Today the Weekend Reader bring you The New Democrats and the Return to Power by Al From, founder of the Democratic Leadership Council. The New Democrats and the Return to Power features From’s guidelines to reforming the Democratic Party back to the Clinton era. From was an integral part of rebuilding the Democratic Party in the 90’s and leading the way for the progressive movement, but where do his policies stand within the framework of modern politics? The excerpt below highlights a few of From’s suggestions for the Democratic Party. Do you agree with From’s centrist policies? Tell us in the comments section.
You can purchase the book here.
Bill Clinton and the New Democrats saved the Democratic Party from the political wilderness.
The American people had simply lost faith in the party’s ability to govern the country. Bill Clinton and the New Democrats restored that confidence.
Before 1992, Democrats had lost the popular vote in five of the six previous elections. Since 1992, they have won the popular vote in five of six elections.
That is not to say that President Barack Obama, a transformative political figure, would not have been elected in 2008 had it not been for Bill Clinton and the New Democrats. But his road would have been much steeper. He would have had to convince the voters—as Clinton had to—that Democrats could be trusted with national power.
But what about the future? Do New Democrat principles still apply?
Yes. Times have changed. America has seen dramatic changes demographically, socially, and technologically in the last two decades. The challenges are different today than they were in the 1990s, and so the policies must be different to meet them.
But the core principles of the New Democrat movement—its animating principle of opportunity for all, its ethic of mutual responsibility, its core value of community, its global outlook, its emphasis on economic growth and empowering government, and its embodiment of values like work, family, faith, individual liberty, and inclusion—are as viable and useful for meeting today’s challenges as they were for meeting the challenges of the 1990s.
I believe that in those principles and in the history of the New Democrat movement, there are lessons for both political parties today. And I believe that if either party—and I certainly hope it would be the Democrats—puts together an agenda for the future that furthers those principles, it would both break today’s polarized political gridlock and build an enduring political and governing majority.
For my party, it means thinking big, promoting a new politics of higher purpose. It’s time to go beyond class warfare and identity politics. Class warfare offers politically appealing rhetoric, but it divides our country and provides no real solutions to our nation’s problems. Identity politics tends to protect the status quo and offer equal outcomes while tamping down the promise of equal opportunity (our pre-Clinton problem) by using government redistribution policies to hold our coalition together.