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      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Romancing the PUMAs

Lambert posted about the Democrat’s growing election dilemma yesterday with some speculation from an EJ Dionne article. PUMAs are back, baby!  Oh Yeah!

Or should I say, the stupid racist menopausal uneducated working class sino-peruvian lesbians are back.  It’s very weird how the Democrats manage to mine the data and come up with this constituency over and over again.  It’s a distortion that kinda-sorta proves the point of the Mad Men post I wrote yesterday.  Computers can be extraordinarily useful but they also tend to be levelers.  There are descriptors that the guys (and they are almost always guys) did not collect before they ran their analysis.  Now, they may have enough information to get enough PUMAs to the polls in November but THIS former PUMA, and I suspect many others, will be a much tougher sell.  But first, let’s try to clarify what we mean by Clinton voter and PUMA.

From my own perspective, the acronym PUMA, Party Unity My Ass, was only useful through the 2008 election season.  I was a New Deal Liberal style Democrat who voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.  Unlike a lot of younger Democrats, I have a completely different and more realistic understanding of what the Clintons were up to back then.  I’m a late baby boomer who didn’t benefit from the earlier baby boomers’ advantages.  I was a working mother back in 1992 and I strongly identified with Hillary Clinton.  I saw “ending welfare as we know it” as a very good thing because the idea was only part of a strategy to introduce more of a European style welfare state with a national health policy, educational training, child care and housing.  It was all part of a package deal.  Then I saw both the Democratic party and the Republican party pick that package to bits.  The Democrats helped deep six the healthcare initiatives and Newt Gingrich’s Contract On America destroyed welfare.  That’s what happened guys.  You might have been studying and partying.  The rest of us were living in a grown up world.  As for NAFTA, I’m sorry, I think it’s a good idea to remove trade barriers between your two closest neighbors.  I had problems with some of the details but in general, these were Republican insertions, not Clinton’s.

We can talk about Glass-Steagel and Robert Rubin if you like.  In retrospect, deregulation of the banks and derivatives, etc, was a pretty bad thing but it was also an unstoppable phenomenon.  Clinton was NOT the driving force behind these initiatives.  From what I can recall, Phil Gramm was the nasty on the TV all the time ramming this crap down our throats.  Go look it up.  To this day, I avoid Texas just so I don’t have to run into that drawl.

Ok, so that’s my background.  You can read my credo in the tabs to find out what I value, and from the site statistics, someone(s) has become very interested in those values of late.

Now, when I say PUMA was only a 2008 thing, that means that to ME, after the election was over, it lost its meaning as a resistance movement.  The Democratic party lost me.  I officially rescinded my membership in the party in 2008 and only re-registered as a Democrat in PA last year when I applied for a new driver’s license here in PA after my move.  In PA, the primaries are closed so voters are forced to choose a party when they register to vote, unlike NJ where the semi-closed primary means you can choose a party on primary election day.  I think anyone who reads my credo will see that I am a liberal New Deal style Democrat but my party affiliation, in spite of my registration, is very tenuous.  In other words, if a third party came around that represented my views, I’d jump in an instant.  Also note that I’m not a fan of the Greens and don’t particularly care for the crunchy type’s irrational condemnation of GMO crops, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, nuclear energy and corporations.  I find some of the left to be as black and white in their thinking as the right and, frankly, I am losing patience debating the “religious” beliefs of both sides.  I’m also not a selfish short sighted Libertarian.  That’s where the rebels without a cause hang out. And you will never catch me voting for Republican ever again.  My one vote for McCain in 2008 was purely a protest vote against the Democratic party because of its unethical treatment of its own party voters in 2008.  It was not an expression of support for the Republican party or its cavalier, cruel, heartless, greedy, narcissistically malignant, lying, deceptive, destructive platform of “ideas”.

It was very upsetting to pull that lever and I will never forgive the Democratic party for pushing me to make that decision for a couple of important reasons.  First, I was deprived of an identity and second, I was deprived of voting for the first African-American for president.  But in my very important opinion, voting for the first ANYTHING was not a sufficient excuse to overlook or condone the party for rigging the primary and compromising what the party stood for. Some Democrats were able to overcome their moral resistance to what the party was asking them to do.  I could not.  That’s what made me a PUMA and also explains why PUMA lost its utility after the election.  I felt that that what was required to fix what was broken was something bigger, more organized and longer lasting than a slogan.  And then real life intervened and I couldn’t devote any time to it.

