Like Kadima in Israel or Labor in the UK, Obama's administration now has more in common with the moderate wings of both parties than it does with the progressive wing of its own party. The nomination of Republican John Huntsman
as Ambassador to China is just the latest in a series of appointments that prove this fact. Let's crunch sone numbers:Number of Cabinet-level positions filled by members or former members of the DLC:
9 (Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Ken Salazar, Tom Vilsack, Kathleen Sebelius, Gary Locke, Janet Napolitano, Ron Kirk, Joe Biden)Number of Cabinet-level positions filled by former Clinton Administration officials:
7 (H. Clinton, Tim Geithner, Eric Holder, Emanuel, Peter Orszag, Larry Summers, Leon Panetta)Number of Cabinet-level positions or high-ranking Ambassadorships filled (or intended to be filled) by Republicans:
5 (Huntsman, Ray LaHood, James Jones, Judd Gregg, Robert Gates)Number of positions filled (or intended to be filled) by individuals who voted to impeach Bill Clinton:
2 (LaHood and Gregg)Number of Cabinet-level positions filled by movement progressives:
1 (Hilda Solis)
The upshot: there is no longer a political party in the United States that caters to progressives, except for the Green Party.
Labels: Jeremy Young
Links to this post:
Fat Arse on 5/16/2009 2:46 PM:
Jessuus Christos! How long did it take you to figure that out? For those of us looking in from abroad (i.e. Canada) it has been bleedingly self-evident since 1979!
Carter was the last President who tried to embody a "progressive" agenda. Everyone since, centrists, wingnuts or worse!
Maybe, pragmatic Barack will be able to alter this - but not until 2nd term.
Jeremy Young on 5/16/2009 2:53 PM:
It's not new or surprising to me, but it might be to some people. Also, it's interesting to note that progressives such as Howard Dean actually had MORE power when the Democratic Party was OUT of power. Obama has actually made things worse for progressives, not better (again, no surprise to me, though I voted for him twice and would do so again).
Fat Arse on 5/16/2009 3:03 PM:
Not to be flippant, but until the discourse in your democracy gains for itself a THIRD voice (doesn't really matter if its ideology is rooted left of right) there is precious little chance that "Progressivism"(sp?) will gain a meaningful foothold. The change need not occur at the executive level - it need occur first at the congressional (or State) levels. I pray, one day this may be so- but I will not hold my breath lest I turn Blue!
Jeremy Young on 5/16/2009 4:26 PM:
Well, I'm against the very idea of a party system -- but a multiparty system does work better than a two-party system. Unfortunately, there are some constitutional hurdles that would have to be overcome first, most importantly the 50% electoral vote threshold.
What I really miss is the Populist Party, at least in its Midwestern incarnation.
nickname on 5/16/2009 8:37 PM:
I'm agreeing more and more with your views these days.
I just wish you didn't have a phobia
against challenging the Bush 9/11
Ahistoricality on 5/16/2009 9:31 PM:
Number of Cabinet-level positions not filled by members or former members of the largest Democratic caucus in Congress: 8 of 17
Number of Cabinet-level positions not filled by former officials of the only Democratic administration in the last quarter century: 9 of 17
(17? 15 Cabinet secretaries, VP and, by Jeremy's accounting, Chief of Staff)
Number of people who think the Hunstsman appointment removes a viable Republican candidate for president in 2012 from contention? Everyone I've read so far.
on 5/17/2009 12:00 AM:
As you know, I have compared the current incarnation of the Demcratic Party to Grover Cleveland's Bourbons for several years now.
The only legitimate and frankly organized progressive movement in the Democratic Party is not Move On or what is left of Dean's organization, but Wellstone Action which has been quietly going about the business of training and electing progressives.
Jeremy Young on 5/17/2009 12:44 AM:
Nickname, a scary thought.
Ralph, right on. I've never been a fan of MoveOn, and Dean's group ceased to be particularly valuable when Dean himself left it.
Ahist, surprising to see you defending Obama on this one. The DLC and the Clinton Administration are the primary REASONS there's only been one Democratic administration in the past quarter-century. Obama's election was an attempt by the American people at cleaning house; instead, he's only brought back the same people again.
As for Huntsman, if there's one Presidential candidate who doesn't NEED Huntsman or anyone else removed from contention, it's Mr. 68%. Besides, if we're following this strategy, let's just make Mike Huckabee Vice President. There goes another viable 2012 candidate! Of course, if you do enough of this, you end up with a Republican administration -- but Obama doesn't seem to mind that too much.
Ahistoricality on 5/17/2009 2:39 PM:
Of course, if you do enough of this, you end up with a Republican administration -- but Obama doesn't seem to mind that too much.There's Republican and there's Republican. We keep talking about moderates and bipartisanship: Obama's doing it, and you're whining.
