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tv   Viewer Call-in with Lily Geismer Left Behind  CSPAN  June 29, 2022 2:15am-2:47am EDT

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right now we're joined by lily geisler. her book is left behind the democrats failed attempt to solve inequality. lily geisler, let's start in the
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present before we go back in the past but a lot of the news today about the democratic party is the establishment versus bernie sanders. does that have a history to it? absolutely. thank you. so and thank you so much for having me and talking to me about the book. i think that one of the things that there's a sense that the sort of came out of nowhere, but they're actually really deep-seated tensions within the democratic party that it really existed. i mean, i would say since the 1970s, but but came into the forefront of the 1980s as the party was really at another kind of crossroads of where to go. so after the defeat of walter mondale in that sharing of the 1984 election there was a sense of sort of three different directions. the party could have gone gone in and one was represented by someone like jesse jackson who would be of a more kind of bernie sanders type alec actually bernie center supported him, but really stood for some of the kinds of kinds of versions of democratic socialism, but i think the
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sanders campaign is represented and then the other side was mont was the mondale approaches the traditional democratic party and the third would be someone like gary hart as this kind of as a more who stood for the ideas of the atari democrats or who become the new democrats really focusing on sort of tech and trade in the new economy as the future for the party and that's really what dominated to help the shape the direction of the party going forward and what really my book looks at before we talk about 1984 though. let's talk about 1974. what happened in 1974 and who got elected then that helped proceed this and i should say when i say 1984. i mean not the george orwell book, but then 1984 but the election but the you know, i'm just giving you a hard time the 1974 was it is actually another critical year and political history and the big and the big the big thing that's from dominated. the the news was watergate and you have this new group of congress of people who come into congress who were come to the
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owners the watergate babies who represent a sea change in the party and one of the things that it's often depicted because they were called the watergate babies that they were against nixon and the republicans, but actually what they wanted was change within the democratic party. they saw the democratic party to be holding to unions to focus on big government and they wanted change and this is representatively people like gary hart tim worth even there's an a whole sort of slew of new of new candidates who come in they're joined later by people like al gore and then the state level like bill clinton, but they really stand for kind of a change in the parties direction and party structure the other big thing that happens in 197 around 1974 is the session and there's a real struggle amongst the within the democratic party of educating new solutions to address these larger problems of of the economy and wanting to find new ways to kind of address the problems of the economy and the who be they become the watergate babies who then be who are then known as the atari democrats because of their their
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love of the tech industry and post industrial growth is a sort of solution to the party problems. so the 1984 election reagan versus mondale reagan wins 49 states. the democratic party was looking to change and how did it change? well one of the key ways it changed and there have been discussion sort of going forward but the 1984 election and this landslide defeat is a sort of wake-up call and a group of democrats come together from a couple of different places one of the group from from congress and another is a group of moderate democratic governors, especially from the south like chuck robb of virginia who sort of see that the party needs to shift its direction and they form what is what they comes to me on the democratic leadership council the dlc. and what did the dlc stand for the dlc was believe? d idea that mark free market
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could was the best means to bring about opportunity for for people? so one of what the things i argue in my book, is that the dlc believed in using sort of private sector means to achieve traditional liberal goals, so they still democrats they still believe in kind of traditional ideas that it's that there's needs to you need to help people create a quality, but they thought they want new means to do that. they also believe that the democratic party had become too beholden to special interest groups, especially to the labor movement. and so they wanted to move both the economy away from a more kind of manufacturing-based economy, which would be a more union oriented economy, but also the democratic party away from it's it's strong focus on these kind of special interests especial interest groups. so really out there, they're electoral strategy was really focused on targeting moderate suburbanites who had been drifting towards the republican party in the last previous election cycle, so finding a way to kind of recapture those those that who they saw as critical voters was bill clinton involved