But PUMA did survive in another form on other blogs.  I can’t endorse these other PUMA blogs.  I have a sense that they were compromised by Tea Party and Republican operatives.  There was an irrational embrace of birtherism and a weird support for Sarah Palin.  This blog struggled with some of those holdouts for awhile until their presence got to be unbearable.  These are the people that I think EJ Dionne is referring to in his post.  What I think they have in common is their extreme anger at what happened to them in 2008.  They were completely ignored by the Democrats who circular filed their votes and topped it off with a smug, “we’re smarter and know what’s best for you, you ignorant working class ‘gits” attitude.

Oh really?  Those PUMAs who are still fuming on the Tea Party friendly blogs may not have Ivy League degrees or know someone who works in a “creative class” field but when it comes right down to it, the election of Barack Obama has done more to solidify the strangle hold of the oligarchs on the American public than any previous president we have ever had.  We have actually devolved as a progressive nation.  I will go so far as to say that Obama’s presidency has sped up that devolution.  You could argue that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have been different but my intuition (which hasn’t failed me yet in this whole mess) tells me that you would be wrong.  In any case, when it comes right down to it, the “creative class” that got fooled into voting for Obama in 2008 and 2012 is no different from the working class voters it dismissed so senselessly. To the oligarchs, you might as well be living on a rice paddy in Bangladesh.  Your ultimate fate is no different than the bitter gun toting church goers in rural Pennsylvania.  You can be economically ruined and made politically impotent just as easily.  That truth is just now dawning on you as you read The Divide and Piketty’s Capital and the latest study that says you don’t have enough money to make a dent in the lobbying shield wall of the 1%.

As for me, I don’t know if I would support Clinton in 2016.  My sense is that so much has happened to fundamentally change the nature of our country in the past 20 years that there would have to be a personality much bigger and more visionary than Clinton’s to drag us back onto the right track.  Could she do it?  Maybe.  But maybe she also recognizes the political landscape that she would be entering.  I saw her evolve during the primary season.  She was forged by fire and was gaining momentum when the party cut her off.  That was a mistake the party made out of fear but it made it prematurely.  By September of 2008, Elmer Fudd could have gotten elected as the first cartoon Democratic president, the situation was that dire.  In a sense, the election of Barack Obama was not a triumph of identity politics as much as it was one of panic and desperation.  But I have no doubt that under Hillary Clinton, there would have been more rehab and less codependence.

Slightly off topic, I find it interesting that so many people on both the right and the left are ramping up their anti-Hillary rhetoric.  Those Democrats who are still on the fence about her should take a moment to think about what’s going on there. Both parties are pawns of the oligarchs right now.  And someone in the Democratic party has pushing hard on the idea that if we just let Obama have his 2 terms, we could have Hillary in 2016.  That push acknowledges two things: 1.)People want someone to do something already and they’ve decided that the most likely person is Hillary and 2.) if you treat voters like children and make them delay their gratification, you can make them focus on some future uncertain reward while taking their minds off what they can do to help their own desperate situations in the present.  Whatever the left is currently spewing about how bad the Clintons are bears a striking similarity to the right’s mindless invectives against them to me.  And that suggests that there are some very powerful people who do not want Hillary to be the next president.  If she were already in the pockets of these very powerful people, you would expect less vilification, wouldn’t you?  Think about it.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this link to Phillip Zimbardo’s steps for overcoming situational influence.  The Democratic activist base should have read this before they flattered themselves that they were not at all like Kansas and couldn’t be fooled into doing anything against their own best interests.  I only recently discovered these steps but I think I’ve been wise to them since YearlyKos 2007 in Chicago when something just didn’t seem right.

As to the Democrats winning the election in 2014 and 2016, I’m almost getting to the point where it doesn’t feel like it will make a difference which party wins in November.  Having the Democrats in charge only slows down the slide to the right.  It doesn’t stop it.  And as destructive as the slide might be, I see very little evidence that the Democrats are motivated to prevent if from happening.  In fact, the dangerous collapse of the Republicans into crazyville only makes it easier for the oligarchs to get just about anything they want from the Democrats with very little effort.  Like I said before, I would gladly jump to a third party that is more responsive to my values.  At this point, appealing to me as a former PUMA is probably a waste of time because I see what I am to the party- a faceless data point projected onto a latent structure.

