Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Tea Time 2010: Hope trashed, audacity smashed and change unbelievable

"2008 answered the question,' Is America ready for a black president?' In 2010 we'll answer 'Are we ready for an orange speaker?'" — Paul Begala (hat Doonesbury)
David Seaton's News Links
It seems that much of the fate of the Republic is presently in the hands of a tearful man, dyed orange, whose surname is a homophone for what the British call a "stiffy". 
Thus, gentle reader, is our country's contemporary history being written. 
Make no mistake, the Tea Party has had a resounding success. It's principal mission, freezing up the legislative system by terrorizing moderate conservatives has been accomplished.
Why has this been done?
My encapsulated analysis of the present predicament:
  • America's social fabric is woven principally around the "dream" of upward social mobility and material prosperity. That's why most of our ancestors arrived on America's shores in the first place.
  • Anything that threatens that "dream", seriously threatens America's "domestic tranquility", which the Constitution considers fundamental to "ensure".
  • Globalization as it is presently organized is threatening the upward mobility and material prosperity of America's workers, the middle class and those who aspire to the middle class, thus nullifying America's "mission statement".
  • In short the survival of the Republic itself is jeopardized by unregulated globalization
  • To change that situation would require among other things much more regulation, elimination of tax havens and some sort of universal "Tobin tax".
  • That would cost many of the "good and the great" a lot of power, "freedom" and money.
  • To avoid all that bother, some of said "good and the great" stir up the inherent social and racial tensions of America's crazy quilt society, using instruments such as the Astro-Turf Tea Party,  in order to thwart any curtailment of their power, wealth and prestige by simply bringing the law making process to a halt, giving them time to think what to do next.
  • Thanks to the present campaign financing laws, the Republic is practically defenseless in the face of these wealthy predators.
The question surely is, "can anything be done about this?"
Something has to be done to fix America's infrastructure, fix the public schools, reduce defense spending, insure upward social mobility and generally shore up the middle class whose prosperity is the glue that holds American society together.
We have seen that a Democratic president, swept into office on a wave of popularity and approval, with a Democratic majority in both houses, has been able to do very little to solve any of America's most pressing problems except to shore up Wall Street and pass a decaffeinated health plan. By now it would seem obvious that it would be absurdly optimistic to expect much more from him or them, even if they someday regained that popularity and those majorities.

Yet something must be done.
I confess that I have given up hope on any great citizens movement in the style of MLK's civil rights campaigns financed by the "widow's mite".  Things have gone too far: the Supreme Court ruling, "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission" has made such a truly grassroots, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" scenario even more of a fantasy than it was when Frank Capra filmed it.
How could anything be done, or who could do something about this?
Since the politicians are up for sale, where can the victims find the money to buy them off?
Norman Mailer once wrote that the people of New York state voted for the über-moderate Republican Nelson Rockefeller, because they figured that since he owned most of the state, he would take good care of it. Perhaps that is the only path left.
Perhaps progressives or at least "concerned" and mentally stable citizens need to find their "own" millionaires. I think it  may finally come down to which set of millionaires you want to be ruled by.
If this be the case then we might hope that some public spirited super richniks such as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Ted Turner and George Soros might found and fund a political action community to put fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg into the White House and between them all pay for enough Astro-Turf to "terrorize" all the hacks in the Senate and Congress into passing some serious legislation.
Not exactly the "Audacity of Hope", is it, but maybe the only possible next step to keep the country from collapsing in its own hapless, helpless idiocy. DS


Forensic economist said...

25,000,000 people who voted in 2008 did not vote this time. They have given up.

Median income in the US is about $50,000. However, only a third of voters in the last election make less than that. Voters making less than that voted for Democrats, more than that for Republicans. (Actually, you have to go up to $100,000 income before you find a majority for Republicans) Voter turnout dropped by a third since 2008.

This is not a national mandate for anything. I don't think there was an upsurge of support for Republicans, but a dropping out of Democrats. Those on the bottom don't feel they have any stake in the process any more.

Given that the upper half of the income distribution is whiter and older, those voting were whiter and older than average as well as better off. Young, non-white, lower income people all voted Democratic IF THEY VOTED -- many did not.

The Tea Party is mainly better off older whites, despite all the rhetoric of Joe the Plumber.

From the Guardian:

Their source:

I recall you said you hoped McCain would win because he would inherit a horrible economy and wipe out Republican ideology. Instead we get Democrats giving up on the system and dropping out of the process. Their reward will be getting squeezed more with more layoffs, lower benefits, and lower wages. They will be told it is their fault if they are not successfull. They will believe it.

stunted said...

Don't hold your breath. Bloomberg is manifestly nurturing this posture of being the man in the middle who can bridge the chasm of current U.S. politics, but I see no sign of voters seeking that person. They're having too much fun shouting people who disagree with them down. Rationality has left the premises; choosing your own reality is all the rage; facts are biased. Those who consider themselves progressive are just as culpable of magical thinking. Their version of it has America surviving its current self-destructive tack because, as they would have it, America has always done so in the past. No need to worry. America is special. You have probably been away from the purple mountains' majesty too long and have forgotten this.

Americans are mightily pissed-off at the current state of things and, as William Pfaff stated in a recent column, those suffering the worst have just turned the country over to the footservants of the very people responsible for their predicament. It's part of our uniqueness. On the up-side, maybe agreeing to take only the scraps that the important and the wealthy throw our way from their feast will go some way to reigning in America's obesity problem.

Anonymous said...

Why would Bloomberg be a good candidate for your ideas of "saving the country"? He's fiscally conservative and opt to keep the "tax cuts for the wealthy". He may be socially liberal and willing to ban Happy Meals like they did in San Francisco, but he'd be just as likely to opt for more deregulation and market based solutions. I doubt he and George Soros would see eye-to-eye on most things.