The Democratic Party is in historically bad shape—no argument there! But an op-ed in today’s The New York Times has a truly mystifying idea about how to fix it: Democrats actually need to embrace Wall Street more fully, you know, than they already are.
The column was written by Douglas Schoen, a one-time adviser to President Bill Clinton-turned Fox News analyst who is definitely not a Democrat. It opens with a stunningly thick-skulled proposition: “There are still compelling reasons Democrats should strengthen ties to Wall Street.”
Yes, that’s right: even after everything that happened to them, Schoen says that actually!! it’s neoliberalism that will save the Democrats:
Hillary Clinton’s lurch to the left probably cost her key Midwestern states that Barack Obama had won twice and led to the election of Donald Trump.
That “lurch” must’ve been imperceptible to the naked eye!
Schoen and his center-right pals either are too stupid and too corrupt (and probably both) to understand that it’s the Democratic Party’s ties to Wall Street—and, by extension, its constant movement away from being anything resembling a party of the working class—that’s helped put the party in its weakest electoral position since the 1920s.
Still, the talk radio guy reasons:
Democrats should keep ties with Wall Street for several reasons. The first is an ugly fact of politics: money. Maintaining ties to Wall Street makes economic sense for Democrats and keeps their coffers full.
Money, the universal salve for their problems and ours, let’s give lots of it to everyone! But all that money flowing to Wall Street had to come from somewhere, and Americans haven’t forgotten the reviled institutions that caused the worst financial crisis in almost a century— institutions they were then told they needed to bail out with their tax dollars. The money Wall Street people give to Democrats is tainted, dirty money; if the Democrats wanted to win the votes of working people again, they would reject it entirely.
Then Schoen turns his gaze to a troubling trend on the horizon:
For the 2020 election, some of the party’s strongest potential presidential candidates — Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris as well as Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor — should not be dismissed simply because of their current or past ties to Wall Street.
(Mostly) wrong again! But he winds up for a second even more nonsensical point:
A second reason Democrats should keep ties with Wall Street: Despite what the Democratic left says, America is a center-right, pro-capitalist nation. A January Gallup poll found that moderates and conservatives make up almost 70 percent of the country, while only 25 percent of voters identify as liberal. Even in May 2016, when Senator Sanders made redistribution a central part of his platform, Gallup found that only about 35 percent of Americans had a positive image of socialism, compared with 60 percent with a positive view of capitalism.
Even if you shelve the fact that Americans seem to really, really like Bernie Sanders—and hate the Democratic Party as an institution—Schoen still offers up evidence that doesn’t come near to proving his point.
But it’s Schoen’s final argument that really brings the thing home:
Fourth, demonizing Wall Street does nothing to bridge the widening gaps in our country. Wall Street has its flaws and abuses, which were addressed in part by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. And yes, the American people are certainly hostile to and suspicious of Wall Street. But using this suspicion and hostility as the organizing principle for a major political party will consign Democrats to permanent minority status.
Hm, if the last two presidential elections are any indication, people love voting for populist candidates. A healthy suspicion of Wall Street as one principle to rally around actually does sound like the kind of thing that anyone who didn’t work on Wall Street or take a ton of campaign contributions from bankers could get behind.
But wait, didn’t he just say that Americans should actually like Wall Street because they like capitalism? I need a nap.