Would I like to see a truly Progressive President? Yes.
Did I think Obama was going to be a truly Progressive President? Only in some respects, some of which he's fulfilled and some of which he's exceeded and some of which he's disappointed. Mostly, though, as we discussed last Spring, there wasn't a lot of policy difference between him and Hilary Clinton. Where's the surprise? Why the hurt?
You're the Americanist, Jeremy: name a successful President who didn't disappoint the more radical elements of his electoral coalition.
Jeremy Young on 5/17/2009 2:50 PM:
Ahist, who's "we" who've been talking about moderates and bipartisanship? I've believed at least since the Dean campaign that moderacy and bipartisanship were swear words.
There's no surprise on my end, only anger. I knew I was buying betrayal when I pulled the lever for Obama, twice. His type of betrayal was the best that was available. But that doesn't mean I have to like it, or that I'm not going to speak out against it.
For over two centuries, American presidents have been governing from the center because they think they'll be failures if they fight for what they really believe in. It's a myth that self-perpetuates every time an extraordinarily popular president such as Obama refuses to spend his political capital on radical policy changes. The upshot of all this moderacy is that we have an environmental crisis about to destroy humanity, zero protection against infectious disease epidemics, no way of preventing World War III (with added nukes), and a perennially corrupt governing class -- and no President willing to use his power to change any of it.
Fat Arse on 5/17/2009 4:49 PM:
re: "The upshot of all this moderacy is that we have an environmental crisis about to destroy humanity, zero protection against infectious disease epidemics, no way of preventing World War III (with added nukes), and a perennially corrupt governing class -- and no President willing to use his power to change any of it."
Oh, bummer! While all you have said (to varying degress) may indeed be true; the apocalyptic picture you paint now has me wondering if I should reach for my dusty old Mossberg, look for shells, open my mouth and try to fit my big toe into the trigger... err, .... nah, ... I'm just gonna grab a cold one instead, and think PRAGMATICALLY for a second before I ....
I'll let ya know what I decide...
p.s. Jeremy, if all of life is darkness and dread: it doesn't leave much time for joy. Yes there are serious issues facing western democracies, yes, capitalism is morally bankrupt, our environment in peril, and mainstream politics is broken. But, egad sir, one cannot attempt to fight the good fight when their darker angels dominate. Breath, breath, breath,...
Jeremy Young on 5/17/2009 11:37 PM:
F.A., life shouldn't be darkness and dread. I don't spend my time worrying about the envirapocalypse. But good God, politics should be about the darkness and dread! These are the people who actually have power to avert these disasters. I make it a point not to worry about things I can't change, but also, as the prayer goes, to change the things I can. The thing I can change, as a citizen, is the political system and the individuals who govern through it. I'll leave it to them to change the really important stuff, but if they show no interest in doing so, I'll waste no time in changing the occupants of their offices.
on 5/20/2009 10:51 AM:
In Strange Death I define liberalism as the belief that one of the major functions of government is to keep the playing field level. We have had politicians and Presidents who have tried to follow that principle. None have been perfect, but then the level playing field is an ideal.
Woodrow Wilson was an unreconstucted racist, but he also helped to level the playing field tilted by the Gilded Age. FDR resisted the pleas of his wife and others who sought to level the playing field for people of color. Even the Emancipation Proclamation had an out for the Border States.
My argument with the DLC is that it never has spoken out for the level playing field. In fact its Baltimore Manifesto, drafted in part by one Bill Clinton, explicitly buys the Republican view that the market will take care of things.
Part of the reason for the title of the book was that few politicians these days are directly evoking the principle of the level playing field, yet polls show the American people consistently support bolstering what I term its cornerstones: voting rights, educational equity, social and economic justice and media fairness.
What is troublesome about the Obama Administration is that after its one hundred days, we still have no clue as to whether he is yet another DLC clone or a believer in the level playing field. As one example everyone seems to have missed--one of the most important important appointments any President can make--the head of the FCC--still sits vacant. As of yesterday Michael Copps is still acting Chair.
Gregg Jocoy on 5/30/2009 11:50 PM:
At the end of this piece you say that the Green Party is the only progressive party left in the US. As a member of that party from South Carolina I couldn't agree more.
While it's of no consequence to historical discourse, it would be deeply appreciated if you were to add Green Party Watch to one of your blog rolls. We attempt to cover the Green Party, mainly in the US, but some international coverage as well, and a few of your visitors may find the info there useful or interesting.
I fear Ralph Nader was right when he said "If you always vote for the lesser of two evils, you will always have evil, and you will always have less."
Jeremy Young on 6/01/2009 12:11 PM:
Gregg, it's not my blog any more, so you'll have to e-mail Andrew about blogrolling your site. His e-mail is listed on the "about" page.