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Why “Centrists” Will Sink the Democrats, If They Haven’t Already


Why “Centrists” Will Sink the Democrats, If They Haven’t Already

Richard Eskow

The majority of registered Democratic voters view Sanders favorably and support single-payer healthcare.

61 percent agree with the statement, “Republicans and Democrats have done such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.”


The New York Times is, above all, the expression of its owners’ class interests, of which Rattner’s screed is part and parcel. As it sinks into irrelevance, the Times will cast blame everywhere but where it belongs—to its own repeated, flagrant, self-interested betrayal of its readership and their nation.

As to Rattner, the short-term rewards for pushing the 1% agenda may be worth it. Some of us think being able to face ourselves in the morning is more valuable in the long run.


“Those centrists who insist on mentioning George McGovern, a candidate whose challenges were manifold, artfully ignore more recent losing presidential candidates in their own mold: Jimmy Carter in 1980. Dukakis in 1988. John Kerry in 2004. Hillary Clinton in 2016.”

Centrists (who I think is more accurately described as the center left) are not concerned so much that McGovern lost but by the fact that he lost in 49 of the 50 states. And they are also concerned that Mondale a little later matched this. No other Democratic candidate in recent history did so poorly in a presidential election. Because the electorate is now polarized it is hard to imagine this happening again but nevertheless it remains a concern that I think will not go away. It could be argued that that only two truly progressive Democratic candidates won only two states between them. That is the background in which any shift to the left takes place.


The only “Good Democrats” are those that vote Green.


Anyone under 51 now (54 in 2020) was too young for the 1984 election. Anyone under 63 now (66 in 2020) was too young for the 1972 election.

How are those elections relevant? Instead look at what has been happening to the Democrats across the nation in state houses and in Congress since the Centrists took over with Dukakis in 1988. Look especially at 2016. That’s what’s relevant.


This mention of the McGovern campaign in 1972 by Steven Rattner is so completely irrelevant to 2017. In 1972 the american middle class was still strong (at least for white americans). The factories had not shut down, good union jobs were still readily available and americans with just a high school degree or less could still get a decent middle class job.

The fact that this moron fails to see that all those realities in 1972 no longer exist just disqualifies his whole argument. The center no longer holds because there isn’t a center anymore. There is poor and rich and a smattering that can be considered “middle class”.

Also at this time the greatest generation was just about entering their '50’s and having defeated Hitlers fascism and buoyed by the post WWII economy and subsequent attack on communism as practiced by the former USSR, felt there was no need to acquiesce to the demands of their children supporting McGovern.

This guy is completely ignorant of history and a centrist democrat that is no longer relevant.


Um… Mondale was the establiment Democrat hoisted on voters over the younger, more dynamic and progressive Gray Hart in 1984. In much the same way- but many of the same people, as Clinton was in 2016.


They lost because Reagan & Nixon Democrats are/were White Supremacists and/or Social Conservatives. They were also somewhat homophobic and misogynistic, as well. That’s the first thing that we need to clear up. The Establishment Dems were against them…
There are other reasons…already mentioned, here.
Rattner is a " Morning Joe " Democrat. No thanks!


Not really. Mondale was an old fashioned traditional New Deal Labor liberal that Carter had chosen as his VP to balance the ticket.

Gary Hart was not more progressive. He was a New Democrat who jettisoned Labor and played to professionals (like the party does now, see “Listen Liberal”), who then were first called Yuppies- young urban professionals.

Yes, he was out of the mainstream and Mondale was the mainstream because the party hadn’t yet been taken over by the DLC crowd.


Eskow sez: “… Obama was forced to tack back to the left in 2012 to restore his flagging poll numbers.”

I believe that talk has been misspelled here. The word tack implies movement.


