Doubling Down

I’ve thought for awhile now that part of the Republican extremism of the past few years is a doubling down. They see their time is running out, so they are grabbing all the harder for whatever power and money they can get before it all collapses around them. There are a lot of reasons for this. The Texas population is changing and it won’t be too many years before the Hispanic population turns the state blue (unless politics changes radically, and rather than doing that, the Right is doubling down on their long-held policies), and once they lose Texas it’ll be that much harder for them to hang on to any national power. And they have pushed us back to a new Gilded Age, with the very rich owning most everything (as I’ve pointed out in more detail in earlier posts, a country where 400 individuals have as much wealth as the bottom 150 million of its citizens, where the top one percent has the wealth of the bottom 90%, where about 20% of the people own about 80% of the stock market) is ultimately unsustainable (the last time we had this much inequality was just before the Great Depression). And there are signs that the country as a whole is waking up to all of this, which is making the Right panic and double down all the more. Witness Eric Cantor (don’t you just pity the poor man) decrying the Occupy Wall Street protests as pitting one American against another. He didn’t mind that when the tea party protests were doing it. But then, all he has ever had is a giant hypocrisy, where if Republicans do something is it all good and if Democrats do the same exact thing it is all bad (really, I just feel sorry for him). Paul Krugman is very eloquent making the same points today. It is a must read. I think the only real question is whether the country is waking up fast enough to prevent another Republican Great Depression. I think we’re still on the razor’s edge on that one. Time will tell.
Bill Keller has an entertaining piece in the Times today about the demise of the tea party. I do wonder if some of it is that they are just biding their time. I saw a Pew poll last week that showed only about a third of Republican voters nationwide could even name one of the Republican front runners for president. Pundits have to pay constant attention to all these things all the time, and I think the poll shows that most of the country has other things to do when it is still months from the first vote. The tea party could be done, and I won’t be surprised to see it ramp up when the primaries get close; after all, the Koch brothers will pump in money and do all they can to further the agenda.
I think this also shows that the Occupy Wall Street protests are more organic and not corporate funded, as their timing in some ways doesn’t make political sense. They know who the Democratic nominee will be, so there are no primaries to gear up for, and with the election still 13 months away it’ll be hard to sustain a movement for that long. So I do think it sort of just happened in a sort of hundredth monkey sort of way. Enough people finally heard about the wealth inequality in America and connected it to their own hardships and unemployment and said enough. And it may work out. By starting this early, it has a chance to become more organized and really push policy discussion and push Obama in the campaign for reelection. They have finally gotten Obama and Pelosi to have to actually acknowledge their existence, and that is a huge first step. It also shows one of the huge differences between Democrats and Republicans. There were plenty of Republicans in congress ready and willing to embrace the tea party from day one. Democrats shy from the extremes on their own side, and only start to acknowledge them when they reach the point of reaching the mainstream. It’s sort of an odd dichotomy; Republicans, who are ostensibly “conservative” seem always eager to embrace their own extremes, while Democrats, supposedly “liberal” are always cautious to embrace anything that doesn’t seem firmly in the center or mainstream.
Finally today I point you to an absolute must read from Mark Pocan in the Progressive. Pocan is a Democratic member of the Wisconsin state assembly who somehow got into an ALEC meeting in New Orleans. It is a must read for anyone who still thinks money hasn’t completely taken over and ruined our political system. I have a friend who is a banker who told me with a straight face that he didn’t think money really played that big a role in politics. His reasoning was that he had been given a $5,000 bonus with the understanding of course was that $3,000 would immediately be given back to his company’s PAC to be donated to politicians. And then those politicians would not take his phone calls. For three grand he thought they should. It was sort of sad; he thought he was a big player, but he was just a better paid pawn. The guy who runs the PAC will get his phone calls taken, not those who the money is filtered through. Pocan’s essay, entitled “Inside the ALEC Dating Service” might be the most important piece you read this political season. Give it to all your friends. If everyone in the country read it, we might have a chance to get our democracy back.

About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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