Former Clinton Economist Agrees It’s Time To Embrace Progressives (Video)

Vt. senator Bernie Sanders’ historic primary challenge against Hillary Clinton two years ago proved the term “Democratic Socialism” isn’t the Boogie Man Cold War-era propaganda has always made it out to seem.

Because of Sen. Sanders, Medicare-for-all has become codified in the Democratic party platform, as has free state college and university tuition, climate change mitigation, criminal justice reform, campaign finance reform, and other issues that previously either got passing mention or no mention at all.

Sen. Sanders proved Americans overwhelmingly favor progressive positions on issues that most affect them, that those positions are not “radical,” but are, in fact, those that defined the Democratic party from the 1930s to the 1990s, when the eighties’ Reaganomics corporate takeover forced the Democratic party of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal to tack to the right.

One acolyte from the neoliberal Clinton administration has now come out admitting it is time for the mainstream Democratic party to return to the progressive roots Sen. Sanders and other new lawmakers embrace if it is to survive the age of Trump.

Brad DeLong, an economist at the University of California-Berkeley, served as President Bill Clinton’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for economic policy.

He admits he is a “Rubin Democrat,” a market-friendly adherent of Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

He also admits:

“The baton rightly passes to our colleagues on our left. We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.”

After President Ronald Reagan decimated unions in America, the Democratic party was forced to refashion itself to remain viable during the Geo. H.W. Bush administration and beyond.

In 1985, Al From and a group of political strategists formed the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). They advocated a “third way,” a more corporate-minded, Reaganesque, Republican-light approach to traditional Democratic policies.

In so doing, they intended to bridge the divide between the so-called “Reagan Democrats” and more centrist Republicans.

After 1992, it became difficult to delineate between a Republican and a Democrat once the mainstream Democratic party cozied up to banks, insurance companies, Wall Street investment firms, and tech companies.

Under the “New Democrat” label, President Clinton, who campaigned as a quasi-FDR New Dealer, governed as a centrist Republican.

He bent over backward trying to placate Republicans who held the majority in Congress most of his tenure.

He signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) his predecessor, George H.W. Bush, negotiated, leading to over 25 years of evaporating American manufacturing jobs.

He told us the “era of big government is over.”

His call to “end welfare as we have come to know it” led some wondering if he wasn’t, in fact, a closet Republican.

Ditto with sentencing laws and “zero tolerance” policing that helped exacerbate an already racist criminal justice system.

Since then, the mainstream Democratic party has struggled with this albatross–at least lately, as the pendulum is swinging back.

When Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, probably the most apropos label was that she was “too centrist.”

Indeed she was, but she was only following the trajectory the party had followed since her husband’s presidency.

Senator Sanders is helping to change all that.

Brad DeLong is one who echoes that sentiment.

In an interview with Vox, DeLong explained the futility of Democrats’ efforts to appease Republicans by conceding to their policy ideas.

He stated:

“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…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 f*&!%#g did not. No allegiance to truth on anything other than the belief that John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell are the leaders of the Republican Party, and since they’ve decided on scorched earth, we’re to back them to the hilt. So the politics were completely wrong, and we saw this starting back in the Clinton administration.

“Today, there’s literally nobody on the right between those frantically accommodating Donald Trump, on the one hand, and us on the other…There’s simply no political place for neoliberals to lead with good policies that make a concession to right-wing concerns.”

When Democrats run on genuinely progressive policies, they win.

More than 70 percent of Americans want a Medicare-for-all-type universal healthcare system.

They worry about climate change.

They want the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes.

They want to ensure the minimum wage is a living wage.

They want to an end to racist mass incarceration practices.

They support free tuition at public colleges and universities.

They hate having to pay more than any other developed nation for prescription drugs.

These are bold, realistic, progressive policies every Democrat should adopt.

Every current Democratic presidential candidate sounds like Bernie because Bernie proved America is ready to embrace another New Deal.

Compromise is acceptable, but capitulating to antithetical ideas is and has always been a recipe for political disaster.

Go bold.

Even the establishment has figured that out.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.