When the party starts treating me like an enfranchised citizen again, then we’ll talk.

 

OccupyWallStreet: Nucleation and crystallization

Update:  Here is a photoessay from The Atlantic of last weekend’s OccupyTogether rallies held throughout the world.

In one of the more recent comment threads, r u reddy pointed me to a guest post that David Graeber wrote for NakedCapitalism about the origins of OccupyWallStreet and asked me if I cared to comment.  Why, yes, yes I do.

But first, I would like to point out one line that caught my attention in Graeber’s piece.  It’s about Obama and young people:

How, then, do you expect a young American voter to feel, after casting a vote for a fundamental change to our political and economic system, on discovering that in fact, they have elected a man who twenty years ago would have been considered a moderate conservative?

And that right there gives you an indication about where Graeber is coming from.  To him, it is Obama’s betrayal of “young people” that he appears to be most concerned about.  In his post, he uses the words “young”, “youth” or “student” 2o times.  Granted, it’s a long post but by the time you’re finished reading it, you get the distinct impression that young people with student loans are the ones suffering the most in this economy. How does Graeber think the unemployed middle aged professional feels about the election of a man who she knew would be a moderate conservative during a period of economic crisis?  It just goes to show that Graeber doesn’t understand his movement.  So, what is David missing, because this thing is still solidifying and we’re not certain what it’s going to look like when it’s finished.  Here’s my comment response with editing:

I think David Graeber gives himself and his friends too much credit. Remember, the PUMAs were in Denver with much the same grievances. We were the working class (of all ages, genders, educations and professions) that got thrown under the bus in 2008. And there were hundreds of people who showed up in Denver at the PUMA headquarters.  During the convention, this blog’s readership spiked to 52,000 unique page hits in a 24 hour period.  There were many people who were deeply concerned with the direction the 2008 election had taken.  From what I can tell, this movement might have started sooner if the left itself hadn’t sat on it.

The problem is that there was no way in hell anyone other than Obama was going to get the nomination no matter how valid the challenger and justified the cause. So, we had to wait through a couple of years of Obama trying to parley with the repulsive Republicans, knowing that he was going to be a disaster. It wasn’t that difficult to figure out what Obama really stood for after his scorched earth policy in the primaries, the way he accepted the treatment of voters in Florida and Michigan, his thin voting record, his vote for telecomm immunity, his campaign’s tolerance of overt misogyny against Hillary and Palin, his courtship of evangelicals coupled with the disappearance of reproductive rights issues from Democratic congressional candidate’s websites in 2008, and his acceptance of millions in campaign funds from the financial services industry.  If young people had unreasonable hope about what Change!™ Obama was going to bring, it’s because Graeber and his buddies at DailyKos whipped them into a frenzy.  We regular people who saw Obama for the passive, opportunistic, investment class wannabe that he was had to live in the wilderness while people in Graeber’s cohort fell madly in love and then out of love with Barry. It was DailyKos that lead the jeers and taunts against us by scornfully calling us a “shrieking band of paranoid holdouts”. Jane Hamsher called us a “certain kind of woman” and to this day, most of the left blogosphere can’t get over the conditioning that associates PUMA with racism and bitter menopausal women who don’t have college degrees.  But now that the Graebers of the country are over their infatuation, the revolution can return to it’s regular program already in progress.

Secondly, I see this from a chemistry perspective. In supersaturated solutions, you can frequently get crystallization to occur by scratching the inside of the beaker with the sharp end of a glass rod. The scratch provides something called a nucleation site onto which a crystal can build. At a certain point, crystallization becomes a concerted process and the crystals fall out of solution. But it won’t happen unless conditions are right for crystallization. The concentration of the solution has to be high enough, the temperature has to be just so, it has to be scratched or seeded.

This is what we have with OWS. The conditions were right for crystallization and the movement fell out because they picked the right spot to scratch.
I see a lot of blather about anarchism and anti-capitalism and blahdeblahdeblah. I’m not sure those things are as relevant as Graeber makes them sound. That’s because the 99% consist of more than the friends he has with the crushing student loans and you will find people of all ages, genders and backgrounds at an occupation site. That right there should tell Graeber something. This was a movement waiting to happen that goes way beyond his little circle of progressive activists. This is a movement for former PUMAs as well.

