Triangulation: When Neoliberalism Is At Its Most Dangerous To Voters | Centrist Politics on Blog#42
Triangulation, in great part, is what caused middle and working class Americans the most harm since the 1990’s. This change in approach by Democrats, followed two administrations that most impacted policy: the Nixon and Reagan administrations, particularly the latter, with its assault on trade unions.
One can trace back a major trend toward the deterioration of jobs, our safety net, education, and many other areas that make up life in America in a straight line from the Reagan administration from the ideological point of view, and from the practical standpoint, to the compromises that were made during the Clinton administration, specifically, Bill Clinton’s 1994 shift to the right, in order to assure his legacy. Major reforms to welfare, banking and education took place under Bill Clinton’s watch.
Granted, Clinton did receive from his predecessor a government that was in far worse shape than was publicly known while he ran for president. The incoming Clinton administration only learned the true extent of the deficit during the transition. As a result, campaign promises would have to be broken and priorities would change accordingly, but members of the administration had no inkling of the magnitude of the ideological shift Clinton would take, or that he was working with an outsider to plan and then announce it. The story of triangulation and how it came to be was told, not to some right-wing media outlet, but to PBS’ Frontline, by Bill Clinton’s former staff, all of whom are highly respected former or current government officials and media figures:
Promise/Defeat Chapter (1993), Frontline, PBS: The Clinton Years (Please watch Paul Begala, Robert Rubin, Robert Reich)
A year into Clinton’s first term, lack of preparedness, setbacks, broken promises, scandal. and a presidency in trouble – all pushed Bill Clinton into taking a brand new tack: triangulation. In addition to the definition of triangulation offered by Dick Morris in his Frontline appearance on PBS, here is a quote from his book:
“The idea behind triangulation is to work hard to solve the problems that motivate the other party’s voters, so as to defang them politically… The essence of triangulation is to use your party’s solutions to solve the other side’s problems. Use your tools to fix their car.”
The problem with that is that triangulation has not quite worked out that way. “Their car” wasn’t what was actually being fixed. What the “tools” did address, however, were the goals of the Republican party. Those are separate and distinct from the needs of their voters or the Democrats’. In fact, the needs of the people, no matter their political bent, are identical: a steady supply of sustaining jobs, affordable housing, healthcare, childcare, education, etc. Triangulation gave both parties’ donors what they wanted, cutting deeper into what voters needed, moving both parties far away from their respective core ideologies.
What this way of doing the “business of the people” achieved, in a world in which both major political parties’ politicians receive funds from the same corporate donors, is the inevitable dilution of core principles, and the indoctrination of Americans of either party, that government help should always be limited, and only in the most dire of cases. It enshrined the concept of “bootstrapping” to the point where most Americans reflexively see the basic functions of a social safety as co-dependency or something akin to it. This may work just fine during good times, but we’ve had some rather bad cycles in the decades since the Clinton administration. As the middle and working classes got squeezed and millions dropped out of them, rebellious movements grew within both parties.
In the Republican party, what ended up happening is that a very determined, well-organized, and well-funded neoconservative rebellion won the day. It then proceeded to systematically decimate the party’s middle and left wings between the end of George W. Bush’ second term, culminating in the election of Donald J. Trump. The Tea Party was ubiquitous in 2010. Within just two years it would be overtaken by Koch Brothers agents. The result of their hard work until 2015 was upended by Donald Trump’s win in the 2016 GOP primary. Today, one cannot find a moderate voice within the Republican party.
On the Democratic side, voters chose the virtually unknown Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008, in the belief that a more progressive administration would be the end result. Obama was no progressive, it turned out, and his ascent to power was used by the right to reignite America’s oldest tensions, resulting in the complete obstruction of his administration within less than four years as the Republican party completely remade itself into the radical organization it now is.
The Democratic party lost its control of Congress within the first two years, with the loss of the House of Representatives. Within two more years, Democrats lost control of the Senate. Democrats also lost one thousand legislative seats throughout all 50 states. As of 2014, in the Deep South, the Democratic party was practically non-existent. It still is today, and the party has won 20 out of 50 states.
