Tea for Two: Will the Right Find Common Cause With the Left?

Courtesy of Glenn Beck, America’s #1 Teabag Gasbag, around 60,000 protestors marched on Capitol Hill today, and a more motley crowd you never saw. I use the word motley in the sense of incongruous or nonsensical, as evidenced by the protest signs they were carrying. Barack Obama can be many things to many people, but he cannot be a Marxist, Nazi, Socialist, Fascist, Kenyan Muslim Jew all at the same time.

You can’t have a protest if the crowd can’t agree on what it is protesting. By caricaturing Obama as the embodiment of all evil (quite a few signs depicted him as Satan), the protestors lost not only cohesion, but also coherence. So maybe the way to describe what this Teabag party had in common was ”œanger.” Also, they were virtually all white people, most of them baby boomers, no doubt a few of them carrying concealed weapons, and the overwhelming number of them seriously overweight. But here again, we get back to incongruity. How can anyone take your protest against socialized medicine seriously when you are marching in your motorized scooter, bought for you by Medicare?

We can’t dismiss these teabag protestors just because they are incomprehensible. In states where it is legal to carry weapons in public, a few of the protestors have showed up with automatic rifles, even at venues where the president himself was speaking. These protestors can easily evolve into the fascist, brown-shirt arm of the American right, ready to be used for intimidation or violence.

There are other, obvious reasons to be concerned. These teabag parties represent the newly disenfranchised white, rural voter ”“ the backbone of the Republican Party and its southern strategy. The outburst this week by Rep. Joe Wilson, the obscure South Carolina Congressman who called President Obama a liar during his speech to a joint session of Congress, was prompted by Obama’s statement that nothing in the healthcare reform package he is proposing would provide care for illegal immigrants.

The fear of immigrants is a primal constant in American politics, but since the adoption of the southern strategy, this fear is at its core a racial concern. Immigration in the past 30 years is no longer about poor white people coming from Europe, it’s about brown people coming from Mexico. Now that an African-American is president, protests against illegal immigrants can be a respectable way for people to say what is really on their mind ”“ they cannot accept a black person as president.

Something else that was highly significant about Rep. Wilson’s shout-out was that he himself was lying ”“ none of the reform bills in front of the Congress allows any provision of healthcare for illegal immigrants. Perhaps we should start with the fact that Joe Wilson doesn’t actually exist ”“ his real name is Addison Graves Wilson, Sr. Joe Wilson is a faux-populist pseudonym used to give Addison Wilson some credibility as an average Joe with the voters, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that he isn’t interested in the facts or the reality of what is actually being discussed and proposed in Congress.

Joe Wilson is the embodiment, as are the Teabaggers and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, of the challenges the political right in America has with reality and its well-known liberal bias. It is now perfectly acceptable for Republican politicians to distort and deny reality, assert any lie they wish about Democrats or liberals, and then have the hypocrisy to accuse the Democrats or liberals of being themselves the liars. This propensity confuses the political discussion (such as it is these days what with all the shouting), but the real danger it poses occurs when the Republicans win national office, because they no longer have an ability to govern effectively since they don’t operate in the real world. Supposedly it was Karl Rove who spoke triumphantly of the Bush administration’s ability to create its own reality, and this type of thinking is what virtually every Republican politician displays these days.

But what is most odd and fascinating about the teabag movement, and certain media leaders like Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs, is the tendency to lift themes from the liberal protests that began during the Bush administration, and to use them as their own. I’m not making an argument of equivalence here; George Bush used intimidation to wrest the presidency from Al Gore, while Barack Obama overwhelmed John McCain in popular and electoral voting, and won the presidency fair and square. What happened following these ”œvictories” was similar, though. The left never accepted George Bush as a legitimate president, and the right denies Obama’s legitimacy as well through the birther movement. The right has to use a trumped up, fantastical argument that Obama is an unconstitutional president, since it has no real facts to support its case, but the underlying core feeling is that Obama in the world as they know it could not possibly be president.