And the movement is going to be what it’s going to be. It is an open source concept. That means that the users determine the way the end product works by collaboration, iterations, feedback and adjustments. Anarchism means absolutely nothing to me. (well, I know what it means, I just don’t think it’s a particularly good working model) Neither does tearing down a capitalist system. I don’t think the vast majority of regular people want to tear down the system. I think they want out from under its grasp.  They want an economy that works for them.   That may mean reviving and reinforcing the rules or setting up a parallel economic system without Wall Street’s dirty mitts on everything but whatever that means, the open source model demands that it is responsive to the users and can’t be determined beforehand by people like Graeber.

So, I think what Graeber and his friends did is scratch the glass. The public was ready for this. And now, he and his friends need to lose their egos and join with the rest of us so we can get things done.

By they way, Graeber is overlooking the strength of this movement if he thinks it is centered on young people. The reason it has become so incredibly successful is that when there is a big march, it is the regular working stiffs who show up to them. If it were just students, the media would have an easier time writing them off. But it’s not just students. It’s union people and unemployed people and teachers and actresses, and chemists and older people and families with kids. The 99% percent really means just about everyone.  It doesn’t mean “all 99%-ers are equal but some 99%-ers who are young with student loans are more equal than others”.  Some of us have mortgages and no jobs.  We count.

When I was at the march on October 5, I saw why the thing was taking off. The marchers looked like everyday people, not like a college pep rally. Graeber is already out of touch with his own constituency. Not only that but as wonderful as young people are, I’m surprised that OWS hasn’t taken advantage of the technical expertise of some of their sympathizers who are NOT 25 years old. We might be middle aged but most of us cut our teeth in the internet age. We wrote the first web pages, configured the first apache servers and played with the tools that brought us smartphones and social media. We learn quickly. It’s stupid to leave all that knowledge and experience on the table in order to celebrate youth to the exclusion of all else.

For example, there are a lot of unemployed scientific researchers right now.  To pass on all that talent, experience and insider knowledge while the OWS young people go on at length (and quite foolishly sometimes, IMHO) about the dangers of modern pharmaceuticals would be to miss out on an opportunity to make pharma work for the public at large and not just the big corporations.  Instead of going off on uninformed tantrums about how evil pharma is, they could be spending their time figuring out how to set one up that would be responsive to them.  Like having the 99% own the patents and decide what therapeutic areas to explore. I am willing to help take on this kind of working group on if there isn’t one already formed.  Preserving our scientific infrastructure is extremely important and there is all that talent and knowledge out there. This is something that “young people” and social scientists are unlikely to get a grasp of without our help.

If Graeber wants to keep this movement going, it would be much better to make middle age sexy and invite as many working class people in to share what they know that they have learned after years of experience. Youth is wasted on the young.

******************************

When I think of OWS, this is what I see – here’s another video of protestors singing Do You Hear The People Sing in the rotunda of the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.  Yes, there are young people.  But they are not by any means the majority or the only ones with a grievance.

The Democratic Party’s two halves: Is Detente Possible?

Ok, here’s my attempt.  Be gentle.  It’s my first time.

From Stirling Newberry’s blog post “The Truth, an Open Letter on why this American and This Left are Doomed” at Corrente:

A country is doomed when its opposition is so corrupt that it cannot be trusted to oppose. Let me name some names.

Let’s start with Jane Hamsher. She’s been called out to run for office by some of her zombies. But let me tell you some, though by no means more than an tiny fraction, of truth about Jane Hamsher. She’s sold the left out over and over again. Back in the early days of the Obama administration, many of her own writers wanted to oppose Obama, sensing, or in some cases have positive knowledge, that Obama was a marketing campaign wrapped around a messiah complex. She stopped it. Got people taken out.

Then she went into opposition, to collect the donation stream that keeps her afloat. Suddenly, in the abstract, unattached to anything, she looked like she was principled. But that lasts only as long as her interest does. Given a chance to have the mandate taken out of the health care bill, her young and stupid hatchet man Jon Walker is on the case, doing what is good for Jane and himself. Instead of taking the moment to say “single payor, nothing more, nothing less,” which would be the principled thing to do, she goes for getting the mandate with universal issue. Let me connect the dots for you. It is no secret that Jane Hamsher is a cancer survivor. She needs universal issue, out of all the things in the bill. Jon Walker is young, he would benefit by not paying the mandate. So does Jane, because FDL could not afford to pay the mandate, and making her own people eat the penalty would be one hypocrisy too far out of her legion of hypocrisies.