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in the dlc as governor of arkansas. he was so he was an early member one of the founding members, but he really comes to the forefront as a as a major player in the dlc after 1988. so the other key thing for and for the dlc rights after election and do caucuses yet again historic defeat or his wasn't quite as bad as it wasn't quite as bad as mondale. so we did a little he did better, but there's a sense of soul searching and a sense of really looking that there needs to be something something different and so the dlc comes to tap bill clinton as it's kind of that as someone to both lead it to be it's new. it's new leader and and he takes on this role as a mechanism to kind of launch his own career international office and he's someone who really shares their philosophy and views, but also shapes it in many ways his third way his third way, so this is early he the third way term doesn't really come into being so the late 90s, but there
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that's really what they're thinking is that there needs to be a kind of alternative that can binds kind of using more traditional concert will be considered conservative means to achieve liberal and so that you can kind of find a synthesis and alternative and bill clinton have been testing out a lot of these things especially around issues of economic development. in arkansas in the 1980s, and he he is the the dlc sort of aligns the dlc the other thing about bill clinton that is really critical to the dlc itself. 6 itself success is given his southern and sort of populist demeanor, but he's able to target a lot of different kinds of voters, so he's able to kind of take what was dlc policy and platform but presented in a much more and widely appeal of it widely accessible set of terminologies and that really leads to both his success and their success and welcome to book tv and our coverage of the tucson book festival lily
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geisler is a professor at clairemont mckenna in california, and she is the author of left behind the democrats failed attempt to solve in equality. and this is a call in program. we're talking about the democratic party past present and future. we want to from you especially democrats. get your view on this 202 is the area code 748-8200 for those of you in the east and central time zones 2 0 2 7 4 8 8 2 0 1 if you live in the mountain in pacific time zones, and if you want to send a text message about the democratic party to professor geisler 202, 748-8903. please include your first name and your city if you would some of the things we talked about with the dlc. well, first of what are three? points that the dlc espoused so one was the idea of for less less government so that you that you you can expand opportunity
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not government was one of their their critical taglines that also you could use use market principles and both in terms of kind of growing the economy, but also applying what tools of the market to make government itself more efficient and also a belief in kind of in opportunity for all but also individual responsibility for people people just take certain action. and those become three kind of key guidelines of the d lc say one thing that's also if i don't mean to jump ahead but in your questions, i think another thing of the differences of sort of today versus versus the dlc of the past by dividing was also an early an early member of the dlc and they actually don't they don't they choose not to support him in the 1988 election and support al gore instead for one reason that he wasn't ideological. he was sort of his ideology was a little bit more muddled hard to figure out he was more of a democrat democrat. whereas bill clinton was someone
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who's actually very ideological who believed fundamentally believed in these ideas and a lot of what the dlc was trying to do was actually to shape shape the electoral strategy at the democratic party, but also to shake reshape theology of the party to make it much more focused on those types, so for the very liberal members of the democratic party back, then what we would call progressives today. what was their critique of the dlc? well, they called it and jesse had many choice words. probably captured on c-span. um, but of really being really frustrated, i mean one of them was that there was an old it was a southern voice network because it was primarily white southern men. another critical one is that they're the democrat he called them the democrats of the leisure class and that it was this idea that it was sort of trying to promote more upper middle class and upper class corporate interests and not really standing for what the democratic parties traditional base traditional base and values what there was a fear both that it was trying to marginalize
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labor from having us say, but also also other marginalized groups and a particularly people of color and instead of strategy that of kind of trying to win elections and having policy that focus on extending the face with within marginalized communities. it was much more focused on these efforts to kind of tailor policy towards a more upper middle class suburban voter and the boat was their response to the electoral success that the dlc saw in the 1990s. so this becomes really challenging and i think especially hers of republican of the republican domination it becomes really difficult to challenge the dl the dlc because they have a strategy so many people are critical and especially just someone like jesse jackson, especially after bill clinton as a famous sister soldier moment. they come up publicly critical
