By Ben Tanosborn
It doesn’t seem so long ago when an ambitious political couple holding preteen Chelsea Clinton by the hand was moving from the governor’s mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas, to the august quarters of the White House in D.C. A young Democratic president had just defeated Ronald Reagan’s heir, Papa Bush, and a prophetic populist with a Texan twang, Ross Perot, in the colorful presidential fray of 1992.
Was Bill Clinton then a young Democratic president, Kennedy-style, we now ask… or was he Scoundrel Willy cloaked in smart, glittering and deceitful-wear? For all the economic and social success attached to the two-term Clinton presidency, much of it could be easily reexamined and clarified using more appropriate historical light, as time has passed, should we dare revisit the causal variables, as well as the results, from published but never critically analyzed small-print statistics. A micro-analysis of key employment statistics would certainly taint and modify much of the highly touted, yet unmerited, success showered on a charismatic and articulate Bill Clinton.
In fact, if a bottom line were to be made of Bill Clinton’s eight years in office, we could rationally claim that the Democratic Party had metamorphosed during this period into a new, and previously fictionalized, semi-compassionate wing of the Republican Party. In fact, Clinton’s demo-republicanism had renounced and replaced the heritage of FDR’s New Deal, and also Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society… by deregulating Wall Street; also incarcerating millions, destroying welfare, and taking on globalization (NAFTA) without plan or recourse, creating the beginning of the end for much of America’s economic middle class. [We should add that the larger household income achieved during the period did come in great part from a very large increase in two-income families. Also, technological change and deregulation scrambled the employment dynamics which did result in the creation of 22 million new low-wage service jobs (mostly) which did mask the forced-exit of living-wage jobs, also extrapolating erroneous conclusions on the economy’s future… a future now present with a sadder, much different face.]
A short generation from the time Bill Clinton was installed as president has not only transformed young Chelsea into a mother, but also has transformed a principled party of advocacy for the least-favored lower and middle classes into the Republican-lite political entity that it is today. The Clinton-glue, present and accounted for during the two Obama terms, is still holding together an established mafia-clan of self-serving older politicians, a cadre of committed leaders that keep the rank-and-file in the Black and Latino communities/organizations walking the line at election time.
America lived much of the 1990’s dancing to the wind ensemble of Alan Greenspan’s clarinet and Bill Clinton’s saxophone; the incredible duet comprised of a talented con-man, Bill Clinton, and an inarticulate gobbledygook-mumbler, Alan Greenspan – more adept at pleasing the occupant of the White House than providing sound economic advice on global economics. An uncanny combination of two musicians playing the wrong long-term economic notes!
Amazingly, here we find ourselves in this United States of America less than six months from another presidential election with the likely prospect of electing a Weimar-worthy, anti-establishment savior, Donald Trump; or having as the sole alternative, at least for now, of calamitous Hillary and the prospect of a continuing, in-your-face, painful and shameless behavior towards much of America’s Bill-betrayed working class.
Oops! Did Hillary just say that, as president, she would knight Bill as her economic czar? Obviously, bad judgment is a gene that neither Wellesley College nor Yale Law School can modify.
Bill Clinton’s demo-republicanism, not even a generation old, may be coming to an abrupt end as justified political anger, and (unfortunately) unjustified bigotry, artfully combines to deal Donald Trump a winning hand. Hillary Clinton’s continuous courtship with bad judgment is sure to betray her during the summer campaign, even against a narcissist lowbrow such as Donald Trump.
So much for a revitalization of the Democratic Party and its return to its progressive roots; the last politico-masochistic act by the current demo-republican leadership is likely to take place at the convention in Philadelphia, as Bernie Sanders is permanently put to rest, or hypnotized/drugged to accept Hillary as a lesser demonic prospect to occupy the Oval Office. And that will spell disaster for the short-lived, Clinton-created, demo-republicanism. So much for Bernie’s idealized revolution!
Democracy in America, we ask: is it our destiny, or political curse, to have to choose between the lesser of two evils at election time? Why? Are we terminally incapable of acknowledging a fundamental truth: that democracy will never take hold until we change the undemocratic process that keep us in chains… and learn to govern ourselves, selflessly, for the welfare of all?