A second theme is the level of disgust each side has with deficit spending. Liberals watched George Bush turn the Clinton-Gore surplus into the biggest federal deficit ever, for the purpose of transferring more wealth to the rich and funding an illegal, misbegotten and mismanaged war. Conservatives see Barack Obama expanding the deficit even further, in an attempt to bring ”œsocialism” to America in the form of a larger, more intrusive federal bureaucracy. It’s not so much that either side has a problem with deficit spending, as it is for what purpose the spending is used. There is the usual heavy dose of Republican hypocrisy at work here ”“ after eight years of sitting by mutely, acquiescing in Bush’s reckless spending, the right is suddenly galvanized by fiscal prudence? Not really. It is how this money is spent that motivates Republican protests.

Both sides have miserable economic conditions they can decry and blame on the other side. The Republicans have much more to work with here ”“ the economy has tanked into a depression brought about by the collapse of the credit system. The Republicans have to abandon all sense of shame and remorse and wallow completely in hypocrisy, ignoring the devastating economic damage caused by Bush’s eight years of a housing bubble and financial deregulation. The more sensitive Republicans can just dump Bush completely and claim he never represented conservatism anyway ”“ he was a liberal in disguise. Just never mind the fact they didn’t dare protest him while he was in office.

The most intriguing similarity, though, is the reliance on anti-corporatism. The left has a long tradition of suspicion of corporate power to work with in its current campaign against vested corporate interests, such as the lobbyists that dominate Congress, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries that have wrecked health care, or the industrial complex that feeds off military largesse. The left has added to this a sense of amazement and disdain over the way the financial industry has not only destroyed the economy, but managed to get the taxpayers to fund their errors through trillion dollar bailouts.

Lou Dobbs has long been a voice on the right criticizing corporate influence on the political process, and he has been joined by Glenn Beck who forecasts an economic and social Armageddon as this depression rolls on, and who sees socialism or communism at work in the degree to which the federal government now has replaced the banks as the source of capital in this country. Leftist commentators were equally vociferous in condemning the banking bailout when Henry Paulson was running the show, but what they saw was not socialism at work, but crony capitalism at work and corruption and greed run rampant on Wall Street.

What the right and left have in common is a sense that the economic, financial and political system is broken; that corruption dominates policy making in this country; that this ”œGreat Recession” is greater than is being let on by the government; that the media are in the pockets of big business and the banks and are therefore not reporting on the true and desperate situation facing the country; that Constitutional power has been usurped by the presidency against the interests and rights of the people; and that social order is breaking down as this country slips into a third world banana republic.

There must be at least some partial truth in these feelings. There is after all deep economic pain being felt throughout an economy in which the true level of unemployment/underemployment runs around 17%, and in which living standards are deteriorating sharply. Both sides, therefore, have a surprising degree of unanimity on the problems. The left happens to see government intrusion as a necessary and temporary expediency to get the economy moving; the right sees this intrusion as permanent and a debilitating expansion of the socialist state erected by FDR and Lyndon Johnson.

The different interpretations of the role of government in solving this crisis are wide and deep between the right and the left. The critical question, therefore, is whether the similarities when it comes to recognizing the problems are enough for the right and left to find common ground. If they did, the country wouldn’t be quite as politically polarized as it is, because the right and left would be both arrayed against corporate power and the entrenched Washington political and media elite. To give an example, both sides would have reason to get rid of Timothy Geithner, Ben Bernanke, and the entire Obama economic team, because they represent the failed status quo. There would be agreement that change is needed, but there wouldn’t be much agreement on who or what policies were to follow.

Could we see a day in which teabaggers and liberal activists join forces in public protests? Given continued economic deterioration, anything is possible ”“ in fact it is quite plausible that many sectors of the public could rise up against the ”œestablishment”. What is missing is, first, the necessary economic collapse, and second, the right sort of leader. We’ve already had a terrible economic setback, and the road we are on suggests an economic collapse ala Argentina in this decade is possible though not yet probable.