These losses and the will of the voters notwithstanding, the progressive wing continues to be squelched under the pretext that the only way forward is to continue to split the middle in order to get things done. Top Democrats continue to double down on the Clintonian triangulation doctrine.
Following each election loss, Democrats’ message never changed. Even in the aftermath of the biggest, most humiliating loss of all, Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump, her near-loss to Senator Bernie Sanders during a bruising primary run on core Democratic issues, Democrats continue to struggle with messaging that sheds the corporate image and returns to the party’s roots. The warning signs have been there for quite some time.
A post-mortem examination of the 2016 loss was kept under wraps when it would have behooved a beleaguered party apparatus to open it to public debate and reaffirm the platform changes exacted by the Sanders campaign after the 2016 primary.
If there was one lesson to be learned about bipartisanship during the Obama presidency, it is that splitting the middle only got done on those things that corporate donors wanted. Everything else, no matter who it hurt, was obstructed. Those legislators who’ve benefited the most from corporate largesse continue to work very hard to scuttle progressive policy proposals. In the process, they work against their own voters: those who have the most to lose.
When Democrats had control of both houses of Congress and could pass universal healthcare, they didn’t. When they had the ability to ensure that drug prices wouldn’t soar to the level they have, they chose not to, even though it was known that prescription cost control was an integral part of making Obamacare work. When they should have ensured that premium prices could never rise above a certain level, the ACA didn’t put a hard limit on increases. When Democrats could have ensured that absolutely everyone, from Maine to Louisiana, Florida to California, through Mississippi and Alabama, they didn’t, leaving millions of Americans without the same guaranteed healthcare as their fellow Americans in 32 states. When a Democratic Congress could have passed and implemented legislation designed to complement the fiscal stimulus by the Federal Reserve, they left fiscal policy for another day. That day, of course, never came. Instead, without a choice, the compromises Democrats made with John Boehner and Paul Ryan was on austerity measures, the polar opposite of what a solid recovery needed. The end result was that instead of good jobs being created to replace those lost in the Great Recession, the long-term unemployed and new college graduates got the Gig Economy. Today, it is estimated that 95 million Americans of all ages participate in it.
Hillary Clinton’s promise of incrementalism during the 2016 primary nearly cost her a chance to run as the party’s nominee. Incrementalism wasn’t what at least half of Democratic voters wanted. They wanted the progressive agenda Senator Bernie Sanders was touting, and it didn’t matter how much the neoliberal media tried to sell centrism, voters just didn’t buy it. Clinton’s uninspiring general election campaign failed to convince voters that simply not being Trump was compelling reason enough to come out and cast their ballots en-masse. She suffered a humiliating defeat. Ten months after ballots were cast, Democrats are still grieving the rout, casting blame on Russian interference and what the centrist wing of the party sees as “the interloper,” Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. Strictly looking at who voted and didn’t vote, Russia and the “interloper” aren’t the first immediate culprits:
Eight months into the chaotic and scandal-ridden Trump administration, other than Senator Sanders, no Democrat has emerged other to effectively lead an opposition movement. There should have been at least one from the start, and the one we have in Sanders, is greatly resented by the leadership. Senator Elizabeth Warren, as strong her following is, has not translated her popularity into national leadership above and beyond the deference she gets on matters having to do with banking. Keith Ellison, who ran for DNC Chair and almost won, settled for #2 and seems to have been swallowed into obscurity. Tom Perez, the Obama protege and former Labor Secretary, has been waging his DNC chairmanship on Twitter, with the promises of change and the rebuilding of a party in tatters in the rearview mirror. Senator Kamala Harris’ name pops up at least once a month, but she just got elected to the Senate and isn’t well-known, in spite of her high-profile tenure as California’s Attorney General. During that tenure, Harris distinguished herself with many of the same accomplishments as the Obama administration, assiduously pursuing corrupt banking institutions as they were caught in scandal, but never prosecuting them.
