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Democratic Party Populist Or Stalking Horse?

Alexa's picture

[Video Credit: Senator Warren, "We Cannot Allow Social Security To Be Dismantled . . .", YouTube]

I thought that Senator Warren's remarks were fairly impressive--if they are sincere!

Which for me, after five years of a Democratic Administration seemingly hell-bent on dismantling Social Security and Medicare, seems a bit dubious.

It is entirely possible that this Senate floor speech was a "head fake."

[Minutes 3:20 - 4:07 of the video address the Chained CPI, and Warren calls for the more generous inflation measure, the CPI-E.]

I say this because I heard DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz say a few months ago during an interview with Julie Mason [on the"The Press Pool," XM Radio] that the Democratic Party would strike a populist tone in the upcoming midterms election--emphasizing "inequality."

And indeed many Democrats seem to be adopting this new theme.

Forgive me for sounding skeptical (which is probably not surprising, coming for me) but how is it that the Democratic Party has brooked no dissent in allowing opposition to the Administration's neoliberal/corporatist agenda, but all of a sudden is taking on the mantle of "Everyman" populism?

Hopefully, these are not deceitful gestures.

But I am wary of their sincerity, and suspect that both Senators Warren and Sanders, and the President, are simply attempting to bring the liberal faction of the Dem Party Base into the fold for what will obviously be two very tough election cycles.

BTW, "lets," I'll "eat crow" since the Budget Conference Committee did not include the Chained CPI or the two Medicare cuts. ;-)

I must say, however, that I believe that the reason that the Budget Committee choose to mostly go with a number of cuts from Section IV, Other Mandatory Programs of the Bowles-Simpson proposal "The Moment Of Truth," was because the recent ACA roll out has been such a fiasco.

IOW, even the most corporatist Democrats on the Budget Committee didn't dare support these three cuts, this close to the midterm elections.

So, I'll predict once more that these cuts will take place relatively soon after the midterm elections are over--unless Democrats lose the Senate.

If that should happen, I believe that it would be the Republicans who would likely balk--now that so many seniors have fled to the Republican Party since 2010 [Seniors Fled Democrats In Midterms].

My hope is that the Democratic Party Base will demand that every potential Presidential candidates unequivocally state their positions on Social Security and Medicare "reform."

Personally, I do not think that "flowery speeches" from lawmakers, or candidates on the campaign trail, are sufficient "evidence" on which to evaluate a candidate's stance on a given issue.

Preferably, candidates should have to answer the direct question: "Would you vote for ANY cuts to Social Security or Medicare--under any circumstances?"

Because, as far as I'm concerned, if Democrats allow these treasured social insurance programs to be eviscerated, it will give new meaning to the expression "the Party is over."

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Comments

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

which is an aspect that I failed to mention in this post.

I'm beginning to hear a new narrative from many national reporters (on "The Press Pool") regarding the 2014 election cycle, and possibly the 2016 cycle.

So many reporters don't anticipate a sea change in Dem Party ideology, just a recognition by Dem politicians and strategists that they must change and/or finely hone their message to a narrower base to drive voter turn-out in 2014. (Because older voters have shifted significantly to Repubs, and are known to turnout in heavy numbers in midterm elections.)

IOW, youth and minority voters are the target audiences.

For instance, Mary Landrieu's race is shaping up to be the "new model" for Dems in many states.

Needless to say, I agree that the problem of "inequality" is a much neglected (and desirable) party "platform."

But I need to know that "there's some there, there," before I can wholeheartedly applaud this new effort.

Again, it is up to the Democratic Party Base to insist on more than "flowery speeches" from lawmakers or candidates.

I would love to see activist liberals/progressives seek to have Democratic lawmakers sign "anti-austerity" pledges--to include bolstering, not cutting, the Social Safety Net.

Mere "promises" just don't seem to "cut it," anymore.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I agree that there's a good likelihood that it's a head fake. In addition, to the Warren and Sanders straws, there also Center for American Progress activity. John Podesta and Neera Tanden spun off an inequality think tank, and shortly after Podesta goes into the Administration amidst speculation that he's the equality warrior, no Bill Bailey or Jack Lew, but something very different according to the rising elite "progressive" mouthpiece Krystal Ball who claims that Podesta is a true equality warrior, based on what, no one knows.

The GB is dead for the time being, but I agree with you that the danger starts again after the election of 2014, whichever of the two parties does better.

I also agree that people should seek very hard commitments from Democrats as the price of their support. They should also seek those commitments from Hillary Clinton, so that she will insist that the Ds keep them for the lame duck, since if she doesn't do that she will risk her own prospects for 2016 and raise a real challenge from Warren.

If you recall, I called for such commitments some time ago. I called them "promises for America." But they are more like "pledges for America" in your sense of the term.

One more thing about the lame duck. Whether or not there is danger in it will depend upon what happens between now and the election of 2014. The populist movement is getting stronger these days. The meaning of the CAP/Podesta/think tank thing is that centrist Democrats are trying to co-opt and control the populist swing. We need to do what we can to see that doesn't happen and that real "left" populists continue to lead and build the movement. If we can do that, then, in order to win, Democrats will have to make pledges to a populist movement that won't let them off the hook and that will maintain the pressure through the lame duck, and into the period when Obama himself is a lame duck who no one will want to risk their career for.

McDee's picture
Submitted by McDee on

Now that Kucinich is gone the Dems need a new gatekeeper. Someone to talk the good populist talk and keep the base believing that the Democratic Party is still worth supporting.Warren is a good choice. She knows the rhetoric and she's female.
The base has been satistfied with "flowery speeches" all through Obama's administration and I don't expect that will change. They are apparently easily pleased.