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Sat May 16, 2015, 06:35 AM

Bill de Blasio- "There is a blindness in our party....moved away from our historic values"

Bill de Blasio on the Crisis of Inequality and the Blind Spots of the Democratic Party
Eric Alterman on May 14, 2015
The Nation



By almost any measure, Bill de Blasio enjoyed a remarkable year of accomplishment as New York City's first progressive mayor in twenty years. To the surprise of many, he was able to institute a universal pre-K program for 50,000-plus 4-year-olds in time for the September 2014 school year. Whether the issue was education, housing, criminal justice, immigrants' rights, or public welfare, de Blasio made important down payments on his promise to use the power of the nation's largest municipal government to address the inequality crisis that fueled his landslide 2013 election victory.

But as de Blasio himself has repeatedly noted, city government can do only so much. So long as Washington remains crippled by the power of money—to say nothing of the capture of the Republican Party by reality-rejecting right-wing extremists—New York City's, and indeed, all municipalities' power to address the crisis will remain severely hamstrung....

...I sat down with the mayor on the year's first sunny spring afternoon at his official residence at Gracie Mansion to question him about the nuts and bolts of his effort and how he plans to try to institutionalize it over time. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, condensed and edited for clarity and space....

...EA: Speaking specifically about the Democrats, what's been the problem up until now? Surely, the midterms were not an encouraging sign.

BdB: Well, you can be smart and you can be blind at the same time. There is a blindness in our party. I've spoken about the problem of a money-heavy, consultant-heavy political culture that negates the reality that people are experiencing on the ground and undervalues vision and platform and message. That's one piece of what's going on here. In the Democratic Party, many people in the party have moved away from our historic values and have gotten lost in a different set of assumptions about how to go about the electoral process. But I think obviously there's great fear of donors—that pervades the process. I am always quick to point out that I have the blessing of running under a progressive campaign finance reform system. It helped immensely.

I think if you look under the hood of 2014, you see sort of the ghost of the DLC [Democratic Leadership Council], and you see the deep desire to homogenize rather than to be distinct. It surprised me given that from 2008 on we saw clear change in our country economically. It surprised me given that 2012, the president clearly thematically addressed the concerns people had about an unfair economy. So you sort of see a progression, and then the bottom fell out in 2014 and sent a lot of Democrats seeming to go in the wrong direction.

I think one of the things that I'm trying to address here is that that lesson can't be missed.

EA: Well, you bring up the DLC and I wonder if what is most needed today is a progressive DLC. One thing that always drove many progressives crazy about Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns was that, as exciting as they may have been, he never left anything in his wake. There was no institution building. There rarely is on the left. So, I'm curious who you're thinking about, as a movement guy and as a guy who got elected with a 50-point spread, are you thinking about building institutions on the model of the DLC?

BdB: Well, I'll say it this way: I think your question is exactly right and I was actually a very active volunteer in the 1984 Jesse Jackson campaign and was disturbed for the same reason. We're building a coalition to begin and a coalition that will have substantial form, meaning, not just a group of names on paper but a coalition that can do real work. Where it goes from there is an open question, but what is certain to me is that we have to reshape the debate and that takes enough organization to drive a message and a demand.

That's why we're doing a progressive "Contract With America." We want to take the same bold, sharp, clear, simple vision that Republicans managed, at least the House Republicans managed in 1994 and put together something that speaks to the inequality crisis and gather a substantial number of leaders around it. We've also introduced today this notion of doing a presidential forum explicitly on income inequality. These are building blocks. Could a more lasting institution emerge out of that? Absolutely, it's a real possibility. We haven't gotten that far yet, but I think at minimum for this cycle, and what we are talking about transcends just electoral politics and it transcends just the next two years. But what we can certainly say is, the party is failing to respond to the issues that we're experiencing and this coalition I hope will be a real weight pushing for that kind of response....

http://m.thenation.com/article/207377-bill-de-blasio-crisis-inequality-and-blind-spots-democratic-party


It's a good interview. He finishes it with this~

I believe there's an emerging American majority for progressive economic change. The only way we're going to find out is to go down the road. We don't have the federal government to play with. That's what they had in the New Deal—we don't have that tool. We don't have the vast resources that the right wing and the Republicans have, but we have a political moment and we still have a lot of reach and firepower of different types. We've got to try and knit it together. I have no illusions of grandeur. I just know as the mayor of the biggest city in the country I have some license. And I know as I reach out to others, they're thinking the same stuff anyway. This is all occurring simultaneously with a lot of the same people. If we do this right, the first coalitional effort will bear some immediate fruit and start some ripples. If that's working, I think it well could lead to something more substantial and more permanent. But right now, especially in the name of urgency, I want to get something off the ground to grab the moment.

