Update: Paul Krugman has a post on Wisconsin up at Conscience of a Liberal. He says not to give up but sometimes I feel like Frodo trying to carry that ring up the mountain and Samwise Gamgee is taking a nap when he should be helping out.
Are you up yet? Do you know what just happened?
Ok, let me fill you in:
The left is broken. It is unable to formulate a message that the voters understand. It can not explain cause and effect in a simple way that will get past the media filter that the big money guys have bought.
This is like the lead up to the Iraq War all over again. No matter how you try to explain it to the public, they still want to go to kick Saddam Hussein’s ass. The public threw away trillions of dollars in Iraq and there wasn’t a damn thing the opposition could do to stop it. In this case, the public is being lead to believe that taking away people’s pensions (and they’ll go after everyone’s pensions shortly, you know they will) is going to save them money. They don’t get the paradox of thrift. They don’t see that it will harm their economy down the road. They aren’t getting it because their brains are soaked in deficit reduction propaganda.
What could have possibly pushed back on that message? Well, it would help if there was a president in the White House who was trying to combat it. And it would help if Occupy was still getting people’s attention. But between the right wing smear campaign that Occupy consisted of a bunch of dirty, lice infested, public sex addicts and the actions of the DHS to squash the movement with militarized riot police, the push back of the 99% is having a hard time getting out. If I were the Democrats, I don’t think I would have been too hasty about jumping on the “let’s gag the protestors!” bandwagon. Because now, there is NOTHING that distinguishes the president and Mitt Romney. They both seem to be heading for a grand bargain and austerity for years to come.
And the people the left dumped in 2008? That is quite possibly the most tragic loss of all. They were angry at being written off and they were susceptible to right wing talking points. I have to say I am extremely disappointed at some of them for letting their emotions cloud their ability to think clearly. On the other hand, the left needs to stop blaming them. It needs to take a long hard look at itself for being cocky assholes in 2008 and thinking they were better than these people. It is the working class who is genuinely angry at how the left has abandoned them who are going to control this election.
The president has done nothing for them in the past four years. All he has done is allowed the rape by the bankers and the rich to continue. The working class may not yet understand how they are causing the economic misery to continue because they are being mislead. But the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of the left who think they’re hot spit and smarter than everyone else and left a big hole for the right to march through with their austerity messaging system.
If I were a Democratic activist, I’d do some soul searching and ask myself whose side the party and the president is on because I can’t tell anymore. And if I can’t tell, you can be sure that the people out there who think that slashing public sector employee’s pensions is a good idea can’t tell either. Social Security is next. I know there are people who will disagree with me on this but I am getting the feeling that the senior class is taking what they think we owe them and pulling up the ladder, leaving the rest of us who have paid into the system for decades vulnerable. Don’t think they won’t do it. If seniors think their own benefits are at risk and that there isn’t enough to go around, they’ll be more than willing to sacrifice the young to take the money and run.
You can blame the right for this because it has more money than God to pump out its poison propaganda. But I blame the left for doing nothing. For doing worse than nothing. I blame it for dismantling its own message machine and the movements that could have helped it. And I blame it for not having a leader who can or is willing to fight back.
I’ve got things to do today that will keep me busy, which is a good thing because I suspect that my side of the blogosphere is going to try to make excuses for what happened and just the thought of that is nauseating. Go on and talk to the air. No one of any importance is listening to a single thing you say.
Allow me to clarify my statement about social security and upcoming generational warfare because early in the comments thread, we already have one person who has instantly misread that and taken offense. Well, deal with it. Here’s how it will work: The right wing has already vomited enough propaganda to the seniors who are already comfortably retired to make them think there is a deficit problem and entitlements need to be cut. But the right has also lied to them and told them that it won’t be *their* entitlements that will be cut. Noooo, they’re already retired. It will be those lazy kids they raised who are at the tail end of the babyboom generation. Forget the fact that retired widows in their 70s have probably never held down a ful time job, understand what it is like to have to work for 10 years before they get more than 2 weeks of vacation or prepay their social security benefits in advance for 3 decades. No, to these particular Fox news loving, right wing leaning seniors, *their* generation worked hard for those benefits and deserved every penny. Your generation did not.
So, when it comes time to cut benefits, do not be surprised to find that these particular seniors have abandoned the social compact that makes social security workable. They will be perfectly happy to cut YOUR benefits and let you figure out a way of living on less. If you had led cleaner, more moral, upstanding lives, this wouldn’t have happened to you. You would have been more prosperous.
Do you see how this works? It is already at work in this country. The conditions are ripe for the Fox News loving, right wing leaning, social conservative seniors (it’s absurd that I have to spell this out to this degree) to cut us off. Don’t think they will not do it. We’ve just seen what voters will do when they think their precious shrinking income is going into the pockets of those lazy teachers and their pension funds.
I have already personally encountered several of these seniors, the last time was about a week ago who when two of them heard I was laid off told me in no uncertain terms that my future would be bleak and I would have to learn to live on a lot less even if I found a job. And not to expect to ever be able to retire. Nice guys. They had Republican campaign signs all over their lawns.
Yes, it sounds insane because if that’s the attitude they want to take, why would I want to contribute even one more penny of my potential income to support their comfortable lifestyle while they’re sucking off my prepaid social security account? How is this different from the taxpayers of Wisconsin’s resentment of the pensions that their public service worker unions are getting? That’s right. It’s no different.
It’s coming. I will eat my blog if we don’t start hearing about it more before the general election and the grand bargain. It’s deliberate generational warfare intended to provoke the same kind of resentment and stinginess that we saw playing out against unions.
Now, you can get all huffy and say I’m calling you a greedy geezer. I would never do such a thing and I am being very specific here. The people who will fall for the generational warfare message of “I’ve got mine, you go get your own” are the same people who don’t tend to think through right wing messages to begin with. But they are going to provoke a backlash against themselves, and you as collateral damage, if you’re recently retired, because once the pensions are gone for the late babyboomers and younger workers and once we’ve lost everything and the politicians start making it impossible for us to retire, we’re going to start wondering why the f&(* we have to pay for these morons who believe every stupid thing that the Fox News anchors say. You can’t expect the younger generations to be endlessly reverential towards their seniors and altruistic while the rich continue to sit on the cash and force their wages down. Eventually, the younger generations are going to start to fight back. This is just what the Republicans want. Don’t get mad at me for saying out loud what you secretly fear. Unless something drastically changes and Americans grow their IQs by twenty points, it’s going to happen.
You heard it here first.