Democrats brought the A-game to a virtual convention, which has gone well. I expected more technical hiccups than we have seen. In the age of COVID, this was the responsible thing to do. Quite frankly, I do like this format. It feels less produced than an in-person convention, even though it is likely far more difficult to do. However, there is something else they have brought. It is a very different vision of the country than what Republicans have given us during the last four years.
There is another reality. Many Americans already know who they will vote for in November, or even if they will vote. Perhaps there are fewer people that can be persuaded out there, but the convention was done with care. They also gave us an image of the country that is very different than what the Republicans hold, Incidentally, they have announced their speaker list, and it does not include elder statesmen or a former president.
Democrats had a former president of the United States who is black on stage. They had a former candidate for the presidency who was a woman. In a direct election, she would have won, but in the Electoral College, she lost. Her husband was the president in the 1990s, and one that saw a growing economy, and left the country with a surplus. Older party elders ran the gamut of the nation. The nominee for Vice President is not just a person of color, but the daughter of an immigrant. Joe Biden is an older white Catholic. In other words, they brought the majority-minority country we are becoming to the stage.
This is the fork we find ourselves in. This is also why we have seen an explosion in open white supremacy. There is panic in the right about this. 1965 was a really bad year as far as they are concerned. and they want to turn back the clock. Not only was immigration changed, but African-Americans (and Hispanics) earned the right to vote. This is the year that the country started to move away from a majority white country which the census says will be like California by 2030.
This is the fork we are on. This is why the Republican Party has become a white nationalist far-right party. This is why they have embraced open racism, and why they speak of closed borders.
Policies and the DNC
We need to talk about the economic future of the country. I believe the Biden/Harris ticket will need to act in ways not seen since 1929. Why? It is the force of history that will command them to do this. If they do, they will be seen as a force for economic and social good. If not, they will betray the promise of the moment.
We live in a time that demands imagination and taking historic risks. The Democratic Party has followed Neoliberal policy since the mid-1980s when its acolytes took over the party. This is the famous third way that Bill Clinton spoke about in 1992, but he was hardly the first to embrace it. So this is the but that some progressives are raising when asked to vote for the Democratic ticket. This would be a continuation of this political and economic system. This was called the Manchester School of Economics, or Laissez-faire at the end of the nineteenth century.
This is what led to free trade that became the center of American foreign policy in the last generation. The first free trade treaty, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was negotiated under the elder George Bush, but implemented under Bill Clinton. It is an academic discussion whether he could have abandoned the treaty since it was signed and delivered. It did accomplish some of its promises. For example, it did open the Mexican economy and tie North America in a trading block that has joined all three economies.
I understand those buts, and one reason for the current place we find ourselves is the number of people left behind by this new economy. When Democrats in the United States and Labor in the United Kingdom adopted these politics, it was an effort to transform the mid-century welfare state. In the UK there was already a national health service, and in the United States, we had a high regulatory state. If you listen to the right, these slowed down economic progress.
This did not come from a place of ill-will to the people. It came from economies that slowed down starting in 1973. They intended to grow the economy once again. While the economy did grow, income inequality increased as well. Then we had other reforms that lead straight to some of the present issues: One was prison reform, which led to mass incarceration. People in minority communities demanded these changes at the time. Young people don’t get it, but we had low-level warfare in American streets.
Then there is welfare reform. This was all of Clinton’s idea and it forced people to work if they were going to get benefits. It was also masterful triangulation, taking over an issue dear to the right for himself. It also included lifetime limits. Some of these limits are going to be a serious problem in the age of COVID because people are going to hit them in a lousy economy. This came under the rubric of economic dignity and a belief that people prefer to work than get benefits.
There is truth to this. People prefer to work, when possible. But the benefits did not include things like good child care, which can take up all the income from somebody at the Botton of the economic ladder. [[This idea of economic dignity is one that is rarely discussed, why do people work?]] This means that people are forced to work where they can also get free childcare, for example fast food places get jobs near where they live and relatives or family can look after children.
This is not limited to the bottom rungs. The Manchester School assumes that all boats will rise when you have a roaring economy. The problem is that without mandated living wages that index with inflation this did not happen. In fact, wages across the board have not kept up with inflation. Meaning income inequality has become deep.
Now, if any of these people bothered with economic history, they would have known this. The two periods of greatest inequality were the gilded age, which embraced Laissez-faire and the years leading to 1929.
So we find ourselves in a health crisis, with the greatest economic crash since 1929. The new administration will be forced to consider how to move forwards. However, they will be attacked by Republicans, and it will be on not just policies. But whether they have the authority to run the country. Which brings me to the last challenge and how the parties are different.
An Authoritarian Society versus an Open Society
For all its faults, and the DNC has many, it still favors an open society. The Republicans do not. The speeches include allusions to our democracy which is under attack. Republicans will attack democratic institutions if this is the only way to remain in power. In fact, they have done this for decades.
Minorities voting means that they lose. They have become a more openly white supremacist. This went from the embracing of the Dixiecrats in 1968, who left the Democratic Party, to the Southern Strategy used by Richard Nixon. It’s evolved into the Tea Party and now into QAanon, which is openly antisemitic, anti-catholic, racist, and favors a closed authoritarian system.
Some of their fans, like Anne Coulter, favor taking away the vote from women, for example. Then there is the myth of voter fraud, and how the president has embraced the view that if he loses its because of fraud. It could never be that he was rejected by the people. Why some people should never vote.
The president embraced the conspiracies of QAnon, which should surprise no one. He created some of his own, including the Birther conspiracy first deployed against Barack Obama and now Kamala Harris. He is in favor of a closed society and has made this clear a few times. So are his acolytes who see the white Christian nation of their youth disappearing. This is the meaning of Making America Great Again, making it a white country before 1965.
They seek to return to a caste society where everybody knew their place. This is a nation where only whites, and preferably male, have the right to rule over others. This is a society that would not be unlike South African Apartheid.
This is the contrast with the Democratic Party. This is a vision of the country that is dark, and as far as you can get from the founding principles of the nation. Or at least as they are currently envisioned. I know that for the founders a caste society was a given, and women were not awarded the right to vote (white women, let’s not go crazy here) until the 19th Amendment. We also know that rights were not expanded to minorities until 1965.
This is no longer a policy difference. The present iteration of the Republican Party has adopted views that include things such as a belief in pedophile rings, of course, led by the Clintons, George Soros, and Bill Gates. These circles engage in satanic ceremonies and drink their blood. They also have adopted the belief that COVID is man-made and created to unseat the president. They also know that the country cannot have this demographic transformation, because, in the end, that means white genocide.
There is no comparison at this point. We literally cannot pretend that both parties are on the same page, with just differences around the budget and regulations.