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Here They Come Again: The Kind of Neoliberal Democrats Who Prefer Trump to Sanders

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/02/11/here-they-come-again-kind-neoliberal-democrats-who-prefer-trump-sanders


From the article by Adolph Reed Jr. :
"In the mid-1990s I reflected on how often it is liberals who enable, even abet, the rise of reactionary forces by accommodating them and treating them as legitimate, looking the other way at the dangerous aspects and implications of their agendas. "

Yup! The Liberal Class gave us Trump! And would rather have Trump again than Sanders.

Do you know what else this means? It means that all the anti-Trump bloviating and hand-wringing by the likes of CNN, MSDNC, the NYT, Pelosi and Schiff is just that - BS (which would include "progressive " media hangers-on). They don’t really oppose Trump (especially when they back his policies!).


This is an excellent piece and one that should be required reading for all those that call themselves democrats. Followed by a quiz and group discussion!

Unfortunately most of the people I know that proclaim themselves to be “liberal” —even “progressive” democrats do not engage in critical thinking that examines the destructive neoliberalism that Aldoph Reed Jr. brings to light in this piece.

In fact, they haven’t a clue. They focus on “electability” and continue to cling to the superficial belief that a democrat is better than a republican. And that is is folks. That is all they take the time to think about as they drive their Priuses and hope their 401k’s hold up into and past retirement. And they hope live to 65 when they qualify for Medicare.

It blows my mind how little these people think or read about the root causes of u.s. collapse that is happening NOW.

They are great at complaining about trump, delight in watching Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, SNL laughing at the satires of trump----- yet do not want to examine how trump came to be.


“Electability” in DNCspeak means a candidate who can sustain or increase the flow of corporate money into the DNC coffers.

Corporate money addiction has afflicted the DNC ever since the 1985 Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) formation.


Clinton’s successor, Obama, showed me everything I needed to see in the bait and switch category.

Haven’t voted Democrat since 2008.
Looks extremely likely that the streak will continue.


When Wall Street Democrats threatened to support Trump against Bernie, we had proof positive that Democrats vs Republicans is a false construct, set up to fool us. Almost as one, we stopped talking Party loyalty. We also set aside liberal, conservative, moderate, radical - meaningless labels all. Instead, we found a new paradigm - the struggle is actually between those who care only about number one, and those who care about their fellow Americans. In other words, it’s the neoliberals in both Parties against the progressives in all Parties.


Subtitle to the article: “Here’s the question: to what extent is the Establishment’s commitment to democratic institutions greater than their commitment to current forms of capitalist hierarchy? It seems like we are about to find out.”

The subtitle clearly identifies the essential question, but flubs the answer. “We are about to find out”? Nah. We already know. The capitalist hierarchy will unhesitantly re-install Trump if he opposes Bernie (notice I didn’t say “re-elect,” because the election has nothing to do with it).


Nail on the head. And, since the neoliberals control both parties, progressives are perpetually marginalized, unable to effect change within parties, and unable to break the two-party stranglehold with a third party. Of course, it goes without saying that the GOP has no use for progressives at all. But the Dems only pay lip-service to progressive ideals, ensuring they are subordinated to neoliberalism. They dress up the party with a progressive “fringe” to lend a progressive affect for marketing purposes (think the Squad), but this minority is never really empowered to legislate change. So, the rich get richer, the wars never end, despair increases, and the planet dies.


This article lays out pretty succinctly just how and when the Democratic Party replaced the Republican Party as the representation of conservative thought in the American body politic. The GOP become the American fascist party in 1980. At that point the oligarchy knew they didn’t need to waste their money influencing the fascists, as they will always be fascists. What they were able to do at that point was to convince the now frustrated core of the Democratic Party that all they needed to do to win was convince run of the mill conservatives that the Democratic Party was now for you. That they should be willing to exercise a new “flexible morality” to allow anti-choice, pro-war, neoliberals into the party.
Two generations later the core Democratic Party can be easily referred to as Nixon republicans, while progressives have been marginalized, or chased from the party altogether.
There is currently no legitimate political party in the USA that represents progressive values.


I need help in understanding something. Is this article simply trying to focus a lens on how we ended up with Trump, or is it more specifically trying to shame anti-Trump moderates-with-a-conscience into voting for Sanders? As a registered (technically) Democrat but self-professed pragmatist more than anything else, I tend to subscribe to the “ANYONE is better than Trump” ideal at present. That includes the swath of candidates the author seems to be discounting as “elites” in what I can only ironically perceive to be a rather condescendingly elitist way.

