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The Scourge of Neoliberalism: Why the Democratic Party Is Failing the Poor


The Scourge of Neoliberalism: Why the Democratic Party Is Failing the Poor

Jake Johnson

When Democrats began their rightward lurch in the late 1960's, they were not content to merely broaden their coalition in order to quell the rise of the ultra-reactionary right; they have been concerned, also, with preventing left-wing insurgencies that could spook their patrons and push the party left.


I've become a big fan of yours Jake Johnson, in that I think your unique combination of youth and wisdom is rare, but I must disagree this morning. We can discuss at some length how we got to this point of so called neoliberalism but with Hillary as president, the economy will be the least of our problems. Quite simply and most importantly, within 60 days or so Hillary will have us engaged in a very Hot war, on a broad front that we probably will lose without the use of nuclear weapons. Not only that, but she has the personality to use them first, and it is that that makes her so totally unacceptable as a candidate. She is like a more motivated Cheney.

I wish Neoliberalism were the issue...


The Democratic Party is not ONLY "failing the poor".

Ever since the 1985 DLC formation it has been creating more poor Murkins out of formerly middle class Murkins.


But hey, got to vote for Hillary, otherwise you are helping Trump.

Booga! Booga!! Booga!!!


Jake Johnson keeps getting better. Emphasizing a few key points:

In the present, we lack the mass organization necessary to launch a meaningful counter-offensive to combat "the scourge of neoliberalism," a political and economic framework that atomizes individuals who would otherwise share common objectives, undercutting avenues for democratic reform and entrenching the power of private capital.

The problem is that we have a political system almost wholly captured by those hostile to the radical redistributive agenda necessary to ameliorate the suffering poverty inflicts in communities throughout the world's wealthiest nation. We have, in other words, a political class that sees the poor, but does nothing in response.

In such a context, even the election of Bernie Sanders would not have been sufficient to alter the nature of the political and economic order. Only labor-based mass movements sustained beyond the extravaganzas of electoral politics and working independently of the anti-democratic forces that so dominate Washington can produce sufficient force to create lasting change.


It is about our capacity and willingness and necessity to put ourselves on the line against all odds, and organize a powerful mass movement to confront those who impose this systemic exploitation and repression, and to articulate and demand what we need, irrespective of any electoral politics.

Far, far, far too much energy going into arguing about electoral politics and voting. Electoral politics and voting will win us nothing, without a powerful organized mass movement making demands and imposing costs. That's where our common dreams need to lead us.


Another very astute article Mr. Johnson.
Just as Republicans have gained strength from weak and neoliberal Democrats, we must gain strength from all of the movements active today. Each has important issues worthy of activism but alone they are not nearly effective enough. Together they hold the power for the kind of grass roots organizing we need to mount a serious threat to the corrupted power elites.
There is no effective anti-war movement, climate movement or inequality movement. We must join forces and become the kind of movement Jake has spoken of.
If we don't all stand under one banner we cannot be assured of a voting bloc and street activism we truly need to accomplish our goal. My hope is that now and past the election we will see (to coin a familiar phrase) we are stronger together and need each other to make it happen.


The following is tagged in my own computer and filed as thus:

Clinton Chameleons Disembowel American Democracy:

"The 1992 election marked an inflection point of sorts," notes Lee Drutman. The year in which "Democrats changed their policies, with Bill Clinton as the standard bearer for a new pro-business, neoliberal centrism that sought to win over the growing professional classes," the very rich began to find comfort within the party's ever-broadening tent.

"Though there have been diversions, these trends have largely continued up to the present. "The wealthiest 4 percent of voting-age Americans, by a narrow plurality," backed President Obama in 2012, Drutman observes.

"Today, confronting the flailing and odious candidacy of Donald Trump, Democrats have seized upon yet another opportunity to expand their coalition. And, once more, they have looked not to the left — the diverse bloc of Sanders backers pushing for social democracy — but to wealthier constituencies, including those that tend to lean Republican."

As a skilled attorney would ask, "Did they know what they were signing on for prior to its full development?"

In other words, were the Clintons apprised of a one-world government that would largely consist of global big banks, global "industrial food" giants like Monsanto, global arms dealers, big pharma., big media, and assorted old dynastic families with lots of wealth?

Did they KNOW what they were doing when they orchestrated the merging of both parties to effectively grant citizens a check-mate: No way out of the box (imposed by elites) through ordinary channels of voting, the courts, the media, academe...

Everyone under the auspices of The Control State: Welcome to Carpicon (my word for it).

"Presenting the 2016 election as a vote for or against "American values," the Clinton campaign has frequently deployed the right-wing language of exceptionalism and patriotism, and Clinton herself has eagerly embraced the endorsements of billionaire businessmen and women eager to legitimize their own wealth by highlighting Trump's history of fraud and abuse."

Was this crime against sovereign People premeditated from the get-go?


Mr. Johnson, you skate across the surface in this characterization:

"Sky-high wealth inequality has become the new normal, and far from embracing and aggressively pushing a radical redistributionist agenda, Democrats have embraced a meritocratic message, one that emphasizes the centrality of hard work, dedication, and personal responsibility."

This is less a meritocratic message... Rather, it's a direct meme that speaks to Fundamentalist Christians who happen to represent a HUGE voting bloc.

Why? Because the core of today's Calvinism--the ethos so regularly deployed by right wing think tanks and their featured writers--is that which blames the poor for being poor (and not showing the personal initiative to pull themselves up by their boot-straps) while arguing that the rich demonstrate God's blessing.

This is DELIBERATE language along the lines of the Talking Points propped up by "Southern Democrats" which contained veiled racist assumptions and assurances.

