tv Viewer Call-in with Lily Geismer Left Behind CSPAN June 29, 2022 7:30am-8:02am EDT
america, voting rights and gun regulation. the author of several books including white rage, one person know vote and most recently the second, race and guns in a fatally unequal america about the history and impact of the second amendment, join in the conversation with your phone calls, facebook comments, texts and sweets, "in depth" sunday with carol anderson live at noon eastern on booktv on c-span2. c-span now is a free mobile apps featuring your unfiltered view of what is going on in washington live and on demand, keep up with the day's biggest events with live streams of floor proceedings and hearings from the u.s. congress, white house events, the courts, campaigns, and more all at your fingertips and stay current with the latest episodes of washington journal and find scheduling information
for c-span tv networks and c-span radio plus compelling podcasts. c-span now is available at the apple store and google play, download it for free today, c-span now, your front row seat to washington anytime anywhere. >> we are joined by lily geismer, her book, "left behind: the democrats' failed attempt to solve inequality". let's start in the present before we go back in the past. a lot of the news today about the democratic party is the establishment versus bernie sanders. does that have a history to it? >> thank you for having me in talking to me about this book. the sense that this came out of nowhere but there are deep-seated tensions in the democratic party. i would say since the 1970s but as the party was at another
crossroads where to go after the defeat of walter mondale in that primary in the 1984 election there was a sense of directions the party could have gone in. one was represented by jesse jackson who was a more bernie sanders type, bernie sanders supported him, the kinds of versions of democratic socialism the sanders campaign represented. the other side was the mondale approach and the third would be someone like gary hart, a more, for the ideas of our tarry democrats, the new democrats and that is what dominated the direction of the party going forward and what my book looks at. >> host: let's talk about 1974. what happened in 1974 and who
got elected that helped precede this. >> guest: not the george orwell book but the election. just give you giving you a hard time. 1974 was another critical year in political history and the big thing that dominated the news was watergate and this new group of congresspeople who came into congress, the watergate babies who represent a seachange in the party and one of the things that is often depicted because they were called watergate babies because they were against nixon and the republicans but wanted to change the credit party, to focus on big government and want change and this is represented by people like gary hart and even a slew of new candidates who come in joined by our gore and at the state level bill clinton but they stand for a change in the
party's direction and structure. the other big thing happens around 1974, the economic recession and there's a real struggle among the democratic party, new solutions to address larger problems of the economy and new ways to address the problems of the economy and they become of the watergate babies and because of their love of the tech industry and post industrial groove and solution to the party problems. >> host: the 1984 election reagan versus mondale reagan wins 49 states, the democratic party was looking to change. how did it change? >> guest: one way it changed, 1984 election, the landslide defeat was a wake-up call and group of democrats come together from a couple places, one is a group from congress, another is a group of moderate
democratic governors especially from the south, chuck rob of virginia who sees the party needs to shift direction and form the democratic leadership council, the dlc. >> guest: >> host: what did the dlc stand for? >> guest: they believed in the idea that free markets, market oriented approach was the best means to bring about opportunity for people so one of the things i argue in my book is that the dlc believed in using the private sector means to achieve traditional liberal goals but are still democrats who believe in traditional ideas, that you need to help people and create equality but want new means to do that. they also believe the democratic party is too beholden to special interest groups especially the labor movement and wanted to move the
economy away, a manufacturing-based economy, more union oriented economy but also democratic party away from a strong focus on special interests groups. the strategy was focused on targeting moderate suburbanites drifting toward the republican party in the last few election cycles and to recapture those voters. >> host: was bill clinton involved? >> guest: he was one of the founding members. he really comes to the forefront as a major player in the dlc after 1988. the other key thing for the dlc after the 1988 election and caucuses yet again, wasn't quite as bad as mondale but he did better but there's a sense of soul-searching and looking that there needs to be something different and so the
dlc comes to tap bill clinton as someone to both lead it, be its new leader and he takes on this role as a mechanism to launch his own career and he shares their philosophy and shapes and in many ways. this is early, the third wave term doesn't come in in the late ninetiess with that is what they are thinking, there needs to be an alternative a combines using more traditional what we consider conservative means to achieve liberal ends. you find a synthesis in alternatives, he's checking out a lot of these things, economic development in arkansas in the 1980s and the dlc, he aligns the dlc. the other thing about bill clinton that is really critical to the dlc, given his southern
sort of populist demeanor, he is able to target a lot of different voters. he is able to take dlc policy and platform and present it in a much more appeal, accessible set of terminologies, his success and their success. >> host: welcome to our coverage of the book festival. lily geismer is a professor in california and author of "left behind: the democrats' failed attempt to solve inequality". this is a call in program. we are talking about the democratic party past, present and future. we want to hear from you, especially democrats, to get your view on this, 202 is the area code, 748-eighty two hundred. for those in the east and central time zones, 202-740-8201 in the mountain and pacific time zones and if you want to send a text message
about the democratic party to lily geismer, 202-seven forty eight-eighty nine zero three. please include your first name and your city if you would. some of the things we talked about with the dlc, what are three points that the dlc espoused? >> guest: one was the idea of more, less government, that you could expand opportunity without government, one of the taglines. and use market principles in terms of growing the economy and applying the tools of the market to make government itself more efficient and a belief in opportunity for all and individual accessibility to take action and responsibility. those are the three key tag lines of the dlc and i would say one thing, don't mean to jump ahead but another thing is
the difference of today versus the dlc of the past. president biden was an early member of the dlc and they choose not to support him in the 1980 election and al gore instead for the reason he was not ideological enough. this ideology was a little bit more muddled, hard to figure out, he was more of a democrat democrat where bill clinton was very ideological, believed in these ideas and what they were trying to do was shape the electoral strategy of the democratic party and the ideology of the party, make it more focused on those things. >> host: for liberal members of the democratic party, what we would call progressive today, what was their critique of the dlc? >> guest: jesse jackson had many choice words probably captured on c-span, really
being frustrated. one of them was the southern boys network, primarily white southern men. another, the democrats, the leisure class, this idea that it was trying to promote more upper middle-class and upper-class corporate interests and not standing for what the democratic party's traditional base was. there was a fear that it was trying to marginalize labor from having a say but also other marginalized groups and people of color and instead of a strategy of trying to win elections and having policies that still focus on expanding the base within marginalized more focused on tailored policy and upper middle-class suburban voters. >> host: what was their response to the electoral success the dlc saw?
