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Thursday, October 27, 2016

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?

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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.

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  • Allan Richardson

    We need a growing, prospering private sector based upon respect and prosperity for ALL, including middle class and poor working people, NOT one based upon rewarding the few (and mostly the VERY few) for manipulating the market to get more money into their pockets while making little or no (or NEGATIVE, as in pollution) contribution to the actual, tangible WEALTH of our country. Of necessity, this involves redistribution, as this is the ONLY way to counter the tendency of money and wealth to BUBBLE UP rather than “trickle down.”

  • morbius777

    This sounds like Third way rhetoric. Clinton bent over backwards to help business with NAFTA and the Financial Modernization Act of 1999. Where did it get us??? The shaft for American middle class and American workers, with big business, wall street, and investors laughing all the way to the bank. Let’s be clear though. Without the middle class consumer, the American markets, none of that would have happened. Business likes to use extortion tactics to scare concessions out of Democrats and the American public. Let’s call their bluff. Show them the door. Corporations operate in the US via a corporate charter AT THE PLEASURE OF THE US GOVERNMENT. Threaten to revoke that charter, and business will come around to our way of thinking soon enough. If they want to leave, fine. Only they will not be able to sell their products here without paying a hefty terriff… and make that stick. Also, no more hiding cash/assets offshore. You make your money here; you pay our tax rate here.

    • Randy Grein

      Quite right. This sounds like ‘reasonable compromise’ on the surface, but the lower tax rate crowd is simply more of the same.
      That’s not to say that the tax code is fine; it does need reforming. But rates are already much lower than historic highs and there is simply no indication that the current levels provide a negative impact on the economy, quite the reverse.
      We do need to end the free ride for capital gains; why should effort be taxed higher than money? Ending many exemptions is also important. I’m not sure as a home owner I should get a big break on the interest for my house; what is the real benefit to the country? And business; why do we tax profits on businesses and income on people? There’s nothing wrong with a company turning a profit. If we look at the economic impact it makes more sense to tax businesses on INCOME; the social impact that business has will then be covered; the profit they make is their own lookout.
      Oh, yes – and you’re right about re-normalizing tariffs. If a company wants to base their operations out of a PO box in the Virgin Islands, great. They get taxed on what they import, and we allow other countries to do the same. There’s no reason to offer multinationals a free ride.

    • sigrid28

      A pox on this list of Republican talking points its author tries to pass off as Democratic policy. This is just the same old pig in lipstick, as their dear Ms. Palin would say. From’s Democratic Leadership Council has nothing to do with the objectives of the Democratic party in this country.

      • morbius777

        I agree totally.

  • charleo1

    There are a number of things of which, I strongly disagree with this author. For one
    thing, his insistence we should fund Social Security with a carbon tax. A carbon tax?
    The T-Baggers would love that! Let’s repeal the, “job killing,” carbon tax, right away!
    Oh, it was funding Social Security? The best solution for Social Security is to raise the current cap. Most corporate CEOs pay their share into this vital program before noon, on their very first day of work, in the new calender year. Secondly, redistribution is not a dirty word. It is what has happened over the last 30 years. Wealth created by the various efforts of the broader Middle Class, has flowed in great gushes into the bank accounts, and coffers of the Country’s wealthiest individuals, and corporations. Until there is too much at the top not being invested. Because there is too little capital in the broader economy, to allow for overall business growth. That, of course is what pays, or rewards investors for the inherent risk, with higher returns on their money, than simply keeping it in the bank. While the return on foreign investments average, 3X the rate for the overall investment climate here in the U.S. Why then, is the Capital Gains rate the same for investments overseas, as those made in our economy here where we need them? It’s largely because the incentives of the top 1% are concentrated not on wealth growth in the U.S., but wealth protection. i.e. let’s make the Bush tax cuts permanent. This was the marching orders for the GOP politicians, even as the rest of the economy was falling off a cliff, and public debt was skyrocketing. It continues to be the single major driving force behind the policies supported by the GOP. Who are completely willing to cut domestic programs to the bone, in a slowly recovering economy. Rather than consider raising tax rates on the upper 10%. Which is exactly what is called for in any economic school, except the one they all evidently attended. So, I see Democrats making a huge mistake in proposing, or agreeing to lowering taxes across the board, when taxes have historically not been lower as a percentage of GNP, since the roaring 20s. And never has investment, and tax policy ever contributed to such an extent, to the growing gap in wealth disparity we are experiencing right now, since the days of the robber barons, in the late 19th century.

    • CrankyToo

      So what are you saying, Chuck? That this country is being ruined by those avaricious fucks at the top? And that Republicans are scum?

      I think you may be on to something there.

      • charleo1

        You know I try not to be such a partisan. But, dog gone it!
        Every time one opens their mouth, I want to take their foot
        out, and stick mine in!

