According to some on social media, the election is a contest between neoliberalism on the one hand and the descent into fascism on the other. But this strikes me as wrongheaded for a number of reasons. But for this post, I will mention only one: Many of the underlying assumptions and practices of neoliberalism have been discredited.
So much so that many of the advocates and practitioners of that particular form of governance in the past have become its critics today. Hillary Clinton is one of them. She hasn’t jettisoned that mode of governance entirely, but by the same token she doesn’t embrace now some of its defining features such as fiscal austerity, de-regulated labor and financial markets, tax breaks to the wealthy, downsizing and privatization of the “welfare state,” to name a few.
Moreover the disenchantment with neoliberal policies extends broadly into the Democratic Party, especially its progressive and growing group of elected representatives, many of its caucuses and interest groups, and its multi-racial working class social base. No longer is it the Democratic Party’s incontestable “common sense.”
Finally, the attitudes and actions of millions of people – reflected in the the primary campaign of Bernie Sanders, the scaling up of several mass movements, and innumerable public opinion polls – are another bellwether that suggests neoliberalism is neither the inevitable nor likely political mode of governance on the other side of Election Day, assuming, of course, Hillary and other Democrats down the ticket win.
To say otherwise, I would argue, misses the changing political dynamics of the present moment. It is also an implicit and negative, if unintended, critique of the power and influence of today’s working class and democratic movement. Admittedly, the present day, loosely constructed people’s movement (coalition is probably a better word) doesn’t yet possess the political and practical capacity to fundamentally transform social relations across the board, but it is nonetheless on an entirely different level than it was in the heyday of neoliberlism in the Reagan and (Bill) Clinton years.