16 replies, 2135 views

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sat May 16, 2015, 06:57 AM

1. There is a corruption in our party. It needs to be said and loudly .nt

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Response to stillwaiting (Reply #1)

Sat May 16, 2015, 07:00 AM

2. +1 I agree. /nt

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Response to RiverLover (Reply #2)

Sat May 16, 2015, 01:18 PM

11. +2 Me too.

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Response to stillwaiting (Reply #1)

Sun May 17, 2015, 03:25 AM

12. I think he touched on where that corruption is when he mentioned the mid terms, and the DLC, though

he glossed over it. He definitely got the right message from the mid terms, the lack of a Progressive message, and of course the pushing by the Dem Leadership of Corporate Candidates, most of whom lost. THAT was the voters sending a message, which just like the last mid terms, when they sent a similar message, was ignored and turned into a 'blame the voters' rather than themselves.

He has good ideas and I hope he doesn't change too much because what he ran and won on should tell him to pay attention to the people, and ignore the pundits. They are so our of touch with reals people.

He is right about the fact that we are in a 'political moment'. Things are definitely at a crossing point. And he sees the urgency of grabbing that moment,.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #12)

Wed May 20, 2015, 02:24 AM

13. As a practical matter, there is only so far a professional Democratic politician

can stray from the party line. I expect that, ultimately, DeBlasio may endorse Hillary. However, the more the populist message gets out the better.

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sat May 16, 2015, 07:04 AM

3. Yes, the party is corrupted. And we have accepted that just voting for the "D" will make

 

things better. Right. (Actually, the party has sold itself and has oozed to the right.)

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sat May 16, 2015, 07:15 AM

4. Clearly Identifies The Failures Of Third-Way DLC Politics - Best That Hillary And Bill Retire Now

eom

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Response to cantbeserious (Reply #4)

Sat May 16, 2015, 07:45 AM

5. I wish.

And we've got Harry Reid saying "the field is clear for Hillary."

The wife of the man responsible for deregulating wall street & telecommunications, NAFTA, gutting welfare, linking CEO pay with stock performance, making China a PNTR, privatization of federal programs(ie, prisons). Even less well known things he did like expanding Reagan's rule placing a dollar value on human lives & pitting it against potential company profits( Executive Order 12866)...basically, almost everything wrong with our country today can be traced back to his administration...and now we're making his wife the presumed "Democratic' nominee.

When this happens, & it most probably will, for me this means that I'll have to stop identifying with & referring to myself as a Democrat. The party left me. I'll be a Populist Progressive with no representative party. "FDR Dem" will have to be replaced with "FDR Populist" I guess.

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Response to RiverLover (Reply #5)

Sat May 16, 2015, 08:00 AM

7. I Am A Progressive Populist - Have No Idea What A Democrat Is Any More

eom

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Response to cantbeserious (Reply #7)

Sat May 16, 2015, 09:00 AM

8. I know what the Democrats stood for at one time

but that was a long time ago. Hell there was a time when even the Republicans where not all that bad they vote and help to pass many good laws. What has changed, the people who control the money that flows into the parties pocket book. It is there greed that is driving the changes in both parties and not for the better.The only way thing will get better is if we can eliminate the big money from politics and that will not be easy.

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Response to Pakid (Reply #8)

Sat May 16, 2015, 09:03 AM

9. Agreed - Citizens United - Worst Development In My Lifetime

eom

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Response to cantbeserious (Reply #9)

Sat May 16, 2015, 09:13 AM

10. Money controlling politics pre-dates Citizens U. Though that was the final nail in the coffin.

We need publicly-only financed elections. Take the money from that fighter jet & apply it to elections. Restrict lobbyists.

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Response to RiverLover (Reply #10)

Wed May 20, 2015, 02:33 AM

14. + 1 Citizens United opened the door to secret politicial donations and also held

that corporations are people for purposes of the Bill of Rights. For me, those two things were far more potentially disastrous than the money bit.

Candidates were already getting all the hard and soft money they needed, and including from foreign nations. After Citizens' United, though, we have nor right to know where the donations are coming from. Could be from the Sultan of Brunei, from Bashir Assad, or from the KKK. We have no legal right to know anymore.

Then again, I am not sure we had a right to know about the sources of soft money, did we? (Anyone know?)

So, maybe the corporations are people bit--and not just for purposes of donating money to politicians--was the worst part of Citizens.

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sat May 16, 2015, 07:57 AM

6. ".... a deep desire to homogenize rather than be distinct."

 

Yes and also..... YES.

Alas... he's a candle in the wind in this political culture. He did come into office w. a string of relative progressives ( Mark-Viverito, Leticia James, some others) to aid and abet, but statewide the party... and the gov't... is a moral, ethical and ideological toxic waste dump.

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #6)

Wed May 20, 2015, 02:34 AM

15. They believe homgenization is better for financial markets.

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sun May 24, 2015, 06:05 PM

16. +1

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