Let's call it what it is. Mrs. Clinton was no stranger to those K-street "prayer breakfasts" featuring some of the worst in right wing policy makers... taking the bread away from the poor while they thanked Jesus for their Mercedes.

This is a VERY sick, morally twisted and spiritually retarded group of souls. Their idea of freedom means telling others what to do when not using violent forms of coercion in order to extract obedience.


Analyzing human actions without defining "the backstory" makes for a superficial argument:

"In 1996, Adolph Reed denounced Clintonian neoliberalism as "a politics motivated by the desire for proximity to the ruling class and a belief in the basic legitimacy of its power and prerogative. It is a politics which, despite all its idealist puffery and feigned nobility, will sell out any allies or egalitarian objectives in pursuit of gaining the Prince's ear."

The importance of securing funding--in the form of backing from wealthy donors--was turned into a necessity when the Fairness Doctrine was compromised and the entire media (arguably, a public asset that belongs to all citizens via the bandwidths used to relay broadcast signals) handed over to 6 corporations.

To speak to a nation that spans 3000 miles and consists of 50 states and LOTS of diverse bodies of people, a mass media is required and when candidates' ads became a very lucrative prospect for these private broadcast companies, they capitalized on their good fortune.

The point is--either a candidate IS loaded ($) or they must rely on others' capital in order to fund campaigns. While Sanders managed to assemble a team that had the wherewithal to tap public funding (and the man inspired citizens to pony up), that doesn't mean that other candidates would be so fortunate.

The political pay-per-view given the Supreme Court's imprimatur under the ill-named, "Citizens United" is a blow to Democracy.

Anyone who seeks public office is part narcissist and part opportunist and part power-hungry... whereas some probably have a genuine wish to lift the lives of citizens.

The systemic corruptions, largely those based on winning favor with the highest donors is now built INTO the system. It thereby almost necessitates that good candidates sell out and/or that those without financial power need not apply.

Too often the personal weaknesses of individuals and/or the financial deceptions of the political parties become the focus. That leaves the logistical infrastructure in place and the corruption starts there. THAT facet must be changed... or money will always, one way or another, buy outcomes and the candidates that assure them.


Yes it was!


Jake, I enjoy your writing, but am increasingly reminded of the adage, "Less is more."


Thank you Jake Johnson.

"The problem is, ultimately, systemic: It is about who writes the rules, and how these rules act in the real world to create extraordinary gains for some while leaving others to compete, endlessly and ruthlessly, for the rest."

Representative government does not work. Politicians are left writing the rules for the rich in exchange for their "contributions". Nothing is done to end poverty.

Politicians try to move the poor into middle class areas to let the middle class deal with the problems poverty brings to their neighborhood.

All racism is economic.


Norcal, I am thinking that the hot war will be driven by neoliberal economics, even an intrinsic part of it. Do you think this is just the lady's sadism, or do you see another basis for war?-- by which I do not mean a reason that it should happen, but a reason that it would or will.

As to HRC as a candidate, I fully agree. Trump is a paltry pasha by comparison.


Apparently it is not possible to prey upon the poor and not fail them. Who would have thought it?

Meanwhile, I would characterize the Democratic Party's turn left from the 70s, though I suppose you could say that there was a turn with King and RFK were shot. But George Wallace also left the party that year, with a good bit of the then "solid Democratic South." And the Democrats ran George McGovern in 1972, which solidified all those racists (though not some other racists) as Republicans--eventual Donald Trump supporters, btw.

Keep firing, Johnson. Great string of articles!


You place far too much emphasis on the personality of a given candidate and thereby far too little on who actually runs things. Hillary is a loyal water carrier, a consigliere to power.


Oh geez, this reminds me why I stopped paying any attention to Oprah 'round the time she became a billionaire. She had the audacity to say, on her tvee show that "'G'od wanted her to be (filthy) rich." Oprah was a gimmick, she came along at the right time, right place, right everything. If she was beginning all over today, she'd be reading weather reports on a low-rated station in FL.

The super-wealthy really believe this. They really do. They think a grand force in the sky prefers them above all others. To believe this is to believe this same "grand force" likes watching babies starve and die in 3rd world countries. This ain't no small group either, there are millions in this club. Proven by mega-churches (and their "fallen" pastors) and their 10k seat auditoriums filled to the brim every Sunday while the pastor's wife is off stealing expensive makeup at NM or bitch-slapping a $10/hr flight attendant for not getting the seat she believes she's entitled to. That there is the cream of the crop that is America today.


The first problem is that the "National Democratic Party" has been taken over my corporatist Republicans who have been run out of the GOP by Neo0Cons and theocrats. You are absolutely correct in your belief that the DNC cares very little for anyone earning less than $100,000/yr. In fact the DNC has been practicing a very subtle for of vote suppression - they have simply nominated the least likable, least inspiring candidate that they could talk into running.

So now we have HRC trying to win-over "disaffected" R's, especially female R's. The rest of the majority of potential voters can just go fish.

The only plan out of this mess is to start from the local election up, putting progressives into offices.


bardamu, while I think there is certainly heavy pressure for neoliberalism to "win" the banking "wars", l think Hillary demonstrates the same irresponsible carelessness that Kissinger, Cheney, Bush2, and Madeleine Albright display toward War. Which seems to me to be inhumane. I admit I don't "get" such, indifference unless it is a psychological syndrome or sadism...


Yes, one of the neocon's "prime" targets.


The resemblance with how the Democratic party relates to working people and how the republican party relates to christianists is striking. Both parties assume that the group will support them and that they don't have to support the group being considered. Both parties will eventually realize their mistake. The repubs may be beginning to realize it now. The Democrats aren't yet at that point where they realize what is happening to them.