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but ultimately end up supporting bill clinton because they really see it as the only chance that it's better to it's better to have the have a democratic office and have a republican like another four years and this becomes a kind of critical bargain in many ways. i think for many more progressive people in the democratic party, and so i think to go back to your initial question about sort of the direction of the party and where it's going this actually ends up sort of obscuring some of these other tensions in the party's direction more towards bill clinton, but that tensions that i think are very much emerging today, but i've been there really since the eighth and i in early 90s now, there's one gentleman that we haven't talked about who was very involved in the democratic leadership council. l from who is al from al from is a fascinating and really impressive figure? who was he he himself was a democratic a congressional staffer who worked his way and throughout the 70s and early 80s
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and various different positions. he was actually particularly posted in the chief of staff of gillis long. who was then the head of the democratic the customer had a caucus and he becomes the leader of the dls of the dlc. it's executive record and the midnight in the mid 80s and it works in hand in hand with bill clinton to kind of craft to craft it the dlc's message. but also the democratic party's message and one thing that's fasting in the dlc and i think he's a very serious of a serious person who believes an ideas who believes and i think one thing about the dlc in their focus on markets and corporate issues is not that they were trying to make a lot of money, but they actually believe fundamentally believe that this was a better way to help people and one thing about the dlc too that they hold a term they come to hold a tremendous amount of power in the late the late 80s and early through the 90s, but it's a very small organization. so it's mostly unlike a kind of big grassroots or even like the
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democratic national committee. it's it's primarily made up of politicians themselves. and so it's it's really only about a couple thousand people but at its height, but they come to hold to really reshape the party and i think the other piece of the dlc's power is that bill clinton in 1982 selects al gore to be his running mate. who's another dl founding dlc member and so that really solidifies this idea of like this is the new direction of the party. so instead of taking the the usual approach of picking a vice president who will represent another wing of the party to try to win over voters. they actually double down on the dlc booklet is a double down the kind of dlc message such to get elected. professor geisberg when you espouse some of their principles it sounds like republicans in a sense. yeah, and that was one thing i actually in my book. so i think often people think of the dlc as just other as republicans light as often what other other democrats called them. i don't think that that's i think there is actually a
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critical difference between the dlc style of democrat and and the republican party. they did not support everything. they did not support reagan. they thought a lot of what reagan was doing was was horrible, especially the way it was. affecting low-income and poor all especially for people of color and wanted to find a different approach and i think really believed that this would be that that focusing on the market and the private sector would be a way to to fundamentally help people in a different and move the country in a different direction. okay. let's go to the present and the title of your book left behind the democrats failed attempt to solve inequality. where'd you come up with the title? and why well the title that title the first part of the title comes from the language actually of bill clinton and many democrats have talked a lot about people who are being left behind. and community for being left behind and the ways that they could use the new economy of
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tech trade and finance to help those people become part of the new economy and make them not left behind. so that's one part of the title. the other part is about leaving the left of the democratic party behind in the effort to kind of win win success and and then the sub go home if we do a full explication of the title is is about the the types of programs that the democratic the democrats on the new democrats espouse and promote before office. and then what cuts implemented in office and it's a huge that i look at all these different types of programs that are there to help poor people using using the market. so so the book looks at things like empowerment zones charter schools mixed income housing to replace public housing closing the digital divide a huge part is on microphone micro enterprise and micro finance the community development banking. so all of these different efforts kind of use some use market oriented means to address
