In a remarkable op-ed for the New York Times, LiberalOasis.com editor and well-connected Democratic activist, exorts us to embrace corporatism as a method of getting progressive legislation by small steps. It is, he writes, “How Liberals Win“.
the Supreme Court’s upholding of Mr. Obama’s health care law reminds us that the president’s approach has achieved significant results. If his liberal critics paused to assess how he achieved such results, they would not see a system paralyzed by corporations; they would see that the most liberal reforms in more than 40 years have been brought about because Mr. Obama views corporate power as a force to bargain with, not an enemy to vanquish.
The necessity of corporate support for, or at least acquiescence to, liberal policies is not a new development in the history of American liberalism. Indeed it has been one of its hallmarks.
Uh, Bill, maybe that’s why American liberalism has managed to deliver the poorest healthcare laws, the worst education systems, the largest military-industrial budgets, the most punitive penal system and the least union-friendly working environment, as well as crucially the largest inequality gap by far, of any Western democracy. This isn’t a feature, Bill, it’s a bug!
The realities of corporate power cannot be wished away by any president, no matter how tough the talk, because corporations can and will spend freely during the legislative process. And when they are unified, they have the resources to dominate debate. Even the progressive holy grail ”” a constitutional amendment banning corporate campaign donations ”” would not stop that.
BUT when corporations are divided or mollified, reformers can breathe. The president can be heard. Business owners can be convinced that they will remain profitable. The dim prospect of perpetual gridlock can be trumped by the allure of regulatory certainty.
You’re not convincing me, Bill. Google “Aneurin Bevan”. The one resource a corporation has exactly zero of is votes. In other nations it took dedicated and decades-long efforts by uncompromising lefties to drive their points home past the corporate propaganda deluge, sure, but the end result was worth it. Look at that list of poor-performance sectors above and tell me that short-term thinking and corporate cozying did better. Nor should anyone let you get away with this blatant strawman argument:
The necessity of forging coalitions with corporations is understandably difficult for progressives to accept. Every time it happens, corporations seem to quickly go back to their usual tricks. They lobby to weaken enforcement. They litigate to have rules overturned. They abandon politicians who risked compromise for them. Corporations are exasperating, irritating and untrustworthy partners.
But most of the time politics is exasperating and irritating, not euphoric and cathartic. As Roosevelt himself told a group of dissatisfied youth activists in 1940, ”œif you ever sit here you will learn that you cannot, just by shouting from the housetops, get what you want all the time.”
You just insulted every single activist who ever spent years, decades even, doing the hard work of grassroots organizing. GOTV, protest marches, petition drives, educating voters, training new activists, strikes, picket lines, facing down police charges and tear gas – these are not just “sitting around shouting from housetops” and you should be ashamed of yourself. These activities are the quintessential, wearing-out-shoeleather-and-getting-bruises, heart of the progressive process that is often “exasperating and irritating” but which is the only way to hold those untrustworthy corporations – and those who’d happily and glibly jump into bed with them – in check.
Your op-ed, Bill, is a prime example of why I say the real American left are not the latte-sipping, corporatist comfortable set who would be happiest in a European liberal-democrat party rather than having to describe themselves as “of the left” and why I say the real left cannot advance a meaningful part of it’s agenda by keeping on voting for Whigs.