It was particularly distressing, during the first days in January, even before Donald Trump was inaugurated, to hear David Axelrod, president Obama’s former senior advisor, now CNN pundit, utter these words in a warning to Democrats against obstruction:
“I have a concern that we’re in this mad cycle of mutually assured destruction, and if our attitude is we’re not going to do anything — even if it’s meritorious because it might redound to the benefit of this president — I think that we are only going to increase the level of already very significant cynicism people have about whether the system can work,” Axelrod said. “If that happens, it’s actually Democrats who will suffer the most, because they actually believe in government.”
In early January – the night of the election – it was patently obvious why Clinton lost. Voters just didn’t want more of the same policies, in virtually every area Clinton asserted she would push for continuity. Clinton chose to focus on only certain friendlier parts of the electorate, ignoring the party’s traditional blue collar base in the middle of the country. Add to that the cacophony created by the proliferation of fake and pseudo-news analysis sites and YouTube channels, and voters who were feeling disenfranchised remained as entrenched as they were in previous election cycles. But there is also no question that Clinton’s reluctance to fully embrace her entire party, both throughout the primary and the general election, smacked of triangulation redux for many voters who were adults in the 1990’s.
The lack of trust in both Clintons sources back to the Dick Morris era of President Clinton’s presidency, and the choice both the Democratic president at the time and the future Democratic presidential candidate consciously made to strike a bargain in order to save a legacy. The price for that bargain was paid for not by the those who made it, but by the sacrifice of those who would be most affected by the policies these deals entailed, years down the line. New policy is almost never immediate. In this case, the effect of 1990’s policy, in combination with the spending and deregulation of the Bush years didn’t come crashing down until the Great Recession. There were signs along the way, with the Tech Bubble of the early 2000’s being the most obvious of all. Nine years later, while the economy is definitely out of recession, the recovery has come, mostly, in the form of low-wage jobs and a gig-economy that nets even less than the lowest wage jobs.
The 2016 defeat of the Democratic party at the polls was nearly complete, at least as far as the Federal government was concerned. It wasn’t only at the presidential level that there was a loss. It had been projected that Democrats would gain seats, more in the lower house than the Senate, but there would be gains. There were none. It was clear from the day after the election, that numerically, Democrats wouldn’t be in a position to obstruct. Just as clear, however, from that day forward, was the fact that there would be a need for a vocal opposition movement. The sentiment among left-leaning voters, as soon as the election results were projected, was to fight Republicans tooth and nail and #resist the incoming Trump administration. Indeed, the first couple of months saw a growing movement of resistance, with huge demonstrations in every major city in America. But that resistance was leaderless and the momentum, by April, fizzled out.
Legislative initiatives have come and gone over the last eight months for reasons that have little to do with Democrats. While the GOP-led House passed its awful Obamacare repeal bill, the GOP-led Senate couldn’t, not because Republican Senators didn’t sufficiently support doing away with healthcare, but because the bills proposed didn’t go far enough!
Meanwhile, as the fight nears in Congress over the budget, we are beginning to hear rumblings about possible compromises certain Democrats will be willing to make. In, “Will Centrist Dems Give Trump His Tax Cuts?“, Politico’s Justin Miller writes:
“Not one red-state Democrat in the Senate nor a single centrist in the House peeled off. That’s rather impressive, considering that 34 House Democrats voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
There are a few reasons for this. Very few of those conservative Democrats have kept their seats, and the remaining congressional Democrats have moved leftward in recent years, to the point that preservation of the ACA has become a unanimous priority for Democrats. Also, the extraordinary levels of grassroots activism from groups like Indivisible, MoveOn, and ADAPT put intense pressure on Democrats in both the House and Senate to resist any sort of bipartisan overtures.
Perhaps most important, the visceral ramifications of gutting Obamacare—people losing coverage because of pre-existing conditions, paying higher premiums, losing access to Medicaid, and so on—injected a profound and all-too-rare sense of morality to the political debate.”