But we definitely do not have the right sort of leader. Limbaugh and Beck are spokesmen for disenfranchised white people railing against their inevitable demographic status as a minority in a country dominated by blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other non-white immigrants. These men use the current economic disorder and disgust with the bank bailouts as tools to stir up what is essentially a racist movement. No one has yet appeared on the right who is able to play the role of leader in an effort to throw out the established economic and financial order. The cranky Ron Paul isn’t that person, though some of his ideas regarding the Federal Reserve and the cost of the empire have the possibility of resonating deeply across the political spectrum.

No one on the left has risen to that position either. Barack Obama had the potential but has shown himself captive to the status quo and much more interested in ”œfixing” a corrupt system rather than overthrowing it. He would need a massive conversion of spirit to want to overthrow the system rather than reform it, though again, anything is possible. FDR did not enter office as an agent for radical change; he became one by necessity and one can debate just how radical his changes were. To the average European politician, FDR looks like he brought a bit of European socialism to the US system, but nothing like what certain European countries have set up and come to love.

So the left watches the right and the right watches the left, each side criticizing the other, and neither willing to admit the remarkable similarities that have begun to appear on each side of the political spectrum. The similarities are in the diagnosis of the depth of the problems and the need to replace the existing establishment in Washington in order to do anything about it. We need to watch for a sequence of events to occur that would portend significant change for the United States. This sequence would include:

a) Substantial further deterioration in the economic order, for which there is reasonable expectation given the amount of debt liquidation still required from the private and public sector,
b) An awakening moment when the right and left realize they have common cause in overthrowing the economic and political elites which brought about this disaster,
c) The rise of a leader who can channel the anger into productive protest, and who can grab the levers of power, one hopes with constitutional legitimacy. This leader may be from the right or left, or equally possible, from neither end of the spectrum and therefore appearing as an outsider ready to chuck both liberal and conservative control over policy and the tools used to change policy.

Once these three things happen, the real fight can begin. Will the US accept more of the socialism that characterizes France, Belgium, the Scandinavian countries, etc.? Will a more rigid, right wing regime take over as is often seen in banana republics, and if so, what role will corporations play in a system that is often heavily reliant on crony capitalism? Will something else evolve?

Whatever happens, the potential for momentous change is growing. It is at these moments when a system that appears permanently rooted is most vulnerable. We are used to seeing the same men ”“ mostly men at least ”“ occupying the committee chairs in Congress, the cabinet and commission seats in the administration, the anchor and newspaper columnist posts in the media, the generalships and admiralties in the military. We cannot imagine all of them being swept away, much less their positions being abolished or disappearing in irrelevance. But such is the nature of our problems, and of our despair, that a mass political and economic extermination is not just possible but becoming probable.

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Numerian

Numerian is a devoted author and poster on The Agonist, specializing in business, finance, the global economy, and politics. In real life he goes by the non-nom de plume of Garrett Glass and hides out in Oak Park, IL, where he spends time writing novels on early Christianity (and an occasional tract on God and religion). You can follow his writing career on his website, jehoshuathebook.com.

23 CommentsLeave a comment

  • …this overly hyped (created) schism between left and right is worrisome. The racist card/deck is in play and unfortunately the disenfranchised always seem to go hard right because the Becks and Limbaugh’s play to that dynamic. I like your (potential) optimism, but fear the trap is laid and we’re hurtling toward the abyss. I’ve never seen this divisiveness (outside of the civil rights movement in the south) in my 64 years. Nam was pretty bad, but nothing like this.

    http://www.iauthorbooks.com
    http://iauthorbooks.blogspot.com/

  • You ask will we ever see the current right and left find common cause? I sure cannot see it. The rightwing teabag whackos are just simply too far divorced from reality to be taken seriously: torture is good, Obama is a Kenyan Marxist, Jesus walked with the dinosaurs, and Terry Schiavo is ready to dance a jig. They are angry and ready to do damage, but they will follow corporate shills like Rush and Glenn off the cliff, like they have for the last 30 years. They are very scary and very dangerous.

