Thursday, June 15, 2017

Isn't Preserving The Status Quo The Definition Of Conservatism?


Establishment Democrats— then definition of losers— don’t want to hear it but the other day Bernie, the most popular political figure in America (the mention of which drives them into a frothing-at-the-mouth rage), offered the some free advise in the form of an OpEd in the NY Times: How Democrats Can Stop Losing Elections. “In 2016,” hd reminded them, “the Democratic Party lost the presidency to possibly the least popular candidate in American history. In recent years, Democrats have also lost the Senate and House to right-wing Republicans whose extremist agenda is far removed from where most Americans are politically. Republicans now control almost two-thirds of governor’s offices and have gained about 1,000 seats in state legislatures in the past nine years. In 24 states, Democrats have almost no political influence at all.”

I doubt Bernie would agree with me but my own experience tells me that those driving the broken down Democratic Establishment jalopy hate progressives more than Republicans, more than right-wing extremists, more than Trump. Over the years I’ve seen the DCCC try— sometimes successfully, sometimes not— to sabotage progressive candidates who won primaries against their crappy corrupt conservative candidates, the way they did to Tom Wakely, who dropped out of his rematch with Lamar Smith yesterday. The mainstream media can almost never jump in quickly enough to back the establishment in their defense of the status quo, no matter how blatantly absurd the premise. Bernie on all that Democratic Party losin’:
If these results are not a clear manifestation of a failed political strategy, I don’t know what is. For the sake of our country and the world, the Democratic Party, in a very fundamental way, must change direction. It has got to open its doors wide to working people and young people. It must become less dependent on wealthy contributors, and it must make clear to the working families of this country that, in these difficult times, it is prepared to stand up and fight for their rights. Without hesitation, it must take on the powerful corporate interests that dominate the economic and political life of the country.

There are lessons to be learned from the recent campaign in Britain. The Conservatives there called the snap election with the full expectation that they would win a landslide. They didn’t. Against all predictions they lost 13 seats in Parliament while Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party won 32. There is never one reason elections are won or lost, but there is widespread agreement that momentum shifted to Labour after it released a very progressive manifesto that generated much enthusiasm among young people and workers. One of the most interesting aspects of the election was the soaring turnout among voters 34 or younger.

The British elections should be a lesson for the Democratic Party. We already have among the lowest voter turnout of any major country on earth. Democrats will not win if the 2018 midterm election turnout resembles the unbelievably low 36.7 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots in 2014. The Democrats must develop an agenda that speaks to the pain of tens of millions of families who are working longer hours for lower wages and to the young people who, unless we turn the economy around, will have a lower standard of living than their parents.

A vast majority of Americans understand that our current economic model is a dismal failure. Who can honestly defend the current grotesque level of inequality in which the top 1 percent owns more than the bottom 90 percent? Who thinks it’s right that, despite a significant increase in worker productivity, millions of Americans need two or three jobs to survive, while 52 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent? What person who claims to have a sense of morality can justify the fact that the richest people in our country have a life expectancy about 15 years longer than our poorest citizens?

While Democrats should appeal to moderate Republicans who are disgusted with the Trump presidency, too many in our party cling to an overly cautious, centrist ideology. The party’s main thrust must be to make politics relevant to those who have given up on democracy and bring millions of new voters into the political process. It must be prepared to take on the right-wing extremist ideology of the Koch brothers and the billionaire class, and fight for an economy and a government that work for all, not just the 1 percent.

Donald Trump wants to throw 23 million Americans off health insurance. Democrats must guarantee health care to all as a right, through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program.

Mr. Trump wants to give enormous tax breaks to billionaires. Democrats must support a progressive tax system that demands that the very wealthy, Wall Street and large corporations begin paying their fair share of taxes.

Mr. Trump wants to sell our infrastructure to Wall Street and foreign countries. Democrats must fight for a trillion-dollar public investment that creates over 13 million good-paying jobs.

Mr. Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Democrats must take on the fossil fuel industry and accelerate our efforts to combat climate change by encouraging energy efficiency and the use of sustainable energy.

Mr. Trump has proposed deep cuts to higher education. Democrats must make public colleges and universities tuition free, and substantially lower student debt.

Mr. Trump has doubled-down on our failed approach to crime that has resulted in the United States’ having more people in jail than any other country. Democrats must reform a broken criminal justice system and invest in jobs and education for our young people, not more jails and incarceration.