Will it stop the mainstream media from treating Jane and “chickenshit” Digby and their buddies like they are spokespersons for the left blogosphere?  No, probably not.  But at this point, anyone who is still bopping over to FDL with the idea that they’re going to get opinion reflecting what is good for the country, is probably chasing rainbows.  Stirling says Jane knew after the administration took office.  I contend that she knew when Obama was just a candidate for the nomination.  Digby admits to having serious doubts but didn’t want to piss off her commenters, some of whom, no doubt, were Obama operatives who inflicted themselves on many blogs at the time, including ours.

If you have a megaphone of any size and you do not exercise it to tell the truth to your readers, you’re no better than Fox.  To this day, Jane’s frontpagers continue to wale on the Clintons, reflexively, without a second thought as to whether a Hillary Clinton administration would be better for working class Americans than what we got.  If it even slowed down the rapidly accelerating descent of the middle class that we got with Obama, it would have been worth it.  But Jane and Digby and Markos did what was profitable than what was right.

How does that make them different than Hannity and Colmes?

We’ve tried detente.  They don’t want to join with us and push back.  They’d rather cling to their excuses for their crazy advocacy of Obama that lead to the ripping apart of the party and the destruction of their own political force.  They want to justify their tepid support of Obama using reasoning that made absolutely no sense at the time given the information at their disposal, let alone in retrospect.  And they want to continue to differentiate themselves from us by calling us names and racists as if whistling past the graveyard is going to somehow protect them from the taint of their working class status.

Whatever.  Just don’t come looking for support from us.  I used to think an apology wasn’t necessary.  But I’ve changed my mind about that.  They have insulted me in every possible manner.  Their actions have resulted in the worst recession in the past 70 years and one that is going to be longer and tougher than it had to be because Obama is president.

They owe all of us a big apology.

Don’t Expect Apologies From the Dark Minions of the Kool-Aid Kingdom

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Dear Riverdaughter,

There is an interesting parallel between the situation of anti-Obama Democrats and that of the members of the resistance in post-WWII France. Given these parallels, I think it unlikely that we will receive an apology from the dark minions of the Kool-Aid Kingdom, generally-speaking. I think it more likely that they will continue to attempt to diminish us, because our existence reminds them of their failings.

Preventative maintenance requires this rider. I know the situations are not equivalent. I’m noting something they share.

Furthermore, there is no doubt that the vast majority of Obama supporters were not engaged in scorched Earth politics. They are not the object of this analysis.

As France re-made herself after WWII, participants in the Nazi/Vichy structures were embarrassed by the very existence of those who refused to participate under Nazi power. They were even more embarrassed by the existence of those who fought the power. The existence of the Resistance stood in stark relief to those who participated in Nazi-esque collusion.

As establishment people, they overcame their embarrassment in two ways. The first thing they did was to deny and exclude access to the power structure to resistance participants. They also worked to remove resistance participants from the structure, where possible.

The second thing they did was fabricate resistance credentials and attempt to bury their collusion with the Nazis. They created the myth of their integrity. By preventing the possibility of comparison through their exclusionary activities, they safeguarded the myth of their integrity. Their large numbers, tied to the fact of their establishment ensconsement, enabled the myth to become reified.

It is unsurprising that the dark minions among Obama’s enablers, who practised scorched Earth politics within the Democratic party and beyond, continue to assault those who worked against his ascendance. We are living examples of their moral and/or intellectual shortcomings.

They are tied to the power structure of the party. The re-writing phase of their autobiographies is underway. Expect some to engage in rearguard, credential boosting actions, like shearing the hair of the less powerful, more identifiable members of the Kool-Aid Kingdom.

These actions will mean little, however, until the history of the Resistance is co-optively revised. To do so, they will need to make us disappear from the public eye, through means that deny our power or diminish our voice.

