No major struggle in politics is purely personal. Behind every conflict of personalities there lies an ideological divide. So it was in the Democratic presidential primaries of 2008 where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the major contenders. Hillary Clinton was the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) candidate–a politician who, like her husband before her, moved the party in highly conservative directions but was still recognizably a Democrat. As pro-corporate as she and her husband were, they both kept at least a shred of the old Democratic faith in politics as a tool of societal improvement. Barack Obama has turned out to be something else, a Kabuki Democrat, a neocon disguised as a Democrat, who talked the Democratic talk but really worked for the other team.
All this is an old story. What has become clear in the last year or two, however, is that the DLC Democrats, and indeed all national Democrats, have lost their separate identity and become entirely Kabuki-ized. To ascertain this, consider Bill Clinton’s support of the Bush tax extensions (even going so far as to conduct a joint press conference with the president on the matter) or Hillary’s acquiescence to the president’s deprivations of civil liberties and hideous drone warfare campaign. Consider the lack of meaningful opposition by Democrats (including so-called progressives) in Congress to any aspects of the president’s agenda, and the strong-arm efforts of the party to make sure there are no presidential primary opponents.
It is now clear that the truce reached between Hillary Clinton and Obama at the end of the 2008 primary season was in fact a surrender pact. HRC gave up any adherence to a DLC viewpoint and carried her major supporters with her. In exchange, Obama gave Hillary and Bill Clinton a modicum of personal power and influence within his administration.
There was very much in the DLC for traditional and progressive Democrats to dislike. What we have now, however, is NOT the DLC. It is, under the president’s leadership, something entirely more corporatist and sinister. And the entire party is behind it.