TPC wants to welcome a new contributor from an unusual place. Inside the /Democratic Party. Bill Edley is a 35-year Democratic Party activist and former Illinois state representative and Democratic National Convention delegate. Bill is a raw meat “contrarian” just what the Democratic Party needs more of but then they are on a vegetarian diet. Bill’s views from inside the beast are published in leading media in the Midwest and we welcome his views.- Ed.
Labor Day is past, and the traditional presidential campaign has kicked off. By more than 2-to-1 margins, Americans believe the next generation will be worse off compared to life today, according to a recent Pew Research poll.
Should we be surprised?
There was a “Golden Age” after World War II (1947-1979), where worker productivity and median family income roughly doubled. But the connection between worker productivity and wages ended in the late 1970s, as business interests decided to stop cooperating with unions and started stridently opposing labor reform legislation.
According to U.S. Census reports from 1979 to 2013, worker productivity increased by 64.9 percent, while hourly compensation, including benefits and adjusted for inflation, rose by only 8.2 percent. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 stock market average, adjusted for inflation, was up 406 percent.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan famously fired the federal air traffic controllers, one of a few unions to support Reagan in 1980. Georgetown University professor of history Joseph McCartin contends that “Reagan wanted to really turn back the clock … to an approach to American government … that was pre-New Deal … and that meant reorganizing the relationship between government and the labor movement.”
But Reagan could not do it alone. The next Democratic Party president was former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. Many historians consider President Clinton’s economic policies to have established him as the first “anti-New Deal” Democratic president.
Arkansas AFL-CIO President Bill Becker warned national leadership in 1986 that “almost any (Clinton) activity, in so far as our folks are concerned, is reminiscent of what Reagan is doing to us.” By 1992, Becker really turned sour: “This guy will pat you on the back, and it’s only later that you realize that he was pissing down your leg at the same time.”
In 2016, establishment Democrats are offering us a Clinton third term. In my view, a third term will cement in place Wall Street’s economic policies running both parties, leaving the political process without a countervailing reform force in either party.
I hope that I am wrong about the Clintons. But the Clinton family already has a record supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA – 1993) and giving 1.3 billion Chinese most favored nation status (2000), which led to nearly doubling the durable and consumer goods trade deficit to $837 billion, while cutting 3 million manufacturing jobs over four years and 5 million by 2016.
I don’t think their corporate-driven economic policies are changing, especially now that they’ve collected tens of millions of dollars from these same corporate interests.
What are our choices?
In my mind, the true choice isn’t among Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or some other third-party candidate. The real choice, rather, is Donald Trump or some third-party candidate and opportunities for reform elections in 2018, 2020 and beyond — or Hillary Clinton and a decade of corporate policies running government without an avenue for necessary economic policy reforms in the public’s interest.
Some voters use the “lesser of two evils” excuse. But the lesser evil never does anything for you to get your vote. And guess what … that’s what the lesser evil gives you: nothing.
If Trump wins, more anti-Clinton types went to the polls to vote against Clinton. If Clinton wins, more anti-Trump types turned out to vote. Either way, we will have the most unpopular president elected in modern history, with that president’s party most likely losing out in the 2018 midterm elections.
Let’s stop obsessing about one election, and take a longer view.
Ironically, electing an unpopular President Hillary Clinton will not only end progressive economic reforms for at least a decade, but also provide Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner an easier re-election bid in 2018.
Bill Edley is a 35-year Democratic Party activist and former Illinois state representative and Democratic National Convention delegate.