I just this moment finished reading “Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution,” by Ben Fountain. It is one of the best books on our current condition that I’ve read since “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander, and I recommend it to everyone in this forum.
According to Fountain, FDR’s New Deal was the second “burning” of American democracy, the first being the Civil War. These burnings became necessary when American democracy was at an impasse. Whereas the Civil War ostensibly extended “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to men of all races (but not women), the New Deal of the 1930s corrected the existential nautonomy of industrial capitalism by empowering the labor movement, establishing a safety net, and regulating banking and finance (esp. Glass-Steagall). It was the beginning of what Fountain calls “the long, good deal” that built the (white) middle class but also kept Jim Crow intact. (Leaving blacks out of the New Deal was the Original Southern Strategy. It kept the white south voting for Democrats by turning a blind eye to racism. See Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats.) When LBJ and the Democrats tried to extend the New Deal to all citizens with the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, the backlash of the Southern Strategy attributed to Goldwater, Nixon, and Reagan decimated the New Deal Democrats and produced the “New Democrats” (a.k.a. “Clintonistas”) of the late 1980s. The New Democrats (first as the Democratic Leadership Council, now as the Third Wave) were and still are overt neoliberals, with NAFTA, welfare reform, and the repeal of Glass-Steagall as prime examples from Bill Clinton’s terms, and covert racists (drug war, mass incarceration, opportunity deserts).
The point is, these “New Democrats,” these Clinton Democrats and their Blue Dog brethren dominate the Democrats. Why, then, does anyone think these neoliberals will ever support a Green New Deal when they are the very Democrats who abandoned the Keynesian mixed economy of the New Deal in favor of forty years of free market fundamentalism and neoliberal decay?
I really hate to break it this way, but all the “blue wave” ideas exciting progressives–Green New Deal, Medicare for all, free education–are minority ideas in the duopoly regardless of what a majority of people want. The government, the courts and both political parties represent the 1% and they have dismantled our political and governmental institutions such that we don’t have a government to turn to anymore. Put simply, we can not and will not vote ourselves out of this because it’s a plutocracy, not a representative democracy.
You want change? You really want change? Get yourself a yellow vest and emulate the French. They are doing in response to Macron what we should have done when Reagan was in office. It’s time to get in the streets and start shutting things down until we take real power. The minimum requirement for citizenship is no longer informed voting, it’s civil disobedience. Beautiful country, burn again.