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Please begin with an informative title:

In his Pity the Billionaire, Thomas Frank talked about (among other things) how and where the Democratic Party has gone wrong.

Although Democrats apparently didn't know it, the Great Recession had repolarized the compass points. Nothing worked the way it used to in the nineties. It was no longer about "left" versus "right"; it was about special interests versus common interests. This was the time for a second FDR, not Clinton II....

It's not hard to think of ways that Obama and Company could have stopped the resurgent Right in its tracks, had they wanted to. To begin with the obvious, Obama and Company could have put themselves at the forefront of populist anger against Wall Street rather than making themselves the embodiment of the cronyism the public despises. They could have captured the outrage of small business by promising to break up the big banks or resuming antitrust enforcement.... {W}hy not announce that it's time to reexamine the nation's disastrous free-trade deals?.... End the Bush administration's domestic wiretapping program. Demand the reregulation of Wall Street and the repeal of the Patriot Act.

One reason Democrats didn't do these things, perhaps, is that it's easier to focus on the lunacy of the rejuvenated Right than on the main sources of its ideas....while its vastly more significant free-market streak is either regarded as camouflage for what the libs know to be its real payload -- some kind of theocratic white supremacy -- or else simply ignored.

Unfortunately, the other side wasn't calling for theocratic white supremacy. The threat haunting our time was not some sort of Klan comeback; it was economic disintegration. Bank fraud, bailouts, bonus grabs, BP; these were the burning issues of 2010, and the Democrats pretty much left them to take care of themselves. Instead they built an enormous Maginot Line on the antilunatic frontier and sat there waiting while the attack came down an entirely different route. (pp 176-9)

So what is the Democratic leadership, plan, and message going to be about in 2016? It looks like more of the same. Though this time, with Hillary Clinton as the standard bearer, the anti-lunacy attacks will be against the GOP's anti-woman agenda and its Clinton Derangement Syndrome instead of "they hate Obama because he's black." (Which is no doubt true, but ultimately beside the point as far as forwarding worthwhile policy is concerned.)

Some argue that this retreat to comfortable centrism is a good thing. Eight more years of Democratic centrism and elite cronyism will give the party grassroots a chance to reinvigorate and redefine itself from the ground up while the Right collapses in its own contradictions, incoherencies, and infighting.

Maybe so. Perhaps we'll be lucky and things will play out that way. But the danger is in the unexpected. All it will take is for a charismatic leader to arise to electrify the discontents of a people sick and tired of the courting of the special interests over the common interests. I would argue that such a leader is much more likely to arise on the right than on the left, simply because the right is in active ferment, stoked by outsider money, feeling its power, while the left is actively spied on, crushed by those in authority, and sinking into despair for the future.

And the Democratic Party is firmly established as the Insiders, the ultimate cronies of the crony capitalism destroying the American Dream. And it will have the uber-Insider, uber-corporatist, uber-hawk Hillary Clinton at its head for eight more long years while the country seethes in the discontents of the neoliberal reality.

No such charismatic leader is apparent on the Right at the moment. But if and when such a person arises, they and their movement are not likely to let the moment slip through their hands the way the "transformational" hero Obama and his Third-Way Democratic Party did.


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