Is Reich right that the Democratic party is d e a d?

No ideas, no backbone, no causes left.
In a recent column, former cabinet
officer Robert Reich has said that the Democratic
party is not dormant, but DEAD.

Why is it not coming out for campaign finance
reform or for more health insurance for the uninsured,
or for the right to organize unions or for better schools.
Because it is dead, he says.

What leaders are there and where are they leading?

Centrism a la Clinton and the DLC is going nowhere.
Is the leadership council leading? If so, where?

Um… is this s’posed to be a poem?


No, I don’t think it’s dead. As much as I disagree with many of the Demo party’s stances, the cynic inside me tells me that there’s too much to be lost for too many people for it to “die”, and the realist inside me knows that such a large and far-reaching political structure needs one helluva shove to collapse.

It lost an election, it’s got a bit of stagnating to do, but if the DP is dead, it’s death throes are gonna take a long time.

When I saw this thread title, I thought WILHELM Reich had risen from his grave and was spouting opinions about modern political parties.

I’m thinking it might help some if there was a link to the op-ed in question.

The Democrats Aren’t ‘Just Resting’

I don’t think the party is dead, but they don’t have any strategy. They don’t seem to know how to play good offense anymore. Everyone is running around, every man for themselves on defense.

Reich point out that the party has lost control of the White House, Congress, SCOUS, are outnumbered in Governorships, etc. OK, but the Demos lost the Congress in 1994. The GOP’s hold on the Congress has been weakening ever since. The way SCOTUS looks now had much more to do with the climate of the 80s. (conservatism’s big heyday, with Reagan and all.) I’m not sure how the partu is doing on the state level, but I think they are better off now than in 1994. Redistricting, democrats will lose seats in the House, Republicans control more state governments.

But the majority of the population tends to support the Democratic line when it comes to most issues like our spending priorities, so that has to count for something.

I actually think Nader is right with his view (paraphrased) that both of the major parties are dead. The Democrats made a hard right with Clinton populism (welfare reform, etc.) and the Republicans are right now trying to be a party dominated by their moderates.

Witness the last election : the differences between the candidates were negligible.

All of the issues mentioned above (health system reform, campaign finance reform, education) are being dealt with in Washington by the parties in ways which are only trivially different. I believe that this is because the number one thing they are looking out for are themselves. In order for a politician to survive, he needs to appeal to big money. All stands on all issues (nearly, and excepting the handful of politicians on both sides of the aisle with remnants of integrity) boil down to what the money is saying.

It has all been said before.

I think that the number one thing we can do to give true representative government a fighting chance in this country is campaign finance reform. In a perfect system, any schoolteacher or bus driver with a good platform would be on even ground with the multimillionaire. This will open up Washington to viewpoints which do not revolve around money. While I do not think all corporate interests should be ignored, I believe they should be secondary to the interests of the human population.

I’ve heard this contested before, but I’ve never seen evidence for it (aside from accusations of both candidates being controlled by “Big Business” and the like). From my perspective, the candidates, and the two parties, are quite different. But maybe I’m just picking nits? Why do you say the differences 'tween the two are negligible?

Sure it is good for something.
From where I stand, it looks like it is good for calming the fears of democrats as they uneasily try to sleep at night:)
Seriously though, I’m taking this editorial from Reich as more of a wake-up call to the democratic party than an actual death knell.

Both parties suck, and this country would be in a world of trouble if either party died. Although do I agree with Spoofe, we would be in different worlds of trouble depending on the party:)


I think Robert Reich has a point, in that the Robert Reich/Ralph Nader wing of the Democratic party is on its last legs. (And good riddance to bad rubbish.) The party as a whole will do just fine and is nowhere near collapse. I suspect that with the slowing economy, one or maybe even both houses of Congress will be in Democratic hands after the 2002 election. Besides, as soon as Strom Thurmond kicks, the Senate is theirs anyway.

I disagree; I think it’s more a matter of where you stand on the political spectrum. I found the two candidates sufficiently different to vote for one, not the other.


Name an issue where Bush and Gore differed?

Death Penalty? Trade and Tariffs? Economics? Drug war? Mandatory minimum sentencing? All the real wars we are in, and should we be in them? Support of Israel?


All I’ve been ever able to piece together – and I watched every debate patiently waiting for them to let Nader in – is that:
a) Bush would make it a little harder for someone to get an abortion with federal money.
b) Bush wanted to cut the high end tax rate to keep the economic growth going. Gore wanted to give smaller, targeted cuts to his constituency instead and use the rest of the “surplus” money toward social security.

