Why did that first hint of Third-Wayism leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth? (Or were you one of the open-minded who thought "I'm sure there's a better way than being a progressive"?)
Remember the glib remonstrances? "Noooo . . . we didn't mean abandon all progressive hope!"
It's more than the fact that it really appeals to multi-millionaires who have a lot of moolah to throw at its self-serving ventures.
It's because you need to give up ideas like consumerism, union protections and good jobs with benefits in order to help them (and everyone) benefit from it.
And it will make a few people very wealthy!
So the Dims like Rahm Emanuel, Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley and Corey Booker (not to mention most of the Republican self-designated libertarians) are hot to trot UBER, Lyft and Airbnb.
But I still can't help wondering why people seem so impressed by what was undoubtedly first thought up by far-sighted 14-year-olds. I thought of this myself back in the 70's when people kept asking me and my systems kin why anyone would want to be connected by computers. (Duh, we all said.)
Sure, it'd be nice to have the Democratic Party sincerely reassert its ties to the poor and downtrodden (those without decent jobs and benefits in this "new" economy brought to the many by the knowing, connected few) instead of to the next multimillionaire "let's all enrich me while we share jobs without benefits" candidate, but how likely is that?
This is one very illustrative reason that people like myself say we need to rebuild the party from the ground up locally to rid it of the NeoLib termites. (The last question by Captain Haddock in the comments at the bottom is one that has occurred to me in every state I've lived in for years.)
From Lawyers, Guns & Money:
The world is changing, and the government can play an important role. Protecting citizens from fraud and abuse. Holding businesses accountable for the way they treat customers and keep them safe. Maintaining the integrity of the systems we all depend on. This is where government needs to step up.
But if it gets in the way of progress, growth and new development – we’ve failed.
This interventionism, this activism, is crucial for Third Wayism to work – you have to convince people who identify as on the left that what you’re doing is not a betrayal of their old ideological commitments, but an extension of them to meet new challenges that somehow, never quite explicitly stated, mean that social democracy has to be abandoned.Not a surprise, for people who’ve been following Gavin Newsom’s career, or who’ve forced themselves to read his book Citizenville. As one of those Democratic Party activists with the fancy badges, I’ve actually gotten the chance to meet Gavin Newsom.
Look at the way that a kind of attenuated populism is threaded throughout that paragraph, the way that tropes of regulation and fighting against bad corporations are used to circumscribe the state. At the same time, there’s a tension there between the desire for post-industrial capitalism with a human face and the needs of post-industrial capitalism: government is allowed to regulate against fraud and abuse, to ensure good customer service, but not if it gets in the way of growth and innovation.
And from what source cometh this reimagining of parasitical middlemen apps that avoid taxes and bust unions as the savior of the working class?
It will take creativity. It will require open minds. But I know we can do this. There are big things on the horizon! Time to get ready.
- Gavin [Newsom]
In person, he comes off as a Lego Minifig, perfectly turned out in a slightly unreal way (and very good at charming the exact kind of idealistic but not policy-savvy youth that put so much energy into getting Obama elected in 2008) but nothing behind the eyes.
However, this Lego Minifig is the Lieutenant Governor of California, and when Jerry Brown retires, he’s going to run for Governor of California, and President thereafter if he can get his foot in the door.
And he is full on-board with the “Uberization” of the Democratic Party – unlike other bête noirs of the left, he’s not in it for the grift, since he’s got plenty of his own money. He genuinely believes that the Democratic Party should become the champions of the so-called “disruptive” technologies of Silicon Valley, and that this will lead to the best of all worlds.
This is why I think it’s important for progressives to get active in the Democratic Party if they aren’t already. Because the fights over whether Gavin Newsom or Kamala Harris becomes the next Governor of California, or over whether Rahm Emmanuel or Andrew Cuomo or Martin O’Malley or Corey Booker get anywhere in national Democratic politics, and most importantly of all, the fights over who becomes a state senator or assembly member or city councilmember and gets to start climbing the ladder – these fights take place inside the Democratic Party.
