The Democratic Party is locked in a titanic struggle for its soul – an existential battle over the true meaning of what it means to be a Democrat, to be a progressive, to be a liberal.
Clinton versus Sanders has, for many reasons, brought the old fight to the surface. It’s worth working through if only because the end result can and should be a united party that firmly stands for something. But what is that?
There are four views of change, four visions of progress, which separate Sanders and Cinton.
On February 1st the actual voting starts in the Presidential race – sort of. That’s the date of the Iowa Caucuses, an event which is much more involved than simply voting. You have to show up and stay there for your candidate, literally taking a stand. Polls show that whether you do it by likely caucus attendees or possible attendees the lead for Clinton is small at best.
That’s a reflection of how much Sanders has caught fire through this pre-election season, and for good reason. Sanders is fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party – making it stand up for working people and a fair economy once more. It’s a good and noble effort and something to be happy about. But when it comes time for me to caucus, a month later in Minnesota, I’ll be supporting Hillary Clinton.
What it comes down to, for me, is how I read the job description.
Is the Federal Reserve nothing but a tool for big banks? According to an op-ed by Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT), it sure looks that way. The presidential candidate and hero to millions of progressives made the case for an audit, tighter controls, and other measures to rein in the nation’s central banking system.
There are clearly problems with the Fed and it’s very mixed charters to tame inflation, encourage full employment, maintain the value of the US Dollar, and regulate banks. The more presence and power the Fed gains the more this is an important issue. But today’s “progressives” aren’t in a mood for just reform – many are in a mood to “End the Fed!”
While that position is understandable it’s horribly misguided. But it’s a great highlight for the tension inherent in not-that-subtle difference between a “liberal” and a “progressive”. And it’s ultimately a rather irresponsible position that Sanders is taking.
If you’re a Democrat, there’s a good chance that you’ve cackled with glee over the turmoil in the Republican Party. Between the presidential campaign running so far off script that inside fave Bush is polling in fourth at 8% and the chaos in the House there’s a lot of schadenfreude to be had.
Then again, it also might be distracting us Democrats from our own problems which, while not as public and nasty, are still rather bad. There’s nothing wrong with the party that can’t be fixed in the next year but time is running a bit short. Those of us who care about the future of our party, our movement, have a responsibility to kill the party over Republican misfortune and start calling out our own shortcomings.
It’s the debate of the moment in the Democratic Party today. The Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial and investment banking went from being something no one was against from 1933-1999, then something no one was for circa 1999-2014, and now is finally part of a vigorous debate. On the one side is the “Break up the big banks!” call from the Sanders wing and on the other is the much smaller “Yes, but it’s way more complicated than that!” voice of the establishment, usually Hillary Clinton.
It was the hottest topic at the last Democratic Debate on 13 October and it continues today. Your stand on it probably identifies who you back for president as well as your status in the Democratic Party. But is it worth all the hoopla?
Call me a pale male establishment type, but this is not a good argument.