The upcoming budget fight will be all about Trump’s “biggest ever” tax cuts for the rich. Whereas healthcare is all about morals, tax cuts for the rich are all about business; the business of raising enough funds and corporate support to get reelected. There are no morals there, only the political common sense of politicians who know which side their bread is buttered on, and who owns the butter mill. Republican legislators, down to the last one, not only are beholden to corporations and the oligarchs who own them, but by now, have a proven reliability track record when it comes to pass anti-social safety net measures, no matter who they harm.
We are in a period of hypercapitalism now, with our nation’s oligarchs firmly in control of two out of three of our government institutions. Gone is even the pretense that our government is of the people or for the people. As worker protections are being cast aside alongside basic environmental protections for all of us, those among us who read the news are learning about industry executives being named to head positions from which they can continue to advance their former employers’ financial interests. It is especially important for voters to know where they can find sources of news that specifically keep track of all of the rules, regulations, laws and policies that have been rolled back during the Trump administration. While Americans may have a sense that some progress has been undone, there is a danger that they have gotten the impression that since the ACA was not repealed, the nation dodged a bullet in all other respects. Ranking Democrats in Congress and the DNC have said little to nothing about what both the White House and government agencies have undone.
Hurricane Harvey has thrown a wrench into the GOP’s plan to reform taxes, and the Trump administration to reduce taxation much further than even congressional Republicans were planning to reduce them. Morals, of the dubious kind, will again be an issue that may foil the GOP’s best laid plans, if Democrats can be disciplined enough to remain on the sidelines of this freak show. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin:
“Without raising the debt limit, I am not comfortable that we will get money to Texas this month to rebuild,
The devastation Harvey has wreaked on Texas will take years to remedy, with proper, unconditional disaster funding. The EPA hasn’t even surveyed the toxic waste damaged oil plants have been releasing into the affected areas over the past week. Harvey devastated the state from which the most vocal anti-FEMA legislators led the charge, for years, to deny funding of aid in other disasters. It would behoove Democrats to let the public see what the likes of Ted Cruz and the rest of the Texas delegation in both houses end up doing. Some of them didn’t even have the decency to cancel overseas trips:
““I was born and raised in Houston. I’m concerned about Houston,” said Texas congressman as he toured Prague Castle.
Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, a senior Appropriations Committee member, was spotted taking a tour of Prague Castle on Saturday. Carter was seen strolling through the castle complex along with Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas. The group snapped photos and were told the history of St. Vitus Cathedral.”
Within the Democratic party, quite sadly, a majority of legislators are just as beholden, even as they continue to pretend that they are a progressive worker’s party. Progressive worker’s party legislators in any other nation would never be caught dead triangulating on healthcare and voting to keep 25 million citizens out. No progressive workers’ party would have voted to cut the lifeline to older laid off workers in a compromise with the other side. Long term unemployment insurance was ended as a part of a deal between Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan at the end of 2013. No progressive workers’ party legislator anywhere else would have voted to protect the banks during the financial crisis, but decided to leave homeowners in the lurch. But that is precisely what they did in 2010, and voters have disengaged in increasing numbers ever since.
What dangers do centrist Democrats pose in the weeks ahead?
Unlike other bills passed by the House and Senate since the new Congress was sworn in last January, a GOP majority in both houses is insufficient to pass a budget bill. While bi-partisanship might well have been natural during any recent administration in which Republican held the majority in both the legislative and executive branches, for Democrats, today, that simply cannot be the case. Democrats cannot, on the one hand, resist Trump, and on the other, be seen as cooperating with those they are resisting. That isn’t to say that Democrats should cause the debt ceiling bill to fail. They shouldn’t under any circumstance. What they can do, however, is insist on a clean bill. That also isn’t to say that Democrats should stand in the way of a bill that funds disaster relief for Texas. They shouldn’t and wouldn’t, no matter the circumstance. But they do have the leverage to insist on a clean bill, with no strings attached.