Often they take place in environments in which well-organized activists can have an outside impact on the process (see the caucus states in 2008, or the Tea Party).
And only progressives can make these fights about more than just which candidates win, but whether we want to live in a world in which Uber and its ilk disrupt full-time employment, a living wage, and economic security, or in a world in which all workers have those things by right.
Lee Rudolph says: August 14, 2014
he’s not in it for the grift, since he’s got plenty of his own moneyI know nothing about him personally, but I really do not think the recent course of the world suggests that having plenty of money is any guarantee whatsoever of not wanting more or — more particularly — of being unwilling or unable to bring oneself to grift for it.
JustRuss says: August 14, 2014
Assuming by “grift” we’re talking speaking fees and book deals, those are small potatoes to people with real money. But Newsom’s only worth about $10 million, I wouldn’t put that above the grift line.
TribalistMeathead says: August 14, 2014
I’m having trouble find it, but I’m assuming you’ve seen the GIF collage of Gavin Newsom pictures where he has the exact same smile in every single one.
Steven Attewell says: August 14, 2014
I haven’t seen it, but given that I already did the Lego thing, I didn’t want to overload the pop culture references with a nod to the Smiler.
Hob says: August 14, 2014
I’ve met him in person too(*) and the Lego thing is hilariously appropriate even though he’s pretty tall. I have no idea what he’s still doing in politics, I don’t think he likes being in office – or, he does seem to like campaigning and making appearances, but he definitely did not like being mayor of SF and being called on to do mayorful things.
The times when you could see him really come to life were when he was addressing audiences of corporate volunteers at the Project Homeless Connect events — he clearly enjoyed organizing those and putting on a baseball cap and giving pep talks and doing simple tasks, and there was some good work being done there in this quasi-privatized setting, even if his overall policy toward homelessness was totally incoherent and he was cutting necessary services at the same time.
(* as part of a union delegation whose complaints he listened to in serious silence, nodding at apparently random intervals, until he summed up what he’d heard as “You’re all doing really important work”, promised to take it all very seriously, and then didn’t. I’m sure he meant it during the few seconds he was saying it, but this was also during his heavy alcoholic period and you could practically see his brain channel-surfing.)
Gregor Sansa says: August 14, 2014 at 10:41 am
. . . Uber specifically seems to be run by pschopaths. Lyft has evidence that Uber employees have been booking and ditching Lyft rides, and that it goes pretty far up. Also, lying to people who drive for both, to pressure them to stop working for Lyft. And when confronted, Uber used the “you just want us to buy you” defense.
Steve LaBonne says: August 14, 2014
I’d call it the Appleization of the Democratic Party. It’s been a huge problem for quite a while now.
Murc says: August 14, 2014
I frankly am baffled by the fetishization of the whole sharing-economy thing.
It’s not new, or even particularly innovative. People are using improved communications technology to match a good they want to sell to buyers. That’s been a business model for literally thousands of years.
sparks says: August 14, 2014
The idea that “disruptive technology” is anything new or invariably good is also rather precious.
JL says: August 14, 2014
I am baffled by both the fetishization and the vehement condemnation. Put in some reasonable regulation and the big difference between a taxi and Uber is that for the latter you hail it using an app.
Captain Haddock says: August 14, 2014
Steven, out of curiosity, how did you manage to get so involved in the first place? Most local parties I’ve seen are very transparent about getting people to volunteer for phone banking, canvassing, etc., but any other kind of involvement is a bit obscure.
So, as I feared, it was another reality of which we knew not.
The wonderful Marc Maron on the sublime insights of Robin Williams:
Today, in honor of Williams, Maron has reissued the special episode with an introduction that remembers Williams and the conversation that changed Maron’s life. Maron, though clearly shaken and emotional, so wonderfully articulates the sense of loss the world feels right now.
The Most Wanted Man in the World
One Nation Under SWAT