I expect no apologies from the dark minions of the Kool-Aid Kingdom. I expect they will attack us because it is the only way for the myth of their integrity to take root.

gandalf

Yours,
Steven

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The Zombie Tribe

Obama!  Obama!  Obama!

Obama! Obama! Obama!

What’s so hard about condemning sexism and misogyny?  Does it really matter who the victim is?  John Cole gets it:

You know, I have no idea what the hell David Letterman is thinking or what he thinks he is accomplishing with crap like this, but this was inexcusable. He should be ashamed of himself.

And I’m not trying to sound like some politically correct scold, and I have no problem with comedians being comedians. There are lots of reasons to dislike Sarah Palin, there are lots of reasons to not be impressed with her leadership, her beliefs, or, well, anything about her, but when you start with the “slutty” crap, or are making jokes about her daughter getting “knocked up,” you’ve crossed a line. I have no problem attacking Palin for her idiotic proposals and all the stupid things she has said, but this just is the kind of nonsense that is no good for anyone.

Maybe I’m over-reacting, and I know I’m not always perfect, but I’m really losing my patience and tolerance for this kind of stuff. There was no place for this kind of stuff with Hillary and Chelsea, there is no room for it with Michelle and their kids, and the same standard should apply for Sarah Palin and her kids. Hell, it should apply to all women.

But some of his readers don’t:

She worked that slutty angle —and no way in hell can anyone say certain men didn’t respond. Starbursts, remember? It was an image she carefully presented and I don’t get all the vapors people here get for her getting called on it.

By the way, this whole ‘insulting to women’ chorus of protest is so fucking misplaced. You people seemed to missed that the very real and much more damaging diss occurred when Palin ran for VP using her best MILF act.

Part of the reason conservatives loves them some Palin is she is an anti-feminist. What could be a bigger diss than to get where she is because she has a vagina and men like her because she’s hot?

She made herself into the lapdance the rednecks couldn’t buy (while pushing her high heels into the face of every woman who ever fought to get their due for their competence, intelligent and capability, and not for being a hot mamma). And somehow, amazingly, a comedian joking about Palin’s carefully cultivated Fuckable Me image is the thing that is over the top.

Sheesh. Some of you really missed what Palin was up to. Palin was the manchurian candidate for feminism.

The hot fuck-me chick who can’t be fucked. Like a slutty stewardess. She’s got the fuck-me thing going on but what can you do? Bend her over one of the seats? Unobtainable Sex Object. Akin to the Hot Librarian with the Big Glasses. (Another stock male fantasy character Palin more than hints at as well). Cuz guys, you know when she takes off those glasses and lets down her hair she’ll fuck you so hard on the book stacks your dick’ll be bruised.

Sure that’s stereotype that demeans women. Hell yes. But Palin is totally reinforcing that one. She’s projecting it: This is the modern Conservative Woman.

It’s a feature not a bug that it’s undermes feminism. Why do you think conservatives love this exemplar of Woman? And where’s the vapors over that?

It’s actually interesting that Letterman said ‘stewardess’. No flight attendants for conservatives. Women are stewardesses. Waitresses in the sky.

You can get pissed at Letterman but I think he’s noticing something here. It says more about how conservatives see women than Dave does.

Letterman did wasn’t nice. But comedians often say harsh shit. A difference between comedy and a comedian making gratuitous insults is whether it was true or not. Good for Dave for calling her on it. She doesn’t get to have it both ways.

That was one of many comments in a long thread (361 comments) where numerous people defended David Letterman’s misogynistic comments about Sarah and Willow Palin.  What was so hard about denouncing something that is obviously wrong? Why would these people defend the indefensible?

The answer is tribalism

Continue reading

Saturday: Forest and trees and The Marshall Plan

Yesterday, I was listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class and the topic du jour was The Marshall Plan.  As I might have mentioned before, my knowledge of history is non-linear as a consequence of having moved 14 times before I graduated high school.  So, I listen to podcasts like this to catch up on things that got lost in transit.  One of the things I learned yesterday about the Marshall Plan is that it wasn’t just a massive act of charity on the part of the US towards a wartorn Europe.  No, there was definitely an ulterior motive.