As for tax cuts, Democrats cannot afford to be seen as collaborating with the oligarchy in Congress and the White House. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should use their leadership positions to publicly castigate, cajole, and threaten any Democrat who plans on voting with Republicans on tax cuts, further regulation roll-backs, or any number of nominees the Trump administration has put forward. With everything we know about the level of corruption with which this administration is operating, Democrats should make every effort to disassociate themselves from what is now being undone.
Here is where centrism, by way of triangulation, cuts into core principles. Tax cuts for corporations, traditionally, have never brought new jobs, nor have they demonstrably led to a rise in wages. Since the Great Recession, jobs that used to fetch a middle class income have either disappeared entirely or now sit, unfilled, because the wages offered are too low, for the required skills. As reported in this NPR piece, even though unemployment is lower (though whether we are at full employment or not is highly debatable) the competition for jobs isn’t causing pay to rise, nor are the estimated 6 million jobs available being filled.
Aside from unrealistic demands from employers and low pay – $12 an hour isn’t a living wage – another problem is that because the economy has been depressed for so long, job seekers cannot afford to uproot their families and move to areas where jobs may be available. Because employers aren’t willing to search for employees outside of their cities and then relocate them, jobs have remained unfilled. Another problem is that businesses have now gotten accustomed to only paying attention to the short term, squeezing out as much profit as possible and turning it over to shareholders, rather than setting aside some money to invest in the future. With a new regime that is highly focused on wealth transfer from the bottom up, it seems unlikely that we will see policy that at the very least slows down this trend, even though it might be the one area in which Democrats have a bargaining chip.
With a budget that cannot pass without a number of Democrats voting with Republicans, this is where centrism poses the most danger, as elected officials from more conservative states feel the pressures of the next election cycle.
Senator Claire McCaskill is one such official. She is both under pressure from Donald Trump who is already campaigning against her in a state that elected him, and under fire from her constituents who, after a racially-contentious election cycle with both sides using race as a wedge, is now reaping the wrath of white voters. The Washington Post profiled her this week in a piece that is supposed to be sympathetic to the difficulties she is now encountering:
““All I’m hearing on TV is that because I’m a white conservative woman, I’m a racist, a white supremacist and a neo-Nazi,” she said. “Somebody besides me has to be sick of this.”
The crowd booed, but McCaskill wasn’t here to go head-to-head with Trump supporters. She was here to try to win them over.
“First of all, let me say,” McCaskill responded, her voice made tinny by the microphone, “I don’t think anybody in this room thinks you’re a racist. If you’re being stereotyped that way that’s just as unfair as stereotyping every black person as a terrorist for Black Lives Matter.””
First of all, McCaskill had a hand in stirring the racial pot, both as a surrogate of the Clinton campaign, and as the Senator from one of the most racist states in the nation, home to Ferguson, Missouri. Characterizing the Black Lives Matter movement as terroristic is uncalled for and the kind of racial pandering Democrats should not be engaging in. The election cycle saw a lot of what I term “racial divide and conquer politics” Clinton used to corral voters to her side. Trump, though he obviously was lying through his teeth, appealed to the needs of voters by making all the right statements about jobs and the economy. Clinton, instead of matching Trump on jobs, decided to peg as racist voters who were considering voting for Trump, alienating them not only during the general election, but now well-after it. McCaskill could have handled that voter in any number of ways, steering clear of the Black Lives Matter insult. She chose not to. Bringing back racial divisions among Democrats far more subtly by Clinton, and now in such an openly shameless way by McCaskill, will have disastrous effects down the line, further dividing already beleaguered Democrats along geographic lines.
The WaPo piece goes on:
“Since joining the Senate a decade ago, McCaskill has been known as one of its most quotably outspoken Democrats, but in her conversations with voters this day, she doggedly rode the median: People who deface statues should be prosecuted. Single-payer health care is a bad idea, and so is trying to impeach Trump, even if he had recently suggested that protesters standing with Nazis and white supremacists were “very fine people.”
“My job is not to fight the president,” she has been saying at town halls all over the state this summer. “My job is to fight for Missourians.””
