Jim, I’m working on a longer essay which I think will address fully what you are asking. At least I’ll try. I’m hoping to have that up this week. For now, a few thoughts on your solidarity post. First, on Perry, my point was sort of that the election is over a year away, the first primaries still five months away, and I find it amusing how all the pundits, not just Brooks (who of course a few months ago said on PBS that he was sure Obama would win reelection) act like the state of things today is never going to change. Oh my, Mitt is done; Perry is the new front-runner! They all seem to forget that Mitt also fell out of the lead briefly when Newt announced, and was behind even Trump when he was pretending he might run. Steve Kornacki has a nice piece on it in Salon. Perry could well be the nominee, and it is also true that there are now cries for still more candidates; Paul Ryan, Rudi Guiliani, save us please! I’m not convinced the jockeying is done. That doesn’t mean I don’t take Perry seriously, it just means I recognize the election isn’t next Tuesday, and it amuses me that the pundits always act like the election is always the very next Tuesday, and that nothing will change between today and the election.
It has kind of long been true that Republicans are more united than Democrats. Psychological studies have shown that Republicans tend to be more people who want to follow a strong leader, and Democrats are more independent minded. So they’re never going to be a lock-step party the way the Republicans have been the past generation. Until now, anyway. It’s been a good show to watch them not be in lock-step as they have tried to deal with the tea party. (When can you remember a major party in the house with such enmity between their top two as there is now between Boehner and Cantor). And as we have discussed, the tea party for the first time now polls negative by more than half the country, which could be problematic for the Republican mainstream letting themselves be controlled by the tea party.
Their mantra of cut taxes, cut spending, shrink government, isn’t exactly a deep thinking philosophy (especially coming from the party that has run up about 3/4 of our national debt). I guess it’s pithy, and they certainly do a much better job of repeating it endlessly than the Democrats do with any sound bites. The Republicans seem to want the economy to stay bad through the next election because they believe that is how to beat Obama. All the Democrats have to do is run ads showing Boehner after the debt deal saying “I got about 98% of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy.” And then ask, “Are you happy? Did you get 98% of what you want?” It should be pretty easy to turn the lagging economy against the Republicans. (Well, easy for anyone but the Democrats.)
The overriding issue in this whole thing, which really does affect the messaging and what politicians can say, is money. The Democrats really can’t have a consistent, clear, united populist message because they have to run for reelection. And to do that you need tons of money. And since the richest one percent have about as much wealth as the bottom 90% of Americans, the only way to get the money to get reelected is to get it from that top one percent. Eric Shneiderman, the attorney general of New York, is standing as a lone true hero. As the Times reports and Matt Taibbi comments, the Obama administration is pushing hard for a deal that will lead to only minimal fines against the big banks for all that has gone on the past few years in the mortgage mess that destroyed our economy. They want a deal that would really be less than a slap on the wrist, with guarantees that whatever they do they will never face serious fines. Shneiderman alone is fighting for a more just outcome. He apparently is the only one not in bed with the big banks, as Obama and the other 49 state attorneys general are. Taibbi concludes it is because Obama knows he needs Wall Street’s money to win reelection, and it’s hard to argue that his conclusion is not correct.
So yes, I will outline my philosophy and address how I think things should be. And, until we find a way to get money out of politics, to return the power and influence to the citizenry, to the 99% of us who do not own half the nation’s wealth, then it will be simply philosophy. Important, sure, but impotent as long as we pretend we can turn a blind eye to the elephant in the room; the fact that we live in a plutocracy controlled by the wealthy few. As I’ve pointed out before, all you have to know is that over 70% of Americans (including a majority of Republicans) want tax increases on the richest Americans and on corporations as part of the solution to our economic problems, coupled with the fact that the idea can’t even cross the lips of anyone in Washington proves that we no longer have a representative democracy. And until we do, we really have a one party system in America, with two wings to the party. The ultra conservative wing, and the conservative wing, and both exist to do the bidding of the richest one percent, who get richer all the time while the rest of us get poorer. Ninety-nine percent of what you hear from politicians in both parties, from Obama on down (and like you, I often support him, and like him, and think that he would like to fight back more, but knows in the current system he simply can’t) is simply propaganda to make us forget this fact and get us talking about other things.