An Obituary for New Deal LiberalismPosted: January 17, 2011 | |
In these terms, the administration of Barack Obama has been a crushing disappointment for those of us who hoped he would be different. It turns out Obama is a more conventional and limited politician than advertised, more right-of-center than his soaring rhetoric suggested. Most Congressional Democrats, likewise, proved weak and incoherent, unreliable defenders of their supposed values or most loyal constituencies. They call it pragmatism. I call it surrender.
Obama’s maladroit tax compromise with Republicans was more destructive than creative. He acceded to the trickle-down doctrine of regressive taxation and skipped lightly over the fact that he was contributing further to stark injustices. Ordinary Americans will again be made to pay, one way or another, for the damage others did to society. Obama agrees that this is offensive but argues, This is politics, get over it. His brand of realism teaches people to disregard what he says. Look instead at what he does.
Greider outlines the goals of the plutocracy so clearly that you wonder when he’ll be put up for trumped up espionage charges or at least some made-up sex scandal. His opening paragraphs on the capture of our government by corporate interests are just about the most compelling and apt description I’ve read recently. He’s awakened some how to the spokesmodel-in-chief. (h/t to Cinie wherever she may be)
Government has been disabled or captured by the formidable powers of private enterprise and concentrated wealth. Self-governing rights that representative democracy conferred on citizens are now usurped by the overbearing demands of corporate and financial interests. Collectively, the corporate sector has its arms around both political parties, the financing of political careers, the production of the policy agendas and propaganda of influential think tanks, and control of most major media.
What the capitalist system wants is more—more wealth, more freedom to do whatever it wishes. This has always been its instinct, unless government intervened to stop it. The objective now is to destroy any remaining forms of government interference, except of course for business subsidies and protections. Many elected representatives are implicitly enlisted in the cause.
We know it. Right wing populists know it. But, some how apologists dissuade the left and the right as captured by the script given in Political Entertainers. (Article from February 2011, Vanity Fair by James Wolcott.) They have jesters who are enriched for parroting untrue talking points while feeding their insatiable egos. We have jesters too. They’ve even managed to convince the populist right that part of the problem is leftist Hollywood elites while touring with the likes of Kelsey Grammar, Chuck Norris, John Voight, Mike Farell, and Janine Turner.
As America enters the downward slope of empire—its debt mounting, the disparity between wealthy and poor continuing to chasm, the environmental ravages becoming irreversible, high unemployment becoming the cruel norm—the Richie Riches have a vested interest in misdirecting people by blaming the powerless for the sins of the powerful. Incoherence isn’t a bug in Beck’s software program, it’s the primary directive. Seaton: “That is what the Tea Party, Fox, etc is all about: keeping people from thinking straight. The idea is to play on people’s emotions: fear, hate, racism, xenophobia, just to keep them from doing the math. The Teabaggers, Beck, [Gingrich] and Fox [News] are often criticized for not making any sense. This is not a failure of communication or an error on their part That is the object of the exercise: to make rational thought difficult or impossible due to emotional overload.” (My italics.)
At the very root of it, right wing populists have similar concerns. These would be lack of jobs, lack of opportunity, no voice in the process, and a realization they are played by fools by the people they elect into office. Notice how Congress’ approval does not change much regardless of election day musical chairs. At some level, every one gets it.
My question is how do we convince them that it’s not the right to bear arms that’s under the greatest threat here? How do we let them know that they’ll always have Christmas on their terms in their churches and their homes? It’s not a threat to them if a few of us opt out. Is it possible to get these people to wake up from the assault on their emotions long enough to figure out the sources of the real problems? Poll-after-poll shows that Republicans overwhelmingly do not want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare. Even the Tea Party held signs to the effect they didn’t want ‘theirs’ stolen. However, they’re under the impression that its those with NO insurance assaulting them; not the insurance companies and banks who want the entire system to collapse so they can run with the funds and turn them into easy fees and profits.
Again, Greider has nailed it. The Republicans smell the blood and they are after it. The Democrats capitulate and many subscribe to the pogrome. Take Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson who is a Democratic pol not by philosophy but by ambition.
Republicans, armed with strong conviction, are resurgent with what amounts to ideological nihilism. Leave aside their obvious hypocrisies on fiscal rectitude and free markets. Their single-minded objective is to destroy what remains of government’s capacity to intervene in or restrain the private sector on behalf of the common welfare. Many of government’s old tools and programs are already gone, gutted by deregulation, crippled by corporate capture of the regulatory agencies originally intended to curb private-sector abuses and starved by inadequate funding. The right wants smaller government for the people, but not for corporate capitalism. It will fight to preserve the protections, privileges and subsidies that flow to the private sector.
Once again, Republicans are mounting an assault on liberalism’s crown jewel, Social Security, only this time they might succeed, because the Democratic president is collaborating with them. The deficit hysteria aimed at Social Security is fraudulent (as Obama’s own experts acknowledge), but the president has already gravely weakened the program’s solvency with his payroll-tax holiday, which undercuts financing for future benefits. Obama promises the gimmick won’t be repeated, but if employment is still weak a year from now, he may well cave. The GOP will accuse him of damaging the economy by approving a “tax increase” on all workers. Senate Democrats are preparing their own proposal to cut Social Security as a counter to the GOP’s extreme version. In the end, they can split the difference and celebrate another great compromise.
This is capitulation posing as moderation. Obama has set himself up to make many more “compromises” in the coming months; each time, he will doubtless use the left as a convenient foil.
How do we fight this onslaught of power, money, greed, and misinformation? The results will surely cause collapse. There are way too many people disenfranchised, hungry, unemployed, and on the down and outs for politicians not to realize what they may eventually do. Politertainers like Palin can only function effectively for so long. Does the ruling class think they’ve got enough black helicopters and predator drones to keep us all in check as suggested her by Blue Lyon if the NFL bread and circuses fail to keep the masses entertained? What good is your hunting rifle or even a semi-automatic rifle when your government has fleets of predator drones? That’s a good one to put to your nearest teabot neighbor. Perhaps, they’ll come around the same way that many of the Obots currently have awakened to smell the plutocracy. Take Greider, circa 2009, a hopeful little Obot he.
Below are two Greider ‘save Obama’ moments from about 2 years ago. The narrative is that the plutocracy is ‘setting up a trap for him’. You can see he’s awakened from the apologia now. So, the deal is, can we “rescue” right wing populists from similar forces on the right with the same goals?