Why Neither Party Can Survive the Downfall of the Working Class
Senator Marco Rubio dropped out of the Republican race on Tuesday after losing his home state of Florida to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
Jim Tankersley pointed out on Wednesday in the Washington Post, that of the three Republicans who are still running for nomination, none of them are “carrying the ‘reform’ banner that many conservatives once believed would win over the middle class"
Ted Cruz is running on a platform of supply-side voodoo Reaganomics that includes slashing income taxes for the rich, and putting a consumption tax in place on average people.
John Kasich is running on another traditional conservative platform that says that balanced budgets lead to shared prosperity, and the way to balance budgets is to slash public spending and to destroy public-sector unions.
And both of those candidates are trailing WAY behind Donald Trump, who Tankersley writes "is running a populist campaign that upends at least a half-century of conservative orthodoxy"
Trump fundamentally strays from the conservative ideal that says that when markets are "free", in other words, "free" of rule-setting by government, then people are free.
According to Tankersley: "He tells Americans the economy is a series of deals negotiated by their leaders in Washington, and those deals have been very bad for workers, and that he will renegotiate them, favorably."
And in reality, there's more than a little truth to the idea that the economy is rigged to make sure that money continues to flow upwards out of the pockets of the middle class and into the coffers of the economic elite in America.
But Trump's not the only candidate in the race who is exposing that truth.
In fact, he's only really started speaking out about our rigged economy since he started running for president, perhaps because he was personally benefiting from the rigged system for so long.
Senator Bernie Sanders on the other hand has been speaking out about how our rigged economic and political systems for his entire political career.
In a recent piece called "The goal of the Neo-Liberal Consensus is to Manage the Decline", Gaius Publius offers one reason why the Clinton campaign has been so critical of Bernie's big proposals like single-payer healthcare and free public college for all.
He wrote, it's "because having big ideas is resistance to the bipartisan consensus that runs the country, and they want to stave off that resistance."
And that helps explain why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are bringing so many first-time voters into the Republican and Democratic primaries, and it's why they're both winning big with independent voters.
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both represent real opportunities for Americans to resist the decades-old bipartisan neoliberal consensus.
Average Americans have watched for over 30 years as Republicans and Democrats came together to push a neoliberal agenda that has enriched corporate America, while the middle class has disappeared.
Avedon Carol pointed out recently that austerity imposed by outsiders created the conditions for fascism to grow in Germany after World War One.
But she goes to write that here in America (and in Britain), austerity is being imposed by our own leaders, "and most effectively by leaders of the Democratic Party (and the UK Labour Party), the supposed "left" party, the party that was understood to support working people."
The reality is, as I've written again and again, that Al From and Bill Clinton transformed the Democratic Party from a party that supported and fought for working people, into a party of "Republican-lite" ideology that has been more concerned with corporate well-being than with the well-being of working people.
And ever since then, with a few exceptions, American voters have only had a nominal choice between Republicans and Democrats.
In reality, the elite in both parties have been working for decades to bolster their corporate donors' bottom lines and executive salaries, at the expense of working Americans.
That's been the end effect of the bipartisan neoliberal consensus, and Gaius Publius points out that "They not only have to stave off your resistance. They have to manage your acceptance of their managed decline in the nation's wealth and good fortune."
In 2016 though, both parties are seeing profound resistance against that "managed decline"
Both parties now have anti-establishment candidates running on populist platforms of exposing the rigged economy and making it work for average Americans again.
Huge numbers of Americans, who for years have been too disgusted with our rigged political system to participate in our democracy, are turning out now to resist the bipartisan neoliberal consensus and to vote for candidates who aren't part of the establishment elite in either party.
Reihan Salan recently wrote in Slate that "The GOP can no longer survive as the party of tax cuts for the rich. It must reinvent itself as the champion of America's working- and middle-class families."
That's true, and that's exactly what Dwight Eisenhower's Republican Party used to be back in 1956 when the platform included expanding social security, union membership, and unemployment insurance, when it included expanding healthcare and improving housing, and when rooting out political corruption was a central tenant of the party.
And it's what the Democratic party claims to be at its most basic level, except that Al Fromm's bloodless coup in 1992 transformed the Democratic Party into "Republican-lite" at its highest levels.
Neither party can survive with a platform that puts corporate well-being and the well-being of the economic and political elite in this country ahead of the well-being of American working- and middle-class families.
Voters on both sides need to keep standing up and telling the party elites loudly and clearly that we don't want candidates who are corporate shills, and we don't want candidates who will simply continue to manage the decline of the middle class.
The American people want and deserve candidates from both parties who are champions of America's working- and middle-class families.