Friend or Faux?

Jeff Faux's "The Myth of the New Democrats" (TAP, Fall 1993) is illuminating--but in unintentional ways. It highlights the unresolved tension in The American Prospect's editorial persona: though dedicated to rethinking old liberal assumptions, the magazine often shies from conclusions that defy liberal orthodoxy. TAP thus oscillates between earnest stabs at policy innovation and purse-lipped attempts to suppress heresy and enforce liberal dogma. Faux's polemic falls in the latter category.

Still, a TAP cover story on the New Democrats and the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) represents progress of a sort. The exercise forces Faux to grapple with New Democrat ideas on their merits rather than simply dismiss them as "conservative"--a favorite tactic in the left's politics of evasion. Honest debate might even advance the cause New Democrats share with TAP: the reconstruction of contemporary liberalism as a progressive force for national purposes.

Faux accuses New Democrats of being abstractly philosophical, substantively thin, little more than crypto-Republicans and yet, in the end, not all that different from traditional liberals. Confused TAP readers can judge for themselves by reading the Progressive Policy Institute's (PPI) Mandate for Change. Oddly, Faux never mentions this key New Democrat manifesto, rummaging instead through old news clippings to make his case. That's a shame, for Mandate sets out, in ample detail, policy innovations that challenge what candidate Bill Clinton acidly called the "brain dead politics of both parties."

What Faux essentially asks is, Why do we need New Democrats? But he doesn't want to hear the answer: that the party's establishment has been too busy defending the status quo--old policies and old programs--to adapt liberalism to such new realities as the globalization of commerce, the shift from mass to flexible production, the spread of information technologies that undermine the authority of central bureaucracies, and the impact of suburbanization on American politics. These changes require a fundamental rethinking of the liberal enterprise.

Unfortunately, for many Democrats solidarity, not adaptation, remains the overriding imperative. But solidarity won't expand the party's shrinking base. On the contrary, the evidence shows that exactly the opposite takes place--that yielding to the demands of pressure groups undercuts Democrats' ability to set broader public goals, and in so doing has turned many middle-class voters against us.

DLC Democrats are trying to move liberals beyond this self-defeating, circle-the-wagons mentality. Their initiatives--public investment, voluntary national service, youth apprenticeship, community policing, entrepreneurial government, and social policies that reinforce work and family--are intended to unite the interests of the party's core with those of an increasingly suburban national electorate.

Liberals seem embarrassed by this effort by New Democrats to bring these once and future Democrats--largely white and middle class--back into the fold. The underlying assumption, which Faux makes explicit, is that such voters are inherently reactionary--never mind that the working middle class was the party's mainstay from Andrew Jackson through Lyndon Johnson. Faux derisively calls these folks "Bubbas," though of course Northern ethnic whites have also deserted the party in droves; witness the recent election results in New York and New Jersey. (Perhaps he has forgotten that white union members gave half their votes to Ronald Reagan.) The inevitable conclusion here is that fighting for votes in the heart of America's middle class would somehow sully the party's purity. Left-liberals dream instead of a rainbow coalition that pointedly excludes white males. Such intolerance--at once undemocratic and politically obtuse--is what makes the New Democrats' base-expanding strategy so vital to the future of progressive politics.


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That strategy begins with political realism. In the Politics of Evasion (1989), PPI argued that the party's losing streak in presidential elections was not a series of flukes but instead reflected a deeper syndrome--the replacement of the New Deal's middle class populism after 1968 by a new paradigm of special interest liberalism. According to authors William Galston and Elaine Kamarck:

In the past two decades, liberalism has been transformed. The politics of innovation has been replaced by programmatic rigidity; the politics of inclusion has been superseded by ideological litmus tests. Worst of all, while insisting that they represent the popular will, contemporary liberals have lost touch with the American people. It is this transformed liberalism that we call "liberal fundamentalism," on which the electorate has rendered a series of negative judgments.