As someone who will literally vote for ANY of the candidates currently running for the Democratic nomination–minus Gabbard–I find myself wondering how the author views people like me. Is he trying to lobby me to choose Sanders out of the box? If so, telling me how stupid I am for enabling the rise of Trump because I cast pragmatic vote for Al Gore 20 years ago even if Ralph Nader might have been more tightly aligned with whatever political ideals I had at age 23–especially when a great deal of Sanders supports might be just as, or more, responsible by taking their collective ball and going home in 2016–isn’t the greatest of recruiting methods.

If I’m taking the message/premise of this article in the wrong way, I’d love to know how.

“attacking the billionaire class will backfire”

The relationship between the elitist Democrats and ordinary voters reminds me of the story of the boy who dangled a piece of meat right in front of a dog’s face. Every time the dog tried to grab the meat, the boy would yank it away. After the boy did this several times, the dog got frustrated and finally bit the boy. So the boy’s parents said the dog went berserk and they had it put down.


Great to hear your thoughtful and heartfelt voice again. And I salute your courage for having stood up to Chomsky’s castigating of voters who stood up for honesty and wouldn’t go LOTE in 2016.


Tom Johnson
Columbus, OH



Think about it. What does the Democratic party power structure have to lose if Trump gets re-elected? Not much and, in some respects, it gains.

Consider the fact that the party always slips, financially, when one of their own is in the White House. After 8 years of Obama, the party was in such bad shape, Hillary had to float them a loan in exchange for making her their choice. After three years of Trump, though, the money train is rolling at full speed.

The Dem power elite know all too well that the party faithful tend to go to sleep when the Democrats are in control. Trump makes the perfect boogeyman to scare them awake.

Most importantly, Pelosi, Schumer et all don’t have to produce a damn thing in the way of legislation when the Republicans are in control. They don’t have to worry about anyone calling their bluff as they piously give lip service to preserving “democracy” or the need to address inequality, the climate emergency and so much more. All they have to do to maintain their power and position is put on a non-threatening, half-ass show of opposition without having to change a damn thing. If their party actually takes back control, they would be expected to produce something. Under a Sanders or even a Warren, they would be expected to go to work. That’s a lot scarier than Trump when your party is more of a political fund-raising organization than an actual political party.


Later in our history, proto-fascistic Cold War anticommunism got a sanitizing boost from liberals who, while wringing their hands, wrinkling their brows and privately tut-tutting about supposedly extraordinary “excesses,” validated persecution with their embrace of the notion that the dangers of “subversion” could necessitate denial of victims’ civil liberties, criminalization of ideas, and witch-hunting. Americans for Democratic Action, long the avatar of Democratic liberalism, was founded specifically as an engine of Cold War attack on the left, and high-minded liberal institutions like the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the ACLU, as well as most prominent liberal intellectuals, capitulated to and rationalized anticommunist witch-hunting, most of all by accepting the premise that a shadowy “subversion” threatened the republic, which then justified persecution of those held to endorse it. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and nominal end of the Cold War, and especially in the post-9/11 world, “subversion” has been recast as “terrorism,” and liberals’ concerns with process and appearance of judicious orderliness shifted accordingly, to parse such issues as how to occupy a country humanely, at what point aggressive interrogation becomes torture, under what conditions killing civilians is acceptable, etc.

(Personally, I would add the AFL-CIO to the above paragraph).

In any case, this is worth reprinting in its entirety. Actually, the entire article is. Reed manages to commit the crimes of useful real journalism and accurate history (they are always related) in a single piece.

CDers. Please get this one around (maybe play Phil Och’s “I Am A Liberal” while doing so).



I get the impression that some people try to use the word “pragmatist” as quickly as possible so the other side can’t. How do you determine what policies are pragmatic?

If I’m faced with the options of paying $500 per month, plus a $5000 deductible, plus a whopping copay or coinsurance, versus paying considerably less in taxes to fund Medicare for All, I’d have to say the latter seems more pragmatic.

If I’m faced with the options of allocating trillions of dollars to a military that doesn’t accomplish anything but mass murder and mass destruction, versus using that money for schools and hospitals, I’d have to say the latter seems more pragmatic.

