Why Progressives Don’t Need Wall Street Millionaires

Despite calls to move to the center and focus on bipartisanship, since the 2016 election the Democratic party is finally beginning to realize that it can no longer compromise on its values for Wall Street cash. Even setting aside the simple fact that progressive platforms like raising the minimum wage are good policy, it’s clear that relying on Wall Street money and ignoring the energy in the progressive wing of the party is bad politics.

But there are many with a stake in the status quo who continue to defend it. So, the recent New York Times op-ed calling for a return to center-left policies friendly to Wall Street is not surprising. What is surprising, though, is that its author Mr. Schoen was apparently able to write this piece with a straight face. The idea that the problem with the Democratic party is that it’s not beholden enough to banking interests is simply absurd.  The great American fortunes that made people of my generation rich were built not by financial engineering, but by selling products to millions of Americans who were making enough money to afford to buy them.

In particular, the line “Democrats should keep ties with Wall Street” because of the tens of millions of political donations is especially morally repugnant. True supporters of democracy do not let campaign dollars conflict with pursuing policies that serve people.

How does Mr. Schoen, for instance, propose to “lift the 76 million Americans who are barely surviving financially” out of poverty if he is vehemently against raising the minimum wage?

He complains about rhetoric, but has not actually identified specific policies from the left which are bad. In fact, the only fleshed out complaint throughout the long winded article is that Dems need to be nicer to corporations, and in turn ignore the cries of consumers. We will not.

The author conflates being being anti-corruption and pro-consumer protections as being anti-business. That distinction says more about how the writer views Wall Street than about how progressives view their commitment to the American people. In reality if you look at America, the places where businesses are going, the places where innovation is happening, the places where jobs are appearing are exactly those places (like New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area) that have the most progressive policies, and the most public services.  Making places great places to live by providing services and amenities are the real business-friendly policies.

Mr. Schoen repeatedly calls attention to the Clinton days, and suggests that President Clinton was successful as both a friend of Wall Street and of consumers. He lambasts progressives who are becoming the face of the Democratic party, in particular naming Senator Sanders. It makes one wonder if this is not merely a rebuke of anti-corporate footholds on the left but a sour grapes tantrum against the party who is leaving his old boss’s views behind.

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