Notwithstanding Faux's revisionist account--which fancifully casts George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis not as liberals but as DLC-style centrists--the 1992 election results confirmed PPI's analysis. Clinton presented himself to the voters as a "Different Kind of Democrat," one who at last understood and sympathized with "the forgotten middle class." Clinton's was the most politically incorrect Democratic primary campaign since Robert Kennedy's in 1968. Like RFK--the prototypical New Democrat--Clinton refused to sentimentalize the poor or condescend to black Americans by treating them as a monolithic bloc with one set of opinions. He stressed economic opportunity and mobility rather than wealth transfers, took a tough-minded line on crime, welfare dependency, and international security issues, and called for a new ethic of personal responsibility to temper demands for entitlements. He avoided divisive litmus tests that have frustrated the party's quest to rebuild an alliance between working middle-class whites and blacks.

Inconveniently for Faux, the 1992 nomination contest offered Democrats a clear choice between unadulterated liberalism and Clinton's amalgam of traditional and New Democrat themes. Anointing himself the "real Democrat" in the race, Senator Tom Harkin ran as the unapologetic apostle of liberal fundamentalism. He followed the classic "unite the base" strategy, only to find that even liberal primary voters had lost faith in electoral appeal of the old redistributionist nostrums.

The problem is not just an ossified liberalism, however; the dominant ideas of both parties have outlived their time. Americans are loath to choose between Democrats' special interest liberalism and Republicans' "neocapitalism" (the term is Robert Bellah's). They despise the Washington political game, in which the two sides seek to sharpen partisan differences rather than bridge them so that the nation can solve its problems. As E.J. Dionne wrote in Why Americans Hate Politics, people believe that "liberalism and conservativism prevent the nation from settling the questions that most trouble it."

New Democrats look beyond the left-right debate to a new synthesis that combines the valid insights from both sides in a new agenda for progressive reform. Consider the following examples.

Enterprise Economics. Notwithstanding Faux's claim that New Democrats subordinate economic to social policy, the first four chapters of Mandate for Change elaborate an "enterprise economics" tailored to the new requirements of global competition. PPI's Robert Shapiro and Doug Ross (now an assistant secretary at the Labor Department) maintain that the globalization of capital markets and production undermines both supply-side efforts to increase investment by cutting taxes on investors' profits and traditional liberal policies to pump up demand or micromanage the distribution of resources among industries.

Enterprise economics replaces obsolete "tax and spend" policies with a new stra- tegy of "cut and invest." To make U.S. firms and workers more productive, it calls for substantial new public investments in education and job training, research and development, transportation, communications, and other public infrastructure systems. But New Democrats would pay for these investments by cutting and rechanneling unproductive federal spending rather than by raising taxes on the middle class.

The hard truth for liberals is that deficit reduction is a prerequisite for expanded public investment. Large, permanent federal deficits disable progressive government. Only by showing the ability to discipline federal spending and distinguish between consumption and investment can liberals regain the public's trust. Moreover, liberals should, on principle, stop defending tax-and-spend subsidies and trade and regulatory protections for particular industries or for wealthy people. They insulate firms from the competitive forces that drive flexibility and innovation, and so leave workers less equipped to succeed in a global economy.

Faux makes a fair point that New Democrats have not solved the deepest economic riddle facing the country: the slowdown in U.S. productivity growth since the early 1970s and the resulting stagnation of family incomes. We're working on it. One thing, however, is certain: Faux's prescription--huge new dollops of federal spending--won't do the job. The federal government has been running deficits of $250 billion and more for years; there is no evidence that higher federal spending and even larger deficits would strengthen the economy. On the contrary, greater deficit spending would bring higher long-term interest rates that would slow the economy, and its stimulative effects would be diffused throughout globalized markets. The truth is, economic models that prescribe mindless budget cutting or heedless deficit expansion are equally antique.

Trade Expansion. Support for liberal trade is one of the Democratic Party's most venerable principles. It is also essential to reviving the U.S. economy: from 1986 to 1990, 25 percent of U.S. job growth came from expanded exports. Yet Faux and congressional liberals made common cause with Ross Perot, the hierarchy of organized labor, right-wing nativists, and others to demonize the North American Free Trade Agreement. In part, opposition to NAFTA stemmed from valid fears of the often harsh impact of globalization on traditional manu- facturing. Let's be candid: it also reflected labor's determination to save specific jobs in specific industries, even at the expense of U.S. workers' general interest in expanding markets for their products.

This is old-fashioned protectionism, however much you dress it up with high-minded concern for the environment or for the wages and working conditions of Mexicans. However, the conservative alternative--global laissez faire without so much as a glance back at the people and communities caught in the crosswinds of economic change--isn't any better.

