Friday, December 10, 2010

The Zero Sum Game.

This post started off as a response and affirmation of the sentiments in the previous post by MyCue23, but it dragged on too long in the comments box and got cut off, probably because I’ve been holding my tongue/thoughts for too long and now there’s too much to say with any concision…

I ‘ve thought long and hard about whether to keep writing on politics because once again the American Left, the only alternative for sane people in the United States living outside of the community of the top 1% of wealth holders, are fighting with themselves again.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again, the Left, Progressives, Liberals, Pro Union workers, Socialists argue with each other, and the Right unifies in response to the turmoil. You don’t hear anyone on the Right saying, “We didn’t defeat healthcare reform passage, we need a ‘real’ Republican running the Party.” No. They patted themselves on the back for aborting the Single Payer Option and concentrated on what to sabotage next like Financial Reform.

Democrats, Progressives and Liberals who take an “all or nothing” approach to legislative progress for our society’s evolution, are only working toward the goals of their intended adversary: The Establishment and their self-approved Status Quo.

I’ve said it before: I’m not happy.

But I’m not willing to cede the reigns back to the craven, thieving enemies of this Republic, who rob every working man, woman and innocent child daily, just because we haven’t gotten as far as we wanted to go by last Wednesday. I’m certainly not going to handover control by hanging my hopes on some unnamed, principled, but ineffective articulator of my hopes who can’t get elected, and has no hope of nudging a swing state or hurdling any of the concrete barriers that destroy candidates in presidential races. This as yet unnamed, and somewhat imaginary ‘real’ Progressive (Liberal, Demorcat et al.) that my disenchanted fellow travelers on the Left are proposing is the respective gambit that the Republicans are trying to avoid on their very own side of the fence: Sarah Palin. Palin might be what their people want, but they know those people aren’t looking squarely at election night, and the way Palin would energize every person with an IQ higher than 90 to vote against her is the reason they openly express their opposition to her candidacy and influence.
It doesn’t feel particularly good to argue practicality, -ever. Especially when the future is on the line, and in politics it always is. But I’m arguing for it here at the risk of being called a sell out by my contemporaries. I’m taking the long view, further down the field, possibly as far down the line as the end of my life. I’ll stand with this President and his administration, and all the Democrats in office in the House and the Senate (even somebody I think has proven themselves to have been bought outright by lobbyists like Sen. Max Baucus), just as I criticize them for not going far enough, or not being tough enough. I remain a supporter of Democrats because resetting the clock and the score on Healthcare Reform (limited as it is), Financial Reform (weak as it is) is exactly what the Establishment’s political arm: the GOP and the Conservative base have always wanted.

Rolling back what little has been done is exactly what the GOP will do if they get into power. Taking everything back to a starting point, because you didn’t reach your goal in the time you wanted -- in the exact way that you wanted, still means you are further away from those goals, only with exhausted resources. You are back to the starting line as if nothing ever happened. The Obama Administration and the current crop of Democrats in office the last few years have moved the ball forward: on the environment; on consumer issues; on financial reform; on healthcare; on enforcing the Constitution. E.g. once you have passed a law making an activity, like rescission, or denial of covergae based upon pre-existing medical conditions illegal you can move forward and try to do other, harder things, like getting medical coverage for all college students, or lowering the Medicare entry point to age 50; or eventually a Single Payer Option, -unless...
unless you have to go back and fight issues like rescission all over again, -every single time-, every 20 years or so, as has been done since President Truman’s initial efforts to nationalize the healthcare industry (They defeated him by calling him a Socialist.)

Proffering a “real” Progressive as a presidential candidate, (which really is code for someone who is functionally, inflexibly uncompromising on principles central to 20th century Progressivism,) is unrealistic in proposed inception and possible practice in a country where Senator Russ Feingold was defeated by a Tea Party (Read rebranded Republican) candidate who publicly and unashamedly calls the assertion that climate change is a man-made problem, "crazy."

The best that could be done, somehow happened in 2008. Two men, who on paper scare the shit out of the duped reactionary masses and their wealthy and powerful masters made their way into the White House on the backs of a voting block that coagulated and solidified long enough to overturn the costly (and some will maintain illegitimate) election outcomes of 2004 and 2000.