I know that that sounds like a huge difference – but it only took 50-odd words.

The biggest threat to the Democratic party is that it becomes represented once again by old dinosaurs like Dick Gephardt.

What makes many Democrats furious at Clinton is that he actually did represent the ‘future’ of the party. And now that he’s trashed the place on his way out, he’s taking a lot of the ‘center’ with him. The future of the party is in guys like John Breaux, not Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle.

But it sure looks to me like the destruction Clinton created in the center of the party has re-invogorated the old guard.

Just as the Republicans paid dearly in the first half of the 1990’s for surrendering control over to the religious right, the Democrats will pay if they let Kennedy and the gang run the show again. Class warfare doesn’t work very well when even blue collar workers have significant ownership in corporations, and big labour isn’t the unifying force that it was in the 70’s. Besides, these guys have been around so long they have immense baggage in the form of constituents that they must support, but which no longer reflect the values of most Americans.

To add some issues on which Bush and Gore did not differ (IIRC, I tend to forget these things the farther we move away from the election) -

They both wanted giant tax cuts based on a surplus projected over the next 10 years (which many think is just a glitch due to the economic upturn). They both have been traditionally anti-gun control. Gore mentions racial profiling, Bush agrees. Both wanted more military spending at a time when our exterior threats are, well, not all that threatening. Gore even sold out many of his environmental views trying to appeal to business.

Both parties are struggling for control over the center. They are doing this while selling out many of their traditional views. They are also catering to the needs of big money more than the average American suspects. I hope by 2004 (and maybe even by 2002) the American people will wake up and demand things like campaign finance reform and give more support to candidates and parties who operate independently.

The dems are definitely in sad shape.
How and when will they ever get out of the jam they are in?
And who will be their new leader?



First, you can’t lump Robert Reich in with Ralph Nader. About the only similarity between the two is that they’re both further left than Bill Clinton and the DLC. Nader’s not even a Democrat.

Second, why–as a Democrat–do you consider the progressivism of, say, Robert Reich, Paul Wellstone, and Russ Feingold to be “bad rubbish”? Like it or not, it’s at least as valid a political ideology as the Democratic Party’s newfound market centrism. Do you have evidence to show a wholesale popular rejection of progressive tenets like social investment, economic populism, campaign finance reform, or a comprehensive safety net? Again, as a Democrat, do you feel that things like the collective bargaining, the minimum wage, Social Security, the FDA, and OSHA are “bad rubbish” as well? These were all enacted by the Robert Reich wing of both parties. The Republicans largely jettisoned their progressive wing decades ago, and personally I don’t see the value inherent in a political spectrum in which the Democrats are increasingly doing the same.

In short, could you elaborate?

Phooey on both your parties–I’m voting Whig! :smiley:

Reich’s column looked like just space-filler to me, actually. He’s mistaking regrouping of forces and reorganization of tactics for outright surrender, and his time scale is simply way too short to take seriously. That’s uncharacteristic of him - maybe he simply had a deadline to meet.

If the point being raised is about what battles are upcoming, what issues will arise, what views will be debated, there’s simply no way to know very far ahead. It’s silly to say that, because certain battles for the public mind are over, that there is no more room for the philosophies that won or lost or drew them. The contrasting poles of more vs. less government, collective responsibility vs. individual freedoms, isolationism vs. internationalism, and so forth, along with the spectra between them, have been around since the dawn of democracy itself and I think they’ll always be there, regardless of what the issues of the day may be. It happens that political structures have made it expedient to keep these views roughly aligned with 2 permanent party organizations, making it foolish to say that the end of a particular battle means the end of a party. In a parliamentary system with a number of narrow-agenda parties that may be right, but not in the US. History and common sense show otherwise.

During the last presidential election (yeah, THAT one), the Democratic candidate received more popular votes than the Republican candidate, DESPITE the presence of a third-party candidate, Ralph Nader, who (it is generally acknowledged) was siphoning off some votes that otherwise would also have gone to the Democratic candidate (whereas damn few of those votes would have gone to the Republican candidate under any circumstances).

While this does not constitute a ringing endorsement for the brilliant statesmanship ringing forth from the Democratic Party leadership (then or now), it also does not sound like the death throes of a dying party.

Sleep well AHunter3:)

IMO, it’s true that the two major parties have gotten closer together in recent years. They both moved toward the center, meaning toward each other. Increasingly, non-moderates at both ends of the spectrum are not represented by either party.