Democrats vs. the New Deal: Who really runs the party — and why it might surprise you

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/12/09/democrats_vs_the_new_deal_who_really_runs_the_party_and_why_it_might_surprise_you/

Dems taking pride in FDR’s historic legacy need to reckon with a basic truth: The party is now firmly anti-New Deal


Tuesday, Dec 9, 2014

In the aftermath of the shellacking they took in the midterm congressional and state elections, many Democrats are calling for their party to return to its New Deal roots.

 This is inadvertently comical.  The present-day Democratic Party has next to nothing to do with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.  Today’s Democratic Party is a completely different party, which coalesced between 1968 and 1980.  And this half-century-old party has been anti-New Deal from the very beginning.

Now that I have your attention, allow me to explain.

While there have been two parties called “the Democrats” and “the Republicans” since the mid-19th century, these enduring labels mask the fact that party coalitions change every generation or two.  Franklin Roosevelt created a new party under the old name of “the Democrats” by welding ex-Republican Progressives in the North together with the old Jacksonian Farmer-Labor coalition.  The contentious issue of civil rights nearly destroyed the Roosevelt Democrats in 1948 — and finally wrecked it in 1968, when George Wallace’s third party campaign proved to be a way-station for many working-class whites en route from the Democrats to the Republicans.

Today’s Democratic Party, in contrast, took shape between 1968 and 1980.  Although George McGovern lost the 1972 presidential race to Richard Nixon in a landslide, the McGovernites of the “New Politics” movement wrested control of the Democratic Party from the old state politicians and urban bosses of the Roosevelt-to-Johnson New Deal coalition.  Robert Kennedy’s aide Fred Dutton, one of the architects of the disempowerment of the old New Deal elite, called for a new coalition of young people, college-educated suburbanites and minorities in his 1971 book “Changing Sources of Power: Politics in the 1970s.”  Sound familiar?  That’s because, nearly half a century later, the same groups are the core constituents of today’s Democrats.

Jimmy Carter was the first New Politics president (or New Democrat or neoliberal, as they were later called).  He was a center-right Southern governor who ran against big government and touted his credentials as a rich businessman.  He did not get along with organized labor, one of the key constituencies of the Roosevelt Democrats.  His major domestic policy achievement was dismantling New Deal regulation of transportation like trucking and air travel.  He appointed a Federal Reserve chairman from Wall Street, Paul Volcker, who created an artificial recession, the worst between the Great Depression and the Great Recession, to cripple American unions, whose wage demands were blamed for inflation.

Even before Carter’s election, the Democratic “class of ’74” in Congress wrested power from the old largely Southern politicians of the New Deal era. The  northern Irish Catholic-Southern alliance, symbolized by House Speakers Tip O’Neill and Jim Wright, gave way among congressional Democrats to a new Northeastern-West Coast domination, beginning with Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley, of the state of Washington.  Many of these younger Democrats were deficit hawks, like Bill Bradley of New York and Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts.  Democrats like these supported the 1983 Social Security “reform,” which cut Social Security benefits by raising the formal retirement age from 65 to 67.  In his 1984 presidential campaign, Carter’s former vice-president, Fritz Mondale, made deficit reduction his central issue.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/12/09/democrats_vs_the_new_deal_who_really_runs_the_party_and_why_it_might_surprise_you/

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Chelsea Manning was transgender ‘in secret’ while serving in US army

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/08/chelsea-manning-transgender-secret-us-army

in New York
Monday 8 December 2014

Chelsea Manning, the soldier jailed for her part in the Wikileaks affair, has revealed that she was transgender “in secret” while serving in the US army.

At the time of her May 2010 arrest over the leaking military and diplomatic documents, Manning was known as Bradley. Until now, very little has been known about Manning’s history of gender identity, despite her very public legal battle with the US military over her civil rights – the army private won the right to change her name, and her push for medical treatment while in prison has become something of a cause célèbre for transgender rights in the military and even worldwide.

Writing for the Guardian from military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in a passionate essay about “largely invisible” discrimination against transgender people, Manning declares: “We’re banned from serving our country in the armed services unless we serve as trans people in secret, as I did.”

In August 2013, Manning was jailed for 35 years, for passing files to Wikileaks. The following day, Manning said she would from then on be known as Chelsea. In April 2014, a Kansas judge formally granted her request to change her name.

Manning’s request for clemency was denied, before proceeding to appeal. She has formally applied to President Barack Obama for a pardon or reduced sentence.

Separately, she is suing the US military over its denial to her of gender dysphoria treatment, despite defense secretary Chuck Hagel having approved the process in July.

In Manning’s case, gender dysphoria refers to an innate sense of being female though her sex at birth was male. Treatment includes psychotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery to change her primary and/or secondary sex characteristics.

A hearing in the case, in which Manning is also seeking to be allowed to grow her hair long and use cosmetics, is scheduled for January.

Last week, in a case heralded by the American Civil Liberties Union, the US army “fully recognised” the new names of two transgender veterans from New Jersey. The decision cleared a path for the two, who were named only as Jennifer and Nicolas, to receive veterans’ benefits.

Beginning her piece for the Guardian, Manning quotes Martin Luther King – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice” – and writes: “I am a young trans woman. And I can attest to the ‘long’ part, but I hope the bend toward justice will soon become more pronounced.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/08/chelsea-manning-transgender-secret-us-army

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