. So if you think i’m suggesting that the Clinton camp bit their lip, help organize the Bernie camp, and sacrifice some wisdom for ideals, you are right. I think this sends the right message. Let them put universal healthcare on the table, but show them how to get the support they would need to pivot the ACA into single payer. Do anything except be divisive and give an advantage to Trump (and importantly the Republicans in the Legislative branch, we should be focusing on the House and Senate here too).
- Next, most realistically, since both the aforementioned may very well not happen, we will have to unite the entire party under Hillary. A lot of regular people (in the words of those I talk to on the street), “F’n hate Hillary”, as she is, “an establishment liar who cares more about the merchants and bankers than America, she flip flops, she is a war hawk, etc, etc”. People I meet on the street (who don’t support her) may dislike her (and sure, largely due to right-wing talking points), but I have a long memory and I know all the good she has done. Conveying that message to those suffering from the income and wealth gap isn’t easy, Bernays works in the 1930’s – 50’s, but it shows it’s weakness in the modern day, i’m not sure there is any marketing campaign that can get the anti- Hillary left to support Hillary, instead of marketing I think truth will work (since people think she lies, she combats it with truth to earn respect). Anyways, it is Trump who is using the heavy duty social science tactics, not the Democrats, and we’ll need more than that anyway. Hillary’s wisdom, history, and flip-flopping can actually be an advantage. All she needs to do is embrace Bernie, accept his platform, and let his base know that she has been waiting for them to speak up and show support. Then Hillary leads the New “New Deal” Collation with the support of Obama (who should be the next supreme court justice) and Bernie. She, in every way she can, explains that the concessions made were stepping stones toward a better world, and that as long as she has the support of the people that better world can happen. FDR got the masses to rise up and demand the New Deal, LBJ got the masses to stand up and demand the Great Society, either Hillary or Bernie can stand up and get the masses to demand the new New Deal.
We can’t afford a business as usual Hillary Clinton, and we can’t afford a Bernie without the Democratic parties full support, and god help us if we get a Trump. We aren’t all in this together, but we’ll have to learn how to live in a tent if we want long-term success.
Why Does it Matter that We Unite the Democrats?
America is in many respects big brother to the world. As a big brother we have to set the right tone and show what is expected. We set the tone of inequality yet social progress, and the world is becoming unequal and yet more socially progressive. We set the stage for corporatism, the world is becoming more corporate. We are doing good at spreading western values, but we can do better, and we owe that to our little brothers and sisters.
Globalization, is hard to avoid at this point, so then it must come with an even more progressive and more pro-social justice mission statement. The goal should be European style enlightenment in the drivers seat, but not old-European style classism. We must hold true to our core values and focus on morality and ethics. We should always carry a big stick, but that stick should be an olive branch. The goal is shouldn’t be to create a class of “merciful masters” with the power to save us from ourselves… it should be educating and enlightening people so they can be their own masters, in service to the country and the world, to promote peace and love, and to ensure that the Republic and the rule of law remain the final word.
To ensure the above, we need the populists and neoliberals to unite, describing this unity as a New “New Deal” sends the right message.
Even if you don’t care about any of that, can I simply direct your self-interest to “not wanting Trump to win”. Maybe we start there, and then come to the table after that? There is plenty of room to compromise on the left, I’m not so sure the same can be said for the right.
Let’s end now with the man we should all be looking to for wisdom, the grassroots organizer, progressive, neoliberal, populist, President Obama, who like it or not, well represents where the party is at and what is needed next.President Obama Delivers the Commencement Address at Howard University. This speech works as a metaphor for hope, change, and what the Democratic party can accomplish if united under the right values. It even suggests learning from and working with those we don’t agree with. I suggest watching the whole thing, but starting around 25:00 or 35:00 will net you some amazingly powerful and honest messages from the President.
TIP: The Neoliberals may think they don’t need the populists, but in truth, that is exactly what is needed. I’m not going to point to the “anti-establishment” populist videos arising from some rouge grassroots groups that are all over YouTube calling Clinton a liar (because it’s probably wrong to give them link juice)… but suffice to say, you have to realize how “anti-Clinton-style politics” many are right now, and calibrate to that. You can’t trick, you must use truth to beat Trump. He is the king of tricksters, you won’t beat him at his own game. The time is yesterday. The Democratic party must unite, if not under Bernie, then under his populism with Hillary in the drivers seat.