Uh, you know that Mondale was an old-school labor-backed establishment Democrat, the kind the party supposedly ditched for Wall Street money, right? Gary Hart was a “new” Democrat who nearly toppled Mondale on the back of the youth vote, in a closer primary than what we saw in 2016. He was the Bernie Sanders of that year, the exciting nonestablishment candidate, but ran on what we’d call derisively today a neoliberal thirdway type platform. Members of Hart’s campaign helped form the dreaded DLC after the union-backed Democrat got shellacked in the general by an openly anti-union, anti-regulation, militaristic, conservative Republican.

Voters had a stark choice and decided to kill the last vestiges of the New Deal coalition in 1984. It would be nice if at some point progressives could acknowledge this reality rather than make up stuff out of convenience. As exciting as Sanders was in 2016, his platform just wasn’t selling at that time. Democrats ultimately turned towards the direction of the youth vote (just like many are now) after that terrible election. When a bunch of thirdway Democrats helped win the Senate in 1986 (and governorships etc.), the DLC and “moderate” voices in the party gained credibility. That happens after political realignments occur, as what happened in 1984, and new ideas appear to be electorally vindicated after such beatings.



That is such a pile of revisionist BS that it’s difficult to even know where to start.

So we’ll start here: to say that Mondale in 1984 was anyhting even remotely similar to Bernie Sanders is something we’d expect from Fox ‘news’ sorts.


Did I say that Hart ran on the Sanders platform? Of course not, because I’m not stupid. However, like Sanders, he ran a competitive campaign against the then establishment candidate garnering a huge section of the youth vote. He came far closer to knocking off the old-school labor-backed party establishment candidate as a “new” Democrat than Sanders sniffed in 2016. My point to you is it is you, and progressives like you, uncomfortable with history, who are the revisionists.


This 60-something lifelong Liberal WILL NOT be supporting any more “centrist” (neoliberal) Democratic candidates in the future. I held my nose and voted for Hillary in the last go-around. When she was unable to beat even such a bad, unprepared, know-nothing candidate such as Trump, I figured the DNC would get the “hint” and come around. However, it seems this is not the case and the DNC stands ready to do Wall Street’s bidding again. If such is the case, they can count this angry voter out. NO MAS! They have obviously mistaken us for the typical ignorant Republican voter. It’s time we showed them we are not.


The DNC just isn’t in the business of getting hints. For example, New Jersey is about to get another Government Sachs stiff in the governor’s mansion (did we learn NOTHING form Jon Corzine??)

Outgoing Chris Christie is so unpopular that the Ds could have nominated a cabbage and beaten any given R candidate. So why Phil Murphy, with his vulpine grin and his borrowed progressive talking points?

No, seriously, WHY?


George McGovern was right about Vietnam. He was also right to urge the USA to turn away from empire and to “come home America.” It is shameful that the Democratic Party never treated him with the respect that he earned.

He was a decorated WWII pilot who knew more about war than the militaristic Richard Nixon who spent WWII pushing paper at the Washington Navy Yard.

He was also a damned fine human being - a rarity in Washington today.


Of course people want good health care. Does this mean that people will no longer vote for Democrats who vote like Republicans?

Surely not. People will go along as they have in the past. They will vote for whichever Democrat that the moneyed class foists off on them-just like Clinton, Obama, and all the other right wing Democratic Senators and Congressmen.


A slightly different take on “Centrists” and “Progressives”, not so discouraging:

But we must ALL vote and make sure that any other progressives vote, too.


I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Many progressives, myself included will NOT VOTE for neoliberal candidates. The race to the bottom that has been created by BOTH parties can no longer be tolerated. But that means resisting BOTH the democrats and the republicans that contribute .

Voting for a DINO only slows the race to the bottom it doesn’t stop it, let alone reverse it. We will no longer support candidates that make our lives worse just because the other candidate is worse.

In other words, the party base has finally wised up.


And what’s awesome is the other thing it shows: progressives like Republican governance. In my red district, you would help my tea party Ryan Budget supporting Congresscritter win re-election if it’s close. That’s so awesome and you’ll have shown everyone how meaningful your protest vote is. One more justice on the SCOTUS, and all your progressive dreams of perfectly aligned people from disparate areas of the country will be realized—by the Right. Yay progressives!