Saturday, January 23, 2010

This Pretty Much Sums It Up

A commentator (Kall) at Matt Taibbi's blog made a passionate and excellent comment that perfectly crystallizes the frustration that many Progressives and liberals are feeling towards the Democratic Party. The comment is making its rounds in the blogosphere and I thought I'd help in spreading the word.

The idiot pundits proclaiming this as a protest to Obama’s “overreach” are just morons and deserve to be ignored by anyone with half a brain. In a just world, bankers would wipe out their savings, after which they’d be fired and have to stand in today’s unemployment lines.

The lesson Obama should take from this is that people are not fooled by Obama throwing out platitudes like “I didn’t run for President to please fat-cat bankers” and then appointing people like Tim Geithner of Goldman Sachs to Treasury, keeping Ben Bernanke around, and having people who caused the economic pain for so many people like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin as his economic advisors. And are not fooled when he does nothing but mouth platitudes, or makes a scene of phoning a bank to tell them not to buy a plane, as the largest round of banking bonuses is handed out the year after they did the financial equivalent of blowing up the world. And are not fooled when he gives a speech to Wall Street politely requesting them not to be so greedy, and that they don’t need to wait for him to enact legislation to change their behavior. And are not fooled when all the popular elements of reform like a public insurance option are gutted out of the health care reform bill in order to “pass something” and call it a win, and then lie that you “never campaigned on a public option” (for someone who ran such a new-media campaign, it’s pretty brazen to act like in 2010, people don’t have the YouTubes!).

Health care reform with the public insurance option was popular with 60% of people – the health insurance industry giveaway without it is popular with about 30% of people. And people are not fooled when he generally doesn’t enact anything meaningful because he is so comfortable in his bubble and so weak and “above the fray” of the den of rats that is Congress that he bows and scrapes to the 60th corrupt, brainless, and paid-for Senator like Ben Nelson or Joe fucking Lieberman for absolutely anything and everything.

I think Obama and his circle really believed that if he just talked the talk, and acted more empathetic in his photo-ops, no one would notice they were carrying on with the contempt Bush and Republicans had for the general public. But people did notice, and people who they counted on before to volunteer and vote for them because “they have no one else to vote for” are sick and tired of playing that game – not seeing a meaningful difference between the parties, they didn’t play the game this time and either sat out or expressed their disgust.

Whether he will take that lesson remains to be seen. He seems incredibly tone-deaf to me, and the corporate donors to the Democratic Party have no interest in that message getting through. Whether he’ll even feel the inclination to act on that lesson if it actually does sink in is also highly questionable.

I came of voting age just a little before 2000, and could never really understand why people would “waste” a vote on someone like Nader. And although I was a supporter of Kucinich in 2004, once he was out, favoring Kerry made sense to me. But I’d never really had a real opportunity to see the modern Democratic Party running things in my adult lifetime.

Now I understand why people vote third-party. When the country is teetering on the brink and can’t get by on non-solutions anymore, and avoiding failed-state status actually depends on starting to fix the problems rather than just pretending it’s trying, and EVEN THEN the Democratic Party can only respond by offering trillions to Wall Street and legally requiring people who can’t afford health insurance to buy it from private, oligopolistic, profit-maximizing companies, all because of industry’s hold on Congress… then there’s nothing else you can do. In such a sick system, all you have left is your integrity as the country goes to hell, and I understand with crystal clarity why people vote third-party.

I write for another blog in additon to MOA, Third Party and Independent Daily. One of the reasons I do so is because I feel there is a growing potential audience and constituency of people angry and frustrated by the two major parties and are looking for solid, political alternatives.

Third parties and independents operate at a severe disadvantage in the American political system. If people like the commentator I quoted above want political alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans they have to really want it enough to work for it and make it happen.

The good news: there are people and activists who have been working the independent and third party beat for years -- even decades. The angry commentator and those who share her anger should seek out and familiarize themselves with this marginalized sector of American politics and work to make it stronger and more viable. That's the only way we're gonna get alternatives to the status quo.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Obama definitely lost touch with what was going on with Mainstreet. He lost touch with what people were feeling. He lost touch with the more Conservative voters as well as his base. Ticked them off at the same time....while losing quite a few independents as well.

I said all along that this was a bad time to deal with Health Care Reform. The main concern of voters was the economy and jobs. They followed him for a while on Health care... until it got bogged down.

Can't blame him completely on the Public option. His proposals have to go through Congress...which he doesn't control. But he could have used his leverage more effectively. Also, the legislation was probably too big to begin with...and it should have been passed in smaller, simpler pieces.

Obama (and Progressives more generally) also lost the information war... and lost it badly. All of these problems, combined with the misinformation campaign by Conservatives and the bad timing, led to a pretty impossible situation. It was crazy to propose such an ambitious plan and huge expenditure in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the 1920's.

Obama also should have had a more ambitious ....and more effective stimulus package. More should have gone into actual sustainable job I had mentioned last year. What we ended up with was a bunch of wasteful spending...due to members of Congress grabbing money for pet projects in their own districts...instead of a cohesive job creation plan. An opportunity to fix the electric grid, improve rail and to jumpstart a Green jobs industry (and culture) was squandered. Now he's paying the price...for misreading the public mood and for also blowing the stimulus.

Voters have noticed that the stimulus pretty much fell flat (as I warned it probably would)...and now he's asking for more money? Folks are saying Heck No.

And I have also complained about Obama surrounding himself with Wall Street advisers, Summers & Geithner in particular. From day one I said that these were bad choices.

Now Obama is scrambling to try to look like a populist President...and may end up overcompensating and screwing up the economy more. He should propose requirements that the banks set aside much more money to absorb losses, and fix the "too big to fail" problem incrementally over a period of years. Instead, he wants to do this quickly...which will cause all sorts of problems with the economy. Something has to be done about the risky financial activities....but he shouldn't overreact (the overreaction could have unintended consequences).

But yes...since Health Care Reform started to look like a Fiasco over the Summer of 09, I was saying that he should have kept his eye on the ball... (the economy and jobs, jobs, jobs). I saw this train wreck coming.