My new book, The Roots of Defeat, is based on my desperate effort to understand why President Obama disappointed me so often. To do that I went all the way back to the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt to see what changed.
I hope that readers who were shocked by the election of Donald Trump and disappointed in the weak Democratic response to the problems of inequality and Wall Street power will appreciate how I use recent American history to illuminate our national crisis. I weave an intricate tale of rapid economic change mixing with savage political competition to bring an end to the dominance of New Deal politics. From the defeats inflicted by Ronald Reagan, there arose a new Democratic Party, a Third Way party, dedicated to raising money from the wealthy and corporations.
The new, Third Way Democrats, favor balanced budgets, free trade agreements, and deregulation of the financial industry. They seldom support unions, tend to push for increases in the minimum wage only when they know Republicans will block the change, and are liberal on social issues.
Unfortunately, the consequences for every American are dramatic and devastating – a chronic economic crisis of stagnant wages, men leaving the labor force, communities of color impoverished, and a whole generation of millennials cast adrift.
I believe that only by understanding how the Democratic Party lost its way can people come together and create a political response to President Trump that leads to a more prosperous, more just nation – that is the Democratic Challenge.