Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Why Are Working Class Americans Dumping The Party Of FDR For The Party Of The Trumpanzee?


The two top contenders for the Democratic nomination for Florida's Senate seat are congressmen Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson. They don't have much else in common. Murphy is the handpicked dull-minded candidate of the party establishment, chosen specifically to assuage Wall Street banksters demanding Schumer balance out Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown. Grayson is a free-thinking independent with the sharpest mind in Congress. Murphy was born into a very wealthly Republican family and has basically never worked a day in his life. He is the definition of a spoiled brat. Grayson, who has 3 advanced degrees from Harvard, comes from a poor working class family and worked nights cleaning bathrooms to put himself through college and law school. Grayson was voted Congress' most effective member. Murphy was voted Congress' least effective member. Grayson has passed more legislation than any other Member of Congress. Murphy has never passed any legislation, although he routinely co-sponsors Republican legislation to help his Wall Street contributors-- like the pay day leaders bill.

The current session of Congress finds Grayson with a 93.79 score from ProgressivePunch. Murphy's career-long F rating is matched with a score of 52.94 that he's worked to improve since declaring for the Senate and managed ti raise it to a still abysmally low 61.64. Grayson is a member of the Progressive Caucus. Murphy is a member of the New Dems, the Wall Street-owned Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Grayson is best known for working diligently to expand Medicare and Social Security benefits. The very first thing Patrick Murphy did when he was elected to Congress was to offer to lower Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of a "compromise" with his Republican buddies. When the House Republicans voted to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline, Patrick Murphy stood with them every single time. And when Alan Grayson worked on a law suit to point out the unconstitutional nature of the GOP bill to remove President Obama from the Keystone XL decision-making process, Murphy was one of just a tiny handful of right-wing Democrats who voted for it. He was also one of an even smaller group of right-wing Democrats who voted with the GOP to initiate the Hillary Clinton witch hunt they called the Benghazi Committee.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Grayson takes in a greater percentage of campaign dollars from small donors than anyone else in Congress. Except for Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McCarthy, the Wall Street banksters have given more legalistic bribes to Murphy ($1,472,869) than to any other member of the House this cycle. Until he realized he would be in a primary against Grayson, Murphy spent over 3 years in the House voting with the Republicans and accruing the 4th worst voting record of any Democrat, but that's what party bosses Schumer and Reid decided should go up against Rubio in the Senate race. Today in the new Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi wrote about how "Democratic incompetence has made the previously unthinkable possible: Republicans reimagining themselves as a labor party."

Murphy's Republican Party has always been the party of business and the privileged. Now, in a new Trumpanzee universe, some are trying to reinvent the GOP as "the protector of a disenfranchised working class," a topic we've looked at in terms of Thomas Frank's latest book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?. "Basically," wrote Taibbi, "large numbers of working-class voters, particularly white working-class voters, long ago abandoned the Democratic Party in favor of the Republicans." Thank you Chuck Schumer, Steve Israel, Steny Hoyer, Blue Dogs, New Dems...
In their 2008 book, Grand New Party, [Ross] Douthat and [Reihan] Salam argued that the Republicans needed to reshape themselves, and admitted "the policy elite of the Republican Party" is "out of touch with the majority of Republican voters."

They also noted, in a recent Times editorial, "A Cure for Trumpism," that the Republican Party has "increasingly depended on mostly white working-class support, even as its policy agenda was increasingly unresponsive to working-class voters' problems."

All of this soul-searching is happening now because the maniac Trump has hijacked a portion of the Republican base and is driving it off an electoral cliff. (He will clutch his own hand all the way down in the inevitable Thelma & Louise crash ending.)

Republican propaganda for decades pushed magical-thinking concepts like "trickle-down economics" that asked lower-income voters to accept present sacrifices for theoretical bigger payoffs down the road.

Until this year, Republican voters mostly bought it. But Trump was their way of telling their leaders they're done waiting. They want their piece of the pie now, even if it means unleashing the Trumpinator to get it.

People have been conscious of the defection of working-class voters to the Republican Party for years, but this has always been dismissed as the consequence of skillfull propaganda. It's the What's the Matter With Kansas? creation story, i.e., that the white working class has been hoodwinked into going against its own economic interests thanks to cynical/backward appeals to race, religion and culture.

But that isn't the whole story, as some leading Democrats are beginning to realize. Joe Biden [a long-time corporate whore himself, who poses as a regular Joe and champion of working people] went on Morning Joe a few weeks ago and admitted that "the Democratic Party over all hasn't spoken enough to [working-class voters]," the "ordinary people busting their necks."

Biden's admission is a massive understatement. If we're going to be honest about what's happened in the last 30 or 40 years, the new iteration of the Democratic Party has embraced hocus-pocus neoliberal theory that is not much different from trickle-down economics.

The Democratic Party leaders have been fervent believers in the globalization religion since the late Eighties, when the braintrust at the Democratic Leadership Council made a calculated decision to transform the party from one that depended largely on unions for financial and logistical support to one that embraced corporate objectives, in particular free trade.

When he signed NAFTA into law in 1993, Bill Clinton laid out a utopian vision of how free trade would work. "We have the opportunity to remake the world," he said, boldly.

More trade agreements, he said, would create a world that would not only be more prosperous all over, but freer and more able to serve as a market for our exports.

"We will press for workers in all countries to secure rights that we now take for granted, to organize and earn a decent living," he said.

Critically, Clinton promised that free-trade agreements would emphasize new environmental standards, would expand the rights of workers in signatory countries, that we would not trade with countries that employed subsidies or tariffs against us, and that displaced domestic workers would eventually see gains after being retrained and redeployed for new jobs that would eventually appear to replace the lost ones.

