It’s a fact of life. We’re moving left politically as a nation. Not all at once, and with lots of nuance. But there can be no doubt that the times are changing.

In Washington DC, there is effectively no political “center” under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the party of NO. Eight years–going back to most of the Obama administration–of obstructionist behavior have all-but-eliminated the concept of compromise. 

The theocratic/plutocratic/nationalist axis in the Republican Party is going in for the kill. Making America Great Again means undoing a century of progress (albeit hit-or-miss) so the needs of the few will triumph over the needs of the many.

The silver lining in all this has been a shift in the window of what is considered possible, and a growing understanding of the futility of expecting “marketplace” solutions to actually do anything more than drive inequality.

A good explainer on what I’m asserting here can be found in a Vox interview with Brad DeLong, now an economist at the University of California-Berkeley, and a self-described market-friendly, “neoliberal” Democrat, a la Clinton administration.. 

The long and the short of it is his admission that the time for the socio-economic policies dominating the Democratic party for the last 20 years has passed.

The core reason, DeLong argues, is political. The policies he supports depend on a responsible center-right partner to succeed. They’re premised on the understanding that at least a faction of the Republican Party would be willing to support market-friendly ideas like Obamacare or a cap-and-trade system for climate change. This is no longer the case, if it ever were. 

“Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy,” DeLong notes. “And did George H.W. Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years? No, they fucking did not.”

The result, he argues, is the nature of the Democratic Party needs to shift. Rather than being a center-left coalition dominated by market-friendly ideas designed to attract conservative support, the energy of the coalition should come from the left and its broad, sweeping ideas. 

Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

Pro-union policies, and more than we used to think. "Let the market do its thing, but spend more on education/training and a bigger EITC" no longer sounds like wisdom 11/

Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

The point is that the DeLong concession, if that's what we want to call it, doesn't mean that policies preferred by AOC or whatever are always right, economically or politically; it means that they need to be taken seriously, and never mind what the center-right thinks 12/

171 people are talking about this

While most, if not all, of the Democrats’ top priorities will not make it into law during this session of Congress, it’s all about setting the stage for the 2020 presidential elections.

As Senator Bernie Sanders now points out in his stump speech, many of his “radical” proposals from 2016 are now seriously in play as Democratic presidential candidates debate about the future.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has added to the mix today, proposing to breakup the big three companies in tech. It’s wonky, but boils down to two main points:

  • Passing legislation requiring large tech platforms to be designated as “Platform Utilities” and broken apart from any participant on that platform.
  • Appointing regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers.


Congressional Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s priorities (most of which have yet to be introduced in bill form) for 2019 reflect the ongoing shift in what’s gets called the Overton Window:

  • HR 1- A fundamental update of voting rights, campaign finance and ethics laws  
  • HR 2- A comprehensive approach to infrastructure issues
  • HR 3 – Lowering prescription prices
  • HR 4 – The Voting Rights Advancement Act (Restores civil rights oversights)
  • HR 5 – The Equality Act, a comprehensive civil rights bill prohibiting discrimination against the LBGTQ community
  • HR 6 – The Dream Act, providing a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants
  • HR 7 – Paycheck Fairness, meaning equal pay for men and women who do the same jobs
  • HR 8 – The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (already passed, will die in the Senate)
  • HR 9 – A slot for a comprehensive bill on climate change, TBA.

What I’ve outlined above is a sampling of aspirations coming from the left side of the aisle. Make the GOP answer for their inability to address these issue and ignore the noise.

Republicans are already hair-on-fire outraged about Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, and a pejorative use of the word SOCIALISM is about the best they can do to defend doing nothing more than giving tax breaks to the rich and screwing the rest of us.

We can’t let reactionaries and their friends in the media frame the conversation. 

  • Politico and CNN are desperate to sell the public on the fracturing of the Democratic Party.
  • Nationally, Fox News and locally KUSI start their coverage with a false premise of normalcy.
  • The Union-Tribune ran a column about when the four Democrats running for mayor became “woke.” (Proving that at least two of them aren’t.)

All of these are bullshit.

Don’t respond to these sorts of fairy tales by repeating their premise. Respond by talking about the policies and programs that matter to everyday people.

Here’s a couple of good quotes to wrap up the column for today.

From Jim Miller’s The System Is Rigged Because We Allow the Rich to Rig the Discourse at the OB Rag:

Therefore when we let the Bloombergs, Gates, Waltons, and other plutocrats who so frequently influence our discussions of education, racial injustice, climate change, and other pressing issues either directly or through their foundations, think tanks, or other means define the solutions to our problems, we are, in effect looking to the foxes to guard the henhouse.

A snip from George Lakeoff’s 2011 blog entitled Words That Don’t Work

Progressives have a basic morality, which is largely unspoken. It has to be spoken, over and over, in every corner of our country. Progressives need to be both thinking and talking about their view of a moral democracy, about how a robust public is necessary for private success, about all that the public gives us, about the benefits of health, about a Market for All not a Greed Market, about regulation as protection, about revenue and investment, about corporations that keep wages low when profits are high, about how most of the rich earn a lot of their money without making anything or serving anyone, about how corporations govern your life for their profit not yours, about real food, about corporate and military waste, about the moral and social role of unions, about how global warming causes the increasingly monstrous effects of weather disasters, about how to save and preserve nature.

Hey folks! Be sure to like/follow Words & Deeds on Facebook. If you’d like to have each post mailed to you, check out the simple subscription form on the right side of the front page.

Email me at [email protected]

Lead image credit: Michael Coglin / Flickr