Clinton: A Moderate Republican
Forget Minica Lewinski, she’s irrelevant.
First of all, recognize that President Clinton did many very good things for our country, and was certainly better that any Republican would have been. Long term, however, he was a disaster for Democrats because he validated the Republican concept of unregulated free trade. It will take a long time to change public opinion back to the era when America actually had an industrial policy.
In too many ways, he was a closet Republican and a major cause of the wealth and income gap that exists today between the rich and middle- and low-income Americans. Voters now identify his economic policies that benefited investors and the wealthy at the expense of workers with today’s liberals and Democrats. Increasingly, voters are concluding that NAFTA, fast track trade deals and “globalization” are an unmitigated disaster. And, as they say, “Why vote for a Democrat if their economic policies are just as bad as the Republicans.”
In other words, The Wall Street Journal and America’s right wing have successfully changed our definitions of balance and moderation. Traditional “Eisenhower Republicanism” (Clinton) was considered moderation, and was almost nonexistent in the Republican party. Traditional “Truman Liberalism” was, and is now, considered extremist and is increasingly rare in the Democratic party.
This means that big corporations, the wealthy and the powerful have convinced the American voter that:
- Workers’ wages are low, not because they lack power, but because they are uneducated and poorly trained.
- Even though wages have stagnated for the past 30 years, they are still too high and are responsible for our loss of jobs to other countries.
- Unmanaged free trade will eventually benefit all Americans.
- The growing wealth and income gap in our society is good because it is fair (the wealthy work harder and have more talent) and it will eventually benefit everyone.
- The more money our richest citizens take out of our corporations and our society, the better off everyone will be.
- High taxes on our richest citizens are unfair and hurt the economy.
- Money, greed and raw political power have nothing to do with what voters believe about the above.
- And, in general, no one should try to change any of the above because that would be “big government,” and, besides, these “temporary aberations” are the natural, inevitable forces of a healthy economy.
Conservatives have been very effective in palming off these economic absurdities. Even many former liberals have changed sides, having joined the ranks of the affluent, and having forgotten what kinds of governmental policies got them there.
To get a roaring stock market, Clinton and the Republicans were willing to exchange high-paying manufacturing jobs for a larger number of poor-paying service jobs. And now the pressures on American incomes are creeping up the economic and social ladder to high-skill and professional jobs.
It’s an economic disaster, and—until Democrats are willing to accurately place blame where it belongs—they’ll never be able to truly level with the American public about what needs to be done now. The answer to our economic problems is NOT more of the same—tax breaks for the wealthy who are investing their money in the Third World, globalization, and a whole range of anti-labor legislation—but just the opposite.
As America continues to drift to the far right, with the help of some Republican-lite Democrats, the charade continues. We desperately need more genuine Democrats in government. However, even a Republican-lite Democrat is better than a Republican.