Thursday, October 18, 2007

Government By Triangulation

Hillary Clinton is not only drawing contributions from business as a whole, she's also the candidate who is getting the most cash from the defense industry.
An examination of contributions of $500 or more, using the Huffington Post's Fundrace website, shows that employees of the top five arms makers - Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics -- gave Democratic presidential candidates $103,900, with only $86,800 going to Republicans. Senator Clinton took in $52,600, more than half of the total going to all Democrats, and a figure equaling 60 percent of the sum going to the entire GOP field. Her closest competitor for defense industry money is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R.), who raised $32,000.
This is both a huge problem and an opportunity for people on the left like myself. If she's elected with corporate support, Hillary Clinton would be eager to solidify that support. And with good reason. As anybody who reads the literature on the power elite like William Domhoff's Who Rules America knows, the corporate sector is by far the most powerful and influential part of American society. Democratic administrations are in a particularly complex situation in relation to big business. Where the Republicans basically want to give business everything they could possibly desire, the Democrats have to weigh the interests of business against core Democratic constituencies like white liberal reformers, environmentalists, labor, feminists, and African-Americans. Business hostility can destroy a Democratic administration and contributed greatly to the failure of the Carter presidency. But the Democrats can't be successful without the enthusiastic support of core liberal constituencies either and they were reminded of that by the Nader candidacy in 2000.

The inevitable outcome for a Hillary Clinton administration would be a triangulation between business, liberal constituencies, and Democratic political interests. But the situation has changed since Bill Clinton's administration. During the Bill Clinton years, the right-wing was ascendant, business was extremely aggressive, and liberal reformers were on the defensive about social issues and driven away from the table in relation to the economy. In 2008, the right is going to be more of a a nuisance picking away at the Democratic administration than an influence.

At the same time, business is going to be somewhat chastened. The Bush administration and the Republican Congress gave business everything they wanted but expected that business would become a subsidiary of the Republican Party in return. The corporate elite didn't appreciate that. Eight years of right-wing government might also have convinced business that they respect the right even less than they like the labor, the left, and social reformers.

In this light, I believe that both a Hillary Clinton administration and the corporate sector will be disposed to compromise with liberal politicians and their activist constituencies. In fact, figuring out those compromises will be much of the work of the next Democratic administration.

1 comment:

Todd Mayo said...

That has been one her selling points all along. She can, and is willing to bring everyone to the table. She won't have to compromise on issues related to working families and the corporate sector is willing to gamble on compromising with the left rather than be subservient to the mafia-like right-wing fringe who control the Republican party. It is a "non-zero-sum" game. In game theory you know, a zero-sum game is one where, in order for one person to win, somebody else has to lose. A "non-zero-sum" game is a game in which you can win and the person you're playing with can win, as well. Hillary and a Democratic Congress can do this.

A win for labor doesn't mean loss for business. Quite the opposite in fact. A growing middle class here at home means markets for business. Universal Health Coverage is a win for all of us including business. Under Hillary's plan, premiums go down, costs for employers and employees lowers, and in some cases a public plan modeled on Medicare will pick up the slack that the private market has always neglected. So lower costs for health care is also a "non-zero-sum" issue.

And so it goes for a great many issues. That has always been the point. The Democratic party IS the "party of the people." But we've never been anti-business. As I've said before we are pro-responsible-business. When workers and consumers are treated well, paid well, and the "wal-mart" mentality does not prevail, everyone prospers.

And The United States has had particular responsibilities to people not only within our borders who have been left behind, but beyond our borders who otherwise will never catch up if we don't do our part. I think Hillary recognizes this as well. We are all part of the same human family the more that we have a world-view of life as a "non-zero-sum" game, the better they do, the better we'll do.

And I think that the measure of success is not so much whether you won at somebody else's expense, but whether you got what you wanted because you enabled other people to achieve their dreams and to do what they want.

And I think that Hillary recognizes that we are moving toward a world where more and more, we will find our own victories in the victories of others, because our interdependence forces us to seek "non-zero-sum" solutions in dealing with social and economic inequities. At home and around the world.

That is how we tackle global poverty and inequality. I think that business will become more receptive to the fact that observing workers' rights is good for growth and that protecting workers' rights contributes to economic development.

I really think business leaders are more receptive after being bullied by the right-wing for so long, to this way of thinking and I think Hillary is best-suited to make it all come together since as has been pointed out, she is supported by both Labor and Businnes.

Hillary is win-win for America.