Nathan, Bill Bradley, CALPERS, and the Left

Seth Ackerman SAckerman at
Fri Jan 28 14:44:17 PST 2000

Nathan Newman wrote:

> Seth and Doug,
> I won't make arguments that CALPERS is leading the socialist charge, but
> in
> a number of areas they have brought social concerns as well as the
> bottom-line to corporate governance. In areas like fighting excessing
> executive salaries, those interests have converged, but CALPERS has been a
> leader in fighting to punish racist executives at Texaco, funding
> lower-income housing, challenging clearcutting in the Headwaters forests,
> and supporting prevailing wages in the construction industry in their real
> estate investments.
> I am sure there are a number of votes which you can find where they
> passively went along with some bad resolutions, but the fact is that
> has a good history of supporting a number of good social investments and
> often being there to support union-based resolutions during corporate
> campaigns.
> I'm attaching a few news clips-- Nathan Newman

There's a limit, Nathan. In Europe, where they are literally facing the choice of whether or not institutional investments should be allowed or not, CALPERS is viewed by the labor movement as a mortal threat to the social model. Not as some "well-meaning" group with a "mixed history" that might really push for some "progressive changes."

Sometimes it seems like your political strategy is to identify whichever center-left individual/organization has sold out the most, and then comb through their history to find some arguably progressive action that can be used to justify the rest of their awful career. Basically, you're just for whoever's "on our side."

Take Bill Bradley. Let's perform a brief thought-experiment: Imagine Bradley were a moderate Republican, rather than a moderate-Democrat-with-"progressive"-ornaments. Instead of emphasizing his Cornel-West side, he emphasized his Paul-Volcker side. Instead of touting his health-care plan as a progressive move towards universal coverage, he touted the same plan as a "sensible, market-oriented" alternative to Clinton-care and pointed up its endorsement by the HIAA and the Heritage Foundation. Instead of portraying himself as a "reform-minded Democrat" whose ties to Wall Street will merely make his candidacy more viable, he portrayed himself as a stoutly pro-Wall Street candidate whose moderate views on social issues will make his candidacy more viable.

Whaddya got? You've got almost exactly the same Bill Bradley in substance, but with a Republican rhetorical sheen. Nathan, you would never think of support this Bill Bradley. He's a Republican. He's not on our side. But of course, he's not really any different from the actual Democratic Bill Bradley. This type of mindset is a trap. The idea is to lure well-meaning people like yourself into acquiescing to whatever disaster is in the making--lest we hurt "our guy" or "our side."


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