August 31, 2009

Some Political Thoughts

Filed under: Corporatism, Health Racket Bailout — Tags: , — Russ @ 2:36 pm
We often read about how Obama has been expending “political capital” on this or that. What’s the nature of this expenditure?
For example, on carbon mitigation and on health care Obama’s actions demonstrate that he wants to continue the status quo.
This is easier on climate change, since his base for the most part doesn’t understand the issue. They think Waxman-Markey is a good bill, so he has their support. So here he’s fighting a conventional partisan fight, which uses up less political capital.
But on health care, Obama is fighting a War of Choice against both the partisan enemy and his own base. This is of course far more destructive.
Obama’s delusion was that the Republicans would provide “bipartisan” political cover while he betrayed his base. But why should they?
If I were a Republican I’d be laughing my ass off at the way things are going. I’d say: We have Obama doing our bidding, pushing our policy, and we get to clobber him as a “socialist” even as he’s doing it. It’s perfect.
As dumb as Bush was, he always knew exactly which America he was president of, whose president he was, and he relentlessly acted on behalf of that interest. Bush was always on firm ground with his base, as schizophrenic as that base seems. That is, he always acted in the interest of the rich and of big corporations, even as he could still emotionally satisfy the lumpenproles. (Even as you skewer them economically, for them all that matters is to appeal to their “psyche”, evidently.)
Bush even achieved Obama’s dream of waging class war from above while getting political cover from the partisan enemy. Thus the Dems provided cover on tax cuts, Iraq, the assault on civil liberties, and general lawbreaking (FISA, telecom immunity, etc.).
Meanwhile what is Obama trying to do? The Emmanuel theory of politics is to try to out-corporatize the corporatists; to outdo the Reps in whoring out the country to corporations. But this is demented: corporations certainly prefer the Republicans. The ideology makes more sense. They only switch their allegiance when Republican incompetence and extremism goes so far as to absolutely disgust the electorate. This is always a temporary, tactical condition.
The natural Democratic base is the progressive, public interest base seeking the general well-being of the non-rich, the constraint of abusive wealth and power, the limitation of corporate psychopathy, the weal of the workers, the protection of the environment, and in general a more rational and just society.
This of course means the goal is not to appease concentrated wealth but to deconcentrate it; not to enhance corporate power but to limit it. Those who want these things comprise the natural Democratic electorate.
But it’s clear that the Democratic Powers That Be have completely betrayed this base. Even after 2000 they haven’t learned their lesson. They are irredeemably corrupt. They sold out the people who could know belief and loyalty for a temporary fling with those who simply wait for the first chance to rush back to their true political mate.
Politically, the Democrats are stupid and cowardly, while the Republicans, as deranged as they are intellectually and morally, know what they’re doing. For progressives to still dream of a rejuvenated Democratic party seems as faith-based a delusion as the worst we hear from lower middle-class crowd and their delusions about the Republicans.
In both cases, a dispossessed, disenfranchised group dreams vainly that existing organized politics will be and can be for anyone other than the economic elite. It looks like we need a companion volume to What’s the Matter With Kansas.  
[A note on alleged political pragmatism, something I’ve written about before and probably will again. Given the entrenchment or corporate power and feudal culture, there’s nothing “practical” about ratcheting down your goals to some wretched minimum in the expectation that such reasonableness will be reciprocated, and everyone will find a mutually beneficial kumbaya compromise.
With financial regulation, with the stimulus, with carbon mitigation, with consumer safety, with food safety, with health care, to name a few, we see how:
1. No matter how paltry your initial demand, the enemy will scream bloody murder and seek to rule it out.
2. Given your initial show of weakness (which probably does represent your real inner weakness) they’ll force you downward even further.
3. Even then they’ll try to defeat your castrated “reform”.
Thus, for example, Charles Grassley has done all he can to dilute any health bill to the absolute minimum of substance, and he openly says even then he’ll vote against it. And lately I read the “reformers” are grovelling before Olympia Snowe, begging her to agree to a gutted “trigger” version of the public plan.
4. Whatever mangled reeking lump of scratch paper does get passed won’t be enforced anyway, as criminals seek every loophole and “regulators” refuse to do their jobs.
So all this is the guaranteed result of the cowardly path of moderation and “pragmatism”. I’d love to hear of a counterexample from recent history. I sure can’t think of one.
No, one of two things has to be true. Either real Change is politically possible, or it’s not. Either way, we should strive for the greatest goals, the most far-seeing and ardently reaching Change.
The only way the kind of compromise the practicalists seek could be possible would be if the dynamic was so changed that real radical reform was also possible, in which case we should seek that. But if real Change is not possible, it’s for the same reason that moderate reform would not be possible, in which case we’d still have redeemed at least our integrity and self-respect by fighting for great goals, even if in a losing cause.
Of course, this all assumes those who claim to seek reform really want it. It’s clear, unfortunately, that for many the 1-4 process I described above is in fact the desired outcome.
And the great irony is that the cornucopian dream sought by most of these oh so pragmatic reformers, is the ultimate delusional pipe dream. Nothing could be less “practical”. So they’re vapid dreamers in both their tactics and their vision.] 

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