If only McCaskill was the only one to engage in such talk! Senator Dianne Feinstein is another classic example of the neoliberal politician whose views, now out of favor, is oblivious of public sentiment. In a public talk she gave this week, Feinstein was asked about her GOP colleagues and when they would urge a resignation or push for impeachment. After briefly describing the process of impeaching a president and saying she’d been through it before, Feinstein then said:
“Look. This man is gonna be president, most likely, for the rest of this term. I just hope he has the ability to learn and to change. And if he does, he can be a good president. And that’s my hope. I have my own personal feelings about it. (Boos) Yah, I understand how you feel. I understand how you feel.”
(See full talk below the fold.)
It is rather stupendous to hear a veteran of the Senate express hope about a man who not only is under investigation for high crimes, but is someone who won the presidency by lying to his voters and is now engaged in the complete erasure of the nation’s social contract both through the body she sits in and, mostly, through the cabinet positions he filled, and the wholesale roll-backs of decades’ worth of rules put in place for the benefit and protection of American workers, women and minorities, children, and the elderly.
In this appearance, however, Feinstein shifted a bit to the left, signalling that she may support the public option for healthcare. Just two months ago, she was booed in town hall meetings in northern and southern California for expressing her opposition to single-payer healthcare.
There are plenty of centrist Democrats whose stands on tax issues lean far more to the right than centrists like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. In a highly oppositional cycle such as this one, both leaders should have spent the last 8 months ensuring they establish tight parliamentary control on their respective memberships. They haven’t. Democrats have voted with Republicans on a number of bills rolling back drug legislation, banking, the environment, and as we near votes on the budget, taxation will be another area where Democrats must absolutely vote as a bloc and most likely will splinter. The American Prospect reports:
“In an August 1 letter to President Trump and GOP leaders in Congress, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer layed out the requisites for Democrats to consider a bipartisan tax reform packages: no tax cuts for the wealthy and no adding to the deficit. The message was clear: Don’t count on Democrats to do your dirty work.
But while 45 Democratic senators did sign on to the letter, three red-state members refrained: North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. The Trump administration has signaled that it will soon begin trying to peel off those senators, too. All are up for re-election in 2018 and many of those Blue Dog Democrats come from competitive swing districts. They are all eager to point to ways they’ve rebuked their own party’s liberalism.”
This is untenable in the situation the nation is now in, with the Trump administration behaving like a giant plecostomus, sucking up the wealth from below, every way it can, with a GOP Congress that is all too willing to accommodate. Democrats must be united in repeating a mantra that is rooted in science:
“Research shows that about 70 percent of the benefits go to the top fifth of households (which are more likely to have a stock portfolio), with nearly half of that going strictly to the top 1 percent.”
Tax cuts for the rich have never done anything for anyone who isn’t rich. They’ve not created jobs. They’ve not caused wages to rise. They’ve not even caused corporations to reinvest profits here at home. All they’ve done is widen the inequality gap and cause bigger and deeper recessions. The Democratic leadership could have invested its time, these last few months, in working towards building a unified front against the Trump administration on all fronts.
On the media side of the equation, very little attention has been given to what members of Congress are doing and far more to what they are saying. Marco Rubio has said some harsh things about Trump but when the time came to vote, didn’t oppose him. Senator Lindsey Graham has been quick to criticize Trump after every scandalous tweet or executive action, and even as secret negotiations to repeal Obamacare were ongoing, but when it came time to vote, didn’t oppose him. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has been billed by the media as the poster child of the #NeverTrump movement. But Flake, as he spoke out against Trump, was working on legislation to split up the very court that has been most active in countering Trump’s discriminatory immigration bans, the 9th Circuit Court. Such a split of the court would mean giving Trump more wins in court and the free rein he wants to rule by decree. The vast majority of outspoken Republicans have behaved in the same way, borrowing a page from the Trump populist handbook. Shout one thing in public while you work to do the opposite under the cover of darkness.