New Democrats aim for a new synthesis on trade that acknowledges both the benefits of trade expansion as well as the jarring effects of global competition on some U.S. workers, industries, and communities. This approach envisions a new compact with American workers aimed at providing new sources of job security to replace those now dissolving under the pressure of international competition. It would include, for instance, school-based apprenticeship to help non-college youth acquire career skills and a new "employment insurance system" to help vulnerable workers get access to education and job training. Reinforced by reforms of our education, health care, and welfare systems, such initiatives can endow U.S. workers with the resources, flexibility, and security they need to brave the challenges of global competition.

Reinventing Government. Faux misreads the New Democrats' push for "reinventing government" as merely the latest call for streamlining federal bureaucracies. In fact, the goal is to revamp the organizational culture of the public sector. The premise of reinventing government is that top-down, centralized bureaucracies served useful purposes during the industrial era but are lumbering anachronisms in the information age.

The notion of entrepreneurial government sets off alarms on both the left and the right. Despite rising public spending, liberals view the failure of bureaucratic systems, whether public schools or welfare or federal agencies, as a function of financing; if only we spent more, we'd get better results. Conservatives oppose on principle government's intrusion into the domain of market competition and private preferences; just get government out of the way, and our problems will take care of themselves.

For New Democrats, the issue is not whether government should be bigger or smaller, but whether it can be made a more responsive, effective, and democratic instrument of public purposes. Examples of a new, non-bureaucratic model of public activism include the charter school movement for public school choice; "green taxes" or charges that harness market forces to make polluters pay to clean the environment; and actions by such Democratic mayors as Chicago's Rich Daley and Philadelphia's Ed Rendell to privatize some city services and inject competition into others. Vice President Gore's National Performance Review likewise proposes to hold federal managers accountable for results, make some federal agencies compete with private vendors, and reform the civil service system so that managers can reward federal workers who excel and weed out those who don't perform.

Americans believe government is broken and must be fixed. Liberals can try, against all evidence, to argue otherwise. The New Democrat alternative is to begin the painstaking work of reviving public confidence in progressive government by making government work.

Social Policy. Faux chides New Democrats for focusing too much on social issues. Evidently, he sees crime, welfare dependency, illegitimacy, family disso- lution, intergenerational poverty, and their concatenation in our decaying cities as chiefly economic problems: get the economy booming again and the rising tide will cover our blighted social landscape. Such economic reductionism overlooks the complex interaction of economics and culture. It drains politics of moral sense. And it ignores an overwhelming consensus that our social systems cannot offer real opportunity if they fail to reward sound values: work, family, individual responsibility.

TAP readers curious about how social issues and racial polarization have dimmed liberal prospects should refer to Chain Reaction by Tom and Mary Edsall, analysts with impeccable liberal credentials. But consider one especially dramatic example: the meltdown of urban liberalism. From Los Angeles to New York, the failure of largely Democratic urban coalitions to arrest the dreary cycle of violence, economic stagnation, and middle-class flight has allowed Republicans to run as insurgents against feckless and corrupt city machines. In Los Angeles, Republican Richard Riordan won on a reform platform that resembled Bill Clinton's own "New Democrat" agenda. In overwhelmingly Democratic Jersey City, Wall Street Republican Bret Schundler was reelected with 40 percent of the black vote and 60 percent of the Latino vote. In a close election that left the city sharply divided along racial lines, New York voters chose a Republican mayor for the first time since 1965. The evidence strongly suggests the decline, and perhaps the fall, of an urban politics characterized by high taxes, poor services, wealth transfers, and racial and ethnic entitlement--what Jim Sleeper has called "civic balkanization."

Faux seems oblivious to these maladies of modern, pressure group liberalism. New Democrats see them as emblematic of the poverty of a liberal materialism based on narrow interests and selfish demands for government entitlements. To succeed in the information age, Democrats must compete on the basis of broader ideas and principles that speak to the nation as a whole. The New Democrats' approach-- which combines resolutely progressive ideas, non-bureaucratic ways of governing, and mainstream America values--moves the party in that direction.