>> this is challenging especially in 1992 when bill clinton runs, after having 12 years of republican domination it becomes difficult to challenge the dlc because they have a strategy. many people are critical, especially someone like jesse jackson after bill clinton -- publicly critical that ultimately end up supporting bill clinton because it is the only chance, better to have a democrat in office than a republican, it becomes a critical bargain in many ways for many progressive people in the democratic party so to go to your initial question about the direction of the party and where it is going the ends up by skewering other tensions
toward bill clinton, tensions that are very much emerging today but have been there since the 90s. >> host: there is one gentleman involved in the democratic leadership council. who is out from? >> guest: a fascinating and impressive figure. he himself was a democratic congressional staffer who worked his way through the 70s and 80s, the chief of staff who was the head of the democratic caucus and he becomes the leader of the dlc in the mid 80s and works hand-in-hand with bill clinton to craft the dlc's method but the democratic party's message. something fascinating about the dlc, a very serious person who believes in ideas. one thing about their focus on
markets and corporate issues is not that they were trying to make a lot of money but fundamentally believed it was a way to help people and one thing about the dlc, they hold tremendous power in the late 80s and early 90s, very small organization mostly, unlike a big grassroots like the democratic national committee, primarily made up of politicians themselves so it is only a couple thousand people but at its height they come to hold, reshape the party and the other piece of the dlc's power is bill clinton in 1982 selects al gore to be his running mate and that solidifies the idea this is the new direction of the party. instead of thinking the usual approach of a vice president who will represent another wing
of the party to win over voters they double down on the dlc's message to get elected. >> host: when it sounds like you espouse the principles, that sounds republican. >> guest: democrats called them republican like, there's a critical difference between the dlc style of democrat and the republican party. they did not support reagan. they thought what he was doing was horrible especially the way he was affecting low-income and poor people especially poor people of color and wanted a different approach and believed focusing on the market and private sector would be a way to help people into move the country in a different
direction. >> host: let's go to the present, the title of your book, "left behind: the democrats' failed attempt to solve inequality". where did you come up with the title and why? >> guest: the first part of the title comes from the language of bill clinton, democrats talked a lot about people being left behind, communities being left behind and ways they could use the new economy of tech to create and finance and help those people become part of the new economy and make them not left behind, that is one part of the title. the other part is about leaving the left of the democratic party behind to win success and the subtitle is about the types of programs, before office and
implemented -- i look at all these programs. things like empowerment zones, charter schools, housing, public housing, and micro-finance. market oriented means to address poverty and inequality. >> host: the book is "left behind: the democrats' failed attempt to solve inequality," lily geismer is the author. donald in detroit, the first caller on booktv. >> caller: i'm in detroit, michigan. i'm retired. i look at c-span all the time. the democrats will probably lose and will never hold office again because of the way
republican party has structured itself for the voting rights, if they don't like the vote they throw them away. democrats have a problem that we live in cities and we do not live in rural areas per se. and around the country, people doing all these heinous things to us. i plan to read your book. it is not necessarily a question. >> host: i will have her address that. lily geismer, is your book at all about what the republican party is today? >> guest: one of the things, i look at the reaction, democrats reaction but the collar's important point is one of the things democratic leadership has to focus on and push the democratic party to focus on is
winning national elections especially winning the presidency and what this did is create a vacuum at the state and local level. the caller is absolutely right republicans have been affected at working legislation so one of the critical lessons of that is for the democratic party to do more at the state and local level and people to focus on local elections and issues of democracy are being addressed. >> host: don is calling from glen bernie, maryland. >> caller: what is your take on the future of the progressive wing of the democratic party and what about bernie sanders? do you see bernie running again in the future?