    As to the left, I lost the last vestige of hope when I heard about the healthcare “vigil” they organized a week or two ago. A vigil? Wow, that really scared the PTB.

  • As unemployment and personal woes rise, people may discover that the protests from the right and left are awfully similar in their criticisms. Especially at the beginning, more visceral stage of protest where solutions aren’t being proposed, and emotions are very raw, unlikely bedfellows may team together to accentuate the impact of the protest. Such alliances, even if temporary, have occurred in other countries, especially in Eastern Europe when communism collapsed.

    What we are talking about, though, is the perceived collapse of capitalism from the point of view of the left, combined with the right’s view that capitalism has been betrayed by oligarchs and robber barons. Glenn Beck certainly has set the stage for demonization of the oligarchs, even if he can’t spell the word correctly.

  • that the media are in the pockets of big business and the banks and are therefore not reporting on the true and desperate situation facing the country

    The media is the tool used by the powerful to maintain the status quo, which is: power of a few over many.

    A variety of analysts have argued that the mass media comprise a modern religion. And as James Laver has commented: “Woman is the mould into which the spirit of the age pours itself”.

    Like traditional religions, the mass media provide those repetitious pictures and stories which ritually demonstrate the basic order of the culture. In doing so (again like traditional religions), they socially construct reality , ingraining appropriate values and beliefs while simultaneously cultivating resistance to social change, a surrender to “things as they are”. Gerbner and Gaye Tuchman use the term “symbolic annihilation” to describe the treatment of female images in the mass media. Such annihilation is commonly expressed through stereotyping: women are projected in images which are condemnatory (“bad” women are deadlier and more vicious than even the “bad” men), belittling (women are shown as incompetent, silly, or merely decorative), or victimizing (women are made the helpless, fated victims of male violence). Another method of symbolic annihilation what Gerbner and Tuchman term absence, takes shape in the systematic obliteration of female presence in significant areas of the mass-mediated world.

    These same methods are used against all who are “other” to the dominant reality, i.e. the non-white, non-affluent, non-American, the poor, the aged, etc. Source

    Numerian states that Whatever happens, the potential for momentous change is growing.

    I believe that true and lasting change requires a fundamental restructuring of society.


    Tolerating prostitution is tolerating abuse and torture of women and children.

  • part I cannot. I do agree with the overall thrust: discontentment and economic cataclysm can and does make for strange bedfellows and is a precursor to revolution and/or dictatorship. People, left or right, who have nothing less to lose can band together for very short periods of time when absolutely necessary.

    But part of this piece comparing the right and left as mirrored interests and tactics is just drivel. An unintentional extension of the, “He said, she said” reporting in the MSM that passes for balanced these days. Let’s take a look at the principle goals and reasons each of these groups does what it does:

    ——

    * The left considered GWB an illegitimate president due to the supreme court unconstitutionally appointing him president and the mobs of right wingers that effectively shut down the legitimate recount in Florida (which consequently was being run by GWB’s brother.) The right considers Obama an illegitimate president because he is black (why even state the ridiculous claims of citizenship or religious mata hari-ism?)

    * The left protested vehemently against an elective war that has cost over 2 trillion dollars, killed ~5,000 young Americans, destabilized the entire mid-East, and has sparked recruitment for terrorist organizations around the globe. The right protests a proposed health care plan that costs $900 billion over 10 years, that covers every citizens, and shaves the profits of engorged insurance lenders.

    * The left wanted GWB (and Rove) impeached for: using the justice dept as a partisan political tool, spying on American citizens without purpose, oversight, or legal warrant, for illegally denying people habeus corpus rights, for purposely lying with every breath about Iraq and the “dangers” of Saddam Hussein, the list is too long to print. The right wants Obama impeached (lynched really) because he is black.

    * The left 90% of the time criticizes the right for misleading, incorrect, or inflammatory comments – or on policy positions. The right criticizes the left for being traitors, communists, facists, fags, and just generally un-American. Never a substansive argument over finding policy that works, never a negotiation entered with good faith.

