Thomas Frank, What's the Matter With Kansas, interviews Adolph Reed, Jr., professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and contributor to The Nation, on his essay in the current issue of Harpers in which he "assesses the situation under President Obama - and manages to throw bucket after bucket of cold water over a Democratic Party that is still exulting after its big win in 2012." The article in Harper's is behind a pay wall, but Frank's interview is not.
I want to entice you over to Salon to read the entire interview , but I'm having a hard time cutting it down to something manageable enough to inform and yet not violate copyright. So I took a shot at it below the fold.
We are all right-wingers now: How Fox News, ineffective liberals, corporate Dems and GOP money captured everything
Is the left enjoying a moment of triumph -- or has a president with no bearings left the Tea Party in charge?
Reed defines the left as an ideal of equality and justice that’s rooted in the political economy. He calls it the egalitarian left, separates it from identity politics, and declares there isn't a left social movement that's got any capacity, institutional or otherwise, to do anything - let alone alter the terms of political debate at the national level, or for that matter even the local level. He blames Clinton, and now Obama, for the rise of electoral politics over movement and marvels at the entitlement and vitriol of the Democratic party over Nader''s candidacy in 2000. He discusses labor, public education, inequality, bloggers bearing witness, magical constituencies, the claim by some that Obama is a sociopath, and whole lot more.
On the parties...
...the choice is between two neoliberal parties, one of which distinguishes itself by being actively in favor of multiculturalism and diversity and the other of which distinguishes itself as being actively opposed to multiculturalism and diversity. But on 80 percent of the issues on which 80 percent of the population is concerned 80 percent of the time there is no real difference between them.....on Nader
But I was struck, too by the incredible vitriol that the Dems directed at Nader and anyone who supported Nader after that defeat. And it was a defeat that Gore wouldn’t even fight against either, which they tend to forget. My response to them was, the vitriol was a signal that they were looking for a scapegoat because their flawed candidate couldn’t even carry his home state. I mean, if he could have carried his home state he would have won the presidency. But I always said to them the best explanation of the defeat in 2000 came from a 1970s R&B singer named Ann Peebles with a song called “I Didn’t Take Your Man, You Gave Him To Me.”On Inequality...
For instance, I believe that Obama truly believes that this kind of self-help twaddle that he talks is a way to combat inequality. I also believe that he believes, in his heart of hearts, that public schools are for losers and that what you got to do is identify the bright kids from the ghetto and get them into the Lab School or the Lab School equivalent. So in the ideological frame of reference that the dominant elites within the Democratic party operate now, this is the element that defines the center of gravity of political liberalism and also sort of has captured the imagination of those who want to think of themselves as being on the left. They, often enough, will invoke the same general principles at a high level of abstraction that we associate with the Democratic Party and its history back to FDR. But the content that they load into those lofty symbols is neoliberal and reinforces the logic of a regressive transfer. If you cut public services and privatize and outsource, that hurts people at the bottom half of the income queue, or the bottom two-thirds of the income queue. There’s no way around that. You can only talk about equality and support that kind of agenda if you are fully committed to a neoliberal understanding of an equality of opportunity.On labor....
They like their workers when they’re brown and really abject and getting the shit beaten out of them but they don’t like them when they try to work through institutions to build power for themselves as a class. That’s one way to put it.If you consider yourself a part of the egalitarian left, you really need to read the whole interview and weep.