Who’s Really a Democrat?

voter

Do you fill in the little oval next to every Democratic candidate when you go to the polls? That’s what I do. But do we know what we’re voting for?

I am a New Deal kind of voter. FDR is one of my heroes. Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” is one of my dreams. I still mourn the tragic loss of Bobby Kennedy and JFK (and, of course, Martin Luther King).

But in today’s politics I am an Independent – a Bernie Sanders Independent. (That doesn’t stop me contributing to the Democrats’ campaigns and working for their candidates.)

If I were in Congress I would have to caucus with the Democrats – as Bernie does – because I have nothing at all in common with Republicans.

So I’m happy to read in Salon.com this morning that:

In the aftermath of the shellacking they took in the midterm congressional and state elections, many Democrats are calling for their party to return to its New Deal roots.

Yet, the news is somewhat puzzling. I assumed the party was still wedded to FDR’s New Deal principles. Apparently, I was misled.

According to the Salon.com article:

The present-day Democratic Party has next to nothing to do with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Today’s Democratic Party is a completely different party, which coalesced between 1968 and 1980. And this half-century-old party has been anti-New Deal from the very beginning.

Say what?

The Salon.com writer argues that Presidents Carter and Clinton were nothing like FDR and Johnson. He cites policies like the deregulation of transportation (Carter) and the dismantling of financial sector regulations (Clinton). And he reminds readers that Clinton replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children with federal grants to the states.

He also noted that Democrats went along with the Republican attack on Social Security, agreeing to extend the retirement age from 65 to 67.

He adds that President Obama is also to the right of Roosevelt. Here’s his take on that:

Barack Obama is the third New Politics Democrat in the White House, following Carter and Clinton. His base is … young people, some college-educated whites, and blacks and Latinos. Like Carter and Clinton, he went after a major New Deal program — the most iconic of them all, Social Security. Obama proposed cutting Social Security by means of inflation adjustments or “chained CPI” as part of a “grand bargain” with Republican conservatives.

I am sure you know I am a diehard Obama supporter, but I have to agree this President’s policies have been mostly centrist.

Certainly, he seems more hawkish than I, more deficit shy than I. Apparently, he does not believe in Keynesian economics (as I do).

But I suspect his policies are dictated by pragmatism. He’s a smart man, and he has decided there’s only so much he can do in today’s America. He has  settled for half a loaf because he thinks the alternative would be no bread at all.

In this brainwashed country, where billionaires have captured the media, invaded academia and bought up the political machinery, FDR’s policies might seem to be out of reach.

But I would like to see the Democrats give the New Deal another chance. We didn’t hear from America’s youth in November. They stayed home.  Could a Progressive voice get them excited enough to vote in 2016?

 Click for the Salon.com article.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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