The question hovering over America’s future is which form of populism will ultimately prevail.
3. The economy is not working for most Americans. The economic data show lower unemployment and higher wages than eight years ago, but the typical family is still poorer today than it was in 2000, adjusted for inflation; median weekly earnings are no higher than in 2000; a large number of working-age people — mostly men — have dropped out of the labor force altogether; and job insecurity is endemic.
4. The party’s moneyed establishment — big donors, major lobbyists, retired members of Congress who have become bundlers and lobbyists — are part of the problem. Even though many consider themselves “liberal” and don’t recoil from an active government, their preferred remedies spare corporations and the wealthiest from making any sacrifices.
The moneyed interests in the party allowed the deregulation of Wall Street and then encouraged the bailout of the Street. They’re barely concerned about the growth of tax havens and inside trading, increasing market power in major industries (pharmaceuticals, telecom, airlines, private health insurers, food processors, finance, even high tech), and widening inequality.
Meanwhile, they’ve allowed labor unions to shrink to near irrelevance. Unionized workers used to be the ground troops of the Democratic Party.
5. It’s not enough for Democrats to be “against Trump,” and defend the status quo. Democrats have to fight like hell against regressive policies Trump wants to put in place, but Democrats also need to fight for a bold vision of what the nation must achieve — like expanding Social Security, and financing the expansion by raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes; Medicare for all; and world-class free public education for all.
And Democrats must diligently seek to establish countervailing power — stronger trade unions, community banks, more incentives for employee ownership and small businesses, and electoral reforms that get big money out of politics and expand the right to vote.
6. The life of the party — its enthusiasm, passion, youth, principles and ideals — was elicited by Bernie Sanders’ campaign. The huge outpouring of excitement that Bernie’s campaign inspired, especially from the young. This is the future of the Democratic Party.
7. The party must change from being a giant fundraising machine to a movement. It needs to unite the poor, working class and middle class, black and white — who haven’t had a raise in 30 years, and who feel angry, powerless and disenfranchised.
If the Democratic Party doesn’t understand these seven truths and fails to do what’s needed, a third party will emerge to fill the void.