    * Do I even need to mention the positions on torture?

    —-

    I’m sorry Numerian, these positions are not equal and they should not be treated as so. If the point of this article is to say that both right and left wings are composed of people and that people act similarly during mob mentality – then yes. I have no problem agreeing that the right wing is composed of human beings, I suspect they eat, sleep, walk, drive, dress, and excrete almost exactly as the left wingers. So they have objectively 90% similarity I suppose? But the issues that bring these people to the table are night and day. I think it is a far reach over a shaky bridge to see them coming together in any substansive way anytime soon.

    About the only unifying factor would be hatred of the rich. But again, the right has had its head turned around so much by Fox News and such that they think the solution to this crisis is LOWER taxes – they believe that like religion. They hate the rich so much they spend every waking moment trying to make them ever richer and pay back ever less to the public coffers. Good luck changing that.

  • Isn’t that what it means when the opposition adopts your arguments? Continuing the parallel to the Great Depression, I think it is perhaps 1930 in most of the USA, 1931 in California. We’re ready for something. But for what?

  • Barack Obama had the potential but has shown himself captive to the status quo and much more interested in “fixing” a corrupt system rather than overthrowing it.

    that is deeply at the root of the problem. NO one is ready to stand up and say the king has no clothes. Until Americans are willing to face the undeniable truth that free market anything goes capitalism has been a failure, there isnt going to be much real change. My guess is that Obama has a one term presidency, marked by serious economic failure, and is followed by some kind of populist who is willing to attack the status quo head on. The question is will we get a trust buster like Teddy Roosevelt, or some kind of right wing fascist. who knows? wait and see…

  • The left had legitimate reasons to question George Bush’s claim to the presidency. Even the MSM at the time recognized it was a very close election and was surprised when Bush/Cheney went off pursuing a radical agenda that not only wasn’t discussed in the campaign, but cut off half of the country from any discussion of the actions taken.

    What I point out is that the only way the right can appear to have any legitimacy in its complaints about Obama is to use massive amounts of hypocrisy, completely ignoring or whitewashing the past eight years of Bush/Cheney. I certainly don’t imply that a “he said, she said” approach to these problems is appropriate, precisely because it lends moral equivalency where it doesn’t exist.

    What I do find interesting is, despite the gulf in positions between the left and the right, both sides in diagnosing the problem are coming to similar conclusions: something is badly wrong with the system. The things some of us were complaining about two years ago during the beginning of the banking collapse are being complained about by Glenn Beck. This is too astounding to ignore. Many of the criticisms the left had regarding George Bush and Congress the right is now repeating, even though the right has not moral standing to make such complaints about Obama.

    Where is this all leading? Possibly to an alliance of interests between the left and the right, however temporary. Of course this idea sounds preposterous at the moment, but then we here at The Agonist have been saying some preposterous things for years that have now come true.

  • While I agree that both left and right are now angry at corporatism and corruption, I think the basic world view precludes their ever working together. The right wing believes in hierarchy. They want a leader like them, who will grant them their place above the lesser people. The left wing believes in equality. They want a society in which everyone can participate at at least a basic level.

    Now obviously, a left wing fond of referring to their compatriots as “sheeple” or other like terms has some problems with full embodiment of the equality and participation idea, but then a right wing that rejects the legitimacy of the sitting president has some hierarchy problems too. Nonetheless, no matter how much we may agree that the corrupt oligarchy needs to go, we’re not going to get together when they think “I deserve more than you” and I think “You deserve no more than anyone else.” Each of us will experience the other’s view as a direct strike at our humanity.

  • Thank you for clarifying.

    There is a possibility of that happening, but I think the much more likely scenario is one side produces a charismatic hero at the right moment who then moves into town and wipes the floor with the opposition. If this person is from the right, you get a dictator and likely lots of “re-education” for the Jewish Liberals in lovely, fenced-in, countryside locales. Plus rampant militarism and continuous economic failure. If this person is from the left, you get Teddy Roosevelt who bulls through big business like a linebacker on ‘roids.