The Evasion of Politics

Jeff Faux

Will Marshall makes my point. You wouldn't know it from his comments, but my article examined the contradictions in the New Democrats' claim that they represent a new progressive element in American politics. I concluded that the claim is false, and that its political appeal is in the intellectual and moral cover the claim provides for those who want to make the Democratic Party look more like the party of moderate Republicans.

Marshall does not engage the substance of my critique but instead offers a cliche-driven restatement of New Democrat ideology. Once again we have the familiar generalization about liberals. In the first three sentences, we have "liberal assumptions," "liberal orthodoxy," and "liberal dogma." And once again we have the hyped-up list of mainstream policies ("enterprise" economics, "entrepreneurial" government) that he claims represent new ideas but are, for the most part, watered-down versions of proposals liberals have been making for years.

Let's start with the phrase "the party's establishment," which Marshall uses to restate the core theory of New Democrat politics, that is, that the Democratic Party is run by "liberal fundamentalists" (elsewhere described as minority groups, labor unions, and white, elite, liberal purists) who are busy defending the "status quo--old programs and old policies." His authority for this are the sweeping generalizations of New Democrat writers William Galston and Elaine Kamarck, whose work I criticized in my article. This is like responding to the case against monarchy by citing the opinions of George III.

Marshall's idea of who is in the Democratic Party establishment is curious. In Marshall's view, its members are not power brokers like Robert Strauss, Clark Clifford, or Warren Christopher, or the big-time lobbyists like Tommy Boggs, Stu Eizenstat, or Ann Wexler. Lloyd Bentsen, Tom Foley, George Mitchell, and Sam Nunn are not to be seen. Nor is the establishment Washington glitterati who show up at the Democratic Leadership Conference's $1,500-a-plate black-tie galas. Poor Bob Strauss, spending all that time at White House dinners, having presidents and cabinet officers snap to attention when he calls on behalf of his clients. All this time he thought he and his friends were the Washington establishment. No, in the Orwellian world of Will Marshall, Strauss and gang are the "New Democrat outsiders." In this world, the party's strings are pulled by unnamed minority groups and purist liberals defending unspecified "old programs" and "old policies." Could have fooled me.

Washington is full of lobbyists for every cause. But to anyone who knows the town, the idea that, say, the Coalition for Human Rights wields as much power as any of a hundred business trade associations or any one of the Fortune 500 is absurd. Yet this nonsense continues to play well in the media; pundits learn early that it is in their career interest to avoid excessive attention to who greases the skids in Washington. Among those who run and manage newspapers, stories about big business influence quickly become tiresome "old politics." Much more interesting is the story of how politicians tremble before left-liberals dreaming of their rainbow coalition.

Marshall dismisses, without challenging the evidence I presented, my conclusion that most recent Democratic presidential candidates ran centrist campaigns. Then he blatantly misstates what I said. My exact words were, "With the exception of McGovern in 1972, in five of the last six presidential campaigns the Democratic candidates--Humphrey, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis--ran as centrists." But it is even more revealing that Marshall leaves Carter off of the list. My point was that Jimmy Carter was the first New Democrat. If Marshall actually had thought through his position, one would think this would be an important issue to engage. He explicitly defines the problem of the Democratic Party as having arisen after 1968 and, presumably, ending with the election of New Democrat Clinton. George McGovern--the liberal--was blown away after 1972 and since then his influence on the party has been virtually nil (although conservatives periodically drag out his name and beat it up in public). Carter, on the other hand, was clearly the most influential force on the party during the years since 1968. But Carter is inconvenient; so he is expunged from the New Democrat history books. Indeed, Marshall's only rebuttal to the evidence I offered on the recent history of the party was to accuse me of rummaging through "old news clippings." That's a lot of what history is about, Will. It helps to smoke out people who are constantly "reinventing" themselves.

Fortunately for the New Democrats, the pundits don't much care about history, either. So there is no challenge when New Democrats like Marshall pluck dead Democratic heroes out of the past and put them to work at their ideological ax grinding. In one fell swoop, Marshall presses into such service every Democratic president from Andrew Jackson to Lyndon Johnson. (Again, where is Jimmy Carter?)

The notion that the Democratic Party is now composed of something called "special interest liberalism" as opposed to the romanticized past of a "New Deal middle-class populism" when people were united in the pursuit of the common good is, as I explained in my article, muddled. If ever there was a coalition of special interests, it was the New Deal: labor and farmers; minorities and racists; bureaucrats and small business. Coalitions are what achieving power in democratic politics is about.