        • CrankyToo

          Yeah. Or something…

  • Bill

    Another attack on Social Security, enough already, protect it by raising the retirement age until you die before can collect! Reagon raised the retirement age, that worked about as well as trickle down. The middle class needs a hand up not another kick in the balls!

  • Dan F.

    another tome by a 1%er for the 1%ers. This guy is not a democrat but just another shill for the 1% that own him.

  • m8lsem

    “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’m all for redistribution—that’s why a progressive tax system is the only fair way to pay for government. But without private sector growth, a redistribution strategy is self-defeating. That’s why Democrats cannot afford to lose our appreciation for business and the private sector. It is a growing, prospering private sector that lets us do all the good things we want to do with government—we have to create and grow wealth to have wealth to redistribute.”
    Amen to those thoughts! However, the notion that lowering taxes is part of the prescription strikes me as wishful thinking. Further, progressive taxation principles extolled above are thereby violated.

    Tuning exemptions and deductions and loopholes are alway worth exploring, but the extraordinary growth in the economic gap between the poor and the well-to-do is fueled by reducing the top bracket by 2/3, from 90-some percent to 30-some percent. The vast difference in distribution of wealth resembles the worst days of inequality in the latter half of the 19th Century,

    Our survival of Fascism and of Communism is largely due to the American people not being seduced by them, the New Deal having been implemented, doing away with the picture of fat cat bosses and laboring serfs from that 19th century period, with great economic progress for all in the 20th. Now that those threats have been removed, we are reverting to the 19th Century. The next threat may increase domestic dissent exactly as those two evils did not.

    The management class has managed to forget that they would have nothing without the help of the men and women at the bottom of the company pyramid who today are generally paid a whole lot less than during past times of greater equality, and their business would additionally suffer but for the men and women who make the economy function, whether by street work, mail delivery, running major server farms, or whatever of the periphery the top ladder folks need in order to function.

  • Bryan Blake

    Mr. From is the best argument against why Hillary Clinton should not be the Democratic candidate for president in 2016 – unless she renounces the DLC. The DLC did not save the Democratic Party. They turned it into the step-sibling of the Republican Party. I respect and admire former President Clinton. But he took the party to a place that has prolonged the conservative plague upon this country. I still think most of America is more comfortable with center-left policies than the exclusionary right wind policies. The party was in a temporary rout. The DLC solution was to turn the Democratic Party into a big-money Republican mistress/boy-toy. The DLC has actively sought to minimize the progressive instincts of the Democratic Party The only difference between a party beholden to the likes of the Koch brothers is the other party beholden to their emissaries.

    I for one would much rather bite the hands of those that are trying to feed me rancid pet food than kiss the butts of those who are trying to tell me it taste good! From and his ilk are in essence old school liberal/moderate Republicans who have been chased out of house and home. So now they have taken over the Democratic Party in an attempt to preserve their brand of Republicanism.

    I for one will not buy his book of Republican solutions for his supposed problems of the Democratic Party. I have left the Democratic Party because of Mr. From and his ilk. My 85 y.o. mother is still an FDR/New Deal Democrat and is in dismay that President Obama and the Democrats can even consider cuts in Social Security and other social safety net programs. This is not her Democratic Party! Yes she did vote for President Obama twice. But often disagrees with him on Social Security and other New Deal programs that today’s party seems to eager to give in or up on!

    The Democratic Party should stake out the territory of The Next Deal, the continuation of the New Deal for the 21st century. There are progressive/centrist members of the Party that will gladly lead the way. Those are the people we should follow.

    Personally, in which ever order, I’d like to see Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as the next President and Vice-President of the United States.

    • Mark Forsyth

      Here! Here! Sanders and Warren are two of the Peoples’ strongest and most diligent champions.I can see our country making much needed strides with them both in office and have for some time supported each of them and their efforts.
      Even Froms use of the word entitlement to describe Social Security is offensive.If the program is underfunded then pump it up with the money saved from Pentagon cuts and the tax payer funded oil and gas subsidies.That along with job growth and an increasingly healthy economy would surely go a long way toward replenishing the S.S. coffers.However, maybe we could also have Bernie and Elizabeth pass legislation that would keep the crooks hands out of the Social Security cookie jar and make sure that the fund is used only for S.S. beneficiaries.

      • Bryan Blake

        Senator Sanders has said that if a sufficiently Liberal candidate does not step up he himself will run for president. Of course if the Democrats choose Secretary Clinton and she wins the Democratic Party will be encased in DLC cement.

        The very first change we must make is to take back the word LIBERAL! I am NOT a progressive. The Democrats have run from Liberal as if had a communicable disease. The only disease that it had was Republican vilification and scared little Democrats ashamed of its proud history.

        So DLC out! LIBERALS in!

