Are Democrats And Republicans Just The Same Establishment Crap?
I'm no fan of Obama's. He's been pretty good on some stuff and much less than any good on other stuff. He's an inspirational figure for obvious reasons but it hasn't gone much beyond the obvious reasons. I have feint hope-- self delusion at best, most likely-- that he'll be any better in his second term. Alas, though, there is not one issue on which Romney would be better. In fact, Romney would be far worse on every issue. So... as Chris Hedges opined for TruthDig earlier in the week, How Do You Take Your Poison?
Before we get to Chris' very solid reasoning, Romney (or Newt or Santorum or Huckabee or any of that dreck) isn't the only think that's positively toxic about our politics of late. We mostly concentrate here on ripping the DCCC for pushing reactionary Blue Dogs and corrupt New Dems, but just look at the Democrats running for Senate. The list is actually putrid. Almost all the incumbents are horrible or, at best, mediocre (obviously Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Whitehouse and Sherrod Brown excepted). Joe Manchin? What even makes him a Democrat? Claire McCaskill is barely any better and the only thing that vaguely recommends her is the threat of having Todd Akin in the Senate. And the challengers? Mostly just awful (exceptions being Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin and Mazie Hirono). Joe Donnelly (IN) is the very worst of the Blue Dogs-- anti-Choice, gay-hating bigot, corporate whore, a tendency to vote with the GOP as a default position. Bob Kerrey (NE) might be as bad. The other alternative is that Bob Kerrey will be even worse. New Dem Shelley Berkley (NV) reeks of corruption and political cowardice, the worst of what the House Democrats are all about. Think of her as a malignant amalgam of Rahm Emanuel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steve Israel and Steny Hoyer.
Hedges writes that, basically, Romney and Obama are both so bad that there's barely a difference. I respect his point of view-- even if mine is slightly more nuanced, though not nuanced enough to get me to vote for Obama again... though I might if I lived in North Carolina. Both, he asserts, are puppets to their corporate masters. And he's talking about more than just the "Grand Bargain" Obama and Boehner have cooked up for after the election.
We will all swallow our cup of corporate poison. We can take it from nurse Romney, who will tell us not to whine and play the victim, or we can take it from nurse Obama, who will assure us that this hurts him even more than it hurts us, but one way or another the corporate hemlock will be shoved down our throats. The choice before us is how it will be administered. Corporate power, no matter who is running the ward after January 2013, is poised to carry out U.S. history’s most savage assault against the poor and the working class, not to mention the Earth’s ecosystem. And no one in power, no matter what the bedside manner, has any intention or ability to stop it.
If you insist on participating in the cash-drenched charade of a two-party democratic election at least be clear about what you are doing. You are, by playing your assigned role as the Democratic or Republican voter in this political theater, giving legitimacy to a corporate agenda that means your own impoverishment and disempowerment. All the things that stand between us and utter destitution-- Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants, Head Start, Social Security, public education, federal grants-in-aid to America’s states and cities, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and home-delivered meals for seniors-- are about to be shredded by the corporate state. Our corporate oligarchs are harvesting the nation, grabbing as much as they can, as fast as they can, in the inevitable descent.
We will be assaulted this January when automatic spending reductions, referred to as “the fiscal cliff,” begin to dismantle and defund some of our most important government programs. Mitt Romney will not stop it. Barack Obama will not stop it.
And while Romney has been, courtesy of the magazine Mother Jones, exposed as a shallow hypocrite, Obama is in a class by himself. There is hardly a campaign promise from 2008 that Obama has not broken. This list includes his pledges to support the public option in health care, close Guantanamo, raise the minimum wage, regulate Wall Street, support labor unions in their struggles with employers, reform the Patriot Act, negotiate an equitable peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, curb our imperial expansion in the Middle East, stop torture, protect reproductive rights, carry out a comprehensive immigration reform, cut the deficit by half, create 5 million new energy jobs and halt home foreclosures. Obama, campaigning in South Carolina in 2007, said that as president he would fight for the right of collective bargaining. “I’d put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll … walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America,” he said. But when he got his chance to put on those “comfortable pair of shoes” during labor disputes in Madison, Wis., and Chicago he turned his back on working men and women.
Obama, while promising to defend Social Security, also says he stands behind the planned cuts outlined by his deficit commission, headed by Morgan Stanley board member Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican. The Bowles-Simpson plan calls for cutting 0.3 percentage points from the annual cost-of-living adjustment in the Social Security program. The annual reduction would slowly accumulate. After a decade it would mean a 3 percent cut. After two decades it would mean a 6 percent cut. The retirement age would be raised to 69. And those on Social Security who continued to work and made more than $40,000 a year would be penalized with further reductions. Obama’s payroll tax cuts have, at the same time, served to undermine the solvency of Social Security, making it an easier target for the finance corporations that seek to destroy the program and privatize the funds.
...Obama is not in charge. Romney would not be in charge. Politicians are the public face of corporate power. They are corporate employees. Their personal narratives, their promises, their rhetoric and their idiosyncrasies are meaningless. And that, perhaps, is why the cost of the two presidential campaigns is estimated to reach an obscene $2.5 billion. The corporate state does not produce a product that is different. It produces brands that are different. And brands cost a lot of money to sell.
Well, not 100% the same
I mentioned yesterday that I had had dinner with former Republican Congressman Mark Foley. He asked me to run the Blue America questions by him. One of the questions we ask our candidates is what they would do if they were elected and Obama was reelected and Obama came and asked them not to back the Congressional Progressive Caucus legislation to defund the occupation of Afghanistan. I have a dramatic presentation playing the reasonable role of Obama asking for help as the leader of the country, the free world and the party. Foley assumed the answer we were looking for-- logical for a Republican-- is that the candidate would back the president. He seemed slightly shocked when I explained that that was not the kind of candidates we look for and the purpose of the question was meant to help us determine how independent of the Establishment the candidate would be under extreme circumstances. If their name is on this list they passed the test. Independent-minded progressives is what we need on our side of the aisle, not the crap Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are dredging up from the pits of Democratic hackdom. If they had a similar question, they would be looking for the answer Rep. Foley thought we were trying to elicit. Their reptilian lizard brains work the same exact way Republican lizard brains work. There's even a Blue America page for candidates who are running on an anti-Austerity platform and who are embracing Jacob Hacker's fundamental ideas about Prosperity Economics.