Marshall's attempt to cast the memory of Robert Kennedy into this ideological puppet show is particularly inappropriate. It was Kennedy who challenged the centrist Johnson and the Washington military and political establishment over the war in Vietnam. He also challenged the centrists of the day with the community development program inspired by his experience in Bedford-Stuyvesant. As the person who designed and ran that program, I can attest that its spirit and perspective are not captured in the New Democrat view of the world.

By bowdlerizing history and defining only the Left as "special interests" and limiting their criticism of Republicans to the far Right, New Democrats indulge in the conceit that they alone reside somewhere in the cosmos beyond liberalism and conservativism where the "national" interest lies. This is humbug. The sanctimonious position that my interests are "national" and your interests are "special" stops common sense political discussion. But perhaps that is the point. Because interests, ideas, and ideals are different, the democratic process is inevitably confrontational.

It is Marshall's particular point that this confrontation between the Left and the Right has become worse in the last 20 years, thus spawning a yearning for New Democrat centrism. But there is little evidence that the 1990s are more confrontational than the 1960s. There is, instead, plenty of evidence that people today are angry and frustrated with the political process. My article takes the position that these attitudes are mostly driven by the decline in living standards and anxiety about the economic future, and restoring economic growth is the central problem a progressive politics must address.

My point is not that economics is the only problem. Who does not agree that society is plagued by violence, family breakup, and irresponsibility? But New Democrats--like many social issue activists on both the Right and Left--seem to prefer endless pontificating about the state of the human heart, over which they admit government has little influence, to getting on with the business of creating jobs, rebuilding cities, and educating children, about which government can do something. There is, after all, a pretty clear link between economic distress and social dysfunction. But stimulating development and jobs costs money. It also means making private economic institutions, as well as public bureaucracies, more accountable to the communities in which they produce and sell. New Democrats do not seem to have much stomach for the task. It's much easier to pretend that poverty can be eliminated by yet another reinvention of the welfare system.

Ironically, the one political personality over the last dozen years or so who has consistently and credibly offered a message of individual responsibility to combat the violence and hopelessness of the inner city has been Jesse Jackson, political enemy number one for the New Democrats. Their fierce hostility toward Jackson strengthens my suspicion that for New Democrats lecturing the poor on their social obligations is less about solving the problems of the disadvantaged than it is about assuring the advantaged that social justice can be had on the cheap.

In this context, Marshall's formulation of "solidarity" versus "adaptation" is revealing. In common usage, these two words are not opposites. Marshall puts them in opposition to set up a straw man: the Left as the obstacle to change. The obvious target here is the labor movement--for whom the term "solidarity" has a deep meaning.

No serious person argues against adapting to change. History and nature force adaptation. The question is, how? Here we come to a real issue. Like mainstream Republicans, New Democrats would have us face the unfettered global marketplace as individuals. The labor-liberal tradition in America, on the other hand, is one that stresses adapting to changes in the world as a community, as a nation. The theory is that through collective action, we can guide and master change, not simply respond to it. And if this means slowing down the rate of change to reduce the level of dislocation and human loss, then so be it. This is an old debate driven by differences of class and values. Like the Republican Right, New Democrats talk incessantly about "values." But as one probes for that word's operative meaning, it turns out that the highest priority is given to the measures of worth created by buying and selling in the international marketplace. On every major issue, New Democrats come down on the side of prices rather than values.

The debate over NAFTA illuminated this question as few recent issues have. In one sense, the debate was a test of Marshall's extraordinary claim that the New Democrats, with their conscious strategy of ingratiating themselves with big business, speak for America's "working middle class." Whatever one thinks about the general idea of freer trade with Mexico, anyone who actually reads the 2,000-page-plus package cannot help but be struck by the disparity between the way it provides detailed protections for those who invest and the way it leaves defenseless the interests of those who work. Indeed, that is its purpose. None of the governments involved need NAFTA just to lower trade barriers. They could have done that with a one-page letter of agreement.