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poverty and equality. the book is left behind the democrats failed attempt to solve inequality. lily geismarck is the author and donald in detroit. you are the first call up for her on book tv. go ahead. we're listening. yes, my name is donna jackson. i'm in michigan, i'm retired so i get the chance to look at c-span all the time my comment is this the democrats will probably lose and we'll never hold office again because of the way the republicans party has structured itself to for the voting right? they don't like the vote then they get to throw them away democrats have a problem that we live in cities and we do not live in in rule areas per se and so the republicans have more legislatures and and office around the country. this is why they're doing all these heinous things to us. and unfortunately, we'll buy
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your book our planet read it, but that's my comment. it's not necessarily a question because i see the right. we'll tell you what we're gonna we're gonna have her we're gonna have her address that now lily geismar is your book at all about what the republican party is. well, i think one of the things is i look at the reaction the democrats reaction, but i think to the caller's great important point. is that one of the things that the democratic leadership council focus on and push the democratic party to focus on was winning was winning national elections and especially presidential winning the presidency and what this did is created a real vacuum at the state and local level, which republicans have really taken advantage of over the last several years. so i think one of the critical things that has happened is the college absolutely right that the republicans have been really effective at the working legislation both of the state and local level. and so i think one of the really critical lessons of that is for the democratic party to do more
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at the state and local level and for people to get out and focus on state and local elections because critical issues of democracy are being are being addressed there. don is calling in from glen burnie, maryland, don, please go ahead. yeah, good evening. yeah, what do you what? opinion on a future of the progressive wing of the party. and what about bernie sanders is uh, do you bernie running again are in the future and why is the age of yes. done. what is your opinion of the progressive wing of the party and do uc bernie sanders running again in the future? future? and would you like that? yes. i'll think it's very viable, you
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know, but i think that the message and i think they just have a bad label it with the all the negativity about socialism and communism. i mean, that's what i think hurts them. but overall, you know, i think it'd be better for the country if it could get some progressive our candidates to run and win, but i definitely thank you don. let's hear from lily geisler now, i think that one of the things that's happened is that because of the kind of new democrat approach and the kind of clinton eras power over the democratic party for so long and both in terms of policy and strategy is it really crowded out progressive voices, but one thing that's happened since i think especially since 2015 but even starting in 2011 with the occupy movement is many many people from from a wide different why different why the different constituencies feeling really fed up with the democrats and saying that you know, there has to be other approaches another answers. i think that's the wing is really has really been resurgent
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in a way that's been really effective. i don't know necessarily if standards will run again, and i think one of the issues is his age, but finding another candidate who can really fill in and not in that way and i think i think i think getting beyond some of the questions of the labeling but actually looking at the policies that there are lots of things that progressive candidates in the united states at the national at the state and the local level of an offering that have been really powerful speaking to a lot of different people but politics is also pragmatic there has to be electoralex success. it's true. it is true. and that's i think that's it. that is a heart. it's a it's a fascinating thing and it's amazing to me. i'm fascinated with that that sanders has done as well if he has because you think he's a he's a he wouldn't have been the first person. i think if you were a political consultant to think would be a really front running of presidential candidate. our third caller is named don. i don't know if you heard that but we had three dumps in a row fallon. tana don, go ahead.
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all right like to have you do book reviews on laptop from hell and red-handed. i think they pertain to the democratic party. don thank you very much book tv has covered both of those books peter schweikert and miranda devine and miranda devine has aired already peter schweikert has not aired yet, but will be airing in the near future. so thank you for that advice. we appreciate it mary astoria, ohio mary you're on with author lily geisler. we're talking about the future of the democratic party. yes very from foster, ohio. i wonder if you could tell me a little bit about. some mary you gotta turn down that tv and just talk in phone. we're listening. thank you. okay, i'll turn it down.
