The rise of populism on both the left and right has been a direct response to the objective conditions of our political economic system and the subjective resentment that it fueled. The only way to curb this resentment is to transform the system that inflamed it. “Would-be candidates especially need to be bolder than the restrictions of neoliberalism permitted Obama’s advisers to be,” Hundt writes. “They also have to be willing to experiment, to be flexible when the situation changes, to be open to new people and new ideas not previously sanctioned by neoliberalism.”
While they’re at it, they should also get over their childish fear of being seen as socialists (which Republicans will call them whether they embrace liberalization or full-blown nationalization).
Democrats should prepare for a recession, and whether it comes before or after the 2020 election, they should make the economy a central part of the debate in 2020. Under Trump, levels of inequality have grown even more exorbitant thanks to the GOP tax cuts, which also happened to increase the federal deficit that Republicans couldn’t stop warning us about during the Obama years. Though unemployment may be low and the stock market may be high, the economy is as unequal as it’s been in nearly a century and the majority of Americans continue to live paycheck to paycheck. The way to defeat the false populism of Trumpism isn’t to fall back on the failed practices and dogma of neoliberalism, but to offer a genuine left-wing populism, which starts with transforming the economic system that Obama and his team saved a decade ago.