Thus, the list of allies to the pro-NAFTA New Democrats contains few surprises: George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, all living ex-treasury secretaries, the chief executive officers of virtually every major corporation, just about all of the national media, probably 90 percent of the nation's academic economists, and the massive resources of the U.S. and Mexican governments. In the world according to Marshall, NAFTA represents the spirit of working-class populism in revolt against the establishment. But polls taken just before the NAFTA vote showed that college graduates and those making over $50,000 were for NAFTA. Non-college graduates (75 percent of the labor force) and those making under $50,000 were overwhelmingly against it.

Perhaps this upside-down view of class divisions accounts for Marshall's odd comment that my use of the word Bubba was "derisive." The term was a political allusion that obviously went over Marshall's head. My specific inspiration was a puff piece for the New Democrats by conservative Fred Barnes in the New Republic in which Clinton is depicted as "crying out privately for more centrist input. On speech drafts and memos, he jots plaintive questions like, 'Where's Bubba?'" Get with the program, Will.

Of course, Marshall offers the obligatory sympathy for workers with "valid fears of the often harsh impact of globalization," and goes on to express New Democrats' pious hopes that the problems will be solved by retraining programs. Even if we strain our credulity by accepting this premise, the fact is that all we have is a promise that such programs will be available sometime in the indefinite future--if we ever find the money.

If New Democrats were serious about their own proposals for economic security, they would have insisted that we put these programs in place before NAFTA. Moreover, the demand of New Democrats that we give priority to deficit reduction over economic stimulation guarantees that the economy will be operating at high levels of unemployment for years to come, and that long-term erosion in the living standards of the average American worker will continue. The fact is that without maintaining a strong demand for labor--"full employment" as the New Deal middle-class populists used to call it--the structural shifts necessary for this nation to successfully adapt to economic change will be constantly undermined by working-class economic fears.

Marshall's regurgitation of the New Democrat policy agenda is not impressive. As I said in my article, there is much in it that any sensible liberal supports. The practical problem is that in the real world, New Democrats don't seem to be willing to put their money where their mouth is and pay for the programs. The ideological problem lies in the bizarre logic that an agenda of compromise between Right and Left represents a new political philosophy beyond Right and Left, which in turn justifies drumming liberals out of the Democratic Party.

Like intellectual claim-jumpers, New Democrats seize policy innovations from anywhere and tout them as unique to themselves, even when they contradict each other. Marshall wants more spending and spending restraint. He wants new priorities and not a word about the still-bloated military budget. His listing of proposals is devoid of context, as if liberals haven't been fighting for years for public investment, job training, and welfare reform. Marshall announces that crime is a major problem in America as if no one else in the Democratic Party has ever noticed.

And what is the program? When writing for us policy wonks (look it up in Mandate for Change), it consists of a national police corps, community policing, the Brady Bill, and better funding for drug treatment and education efforts. Can anyone distinguish this list from the generic liberal strategy? I'll grant there is one difference: when it comes time to pander to middle-class anxieties, New Democrats celebrate the death penalty, coyly obscured for readers of The American Prospect as Bill Clinton's "tough-minded line on crime." This, we are told, is a new courageous and innovative progressive position.

For New Democrats, hardly a political sparrow falls from the sky that they do not claim is a portent for their cause. Marshall glories in Democratic defeats in Los Angeles and New York. Democrats lose in New Jersey and Virginia, and DLC president Al From tells the admiring Wall Street Journal that the election was "a great day for New Democrats." But isn't Virginia the home of the New Democrats? And if, as the New Democrats would have it, crime is the single most important issue, why did Governor Jim Florio lose, when his "tough-minded" position on crime was to the right of his Republican opponent? Polls showed that Florio won substantially among those who thought crime was New Jersey's biggest problem. Forgive me for suspecting that had Florio been reelected it would have been hailed as another vindication of the New Democrat strategy.

My response does not by any means exhaust the contradictions embodied in Marshall's letter. The interested reader will pick out more of them without much trouble--particularly those designed to convince us that the political cynicism of New Democrats really reflects their moral superiority over liberals.

There is, of course, always a case to be made for cynicism. So let New Democrats argue that it is smart politics for Democrats to attack liberal, labor, and minority constituencies. Let them try to persuade us that Bill Clinton can be reelected on George Bush's economic program. Let them make the case that Democrats should appeal to white males by stuffing more people into the electric chair.

But spare us the crocodile tears for the working class. And spare us the pretense that this represents a serious rethinking of liberalism.

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