But some, and to be fair since you haven’t said how you used that word I don’t necessarily mean you, want us to believe that “pragmatic” is synonymous with “status quo”, or worse, that it means “solely to serve the purpose of profit”.


How do you determine what policies are pragmatic?

If I’m faced with the options of paying $500 per month, plus a $5000 deductible, plus a whopping copay or coinsurance, versus paying considerably less in taxes to fund Medicare for All, I’d have to say the latter seems more pragmatic.

This is a fair question. In this context, I’m using the term pragmatic to mean: what’s more likely to get through the current wheels of our legislative bodies, reform to the current (albeit predatory) insurance industry via strengthening/tweaking the ACA, or Medicare for All? I’d certainly prefer the latter, but it has no realistic chance of passing in Bernie Sanders’ lifetime.

Some may call that defeatist, and I’d be more than happy to be shown a pathway for how that becomes law in the current landscape.

Maybe that’s my problem with this article’s premise. I agree with the concept but no one has yet shown how we accomplish the goals. Simply pointing at the problem and telling anyone the author deems responsible for it that we suck isn’t really moving the needle.

That sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy: you vote for a candidate who opposes M4A because you don’t think M4A has a chance.

With the “fight for $15” many people had a similar perspective as the one you’ve just described: don’t ask for too much, or you’ll wind up getting nothing. However, enough people actually fought for it that at state and local levels, it really did happen, which to me suggests we should not back down for what we believe to be right. Some people actually tried to do this with M4A, resulting in having the rug pulled out from under them in CA and the governor determining that the state was too small for the level of funding needed in VT.

And what about the possibility of voting for someone who wants M4A and fights for it and winds up getting nowhere, so then they step back and compromise with amending ACA? Why should we compromise before we even try to get what we want?


A great article albeit I am sure the “but Trump is worse crowd” will suggest this writer a “trump supporter”.

As Cornell West and others from Black Agenda report have stated many times, “The Democrats are the more effective evil”. They are the ones that ensure the true voices of the left remain powerless.

Another such voice is that of Bill Maher who openly stated “Who cares about the progressives, they have nowhere else to go” when he advocated for another of these neo-liberal frauds as President.


In essence were there no Clinton/Obama and other neo-liberal frauds as President, there never would be a Donald trump.

It pretty well the same thing that happened post WW1 Germany. If the Versailles treaty was not so punitive wherein the German people made destitute and would remain so for what seemed forever , there would never have been an Adolf Hitler. This stuff does not happen in a vacuum but far too many accept the “lets look forward and not back” credo.


Reed is not suggesting that you are stupid for casting a vote for Gore in 2000. He has provided a critical defense of making pragmatic, harm-reducing electoral decisions on more than one occasion (including urging Sanders supporters to vote for Clinton in the 2016 general election, in large part because voting does not represent the totality of meaningful political action).

In this case, his criticism is directed at the leaders of the Democratic Party for the way they blamed Nader and his supporters for Gore’s loss, rather than engaging in any critical self-reflection about how the party’s rightward drift (i.e. Clinton’s accommodation of Reagan’s market fundamentalist approach, which consolidated neoliberalism, a bipartisan commitment to upward redistribution through privatization and financialization that retained right and left variants only distinguishable in cultural terms) contributed to their poor performance. They simply took all left-of-center votes for granted, essentially holding us hostage with a logic of “but the other guy is worse, so what choice do you have?”

Going back to your question about the article as a whole, yes, it is about the complicity of “progressive” neoliberals (those who accept intensified inequality but want the distribution of winners and losers to reflect the demographic diversity of the U.S.) in the rise of authoritarian neoliberalism.

The “New Democrats,” as they called themselves in the 1980s and 1990s, joined Republicans in their war against the New Deal order. Now that it is becoming clear that Bernie Sanders–who represents a return to New Deal ideals (i.e. greater government intervention in the economy to rein in the power of the capitalist class and improve the welfare of the citizenry), is the preferred candidate of working people–the question is, are neoliberal Democrats going to do the Republican Party’s dirty work yet again?

Are the elites governing the Democratic Party going to sabotage Bernie’s candidacy in order to prevent the downward redistribution of wealth and power, even if that ultimately means that they will be helping to elect a reactionary demagogue who they proclaim to hate?

Reed is arguing that when faced with the decision between democracy (Sanders) and capitalism (Trump), neoliberals are likely to choose the latter, but those of us on the left must do everything in our power to ensure that the former wins.