Mr. Trump has scapegoated and threatened the 11 million undocumented people in our country. Democrats must fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship.

This is a pivotal moment in American history. If the Democrats are prepared to rally grass-roots America in every state and to stand up to the greed of the billionaire class, the party will stop losing elections. And it will create the kind of country the American people want and deserve.
This might be a good time to segue right into Matt Taibbi’s excellent essay for this week’s Rolling Stone: Goodbye, and Good Riddance to Centrism. Let’s put it like this, Taibbi’s a lot more encouraged about Jeremy Corbyn’s triumph over the Conservatives and the Conservative wing of his own Labour Party than Mr. Status Quo, David Frum, is.
Corbyn's strong showing came as a surprise to American readers, who were told repeatedly that Britain's support for the unvarnished lefty would result in historic losses for liberalism.

The status quo line on Corbyn followed a path identical to the propaganda here at home about liberal politics. Whenever Washington pundits in either party talk about the progressive "base," you can count on two themes appearing in the coverage.

One is that "progressive" voters make decisions based upon their hearts and not their heads, with passions rather than intellect. The second is that such voters consistently choose incorrectly when forced to choose between ideals and winning.

The New York Times perfectly summed up this take a few days after the Corbyn result, describing the reaction of the American left: "Democrats in Split-Screen. The Base Wants it All, The Party Wants to Win."

This has long been the establishment line both here and in Britain. In the U.K., the once-revered Blair's support among European progressives tumbled after he supported the Iraq War efforts of Frum's former boss George Bush. Blair years ago warned that Corbyn was leading his party over a cliff toward "total annihilation."

  The former PM played a lurid riff on the heart-head propaganda line, telling Britons whose "heart is with Corbyn" to "get a transplant."

In December, Barack Obama said he wasn't worried about the "Corbynization" of American politics because "the Democratic Party has stayed pretty grounded in fact and reality."

The idea that British liberals had failed the "wanting versus winning" test and elected to live in loserific "unreality" has been everywhere in our media for years.

"A cult is destroying a major liberal political party," insisted CNN's Michael Weiss. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, a quasi-official weathervane of mainstream Democratic Party opinion, declared in January, "Corbyn has been a disaster for Labour."

In April, the Washington Post ran a piece saying that swooningly "rigid" leftists in Britain would pay a high price for supporting a man in "cuckoo world."

The idea that people who want expanded health care, reduced income inequality, fewer wars and more public services are "unrealistic" springs from an old deception in our politics.

For decades pundits and pols have been telling progressive voters they don't have the juice to make real demands, and must make alliances with more "moderate" and presumably more numerous "centrists" in order to avoid becoming the subjects of right-wing monsters like Reagan/Bush/Bush/Trump.

Voters for decades were conned into thinking they were noisome minorities whose best path to influence is to make peace with the mightier "center," which inevitably turns out to support military interventionism, fewer taxes for the rich, corporate deregulation and a ban on unrealistic "giveaway" proposals like free higher education. Those are the realistic, moderate, popular ideas, we're told.

But it's a Wizard of Oz trick, just like American politics in general. There is no numerically massive center behind the curtain. What there is instead is a tiny island of wealthy donors, surrounded by a protective ring of for-sale major-party politicians (read: employees) whose job it is to castigate too-demanding voters and preach realism.

Those pols do so with the aid of a bund of dependably alarmist sycophants in the commercial media, most of whom, whether they know it or not, technically inhabit the low end of the 1 percent and tend to be amazed that people out there are pissed off about stuff.

In the States, the centrist Oz has maintained its influence in large part thanks to another numerical deception. We've been taught that our political spectrum is an unbroken line moving from right to left, Republican to Democrat, and that the country is split in half between the two groups.

Propaganda about the pitched battle between the two even "sides" has seemingly been reinforced by election results. In 2000, with Bush and Gore, we even had an episode involving a near-perfect statistical tie.

As noted at the time by Noam Chomsky— like Corbyn, much loathed by Quo-Nothing types as a hygiene-averse whiner who poisons young minds with unrealistic ideas— you'd normally expect a vote involving over 100 million people to end in a statistical tie only if they were voting for something meaningless or fictional, like the presidency of Mars.

