Episode

5/9 The Ideology That Led The Dems Astray, & Where It Stands Now w/ Lily Geismer

May 9, 2022

Sam and Emma host Lily Geismer, professor of history at Claremont McKenna College, to discuss her recent book Left Behind: The Democrats’ Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality. on the shift from New Deal democratic ideology, to the neoliberal tactic of entrusting social development in private enterprise in a pivot to the white suburbanite. Professor Geismer first discusses the ascendancy of this Democratic ideology, situating us in the late 80s with the rise of the MIke Dukakises, Tony Coelhoes, and Bill Clintons, embracing tech, trade, and finance as the solution to economic growth, from the Route 128 in Mass to Coelho’s focus on raising corporate money, and the inspiration Governor Clinton (during his Arkansas years) took from these policies. Next, she, Emma, and Sam walk through how this sector of the Democratic party came to be, as in the wake of the 1960s the Democrats found themselves on the defensive, with all of their policy coming as a reaction to the shifting GOP, and a new guard of “Watergate Babies” coming in and opposition traditional Democrats and fueling mistrust of government, asking for a shift away from the special interest groups of the labor movement and focusing on middle-class white suburbanites. Next, Professor Geismer looks to the shift that these Democrats took from focusing on “fairness” to promoting “opportunity” in a major move away from redistributive politics and towards promoting (supposedly) meritocratic capitalism, and dives deeper into what Bill Clinton’s Arkansas looked like, from his attempted emulation of Silicon Valley to bringing in ShoreBank and other early microeconomic financiers, cutting social security in preference for privatized loans to certain poor folks. Looking to the Democratic primaries of the 1980s, they then dive into why this emerging neoliberal wing was able to win over the future of the Democratic party, coming to climax with Bill Clinton’s market-driven pseudo-populism, and leading to three decades demonstrating exactly why this ideology cannot function. After briefly touching on the differences between the “Watergate Baby” form of neoliberalism and Milton Friedman’s form of neoliberalism, Emma, Sam, and Prof. Geismer wrap up with a discussion on whether or not we are seeing the end of this era, and what the world we are moving towards might look like. Sam and Emma also discuss the protests in the wake of the Roe v. Wade leak and the State’s unsurprisingly demeaning reaction, continued Russian war crimes, and US weapons sales to Ukraine.

And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma cover Governor Tate and Jack Tapper’s really lovely conversation on the criminalization of doctors performing potentially life-saving surgeries on women, Governor Asa Hutchinson dives into why he really hopes that the state he is at the lead of passes exemptions for rape and incest in their abortion ban, and (supposed) FDNY members remind women protesters that their bodies are now his. Chris from the 718 calls in on the election in the Philippines, Ronald Raygun explores why it’s a waste of time to give time to people who criticize how you spend your time, and how Sam and Emma could do it better. Steve Schmidt uses Mother’s Day to write myriad threads on Megan McCain, why her mother hates her, and why her father was a Russian asset, and then A Squared calls in to explore the climax of the Conservative Justice’s life projects of undoing Roe v. Wade. Plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Lily’s book here: https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/lily-geismer/left-behind/9781541757004/
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