    My money would be on the left to do this first, Obama could still be that person (very, very doubtful but possible.) The right will have a hard time getting that sort of person elected on a cult of personality – GWB/Cheney was that role and they have soiled the bed for the next poor sap.

    Great to be an American, too bad we all have to live in America the next decade 😉

  • There is the possibility of the left and right coming together on some critical issues. Climate change is one. As farmers in the heartland face drought and bankruptcy, steps to bring AGW under control are going to be something that legislators representing rural heartland voters are going to have to take seriously, because the rural voters they represent will be screaming in their face to get off their ass about it. Note that this will not be the result of the left influencing the right, but the right’s constituency kicking their leaders into action.

    They will not come together to overthrow the beltway lobbyist/military/corporate conglomerate because the the right, as you correctly stated, is not opposed to the status quo, just they become upset when the money gets shifted away from their pork.

    The right is crippling themselves by becoming over-identified as racists. They are really going to have to fix that. If there is one single meme that has stuck to the conservative movement it is that they are white racists. This is no-doubt exaggerated (after all the right gave us Alberto Gonzales, Condi Rice, and Clarence Thomas, all heavy right-wingers who are neither white nor racist), but it doesn’t matter, because the label is velcroed onto them.

    And the points that zot23 made are good ones.

    So Numerian needs to recognize; this blood-feud is too deep.
    We aren’t going to come together. We may both vote to fix global warming, or for certain steps to restore the economy, but that will still be each side fighting for its own agenda, not an actual alliance.

    The awakening may be that we finally agree: America has become too big to manage in a way that makes everyone happy. The political process has become too corrupted to be effectively managed from any position on the political spectrum, left, right, or center. Trying to push through simple, common-sense policies that would obviously benefit all Americans has become impossible to do. The financial plans and now the health care plan prove once again that anything good is going to be shot full of holes, watered-down, and footballed around to the point where the legislation is meaningless except for the politicians who get to yell “Hey we passed it” or “Hey we defeated it!”

    We aren’t going to have an awakening and an overthrow. We are going to continue to wallow and stagnate. It will be a long slow decline for American world dominance.

    So much of the sludge we have shot into our country’s political plumbing has soldified that the temporary, dressing-only type fixes that we are used to passing off for real legislation can no longer help us avoid being hit by the results of our past actions.

    Avoidance, lying about the issues, bait-and-switch, distracting the public with false memes, all the techniques we are so addicted to in the public sphere are not going to numb us from the pain anymore.

  • The two sides might come together on an issue or two, but only if everyones’ asses were on the line. The image I have is of right and left wingers lining up and pulling the voting lever while they hold their noses with the other hand.

    If for no simple reason other than abortion, there will be no coalition. Both sides have vaild abortion arguments IMHO, neither of the entrenched will ever give an inch willingly, and most everyone is more than willing to fall on their swords over the issue.

  • … infiltrates peaceful, legal citizen groups. Spies on all, uses intimidation on some. Uses paramilitary force domestically. Outs covert agents and makes other examples of dissenters, trouble makers. Fear is stoked and reigns.

    Still, its a process, one that needs cultivating. In power, out of power. No matter. The forces that marched this country towards a closed society during BushCo, still does so today.

    100k peaceful war protesters didn’t rank more than the Metro section in 2002. Today, ~50k fearful, incoherent wackjobs get page one.

    There are plenty of angles from which to use these useful idiots for the purpose of further eroding an open society. I don’t really see how the last election has damped the momentum much, if at all.

    Fear is still the tool of choice. There will be no meeting of the minds, IMHO. I see kindling being stacked by the cord. Maybe its just me.

