Email Exchange on Independent Political Action #1

David Finkel

Here are some quick notes in partial response to Peter’s contribution.

At least 85% of what Peter says about the two parties is as true today as it was in 1988 and at all times between then and now. There are a couple differences that I think are relevant to the present discussion. The first, of lesser importance, is about the Democratic Party. On economic policy If anything, it is even more dependent on megadonors and committed to destructive neoliberalism than it was back then. The way the leadership swatted away the 2016 and 2020 Bernie challenges testifies to that. With regard to social policy, the power of movements for racial justice, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ equality have pushed it in a (moderately) progressive direction — on the environmental crisis, not so much since that challenges corporate prerogatives more directly.

Of more importance is where the Republican Party has gone. Without denying its long and vicious anti-labor and socially reactionary history, contrary to Peter I don’t think we can just replace names like “Reagan” with “Trump.” Some of us can recall when the mid-1980s Iran-Contra scandal broke and Reagan began showing early signs of senescence (remember the mocking question “what did the President know and when did he forget it?”), he was gently eased away from power and replaced unofficially by Howard Baker who was brought in as Chief of Staff for that purpose. That was an establishment-and-ruling-class intervention. Today, Trump quadruples down on the most blatantly criminal behavior and his standing as cult leader is only enhanced. For the institutional stability of the U.S. political system and global “leadership,” a second Trump presidency is both unthinkable and quite possible. That speaks not only to what he is, but also to how U.S. politics descended to such a state that the outgoing honcho of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, says that the number one threat to global stability “is us.”

We’ll discuss some of this in tonight’s convention sesssion, but it will continue as the downward spiral continues.