        • Mark Forsyth

          I have no doubt that Clinton will be in the running but I find it difficult to imagine that her time has not passed.Especially when we have people attempting to do a type of work that Hillary has not.While it’s true that being a known commodity has its advantages,Hillary has a bit too much history and vitriol that follows her around.There is a specific message I would need to hear coming from her,that is,coming from her heart and mind that is her own soul belief for the benefit and empowerment of all American People. I doubt that I will hear it or that it will be sincere if I do.

    • charleo1

      You are de man! Said it before, gotta say it again! You’re right on the money.
      And, tell your Mother, God Bless!

    • neonnautilus

      >>Mr. From is the best argument against why Hillary Clinton should not be
      the Democratic candidate for president in 2016…<< you should have stopped there.

      • Bryan Blake

        Those who do not work and advocate for change are condemned to be captives of the status quo.

  • omgamike

    This author is trying to do what the GOP has been trying to do — and they are both failing in their attempts. They both want to promote the same old policies, but wrap them in new paper. New messages to advocate the same things. We must not listen to or read from, people who do these things. Promote and strengthen the middles class, yes. Reform the tax code, to eliminate all loopholes and subsidies, yes. Remove the cap on SS and gradually raise the retirement age, yes. Strengthen the ACA by including a public option (e.g. Medicare for all). Raise all tax rates until they are back, at least, to the levels under Clinton. Punish outsourcing, doing whatever it takes to get manufacturing back in our country, where it belongs. Strongly start reinvesting in education, and in repairing and rebuilding our aging infrastructure. And the only way we are going to start seeing any of these things happen is through a grassroots movement, beginning like yesterday, to energize the population into voting next November. Voting out all these corrupt politicians and voting in new blood. And letting them know that if they don’t listen to the will of the people, they, too, will be voted out. I’d rather turn the country’s politics into a big carousel with the politicians always getting on and off, rather than what we have to deal with today.

    • Mark Forsyth

      Well said! This mornings[Sunday,Dec.8,’13] Bill Moyers program discussed the current D.C. culture of people entering politics and going to congress in order to make a fortune rather than to be of service to the people.It was further shown that there are as many people who leave government for extremely financially rewarding positions with those corporations whose interests they promoted as there are former corporate heads who now sit in high places in government.
      It’s increasingly clear,at least to me, that we can no longer wait or expect the other guy,the man or woman elected to office,to do the job they were sent to do. It is high time that we the people get busy doing the countrys’ work and perhaps for the first time truly become a government that is Of,For,and By The People.
      Sadly,it was just last week that I encountered a woman known to me who is in her early 40’s,who proudly crowed to me how she has never voted and refuses to do so until we have a woman President.I guess it doesn’t occur to her that there will be no woman President unless and until people like herself vote them into office.

    • sigrid28

      Term limits would also keep the carousel in motion and perhaps inhibit the impact of big money on public elections.

      • omgamike

        Definitely limited terms. One term — or two terms max. And we also need to find some way to deny any of them the right to vote on any issue where they have accepted special interest monies from. Not only monies but anything. Period. No rides on private jets, or expensive luncheons, or fundraisers sponsored by any special interest group.

  • infadelicious

    Obamacare will be known as ACA, and from this day foreward, because it is such a clusterfudge of an epic fricken fail , the “obama presidency” shall be know as the “post Bush presidency” Changing the meaning of words to distance the democrats from the obama admin’s many many failures will not help in 2014 and 2016. The people are not stupid and are awake now, especially with obamacare hitting the fan as it is……….and we have only seen the tip of the filthy iceberg that is this admin’s steaming pile of statist crap………..

  • neonnautilus

    The Democratic Party has not returned to power. The establishment cowers speechless caving into the right wing of the gop at the first sign of trouble. They have no values, or they have now Democratic Party values, better said, and they have no interest in protecting the progress of the past. There’s no difference between the Democratic Party today and the republican party.

  • browninghipower

    I supported Obama because I did not trust Hilary to be the once Liberal she was. I felt she took people, ie Liberals like me for granted and that she would ignore us once she became Presaident. Well, it looks like Obama did exactly that! Don’t get me wrong. I despise gop/teabaggers, but I also mistrust and despise DLC DC Dems. Once the run for 2016 begins, I can only hope someone has the balls to push Hilary to the wall on this one question…are you a DLC Dem, or are you a Liberal Dem? Do you have America’s interests at heart, or will you cower in the face of the DLC/Third Way onslaught? Will you appoint the Usual Gang of Thugs from Wall Street to you Administration or will we finally see the likes of Krugman and Grayson and their ilk? Will you have the courage to push for infrastructure rebuild, education reform, real jobs programs, real stimulus, real Wall Street reform, or will you roll over, toss us under the bus and tell us you did the best you could? I doubt any of that will happen, but one can hope.

  • browninghipower

    Oooops….looks like my one question turned into several…sorry.

  • Igor Shafarevich

    Although liberty & collectivism both offer “equality”, liberty offers equality of opportunity while socialism offers equality of servitude.