Neoliberalism · Democratic (neoliberal) Party


Democratic (neoliberal) Party

Fig. 1. “Well, for once they can’t blame me.” Photomechanical print, art by John S. Pughe, 1907, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

When Juneteenth was made into federal holiday, it was seen by many of my activist friends as empty symbolism from the Democrats. Kind of like a baby pacifier. The Democrats blocked real change. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act did not pass. The Build Back Better Act did not pass. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act did not pass, either.

The left now is at low tide. Internecine fights, posturing and dogmatism have hampered many organizations. No major protests currently flood the streets. The right is energized, banning books, pushing anti-gay laws and gutting voting rights. All this as [Donald] Trump looms over the Republican nomination for president.[1]

You cannot talk about the same popular items, fail to deliver on them, and expect the voting public to keep listening to you. There are diminishing returns to parties that never seem to get results. . . .

That shows a lack of seriousness about reaching urgent goals, and voters intuit that from the endless talks on Capitol Hill. Democrats invested themselves in an outrageously ambitious, FDR-style legislative agenda that is hitting the rocks. They expect to be left behind, again, and what they express consistently is that Democrats aren’t delivering results.[2]

The Democratic Party is so remarkably ineffective that any notion it actually opposes the Republican Party, even as the latter has come to be dominated by white Christian nationalists, loses plausibility. The party could, for example, have codified Roe v. Wade, but didn’t.[3] It could have raised the minimum wage, but didn’t,[4] and it has generally been complicit in neoliberalism, which likely had something to do with Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency.[5] The Democrats wouldn’t even pass voting rights reform[6] and voter revulsion against white Christian nationalism is the only thing that keeps the Democrats in the game. Even successes are so watered down as to count for little.[7]

This performance is so dismal, that it becomes difficult to believe that the Democrats actually want to win elections; it seems much more plausible that, collectively, they prefer to sit in opposition, where they can complain about the Republicans without actually being expected to accomplish anything.[8] This is a balancing act as individual politicians want to keep their jobs, and with those jobs, their powers and privileges over others. The idea is to have a job, to have a platform, but not to have to actually do anything. They might want to consult Hunter Biden on that.


Shane Goldmacher, “Hillary Clinton Slams Bernie Sanders for Not Working to Unite Democrats in 2016,” New York Times, January 31, 2020, ttps://

Peter Daou with Leela Daou, “I worked for Hillary Clinton. Her attacks on Bernie Sanders are a big mistake,” Guardian, January 21, 2020,

Donie O’Sullivan, “The Democrats’ new online troll fighters make 2020 debut in Iowa,” Cable News Network, February 2, 2020,

David Roth, “Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump,” New Republic, February 21, 2020,

Ed Kilgore, “Why Bernie Is Not George McGovern and 2020 Isn’t 1972,” New York, February 22, 2020,

Bess Levin, “Cranky Billionaire Warns Bernie Sanders is ‘a Bigger Threat than the Coronavirus,’” Vanity Fair, February 18, 2020,

Rod Dreher, “Bernie & Solidarity,” American Conservative, February 24, 2020,

Ezra Klein, “Bernie Sanders: The Vox Conversation,” Vox, July 28, 2015,

Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, “Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Bernie Sanders,” New York Times, February 27, 2020,

Adam Gopnik, “Learning to Love Bernie Sanders, or Trying To,” New Yorker, March 3, 2020,

Jason Lemon, “Nancy Pelosi Says America ‘Needs a Strong Republican Party,’ Not a Hijacked ‘Cult,’” Newsweek, September 30, 2020,

David Dayen, “The Case for Deliverism,” American Prospect, October 12, 2021,

Benjamin Hart, “The Democratic Party Is Extremely Unpopular Right Now,” New York, May 16, 2022,

Tyler Pager, “Biden faces renewed pressure to embrace Supreme Court overhaul,” Washington Post, July 4, 2023,

Ben Jacobs, “Are ‘Never Trump’ Republicans Actually Just Democrats Now?” New Republic, September 21, 2023,

Rick Perlstein, “Joe Lieberman Not Only Backed Bush’s War; He Also Helped Make Bush President,” American Prospect, April 3, 2024,

  1. [1]Nicholas Powers, “This Juneteenth, We Are at War Over Our Right to Teach Black History,” Truthout, June 19, 2023,
  2. [2]David Dayen, “The Case for Deliverism,” American Prospect, October 12, 2021,
  3. [3]Scott Bixby, “Activists Tell Biden to ‘Do Your F*cking Job’ and Protect Abortion Rights,” Daily Beast, June 12, 2022,; Anna North, “Abortion has been treated as a fringe issue by Democrats for decades. This is the result,” Vox, May 5, 2022,; William Rivers Pitt, “Democrats Had 50 Years to Save and Protect ‘Roe.’ They Failed,” Truthout, May 6, 2022,; Meredith Shiner, “Democrats Can Go Scorched Earth on Abortion Rights, or Go Home,” New Republic, May 4, 2022,
  4. [4]Burgess Everett, “8 Democrats defect on $15 minimum wage hike,” Politico, March 5, 2021,
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Democrats must own Donald Trump,” Not Housebroken, July 17, 2023,; Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire (New York: Metropolitan, 2012).
  6. [6]Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block debate on a third major voting rights bill,” Washington Post, November 3, 2021,; Matt Ford, “The Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill Is Dead,” New Republic, July 13, 2021,
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, December 9, 2022,
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, December 9, 2022,

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