Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche


The Strange Death of Clintonism

The chaotic 2016 election claimed casualties but one of the most obvious victims was the dogma known as Clintonism.

To clarify, Clintonism is the belief that Democrats need to promote free-trade, limited government, big business, and low taxes to survive. At its best, Clintonism was a thoughtful response to the political excesses of the Reagan era.

At its worst, Clintonism became a dull Republican lite that drove away voters. Clintonism takes its name from its most prominent advocate; President William Jefferson Clinton (D-Arkansas), who dominated the Democratic Party for a generation.

However, in 2016, Clintonism fell to events and a strange assassin named U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Sanders killed Clintonism by showing that most voters; and nearly all Democrats, want more government and more government benefits.

Why Clintonism died

Clintonism fell for three reasons that were apparent when Hillary R. Clinton (D-New York) became her husband’s standard bearer in 2016.

First, most Democratic voters now reject Clintonism and any efforts to cut the welfare state or water down the platform. In addition, most Democrats prefer left-wing candidates to Clintonists.

The 2019 Emerson Poll; for example, estimates 49% of Democrats preferred left-leaning candidates in the 2020 presidential primary. In detail, 25% of Democrats prefer Sanders, 12% prefer U.S. Senator Liz Warren (D-Massachusetts), 6% prefer Andrew Yang (D-New York), 2% back US Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and 4% want U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

In contrast, t 42% of Democrats back three moderates or Clintonists. Those moderates are U.S. Senator Amy Kobuchar (D-Minnesota) at 2%, former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) at 32%, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Indiana at 8%.

The presence of candidates who cannot decide whether they are moderates or leftists complicates the race. Those individuals include Buttigieg, billionaire Tom Steyer (D-California) and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (?-New York).

Hence, there is still some popular support for Clintonism among voters but it is weak. Notably, the main factor driving Biden’s popularity is nostalgia for former President Barack Obama (D-Illinois) in the black community.  

Clintonism has no Fun or Passion

Second, Clintonism; in common with moderate Republicanism, lacks any sense of passion, energy, or fun.

We are told to vote for Clintonists because they are good for us, not because we want them. For example, Democrats are told to vote for Biden; because he is the only one whom Clintonists think can beat President Donald J. Trump (R-New York). Consequently, they tell us to ignore Biden’s flaws and his lack of any coherent ideology or agenda.

In addition, Clintonists tell us we can only adopt limited measures because they are politically realistic. Sticking with Obamacare, instead of switching to single-payer health insurance, for example.

Problematically, such solutions are rationalistic and not passion based. Hence, Clintonism is closer to Eisenhower Republicanism, than Reaganism. They based the Eisenhower Republicanism of the 1950s and 1960s on compromise and accommodation rather than fighting.

Accommodation and compromise can solve problems but they do not stir passions. In the political battles of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the Eisenhower Republicans fell to passionate foes such as U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona) and President Ronald Reagan (R-California).

Similarly, today’s Clintonists cannot match the fervor of leftists such as Sanders. Sanders, may not be good for the party, but he is fun. Hence, selling Clintonism to Democratic voters resembles telling people to eat broccoli while the opposition is peddling hamburgers and French fries. To clarify, most voters know broccoli is good, but they will reach for the burger instead.

Why Clintonism Will Not Work

Third, many of the Clintonists’ solutions and policies are unrealistic and unsustainable.

A bad underlying notion of Clintonism is that we can cheaply and effectively deliver welfare-state benefits through jobs and private business. Obamcare, for example, rests on the delusion private health insurance can cover every citizen.

In addition, Clintonists want to force private business to provide such benefits as pensions, health insurance, paid parental leave, and a basic income to all citizens. Dramatically, an extreme minority of Clintonists want to force business to provide full employment through a jobs guarantee.

Clintonism is unsustainable

These solutions will fail because business lacks the money to pay for them. Insurance companies, for example, cannot afford to insure the chronically ill.

Such mandates hurt Democrats because they hurt ordinary citizens and drive business to support Republicans. A business, that cannot afford to offer health insurance or paid parental leave to all employees will cut its workforce, for instance.

The Clintonists give businesses a strong incentive to outsource jobs, kill jobs with technology, or use temporary, gig-economy, or contract workers. Hence, Clintonist solutions speed up the gutting of the middle class. One side effect of Clintonism is large numbers of Americans with no pensions and retirement savings, for instance.

A business such as Amazon, could live with single-payer healthcare. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) operates large fulfillment centers in the United Kingdom, the home of the National Health Service. However, the cost of insuring 575,700 employees could drive Jeff Bezos to buy more robots.

A related problem is that the Clintonist; and Republican, aversion to taxes deprives the welfare state of revenue. In fact, the Social Security Administration claims Social Security’s trust fund will run out in 2037. Hence they could start cutting Social Security benefits in 2037.

We Can No Longer Afford Clintonism

Social Security could run out of money because we only tax one kind of income to pay for it salaries. In fact, the IRS only collects the Social Security tax on the first $132,900 of wages. However, most of America’s income comes from investment and technology.

Consequently, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, could pay as little as $10,148 a year in Social Security taxes. Forbes estimates Bezos was worth $111.3 billion on 19 December 2019.

To explain, Bezos makes most of his money from Amazon stock that is exempt from Social Security taxes. If Bezos had to pay the 12.3% Social Security tax on his entire fortune, the IRS could send him a $13.6899 billion tax bill.

What Comes After Clintonism?

I think a post-Clintonist Democratic Party will resemble the modern Republican Party.

To explain, most moderate Republicans accepted the conservative consensus to win votes. For example, the late President George H. W. Bush (R-Texas) went from supporting Planned Parenthood to advocating abortion bans.

Similarly, we could see moderate Democrats; such as Biden and Buttigieg, advocating single-payer health care. Notably, Biden and Buttigieg both advocate adding the “public option” to Obamacare.

To clarify, under a “public option” the government will let all citizens to participate in Medicare; tax-payer supported single-payer healthcare. Currently, the government only allows those over 65 and some disabled people to participate in Medicare.

I think most citizens will chose the public option, which makes it Medicare for All. I believe most Americans will chose Medicare because it could be far cheaper than private insurance. Hence, the public option is a market-based path to Medicare for All.

What Trump tells us about Democrats’ future

I suspect most Clintonists will eventually reconcile to leadership by leftists such as Bernie or Yang.

The Clintonists will fall in line behind Yang or Bernie just as moderate and conservative Republicans support Donald J. Trump (R-New York). Republicans back Trump because he wins. Likewise, Democrats will back a leftist because leftists win while Clintonists lose.

Importantly, Trump defeated the ultimate Clintonist; Hillary, in 2016. Meanwhile, Republicans won with the unorthodox and bombastic Trump.

Clintonism is dead and it will never rise again

Clintonists will face the chose of potential victory with Bernie, or becoming a national joke as the Never-Trump Republicans have. Hence, Clintonism is dead and it will never rise again.

Even if a moderate; such as Biden, wins the Democratic primary. He will win with a watered-down leftist agenda not Clintonism 2.0.