Few are the media outlets who’ve dedicated the resources to keep the public informed on what the Trump administration is doing to unravel government as we know it. I’ve been curating Politico’s weekly pieces on what Trump has been doing while we weren’t looking.
As a direct result of this lack of focus on all of the participants in the making of America’s oligarchy, we now have evidence that voters believe that Donald Trump is extreme, while the Republicans in Congress are more moderate. This perception couldn’t be more removed from the stark realities of GOP voting behavior.
A 52 percent majority say that Trump is too extreme, and just 31 percent that he isn’t. But the condemnation of the president hasn’t carried over to his party. If anything, it may have made the rest of the GOP seem moderate in contrast.
Instead, Americans are currently split on the Republican Party, with 36 percent viewing it as too extreme, but 34 percent saying that it isn’t. The percentage who view the party as out of the mainstream is down not only from the 42 percent who said so in April, the 48 percent who said so last spring and the 50 percent who said so two years ago, but even from the 43 percent who said the same just after the GOP’s victory in the 2014 midterms.
This is dangerous. The GOP is Trump’s party and Trump is the GOP’s leader. There is no divorcing the two. These views can only be attributed to the media’s failure to inform. As a result, I’ve also started another post that includes the best pieces I’ve come across during the week.
The Trump administration, for all its lack of proper staffing, has been working at breakneck speed to undo our social contract. This is what GOP, the Koch version of conservatism, has been itching to do for the last thirty years. Now that they have complete control of two out of three branches of government, it makes absolutely no sense for Democrats to make their job any easier than it already is. These people never intended to negotiate in good faith, nor were they ever interested in even taking prisoners. Whether we are talking about the Koch Brothers or Donald Trump and the band of oligarchs he represents, the aim is a common one: moving from a democracy to an oligarchy. That aim is the Republican party’s only purpose. There is no triangulating with that, unless one is willing to forego what little is left of the Democratic party’s core doctrine. Voters have been sensing that Democratic leaders have been slipping away for quite some time and, so far, the shock of losing 1,000 seats hasn’t prompted Democrats to abandon centrism. The attempt made a few weeks ago to demonstrate a return to core messaging was badly thought out and thinly disguised. In the absence of a third party that represents progressive values, there is a danger that whatever is done when Congress is back in session will set the tone for the 2018 election.
To get back in the good graces of voters, the only way up is left. So, which way, Democrats?
After losing her 22 year-old daughter because she didn’t have health insurance, Amy Vilela is running for congress against a Democratic Party incumbent who won’t support Single-Payer Medicare for All
Dick Morris, Clinton’s chief political advisor, explained the term in an interview with PBS’ Frontline in the year 2000:
You develop a theory that comes to be known as “triangulation” after the ’94 elections. And just very briefly, what was your thinking?
Well, we were locked into a very sterile conflict between the left agenda and the right agenda. And it was like going into a restaurant and not being able to order a la carte. If you wanted to have pro choice, you had to vote for the Democrats and accept high taxes. If you wanted to have pro life, you had to also accept government–less environment. There was a coupling here on both sides that was inappropriate.
And I felt that what you should do is really take the best from each party’s agenda, and come to a solution somewhere above the positions of each party. So from the left, take the idea that we need day care and food supplements for people on welfare. From the right, take the idea that they have to work for a living, and that there are time limits. But discard the nonsense of the left, which is that there shouldn’t be work requirements; and the nonsense of the right, which is you should punish single mothers. Get rid of the garbage of each position, that the people didn’t believe in; take the best from each position; and move up to a third way. And that became a triangle, which was triangulation.
For those of your viewers who are into philosophy, it really is Hegelian in concept: the idea of a thesis, an antithesis, and a synthesis. And when we originally discussed it, we did so in terms of Hegel, which we had studied at Oxford. But in American politics, we spoke of triangulation.
Morris, in his book, Powerplay, offered an additional view of this term:
“The idea behind triangulation is to work hard to solve the problems that motivate the other party’s voters, so as to defang them politically… The essence of triangulation is to use your party’s solutions to solve the other side’s problems. Use your tools to fix their car.”