and why -- yes? >> host: what is your view of the progressive wing of the party and do you see bernie sanders running again in the future? >> guest: i would definitely -- my opinion about the progressive movement, very viable but the messaging, they have a bad label, socialism and communism, that her to them but overall, better for the country if they could get some progressive candidates to run and when. >> host: let's hear from lily geismer. >> guest: one of the things that happened is the democrat
approach and clinton era's power over the democratic party for so long in terms of policy and strategy is it crowded out progressive voices, and the occupy movement. and there have to be other -- hasn't been resurgent. don't know if sanders will run again. finding another candidate who will fill in in that way and getting beyond the questions of labeling, policies, lots of things progressive candidates at the national, state, and local level, powerful to do that. >> host: politics is pragmatic. there has to be a left oral success.
>> guest: it is a fascinating thing, fascinated with that that sanders has done as well as he has. wouldn't have been the first person, and front running democrats. >> host: our third caller was don. we had three dons in a row. go ahead. >> caller: i want your views on laptop from hell and red-handed. they pertain to the democrat party. >> host: thank you very much. booktv has covered both of those books, peter schweikert and maranda devine, miranda devine has aired already, peter schweikert has not aired yet so they will be airing in the near future.
we appreciate it. mary, astoria, ohio. you are on with author lily geismer about the future of the democratic party. >> caller: tell me a little bit -- >> host: you got to turn down the tv and talk in your phone. >> caller: i will turn it down. a republican, 60, i learned to analyze politics. seems to be today people just want to win. i wonder if you could comment on that. what they can.
>> host: there are two parts of that. what is an issue what happens after you win is what policies get fact. elect officials to pass policies, and leaves many americans behind because you don't have politicians fighting for their interest and the increase in polarization of lack of bipartisan cooperation. the 90s are an era where you see this increased polarization emerge so there was more bipartisan cooperation in the 90s on many critical issues and better or worse, that has gone away and the focus on winning these other questions of helping many americans to feel their voices are being represented.
>> host: one of the things you talk about your book "left behind: the democrats' failed attempt to solve inequality" is with this market oriented approach to problems, some dedicated government funding has gone away and been picked up by foundations and ngos etc. . >> guest: that is a key part when you focus on the efforts of private sector to do the work of government you are giving over the roles and response abilities of government so a key place is charter schools that are publicly public but often run by nonprofits funded by foundations and that removes democratic accountability, you don't vote in the foundation. you don't hold them accountable or agree with that. takes away the powerful voice
but voters have and transparency. because a lot of those decisions are happening behind closed doors and what is going on on capitol hill. >> host: robert in stockton, california. >> guest: i was a democrat and the last 10 years or so, before trump i was kind of indifferent. but personally i think the democratic party has switched completely and has become a party controlled by the elites and have offered no one with any talent. if you look at joe biden and the vice president, my god, what do you think of for people the democratic party is offering to run our country?
>> guest: to robert's point, more your sense of frustration with the party, a lot of the shift away, focusing on postindustrial growth, who we consider elites, helped many corporations make money and made many voters, long-standing democratic voters feel more alienated from the party. and many people feel the party is not speaking for their interests. >> host: fort lauderdale. >> caller: i voted in 1972 for shirley chisholm in the primary and mcgovern in the general election. on the left side of the party. how do we get to the point we
solve the inequality issue. >> guest: you posted before the watergate baby. one -- there are a lot of important ways, alternate policy problems and solutions, many of them have to do with restructuring and recommitting to social welfare state and restore the social safety net, don't feel vulnerable, and not the inequity in payware they make a large amount, to stay afloat.
and this alienation and marginalization by the democrat and more broadly, for living wages, making labor more central as a way to address fundamental problems. >> host: the clinton's reputation in the democratic party today? >> guest: they no longer have a say and the fact that bill clinton was not a speaker at the convention is a sign of the party moving in a shift in a different direction, leaving them behind but i think their policies still had a say but also the particular as came up to win elections, pragmatic and the particular approach is one
that is pragmatic to winning elections. oftentimes in this moment right now a fear of the democrats losing the midterms there is a real potential they will go back to the clinton playbook. >> host: lily geismer is the author of "left behind: the democrats' failed attempt to solve inequality". she has been our guest on booktv. >> guest: thank you so much. it was a pleasure. .. >> there are a lot of places to get political information, but only at c-span2 you get it straight from the source. >> no matter where you are from or where you stand on the issues c-span is america's network.
unfiltered, unbiased, word for word. if that happens here or here, or here, or anywhere that matters, america is watching on c-span. powered by cable. >> you know who our guest speaker is not going to opine about his qualifications, credentials andem achievements, which are both i impressive and far too numerous to mention. so instead i would like to point out just a few things that might have escaped your notice. if you're anything like me when you saw this video, you realize there's probably a side to james o'keefe you never knew. [laughing] so having seen it, you may not now be surprised to learn that in 2002 he was the lead in a state projection of