  • Here in Minneapolis, the day before Obama arrived (at that event media focused on the most controversial of teabag signs, rather than the various socialists and more cross-partisan messages around) the Mpls police evicted Rosemary Williams from her home in a heavily foreclosed part of the city. Demonstrators got maced, kicked and arrested around the police line — the banks won again. I am wondering if the anger that the populist right (which Beck is gatekeeping on top of) has been developing towards the financial system fits into this… It was a pretty messed up scene.

    Later I think I’ll be able to post the workers from VPS Illinois (VacantPropertySecurity.com is really a creepy site BTW) who placed impenetrable metal panels on every window as the demonstrators chanted.

    There are a number of Minnesota women fighting foreclosure and the banks – see the video Fighting Foreclosure (trailer) to see how they want to fight the bad mortgages written by IndyMac fraudsters, can’t get cramdowns or rewrites on ARMs, and abused by MERS and other nasty entities.

    This is a bigger systemic swindle than healthcare, the Democrats are exceptionally complicit, and it will consolidate ever more wealth to the bankers unless it’s stopped. The cops indicated they are powerless to fight ‘white collar’ crime… More @ http://tc.indymedia.org

    Hongpong.com

  • read the whole post here

    It’s also why I am extremely unpersuaded by the prevailing media narrative that the Right is suddenly enthralled to its rambunctions and extremist elements and is treating Obama in some sort of unique or unprecedented way. Other than the fact that Obama’s race intensifies the hatred in some precincts, nothing that the Right is doing now is new. This is who they are and what they do — and that’s been true for many years, for decades. Even the allegedly “unprecedented” behavior at Obama’s speech isn’t really unprecedented; although nobody yelled “you lie,” Republicans routinely booed and heckled Clinton when he spoke to Congress because they didn’t think he was legitimately the President (only for Ted Koppel to claim that it was something “no one at this table has ever heard before” when Democrats, in 2005, booed Bush’s Social Security privatization proposal during a speech to Congress).

  • article with which I tend to agree. I don’t believe American anger has increased, but what has is the magnification of it by talk radio, and outlets that provide lots of space for it like Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.

    The poor state of world economies feed both right and left-wing groups to crank up the volume even higher. Having banks taken over by government hasn’t helped. Where and when is regulation being introduced into markets? Is no one ever going to jail–betcha questions like that are in both left and right-wing camps. The people least able to afford losses are being sucked dried–no wonder the crying is getting REALLY loud!

    Hopefully, if and when the economy improves, gradually the volume will return to being in more normal ranges. Unfortunately, at this juncture, introducing socialized medicine, isn’t going over very well. Perhaps, at more prosperous times, Obama wouldn’t have found it so difficult to introduce.

  • I would say the elements on the left and right that you are discussing are effectively disenfranchised and will remain so. What will cause real upheaval and genuine revolution in this country is when that credit uber-bubble finally pops and 3/4s of that notational wealth the middle class is desperately clinging to, simply vanishes. The powers that be are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to maintain the status quo and the final result will be that much more devastating to the financial system, the notational wealth it represents and the philosophy on which it is based. Think about all those government workers, media people, mid level bankers, just general office types that really make this system work and are going to support it, as long as it supports them. Yes, they are fearful they might be on the unemployment lines, but until they are, they will do whatever necessary to keep their jobs and the system will go on.
    But one morning they are going to wake up to a financial tsunami that will wreck that world and then they will really start to question what it is all about. That’s when the real revolution will happen.

  • I saw several blog posts on the 2-3 million people in DC for the 9/12 hate fest. They were really sad attempts to justify a PR trick. That crowd is a product of Glen Beck but also Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, a truly nasty crew. The left, as it were, is comfortable waffling between turning down a clearly flawed health plan and supporting Obama while he’s under attack by the deluded and hate filled.

    The fact that Obama has dreadful enemies doesn’t confer legitimacy on his health plan. But his health plan, if it passes, will pull the rug out of legitimacy for the Democrats. Do they think that we won’t notice the absence of a real plan or that four years is a long time for people to wait who lack insurance. Of course, if you’re insured, you have no real options unless you lose your insurance and then the option is to wait. I’d truly love to be 65 right now and just get Medicare.

