Friday, November 05, 2010

The Democratic Debacle

The Republican Party picked up a swath of seats within the House of Representatives and several seats in the senate, although the Democrats retained their Senate dominance, riding a wave of enthusiasm among Republican supporters and taking advantage of the receding crest that is the demoralized and disgusted Democratic party’s progressive base and that is, speaking truthfully, the majority of American citizens.

The corporate press will no doubt spin elaborate and not so elaborate lies about how the Obama Democratic Party was for the most part dismissed in the midterms because the United States is actually a right leaning country and President Obama took the country too far to the left. Nothing could be more ridiculous.

The American citizenry holds social democratic positions on most issues. For example, an overwhelming majority of U.S. voters when polled have supported a universal healthcare system for decades[1] and viewed the lame, pro-corporate “healthcare reform” bill that did little more than mandate people to buy into the outrageously high-cost, dismally low-coverage, privatized, for-profit healthcare industry as a betrayal of trust and a selling out to precisely the same-old Wall Street friendly politics-as-usual apparatchiks that Obama’s campaign opportunistically and deceitfully ran against. The “financial reform” bill tells the same story, as does most of Obama’s policies, that is, when they are not significantly worse.[2]

Perhaps one of the single most painful losses is that of principled and independent liberal Russ Feingold in Wisconsin to Tea Party supported Republican businessman Ron Johnson. Feingold essentially lost by being associated with the status quo Democratic Party and the pro-corporate health care reform bill, an association so unfortunate it is difficult to formulate with concision.

Feingold was party to some of the best legislation and attempted legislation that has appeared in the last several decades. He struggled and achieved the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, along with pre-2004 John McCain, that took seven years to pass in opposition to the overwhelming might of corporate interests. Feingold was opposed to NAFTA and the spate of “free trade” agreements that serve as the foundation for the flood of jobs being outsourced to other countries. He was one of the sole principled opponents to the heinously illegal, anti-democratic, unconstitutional USA Patriot Act and, despite his support for President Obama’s healthcare bill, which he was repeatedly castigated for by Ron Johnson, he has long supported universal healthcare. In 2006 he authored the State-Based Health Care Reform Act that was to act as a “pilot program” for universal health care.

Katharine Seelye quotes Ken Goldstein, a University of Wisconsin at Madison political scientist, for the New York Times observing that “Independents deserted Democrats, period. This was not about Feingold’s record or the money or the advertising. It was about the anger of independents at the status quo.” Seelye observes that “the loss came…despite Mr. Feingold’s record of one maverick vote after another” and despite his independence and principled opposition to the status quo.

This is a distilled expression of John Judis’ observation that while “Obama deserved to lose…the country doesn’t deserve the consequences.” Nothing could illustrate this better than the situation in Wisconsin where one of the rare and unique liberal independents led by principle alone in opposition to moneyed, corporate interests was thrown overboard in favor of a Tea Party supported Republican businessman (sure to be as status quo and reactionary as anyone). The consequences of this alone are already quite unfortunate (although it is not too soon to predict a successful Feingold campaign in 2012).

The bourgeois press, certainly the outrageously partisan Fox News and its minions, are already beginning to churn out nonsense about the American people rejecting President Obama’s liberal agenda and that he must therefore turn to the right in order to regain confidence. However, the reality is that there is always a low turnout for midterm elections, those getting out to vote typically being of the right, there was enthusiasm within the Republican base which manifested itself in high voter turnout in Republican strongholds and there was a significant lack of enthusiasm within the Democratic base, manifested in low voter turnout in Democratic strongholds.

Patricia Elizondo, the Milwaukee International Association of Machinists local president discussed this lack of enthusiasm when interviewed by the New York Times. Elizondo observed that the union was not able to mobilize its members to vote in the same way they had been able to in 2008: “People have been unemployed for two years, and they’re unhappy that the health care bill was not as good as they expected…Two years ago, I had many members going door-to-door to campaign. Now they’re saying, ‘Why should I? We supported that candidate, but he didn’t follow through.’”

The only way for President Obama to regain the confidence of a majority of Americans is to keep to his campaign pledges, to stop being a business-as-usual functionary and to stop caving into some of the most extreme elements and compromising with them on far too important issues, but as any analysis of American political economy reveals, such a departure from within is practically impossible.

Therefore, let the establishment burn. Let this serve as a lesson to those politically coming of age that the left hand of the business party is no more to be trusted than the right hand and that the only way forward is to build an organized socialist movement guided democratically by the participants involved and beholden only to the people united.

[1] Noam Chomsky observes within Failed States that “[a] large majority of the population supports extensive government intervention…An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found that ‘over 2/3 of all Americans thought the government should guarantee ‘everyone’ the best and most advanced health care that technology can supply’; a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80 percent regard universal health care as ‘more important than holding down taxes’; polls reported in Business Week found that ‘67% of Americans think it’s a good idea to guarantee health care for all U.S. citizens, as Canada and Britain do, with just 27% dissenting’; the Pew Research Center found that 64 percent of Americans favor the ‘U.S. government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes’ (30 percent opposed). By the late 1980’s, more than 70 percent of Americans ‘thought health care should be a constitutional guarantee,’ while 40 percent ‘thought it already was.’”

[2]Such as, for instance, his alleged opposition to kidnapping, torture and special rendition that consists in reality of Obama’s Justice Department claiming that prisoners being detained indefinitely without charge or trial at a U.S. prison at Bagram air base in Afghanistan have no right to challenge these illegal transgressions through American courts. According to a UN report “ex-Bagram detainees reported being subjected to repeated interrogation involving torture or abuse.(James Cogan)”

1 comment:

The View From Steeltown said...

There is a serious disconnect between the political opinion of the majority of the American people and their elected representatives, hence the intense frustration with politicians. They just don't care what people want. They are too busy listening to their true masters: the economic ruling class, the top one hundredth of a percent income earners. That being said I think that the Tea Party is a spent force already. They have been co-opted by the Republican Party. What do you think?