Robert Kuttner is the cofounder and coeditor of The American Prospect. Find his original blogpost here on his website.
I’m traveling in Europe. And despite the fact that neoliberal governments caused the financial collapse and the economic fallout and political backlash, one looks in vain for a left-wing government. Mostly, the protest goes far-right.
The reason is that the “center-left” governments of the 1990s bought into the hyper-globalism of that era. So when it crashed, their fingerprints were all over the collapse.
Angry citizens looking for a global opposition party to the Party of Davos could not find it on the moderate left. There are just four countries in Europe today with leftish prime ministers: Sweden, Portugal, Greece, and Iceland. Each is either hobbled by weak coalition governments or by the austerity policies of the European Union.
By comparison, I’m kind of an optimist about the United States. When Trump falls—and he will fall—we are likely to see a progressive government follow, and a hopelessly fragmented right.
The energy today is not just with the Democratic Party, but with the progressive wing of the party. If a Democrat does manage to get elected in 2020, he or she will not be another neoliberal centrist, but a progressive in the spirit of FDR, updated for this century.
What would that mean? Well, full employment at good pay, universal health care, massive investment in modern infrastructure and green transition, empowerment of workers, and serious regulation of Wall Street, for starters.
Roosevelt seemed pretty radical in 1933, and he was. We need that sort of radicalism again.
Our friends over at the Campaign for America’s Future are circulating a pretty fine manifesto that spells out the details. This kind of politics and government becomes thinkable only if enough people think about it and act on it.