Third Way as Unsound Supporters of FDR
The New Democrats/Third Way People have a distinctive ideology that pay lip service to Franklin Delano Roosevelt but in actually contradict the ideology he expressed later in life. FDR lived a long life, even so even his earlier ideas represented a faith in markets that was tempered by a respect for the limits of Markets as a solution to problems. Right Wing Cons went after him as soon as it looked like their great fear of Communism had receded under the Banner of Ronald Reagan and his subversive recast of FDR's 4 Freedoms.
|See: Reagans Subversion of four freedoms post|
FDRs Unsound Followers
Reagan and his cohorts truly believed that they could dismantle the New Deal and replace it with Laissez Faire Capitalism. But they couldn't have gotten away with it without help from "Third Way" Democrats or as they call themselves currently "New Democrats." This is because while these Democrats give lip service to Democratic Traditions, their real belief is in putting "market solutions" where market solutions are nuts. This leads them to give lip service to notions like FDR's Second Bill of Rights, but subordinate them to Reagan's "Work Makes Free" subversions of Freedom.
As I explained in my post Third Way and the fraud of privateering the "New Democrats" don't directly attack welfare mothers or criminal unemployed people as evil at least not usually when sober. However, they banded together when the rest of the party started talking about that second bill of rights again -- to fight it. They aren't brazen enough to come out and admit they are against FDR. They claim instead that we are being confused by "socialism". And they don't have the guts to come out and say that they are serving our oligarchs, either. (See Guardian Article)
Instead they talk in abstracts such as:
“inequality is not the biggest problem we face: it is symptomatic of the biggest problem we face, which is slow growth.” [Guardian]
And they claim that somehow "slow growth" or an inadequately trained "job market" workforce, or expanding medicaid, will somehow get in the way of folks getting jobs or getting medicine. They can claim as Will Marshal does that to:
" focus on inequality, though understandable after the banking crash, risks driving all candidates too far from policies that would promote growth." [Guardian]
Somehow this would be, counterproductive:
"“They rev up the base of the party, but if all you are doing is redistributing golden eggs and you’ve got a dead goose, you aren’t going to get very far.” [Guardian]
It is absurd to think that asking billionaire to pay a share of the cost of rectifying market failure through public policy will somehow kill the Golden Goose of Capitalism. But that is the borderline thinking of folks who also think that we can solve every problem we have by applying a market filter to it.
But Will Marshal does anyway:
“That’s what I worry about more than anything else.” [Guardian]
This is the ultimate straw argument.
As Galbraith notes in his chapter "The inadequacy of Making Markets work:"
"When you hear someone speak of a market, the first question should be: Is it real? Is there a commodity, and can one choose among competing suppliers? If not, there is no market, and an analysis based on supply and demand will not work."
We need to assert the New Bill of Rights as Fundamental
They may be democrats but they actually buy and spread the manure that somehow trickle down works. To them doing anything about unemployment, lack of medicine, homelessness, or other evidences of market failure, and efforts to create markets where the very notion of markets is absurd are somehow "killing the Goose that lays the Golden Eggs."
Thus they can come out and say "Oh pooh pooh this is bad" but we can't do anything about it because somehow it is bad to do anything about it. (It might hurt our donors);
“It’s feel-good politics. It’s very easy to say: ‘When I’m elected we are going to increase social security,’ but we might not be able to pay for social security as it is.” [Guardian]
In this way these people talk out of both sides of their mouths and betray the principles they claim to stand for, and that others rely on them to champion when they vote for them.
The Freedom to Shop
The reason the New Democrats or "Third Way Democrats" don't get it with FDR's Freedoms and his prospective Second Bill of Rights is that they were glamoured by Ronald Reagan's faux version of the Four Freedoms:
- The freedom to work.
- The freedom to enjoy the fruits of one's labor.
- The freedom to own and control one's property.
- The freedom to participate in a free market.
Specifically the notion that we can solve nearly all our problems with "market solutions" or by pretending to impose market solutions where they don't apply. These "unsound followers" may think they still are upholding Roosevelt's 4 Freedoms and Second Bill of Rights, but they believe that unless their solutions fit in with markets, they can't do it without somehow "killing the goose that lays the Golden Eggs." Thus they try to force participation in "free markets", where such participation is absurd, to the extent they risk enslaving people.
- Freedom to Work becomes a cruel slogan for laws that degrade workers rights in the workplace
- Freedom to enjoy the fruits of one's labor becomes the right of employers to enjoy the fruits of employees labor.
- The Freedom to own and control one's own property becomes the freedom to deny people a home or livelihood through privateering, offshoring and monopoly.
- The Freedom to participate in a free market becomes a cruel joke as areas of enterprise that can't possibly be a proper market are advertised as one -- and people's labor becomes a commodity to be discarded.
Reagan's 4 Freedoms are really a cover for privilege. We are supposed to pay for privilege. People are given a privilege in a virtuous system in return for either doing a duty or paying a duty. Fundamental rights are things like the right to work, make a living and enjoy the fruits of one's labor compensation. The purpose of those rights is to secure a home, a family, an education for ones progeny, and a better life for one's circles of relations, which ultimately = US.
The Second Bill of Rights is premised on the hard won observation that markets cannot meet those needs and that they are too vital a right to trust to oligarchs and monopolists. They are necessary to secure the rights and security of the vast populace of our country. This is actually necessary for the world. But for now we are talking my own home.
Defeating Unsound Supporters
Both us Democrats and Republicans have a rich tradition that dates to the founding of this country. Both Parties have roots in them. The GOP only traces directly back to the 1850's, but the term Republican was the original term used by Virginian rebels both the Anti-Federalists who fought against the possible tyranny of a National Constitution, and the "Democratic Republicans" who rallied around Thomas Jefferson in his fight against John Adams. The current organization directly traces to Andrew Jackson. For the opponants of Jefferson, "Federalists", they would eventually disappear, their adherents later to call themselves National Republicans, or in opposition to the Tory Behavior of Andrew Jackson, Whigs. When the Whig party fell apart, it was reborn as the current Republican Party organization. Over the years that same organization has changed it's behavior so much that the current Republican Party resembles more Andrew Jackson's, James's Polk's or even Jefferson Davis's Democratic Republicans than it does the party of Abraham Lincoln. Essentially both parties have always been coalitions of sectional and economic interests; city against country, small town against big town, South Against North, Labor against Capitalists. Often the actual breakdown of allegiance has varied with the issue.
To Andrew Jackson the emerging victory of John Quincy Adams in a coalition of parties was a betrayal and his Democratic party was restoring the tradition of Thomas Jefferson. To his opponents, Andrew Jackson was pursuing the Tory policies of imperialism, elitism, and Caesarism. They called their reorganized Republican Party "Whigs" to emphasize that his principles seemed a betrayal of the principles of our founding. Each Generation has had to fight it's own understanding of Tyranny. And it is such a hard fight that it is incredibly difficult not to be an "unsound supporter of some previous person.
- Further Reading
- Guardian Article
- The Reference to "Unsound Supporters" refers to a writing of Henry George criticizing his own followers, who would go on to severely distort his writings by ignoring his warning. It also refers to the Buddhist concept of 3 Powerful Enemies, which includes unsound supporters as the key "fly" that gets into religious ointment.
- Andrew Jackson:
- Thanks to Harvey J. Kaye (@harveyjkaye) , who turned me on to FDRs 4 Freedoms and Second Bill of Rights