What Tuesday's election results really mean

Many are describing the victories of Terry McAuliffe in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey as a 'return to the center' of American politics. Reich criticizes this idea arguing that the definition of 'the center' has become distorted in recent years. 

Mel Evans/AP Photo/File
Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reacts to shouts from the crowd as he stands with his family as they celebrate his election victory in Asbury Park, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.

Pundits who are already describing the victories of Terry McAuliffe in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey as a “return to the center” of American politics are confusing the “center” with big business and Wall Street.

A few decades ago McAuliffe would be viewed as a right-wing Democrat and Christie as a right-wing Republican. Both garnered their major support from corporate America, and both will reliably govern as fiscal conservatives who won’t raise taxes on the wealthy.

Both look moderate only by contrast with the Tea Partiers to their extreme right. 


The biggest game-changer, though, is Bill de Blasio, the mayor-elect of New York City, who campaigned against the corporatist legacy of Michael Bloomberg — promising to raise taxes on the wealthy and use the revenues for pre-school and after-school programs for the children of New York’s burdened middle class and poor.

Those who dismiss his victory as an aberration confined to New York are overlooking three big new things:

First, the new demographic reality of America gives every swing state at least one large city whose inhabitants resemble those of New York.

Second, de Blasio won notwithstanding New York’s position as the epicenter of big business and Wall Street, whose money couldn’t stop him.

Third, Americans are catching on to the scourge of the nation’s raging inequality, and its baleful consequences for our economy and democracy.

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