Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Democratic Party has become the Bleak Hill Boarding School

The Democratic Establishment scolds its party members who support Bernie Sanders, and scolds those who support Sanders' call for radical change to the status quo of money in politics, financial fraud, and income inequality: 

Above: In this 30-second video (a scene from the Our Gang episode, "Mush and Milk") we see what the Democratic Party has devolved into - a mean, cantankerous shadow of its former New Deal self, completely dismissive of its non-elite members - members who resist subscribing to their neoliberal, corporate-friendly agenda. In their eyes, if you support Bernie Sanders and his non-Wall Street candidacy, you're a crazy wide-eyed dreamer who hasn't grown up yet. They seem to collectively say, "Eat your mush!"

Another hit piece on Bernie Sanders is on the Huffington Post today, this time from Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, a scholar at Brandeis University. She tells us that even though Sanders is a nice guy--heck, she's even dated guys like him!--he won't be able to govern like good ol' Hillary "Wall Street" Clinton: "He may have wonderful progressive ideas, but Hillary is a policy wonk. She understands the need for compromise..." Nemzoff then closes her piece with a dismissive sneer: "The young want revolution... Guess maybe I have become an old fuddy duddy, but you won't find me sitting around allowing simple answers (fantasies) to rule" ("Bernie is Nice Enough But Hillary Is the One Who Can Govern!," Huffington Post, 2-23-2016).

Nimzoff's op-ed is just the latest in a bombardment of articles, letters, and op-eds from elites in (or supporters of) the Democratic establishment. These writers scold Sanders and his supporters as idealistic dreamers who are going to throw away their votes in a fit of wide-eyed impracticality.

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman disciplined left-leaning voters who don't plan on supporting Clinton, by writing: "there’s nothing noble about seeing your values defeated because you preferred happy dreams to hard thinking..." Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright has warned that there's a "special place in hell" for women who don't vote for Clinton. Actress Beth Broderick fears potential tax increases under Sanders and says "Already our wealthiest individuals and corporations are relocating themselves to avoid the existing tax rate and there is very little we can do to stop them... I just prefer a more pragmatic approach."

Wow, there is little we can do to stop tax avoidance and tax evasion?? - this is typical of Democrats who've thrown up their hands and said, "I give up, let's just capitulate to unpatriotic Americans and white collar criminals - and let's certainly not listen to Bernie Sanders and his supporters when they say they want to hold tax evaders accountable." And you can expect this same jelly-spined philosophy to be in full force if Clinton ends up in the Oval Office, along with a whole cadre of Wall Street cronies finding jobs in her administration.

(During the New Deal, policymakers weren't afraid to fight white collar crooks. Image used by permission of the Estate of Rollin Kirby Post.)

Recently, four economists with ties to Obama and Clinton (i.e., the Democratic establishment) penned a letter scolding another economist's positive assessment of Bernie Sanders' agenda. They wrote: "We are concerned to see the Sanders campaign citing extreme claims by Gerald Friedman about the effect of Senator Sanders’s economic plan — claims that cannot be supported by the economic evidence." Paul Krugman and Mother Jones' journalist Kevin Drum agreed and said, in effect, "Yeah, Friedman and Sanders are crazy!" (see here and here)

But here's the problem: It doesn't appear that any of them have actually evaluated the claims in any detail. Friedman responded, "I don't think they read the report. If they did, I don't think they would have said no credible economic research."  University of Texas economist James K. Galbraith, a former executive director for the congressional Joint Economic Committee, picked up on this too, writing to the four economists:

"You write that you have applied rigor to your analyses of economic proposals by Democrats and Republicans.  On reading this sentence I looked to the bottom of the page, to find a reference or link to your rigorous review of Professor Friedman's study.  I found nothing there... It is not fair or honest to claim that Professor Friedman's methods are extreme.  On the contrary, with respect to forecasting method, they are largely mainstream.  Nor is it fair or honest to imply that you have given Professor Friedman's paper a rigorous review.  You have not."

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research added: "it is more than a bit annoying to hear these four distinguished economists telling the world that we should listen to them because they are experts.  I respect all four of these people as economists, but I want to hear their argument, not their credentials."

All of this, and more, has reminded me why I left the Democratic Party. The establishment and the elites of the Party seem to have no respect for my desire for radical change. Perhaps, since they are doing well financially, they can't fathom why anybody would want more than incremental (if any) change. It also shows me that the Democratic Party has turned into the Bleak Hill Boarding School, as seen in the video clip above. They seem to be saying to their fellow, non-wealthy Democrats, "I'm sorry you don't like crushing student loan debt.  And I'm sorry you don't like stagnant wages.  And I'm sorry you're upset that the Obama Administration chose not to prosecute big banks who engaged in fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, insider trading, and manipulating the world's currency.  But I think you're being very immature to demand an abrupt change. Now, eat your mush!"

So, good riddance Democratic Party. I'm so glad I left you... and, yes, I know you really don't give a damn that I left... but, that's sort of my whole point, isn't it?


  1. Great piece Brent. You've captured the feel of it, the interactions of so many with a Democratic Party establishment that is all professional and very little heart, especially on core economic values. That's why they've distanced themselves so much from the old New Deal. There's just one problem with Bill Clintons 1996 formulation "That the era of Big Government is Over." And that is that the era of big problems isn't, especially big economic problems, the ones that determine if you can pay your bills and keep a roof over your head. Eventually, the liberal silence on capitalism itself, and its current troubles will haunt them, because those troubles today won't be solved by mere tinkering, Clinton style.

  2. In thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog, Brent. Two things from Sanders' speech last week resonated with me. He called for more government regulation of huge corporations and banks and then later in the talk noted the deplorable condition of our infrastructure - roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, etc - and asked why the government could not use these public works projects as a way to fight unemployment. In other words, he was echoing T. Roosevelt and F.D. Roosevelt. Another WPA, or CCC? Go figure!
    June Hopkins

    1. June:

      I invite you to visit my coverage of the New Deal festival, conference held in DC for the 75th Anniversary, on April 9, 2008, and I explain why the Democratic Party won't touch a CCC or WPA, and even Sanders won't call for the Right to a Job:

      Here at