    The organized right says, ‘He’s going to kill granny’ and what passes for the left says not much other than the predictable endorsements of the plan from people who should know better.

    Pass the plan, let it demonstrate that the politics of personality are useless on both sides, and make these politicians wear basketball jerseys with numbers and corporate logos of their top contributors (like NASCAR). Saviors or objects of hate are about all we’ve got going in the public arena.

    If we end up with more planning in the economy, a variation of French socialism, it will be due to a crisis, I suspect. More likely though, the looming crises will produce a real populist like Huey Long with embedded corruption. For a real socialist economy, one that can’t be tossed aside by corporate controlled election processes, we’ll need some DNA enabled event like a leap in consciousness. That will take even longer than Obama’s plan to mature.

    You paint a very clear picture of our intellectual dead calm.

  • I seriously doubt it, but that’s the largest and almost the only national venue for the kind of movement that could bring results we might like. Every other possibility, except perhaps for a strong independent challenge a la Perot, would be worse than the status quo. Discontent finding a home in the Republican party would be a disaster.

    There is no first-tier candidate for a primary challenge to Obama. Hillary and Obama had no real policy differences in their last primary campaign, so Hillary can’t credibly argue that she would govern differently. (She does have a constituency, though, and who needs arguments when you have a constituency!) Edwards could very credibly make that argument, but he has sidelined himself. Spitzer has also. Feingold is a legal, not an economic specialist. Sanders could perhaps make the argument, but it’s hard to see how an “Independent Socialist” gets far with any American electorate, primary or general. And at this point I think I’ve just run out of major figures. There is no Ted Kennedy to our Jimmy Carter.

    As for independent candidates, a Perot-type economic-renegade could really shake up the debate. I’m in no position to identify one beforehand, since I’m not particularly familiar with America’s billionaires, but a strong economic argument, whether from the Stiglitz-left or the Ron Paul-right, might find a receptive audience in a Great Recession 2012 America. The hoped-for effect would be to force Obama and the Democrats to move towards some economic model other than the one they now have — although if Obama has failed the country, and the GOP is still nominating Palins, then an outright victory for an independent billionaire wouldn’t be impossible. He’d have to be a renegade though, not a mainline predator like Bloomberg, for America to want to buy what he’s selling.

  • Are you serious?

    By 2012, it will not be a matter of who can climb to the top of the pile, because it will have collapsed. The dollar is going to crater eventually. After that, power will be a function of who provides the best triage. I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama doesn’t turn out to be pretty good at that, once he’s slipped the yoke of this encrusted power structure. A dollar collapse would be his 9/11.

    Possibly his piling on of the deficit is a way to spook the Chinese and speed up the process.

  • Washington Post, By Howard Kurtz, November 11

    Lou Dobbs, the most opinionated and divisive anchor at a cable network that bills itself as a straight-news oasis, resigned from CNN last night, saying he wants “to go beyond the role” of a television journalist in tackling the country’s problems.

    Saying he is acting at the urging of “some leaders in media, politics and business,” Dobbs struck a populist tone, attempting to position himself as a political leader who would take on “the lack of true representation in Washington, D.C.” He said that public debate was now defined by “partisanship and ideology” and that he would continue to speak out “in the most honest and direct language possible.”

    Liberal groups such as NDN and Media Matters had mounted a “Dump Dobbs” campaign, and Latino organizations challenged such Dobbs declarations as his 2006 statement that about a third of the U.S. prison population “is estimated to be illegal aliens”¿which the anchor later acknowledged was way off. But his position at CNN seemed secure, even as the network touted itself as a down-the-middle alternative to right-leaning Fox News and left-leaning MSNBC.

    The surprise announcement by Dobbs, whose fervent opposition to illegal immigration has come to define his career, stunned most staffers at the network he helped launch in 1980. He only hinted at disagreements with CNN President Jon Klein, saying that after extensive talks Klein had agreed to let him out of his multimillion-dollar contract.


    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

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