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i mean, okay. so um, i i mentioned that i was a republican so i was probably about 60, but i i learned my parents to observe and to analyze politics and these news that today just want to win. and i wonder if you could come in on that because it's really important that the both parties because of what they can and not try to each other out. and well, i think there are two two parts of that. i mean one is an issue of what happens after you win and paul what policies get passed and we elect our officials so that they will pass policy that are in our interest and i think when you have parties who are only focusing on winning it actually that also leaves many americans behind because you don't have you don't have politicians who are fighting for their for their interests. i think another critical issue has been just the increase in
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polarization and lack of bipartisans cooperation. so actually the 90s are an era where you start to see this increased polarization emerged, but there was more but more bipartisan cooperation in the 90s on on many critical issues and for better or for worse, but i think that that has sort of gone that has really gone away and as affected i think in the focus on winning some of these other kinds of real questions of help. i've actually helping many americans and feel like their voices are being represented in her little geismar one of the things you talk about in your book left behind is that with this market oriented approach to problems some dedicated government funding has gone away and has been picked up by foundations and ngos etc. really key part of what happens i think because of the when you focus on the efforts of the private sector to do the work of government, you are actually giving over the rules and responsibilities of government to those issues.
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so a key place of thinking this is charter schools, which are technically publicly are public, but they're often run by by nonprofits funded by foundation and that actually removes a lot of democratic accountability out that voters voters don't you don't vote in the gate foundation to to do the work of government and you don't have a say in what you can't hold them accountable and say i don't agree with that because you don't even like them and so it takes away that that really powerful voice that that citizens and voters have and i think also it leaves away some of that transparency because a lot of those decisions are happening even behind further closed doors than what's going on on capitol hill. robert and stockton, california. good afternoon, robert. hello. i called because for many years until i was about 60. i was a democrat. and the last 10 years or so before trump, i was kind of
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indifferent but personally, i think the democratic party has switched completely and has become a party controlled by the elites. and have offered no one with really any. talent, i mean if you look at joe biden and the vice president my god what do you think of the people that the democratic party is offering to run our country? well, i think i i think to. actually, robert's point is more to your sense of frustration with the party is a lot of the shift away from kind of more more focusing on post-industrial growth who that helps is actually many people who we've consider elites that it's helped. it's helped many corporations gain make money and made many many voters and many people who want. we're long to any democratic voters feel much more alienated
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from the party. so i think about it less in terms of the actual politicians then in terms of the policies that have been that have been put in place that have made many people feel just that the party's not really speaking for their interests. bob fort lauderdale, hi um, it's good afternoon. yeah. i'm a lifelong democrat the first election i voted and was 1972 voted for a shirley shows them in the primary and then i voted from the governor in the general election some kind of on the left side of the party. how do we get to the point where we do solve the inequality issue? it's my question. thank you. okay. thank you, sir. thank you, and and you are post voted even before the watergate baby. so you have a longstanding longstandard party. um the i think that one of the the really i think they're a lot there are important ways. these are policy often times policy problems and their policy solutions. i think many of them have to do with kind of restructuring and
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recommitting to a social the social welfare state and and restore the social safety net so that people don't don't feel constantly vulnerable and insecure and have a sense of real equality. i think there are ways of doing more government regulation of corporations that there's not the inequity in pay where you have ceos making a large amount of money in their workers not even having having to work several jobs even to just stay afloat. finally. i think another really important way is to go to pull through the power of the labor movement and that's one thing that there's been this this kind of alienation and and marginalization of labor's voice and power by the democrats in the three more broadly and they the labor movement really fights were working people and to get help for gain living wages benefits securities first workers. i think making labor more central is a way to address fundamental problems of inequality professor. geismer. what's the clinton's reputation in the democratic party today? well, i think it's an
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interesting they no longer have the same. i think the fact that bill clinton was not a marquis speaker at the 2020 convention is is a sign of the party moving in a shift as shift in a different direction in some capacity or leaving behind leaving maybe leaving them slightly behind but i think that they're policies have still had a stay and a sway and i i think also that the the particular as as came up that democratician went elections and each be pragmatic and the particular clinton approach has is one that is quite pragmatic to winning elections. so i think oftentimes especially in this moment right now of fear of the democrats moving the losing the midterms that there's a there is a real potential that they'll go back to the democratic that clinton playbook. the only guy smur is the author of left behind the democrats failed attempt to solve inequality. she's been our guest on booke ts
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