For Americans to be split right down the middle on an issue of supreme importance, Chomsky observed, something had to be a little bit wrong with the voting model.

And there was. The half-versus-half, left-versus-right spectrum has always been a goofball myth. The true divide in the population has never been between Republicans and Democrats, but between haves and have-nots.

Whatever you might think of the Occupy movement, it succeeded in pulling a lid back on some of these illusions by popularizing terms like "the 1 percent" and "the 99 percent." Occupy described the numerical majority as dupes of a tiny oligarchy, which allowed the disaffected population to choose occasionally between two parties that are funded by the same tiny group of super-wealthy donors.

Of course some will vigorously object to any characterization that tries to morally equate Democrats with what is now the Party of Trump (I can already hear the cries of "both-sidesism!"). But Occupy was surely correct in saying the economic picture of America doesn't fit a 50-50 narrative. Their 1/99 picture was a lot closer to reality.

If we're going to be exact about it, in fact, the billionaires who still dominate the political donor class mainly reside in the top tenth of a percent. Even in the most conservative possible interpretation of economic data, a general picture of haves and have-nots in the voting population would still be something like 20/80 (20 percent of Americans own 89 percent of privately held wealth, while the bottom 80 percent owns just 11 percent).

The danger implicit in these numbers to the "broadly satisfied with the status quo" types is obvious. If 80 percent of Americans ever realized their shared economic situation, they could and probably should take over government. Of course, they wouldn't just be taking power for themselves, they'd be taking it from the big-dollar donors who own such a disproportionately huge share of wealth in our society.

Such people of course have many very good reasons to embrace the status quo. The problem is, they're not terribly numerous as a group, which unfortunately for them still matters in a democracy. It's one of the unpleasant paradoxes of exclusive wealth. If you live in a democracy, you're continually forced to manufacture the appearance of broad support for the regressive policies underpinning your awesome lifestyle.

In the 2016 presidential election, voters in both parties were more willing than ever to say they felt alienated from the "center." They were also more likely to view big-city media figures like Frum and myself as agents of a phony system out to sell them a fake version of "reality."

Here and abroad, voters in other words stopped deferring to politicians and media figures and began making their own decisions about what is and is not realistic.

The results have been mixed to say the least. But let's not pretend that the election of Donald Trump is the same as support for Jeremy Corbyn, or that either of these things are the same as a Catalonian separatist movement, or Brexit, or whatever— just because all these developments may be equally horrifying to "those broadly satisfied with the status quo."

If those of us in the media spent less time lecturing about the wisdom of the status quo, and more time treating disaffected voters like the overwhelming majority they are, we might at least stop face-planting on our election predictions. We're not the center anymore, and we have to stop acting like we ever were.

Labels: , , ,


At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No that has never been the 'definition' of conservatism. Go all the way back to the '50s and '60s and American 'conservatism' means greed, worshiping wealth, denigrating poverty and hate. Since the '80s it has also added guns and misogyny.

American 'conservatism' has never had any relation to any definition in Webster's.

"Democrats must develop an agenda that speaks to the pain of tens of millions of families who are working longer hours for lower wages and to the young people who, unless we turn the economy around, will have a lower standard of living than their parents."

I got news for you'se. The current generation has it worse than its predecessor and you can argue that THAT one was worse off than its predecessor.

I also got more news for you'se. Democraps need to do more than SPEAK to the ass-raped and ratfucked. They need to fucking ACT on those words for a fucking change. Clinton "felt our pain" as he (and rubin) and his donors ass raped us. Obamanation had very nice things to say to us as HE and his donors ass raped us and HE sent scores to prison and back to hell with his policies on whistle-blowing and immigration. He did nothing for the millions who were foreclosed on by bank fraudsters, but he made damn sure none of those bank motherfuckers were inconvenienced by a single dollar in their bonuses nor by prison. Pelosi swore to uphold the constitution, but didn't when it came to impeaching war criminals (and the current violator of the emoluments clause).

Democraps can, have and will say whatever they think their idiot voters want to hear. But when it comes time to help them, they are nowhere to be found, except for their fundraisers and cashing checks at their bank.

If you want the single biggest reason that 63% of eligible voters don't bother, THAT is why. When the choice is ALWAYS between a rabid badger and a syphilitic pig, one can't get excited about voting for either one, unless one is also a rabid badger or syphilitic pig.


Post a Comment

<< Home