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Are Democrats Waving the White Flag?

July 6th, 2010 No comments

I came across a must-read piece by R.J. Eskow on the Huffington Post this morning, essentially claiming that in the battle between corporate and public interests, the Democratic Party has given up the fight.

There’s a new conventional wisdom forming in Washington, DC this July 4th, one that transcends party lines and the usual classifications of “left” and “right” as they’re understood in that city. It’s only being recognized now, because it deals with a number of different economic issues, but the underlying theme is the same: The American dream of financial independence and security is gone. The sooner you accept that and raise the white flag the easier it will be, so stop struggling.

Certainly most democrats gave up that fight a long time ago, but the few honest politicians who remain committed to fighting on behalf of the average person now seem to be folding in the face of too much opposition. The Republican Party is completely owned by corporate America and has no interest in governing–merely blocking everything. The Supreme Court just decided that corporations can spend as much as they want on political ads. Lobbyists made financial reform so weak that Wall Street will barely notice it. And they can’t seem to overcome a filibuster to extend unemployment benefits to those who desperately need them because of the recession.

Due to all of these factors, things that were once believed by only a handful of lawmakers have now become conventional wisdom all throughout Washington:

Here’s what they “know” now: The United States is doomed to a future of staggeringly high unemployment. Social Security is part of our national deficit and, like that notorious village in Vietnam, we need to destroy it in order to save it. And we must face an open-ended future where the public treasury and personal security are held hostage to the whims of a few “too big to fail” banks.

It seems that the entire Democratic Party is following Obama’s example of surrendering to Big Industry right from the get-go and just doing the bare minimum they can do to make it look like they’re doing something. Like Obama, they seem to genuinely believe that they don’t have any real power.

That, I believe, is because sealed inside their Washington bubble the only power they can see and feel is the power of Big Industry. Yet there’s an entire country of people out there willing to fight for the common good, and if that energy could be harnessed they could easily stand up to the giant corporations and win back some of the “American Dream”. If their governing strategy was to go out there and forcefully make their case for things like the public option, re-instating Glass Steagall, moving aggressively on clean energy and so on, they’d find themselves leading a movement with unstoppable momentum.

Instead their strategy is to start from a position of compromise and then engage in back-room negotiations until they’ve got something watered-down and ineffectual enought to muster the 60 votes needed to do anything. Because thanks to Big Industry’s grip on Washington, you now need 60 votes to do anything.

Come on, democrats. All you have to do is grow some fucking spine. Most Americans agree with your policy positions if you just explain it to them. But you don’t bother explaining or trying to influence public opinion. You just accept the conventional bullshit wisdom that Americans are stupid, lazy, or conservative, and you can’t expect them to rally behind a cause.

Put us to the test, democrats. Because if you’re just going to wave the white flag and accept that we’re in for decades of economic decline, we can’t afford to join you–especially if you’re going to give up on umemployment benefits and social security. If you won’t fight for us within the system, we’ll have no choice but to fight for ourselves from outside the system. And that could get very ugly.

Republicans Should Listen to Michael Steele

July 6th, 2010 No comments

The chairman of the Republican National Committee was recently caught on tape giving possible talking points to republican candidates for this Fall’s mid-term elections:

If you had trouble hearing, this is what he said:

Keep in mind, again, our federal candidates, this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This is not, this is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. It was one of those, one of those areas of the total [horde?] of foreign policy…that we would be a background sort of shaping the changes that were necessary in afghanistan as opposed to directly engaging troops. But it was the president who tried to be cute by…flipping the script deomonizing iraq while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well if he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right? Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways that we can engage in Afghanistan without committing more troops…

Of course the neoconservatives and the rest of the establishment Republican Party immediately blasted him for these comments and demanded his resignation. Michael Steele, who is now infamous for making stupid political gaffes that spark calls for his resignation, isn’t going to do so now. But it’s being reported that because this particular gaffe represents the polar opposite of the Republican Party’s stance on Afghanistan–namely that if anything Obama should be escalating the war even more than he is–that while he may not resign, Steele will essentially be irrelevant for the rest of his time as RNC Chairman.

If only the GOP’s strategy were as simple as it seems–just look at whatever Obama’s position is on anything and advocate for the opposite. That’s what they did on health care and financial reform, and what they’re planning to do on energy and immigration legislation. Michael Steele might have assumed that this would be the strategy for Afghanistan as well–since Obama wants to escalate it, the GOP should now oppose it. Call it “Obama’s war”. Tie it around his neck like a stone and let it drag him down, just like Iraq dragged Bush down.

The irony is, this would be a winning strategy. If republicans actually listened to Michael Steele and repeated his talking points, “Don’t get into a land war in Afghanistan” is a message I think would resonate across the political spectrum. If the republicans suddenly became the anti-war party standing opposed to the democrats’ inistence on continuing to wage this hopeless and costly battle, they’d completely dominate the mid-term elections and pick up seats all over the place.

It’s all a matter of whether their raging right-wing base could let its hatred of government spending overcome its love of war. The Tea Party hates spending and they keep crying about the deficit, but they insist we keep fighting in Afghanistan. Well, give them a choice between the Republican plan of not spending money at home or in Afghanistan and the Democratic plan of spending money all over the place (though still not enough at home) I’ll wager those people will ultimately choose their wallets over their smart-bombs.

Hell, if the Republican Party suddenly decided to campaign on ending the war, I might even consider supporting them.