"To the men and women of our country who were afraid of these changes," Clinton said, "the gains from this agreement will be your gains, too."

It was never articulated this way, exactly, but the basic promise of free trade was that the American middle class would experience temporary losses that over time would be balanced out by increased growth worldwide.

It was trickle-down economics, only repackaged with an international spin: After a long trip around the world, the wealth eventually gets back to you.

Twenty-three years later, we see how all of this has turned out. There have been some improvements in the economic condition of foreign workers.

But we never excluded politically oppressive regimes from free-trade deals, never made sure that trade partners weren't also massive human rights violators, never seriously worried about environmental enforcement. Mostly, we just made cheap, un-free foreign labor available to Western manufacturers.

Even a onetime die-hard NAFTA cheerleader like staunch Clinton supporter Paul Krugman, who once compared free trade's critics to the anti-evolutionist followers of William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes Monkey Trial, now admits that the case for "ever-freer" trade is a "scam":
"The elite defense of globalization is basically dishonest: false claims of inevitability, scare tactics (protectionism causes depressions!), vastly exaggerated claims for the benefits of trade liberalization and the costs of protection, hand-waving away the large distributional effects that are what standard models actually predict."
Like Marxism, globalization is a borderless utopian religion. Its adherents almost by definition have to reject advocacy for the citizens of one country over another. Just as "Socialism in One Country" was an anathema to classic Marxists, "prosperity in one country" is an anathema to globalists, no matter what their politicians might say during election seasons.

If you bring up the destruction of the American middle class, pro-globalization adherents will point to facts like the rising fortunes of those hundreds of millions of Chinese workers who are now supposedly above the World Bank definition of poverty, making more than $1.90 a day.

That those same workers still have virtually no rights or benefits and on occasion have to be housed in factories with safety nets to keep them from killing themselves at an astronomical rate is immaterial to True Believers.

They want even American voters to focus on the good news of incrementally increased wages abroad, forgetting that American workers never signed up for a plan to disenfranchise themselves so that workers in China or India could earn a few quarters more per day. Moreover, they certainly didn't elect leaders to push such policies.

The problem with all of this is that the Democrats went so far in the direction of advocacy for the global religion that they made something as idiotic as the rise of unabashed nativist Donald Trump possible.

Worse, Trump's rise will give the Globalist Faith Militant an automatic argument for more time. They will decry any criticism of free trade or globalization as racist Trumpism, and Trump is such a galactic jackass that this will work, his vast inventory of offensive bleatings discrediting even the legitimate economic concerns of his voters.

But expecting American politicians to advocate first and foremost for their own constituents isn't isolationism. It's just rational self-interest, which neoliberals only seem to disbelieve in when it pertains to labor. Moreover we didn't call movements to disinvest from South Africa or the Soviet Union "nativism." We called that idealism.

We haven't shown much of that in the last decades, as huge majorities of Westerners buy cell phones, clothes and other products increasingly likely to have been made by abused sweatshop workers or even children (like the Indonesian eight-year-olds recently found harvesting tobacco sold to the West).

As Krugman explained earlier this year, the question of what to do about any of this is a very hard one. He even called the Bernie Sanders campaign "a bit of a scam itself" because it hinted that anything at all can be done about the vast inequities and injustices of globalization.

Krugman claimed the maze of trade agreements is so entrenched by now that chaos would ensue from any attempt to undo them. A Trump might try, he said, but only as part of a "reign of destruction on many fronts." Maybe that's true, and maybe it isn't.

But to deny that something needs to be done, and to ask American voters to keep having faith in this "we'll all see gains in the end" fairytale that so far has very conspicuously only delivered gains to a tiny group of very wealthy people in this country, will do nothing but drive more workers into the Trump tent.

And maybe the next strongman those voters pick to lead them out of the wilderness won't be quite as huge an idiot, or as suicidal a campaigner, as Trump. Sooner or later, failing to deal with these questions is going to come back and bite all of us.
The Florida primary is August 30. Every person on this list opposes the TPP and the kinds of unfair trade deals that are turning the Democratic Party into a party Wall Street and wealthy corporate managers feel perfectly comfortable with-- and is driving working Americans into the hands of the Trumpists.
Goal Thermometer

UPDATE: All Kidding Aside

24 hours had barely passed since the Trump-502 reboot before the Republican candidate called on NRA types to assassinate President Hillary Clinton if she appoints liberal Supreme Court justices. Of course his campaign tried worming out of what he said, by claiming it was just a call to vote, but that was patently false since he was very specific about appointing judges, which candidates don't do, just chief executives. Here, watch:

Remember when Trumpist maniac Sharon Angle suggested a Second Amendment "remedy" before losing her Senate race to Nevada's widely hated Democratic Party machine boss, Harry Reid? I doubt this will change the impulses of any Trumpists but it will probably confirm to Republicans like Susan Collins, Adam Kinzinger, Scott Rigell, Richard Hanna, Meg Whitman, Sally Bradshaw, the 50 national security experts and the ex-EPA heads that they made the right decision. Even some die-hard gun rights backers who had been wary of Mr. Trumpanzee, felt like his comments were confirmation that he doesn’t really get their movement. When the National Rifle Association endorsed Trump in May, Bob Owens, the editor of BearingArms.com, reasoned that he was the best chance to beat Clinton, who has embraced gun control. On Tuesday, however, Owens refused to buy Trump’s explanation that he was talking about voting. "That was a threat of violence. As a REAL supporter of the #2A it's appalling to me," Owens tweeted. Bearing Arms had sponsored the May meeting of the NRA’s lobbying arm where the group formally endorsed Trump.

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