As I write this, few are taking up FDR’s challenge to Labor leaders after his election in 1932: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." I don’t have a single friend who complains about this administration calling their Representatives or their Senators on any issues. They voted, and they figured that their job is done; ignoring the fact that it’s the house and the legislature that write and enact bills into laws, the White House ultimately only has a direct power to say “no” and propose Supreme Court judges. To those who say there is no difference between what this administration has done, and what Republicans would have done in their place for the last two years, I say: Marshal your imagination to consider what the Supreme Court would look like for a different perspective. I ask that all of us think of Healthcare Reform and Financial Reform and whether they would have come up even, solely, simply, as proposed subjects for theoretical discussion under a Republican administration. -I doubt they would have even gotten a mention from the podium judging from the last 8 years of a Republican White House. But in our living reality, -they were proposed, and heavily promoted by this White House, and the overwhelming majority of the people who voted President Obama and Vice President Biden into office, immediately forgot they had a Senate and House of Representatives to bring into line if they wanted to get anything done, ever. That’s never going to change no matter who gets into office. Having the President you supported elected is never enough, he needs direction, he needs post election support. Replacing a Moderate, Liberal or Progressive President every cycle simply forestalls the ongoing problems and sustains the dysfunction between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch in our government; a dysfunction that benefits the Establishment, the wealthy, the powerful.

It’s not too late too late to make them do it. …Unless we want to just erase all this meagre progress and start over from scratch, just like the GOP keeps asking everybody to do.

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Mycue23 said...

Fantastic post as always. I wish sanity and reason were the rule of the day but alas we are in the midst of chaos and madness it seems.

Octopus said...

Take comfort. I do not regard you as a sell-out. In fact, I have been saying the same thing at the Swash Zone and throughout the liberal community.

On the Lawrence O’Donnell Show (MSNBC) last night, there was Ralph Nader echoing sentiments similar to those of Galbraith: Obama is na├»ve, consorted with Wall Street criminals, caved to Republicans, gave away the store, and failed to control the message wars. Last and most brazen of all, there was Ralph Nader calling for a primary challenger to face Obama in 2012.

Ralph Nader: STFU! Had Nader stayed away from the elections in 2000, Gore would have won an uncontested victory. Had Gore won, there would have been NO George Bush, NO war in Iraq, NO tax giveaways to the wealthy, NO giant deficits, NO economic meltdown, and NO bank bailouts.

Primary challenge indeed! Ralph Nader is the Mother-Of-Self-Sabotage, and now he wants an instant replay.

Had we withheld our support for Obama in 2008, who would be our president now? Grumpy John McCain with SARAH PALIN at his side … one breadth away from the presidency! Give me a break!

When progressives divide against themselves, the Republicans win every time. And you wonder what is wrong with liberals? Chicken Little or headless chickens, take your pick.

SJ said...

Thanks Octopus,
I'm a long time fan of your posts. I don't want people to stop complaining or whining or whatever, but they should acknowledge what's been done, and keep applying pressure.
The should keep fighting, keep the Right playing defense and never stop. The GOP never does, does it?

and Octo, your citing of the Nader factor in 2000, is just a horrible fact of history -same thing happened to GHW Bush with Perot for a converse example that this blog's founder MyCue23, always reminds me of.
"It's deja vue all over again"

Manifesto Joe said...

The Irish poet W. B. Yeats has come to mind lately:

(From "The Second Coming")

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

SJ said...

Thanks Manifesto Joe.
That's very cool.
The Yeats is very appropriate and fitting these days. Yeats may have presaged the entire Tea Party phenomenon with his mention of 'passionate intensity' but unfortunately his words also foresee all of us, at one time or another.

Jack Jodell said...

Great and well thought out post, as always, SJ! One thing that was overlooked, though, which deserves some consideration. On the tactical side, the Obama team BLEW what was a fabulous 2008 campaign into smithereens. Once Obama was elected, they basically disappeared. WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The ones who gave us a huge youth movement in politics that enabled the President to win big failed to keep the base they created fired-up. Without a fired-up base to challenge every nasty Republican lie told about health care and the stimulus, the electorate did what it almost always does in midterms: most stayed home. Coupled with a newly-resurgent GOP courtesy of the manufactured "Tea Party" idiots, the end result was a drubbing at the polls.

Many of those who strongly supported Obama in 2008 aren't totally opposed to him now: they're still out there, ready to be marshalled into action again. BUT SOMEONE HAS TO DO THE MARSHALLING. The Tea Party are the same fringe group they've always been. Only this time, thanks to that bitch Palin and that lying Dick Armey's efforts, they were more fired up than usual and went out and voted. THIS CAN DEFINITELY BE OVERCOME.

The fact remains (and WILL remain) that the middle class is disappearing; the rich are getting richer at their expense; and voters are angry as a result. When they find that tax cuts for the rich do not produce jobs and that the Tea Party has caused them to lose even more ground, the focus of their rage will shift back to where it should have been in the first place, at the rich and their enablers in Congress.

Congress is not lost forever. The Democrats simply have GOT to start framing issues better and use the fear card against the Republicans. Obama must resurrect his base and begin doing so from January 3 onward. He WON'T achieve this by more compromise, however. He needs to grow a pair, realize that he is in the Republican crosshairs, and begin to FIGHT as if his political life and legacy depends on it, because it most certainly does!