Impeachment: Clinton's Service to the Democrats

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Mon Dec 21 07:36:58 PST 1998

-----Original Message----- From: Max Sawicky <sawicky at> To: lbo-talk at <lbo-talk at>

-Nor do I think the polls mean anything in the most -important sense -- that of ideology. Support for -Clinton seems to hinge mostly on the "good" shape -the country is in, with all the crap that that -implies, and the negative vibes of the G.O.P. -I don't see any signs of a break in the public's -views about policy -- the role of government, etc.


I have no specific proof but I disagree with you. I think there remains the general skepticism towards government, but there seems to be a latent demand for policy that goes beyond general approval of the economy. The polls also show great fears about the economy lurking beneath the good numbers, which is one reason why I think the public makes such distinctions in giving credit to Clinton for the economy versus the Republicans. If this was all about good feelings, all incumbents would be praised, but much to the frustration of the GOP, they have been running Congress for four years yet get no credit. There is legitimate fears not only of potential recklessness by the Republicans but a desire for the child care, health care, living wage and other policies that Dems promote as safety blankets to the fears about the economy. Even the current vogue for partial privatization is based on fear of Social Security bankruptcy.

Another thing ripping the GOP apart is that they have shot their bolt on tax cuts at the national level. Once they passed the child credit tax, a large portion of working class and even middle class folks with many kids are not paying income tax. That means that tax cuts can't even be sold propagandistically as a tax cut for "all." Bill Archer has acknowledged this and is trying to promote the idea that the poor already got their tax cut, so now the poor neglected upper middle-class and rich deserve their turn. This is a political loser.

In fact, the one area of serious discussion for tax reform is in the Social Security area, but that plays only to the progressive advantage. If progressives could seriously mount a campaign to lower rates and raise the cap on what income pays FICA, the GOP could lose the tax issue once and for all. Stripped of that unifying issue, the rightwing coalition could completely disintegrate. How about the Left promoting a "Flat Tax" for Social Security?

As for broader policy, I think the public has consistently supported expanded child care, expanded regulation of health care, living wage laws, and tighter environmental restrictions. Let's remember, one main reason Dems did not win back the House is that a significant number of Republicans, including many who won in 1994, ran unopposed.

As the vote on impeachment shows, we should not mistake the political organization of the Right in controlling Congress as representing public opinion. As I hammer on, I think it is an progressive organizational failure, not an ideological failure, that has let the rightwing dominate Congress for the last four years. It is a similar failure that let Clinton get the nomination in 1992 without a serious left alternative. And probably a similar failure in 2000 that will let Gore take the nomination.

--Nathan Newman

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