After WWII, Europe was so devastated economically, and then suffered a ruinous weather event in the winter of 1946 that killed the wheat crop, that the populations were suffering malnutrition and looking forward to debilitating poverty for decades to come.  George Marshall anticipated that the conditions were ripe for social uprising and a turn towards communism, what with Russia breathing down everyone’s neck in Eastern Europe.  In the wake of WWII, Greece was the first post war country to have to put down such an uprising but it wasn’t going to be the last.  So, Marshall devised his economic recovery plan to prevent the other countries in Europe from going commie.   There is plenty of historical precedent for the overthrow of governments when poverty rises and effects the majority and it doesn’t take much to set off an angry mob.  Marshall needed to nip that in the bud.

Where am I going with this?  Oh, yeah.  I was going to write today about the PUMA movement and principles.  I believe that a successful movement is based on principles.  I also believe that we are at a time in our nation’s history when the public is so fed up with the two party system that there is a window of opportunity to make a real change and the political principles of either party aren’t as relevent at the present time.  Our social safety net in this country is so fragile that it only takes a couple of missed paychecks or a catastrophic illness to put a family into insolvency.  The steady erosion of our quality of life has happened under the auspices of both parties through deregulation, regressive taxation, union busting and the outright fraud perpetrated by the financial industry and their cronies in the business management field.  Before the election last year, we knew that the Republican party was morally bankrupt but who would have suspected before November 2008 that Democrats would also seek the path of least resistance and sell us out?  Well, *us*.  We believed it because we watched it happening in real time with our eyes wide open and our minds unclouded by propaganda. But now, many more people know it too.

In order to make change happen we need to threaten the current power structure.  By threaten I don’t mean by the use of any form of sabotage or physical violence.  I mean we have to make sure that our elected officials know that we will toss them out and then we must do it.  The question is how do we do this?

The answer is in motivating voters to go to the polls to vote out people who do not put the general welfare first.  The public doesn’t like Republicans, even if the GOP has been more successful at channeling the rage into tea parties.  But the GOP is not in power right now and as long as Democrats feel they are safe, they are going to try to ride this recession out without biting the hands that feed them.  But once Democratic voters start to turn their attention towards their own party, then there will be hell to pay.  The question is, can we engage people outside the Democratic party to join us?  Yes, I think we can.

I think we have all had the experience of knowing people who say they do not vote for any party.  They vote for the individual.  And this may be true, although I think some of these people are influenced by the last voice they hear on the way into the voting booth.  But the truth is that there are very few Democrats running for office who haven’t sworn to uphold the party machine that gets them elected.  And once you buy into this machine, your chances of balking at the money that flows to you is very slim.  Without that money, you can’t run.  But is this true?

If it is true that people vote for the individual, what is it they really want?  I would say that most people want to be treated fairly.  They want to feel like they have as much right to representation as someone with wealth and connections.  The reason why people want fairness is because deep down inside, we Americans believe profoundly in promoting the General Welfare.  We believe that this country was founded because we wanted to be free from a power that did *not* see our General Welfare as important to its own survival.  Isn’t this the same situation we find ourselves in today?  The power is not a foreign one; it is homegrown.  But our welfare is completely incidental to its own.  We need to be rid of this power.

This is an idea that can potentially attract voters from many different political persuasions.  The recession is having a profound effect on Republicans no less than Democrats.  And when it comes right down to it, no one wants to see the end of Social Security.  Why?  Because it is an insurance policy against risk.  Now that Republican households are just as vulnerable as Democrats’, there are a lot more of us who want to keep it in a “lock box”.

We need to bring this home to Democrats in a very simple way, because, after all, THEY are the ones with the reins of power.  We need to primary as many of them as we can.  We need to register as Democrats again, find out what the local requirements are for Congress and Senate and just enter our names as an alternative to whoever is running as the blessed party candidate.  Getting our names on that primary ballot doesn’t take a party endorsement.  In fact, I wouldn’t expect one.  But in a primary, you don’t need to be known or popular or a politician to be an active citizen interested in public service.  Those of you who are unemployed can look forward to a nice salary and health benefits.  All you need to be is another name on that ballot under the Democratic party. Call yourself a PUMAcrat.  Throw some coffees and cocktail parties.  Then see what happens.

Now, there will probably be campaign ads against you saying you aren’t connected enough.  In this environment, that could be a plus.  There will be people digging up dirt about you and your family and your unpaid car registration.  Tell them those without sin can cast the first stone.  There will be people who will say you don’t know enough about the issues.  Um, if you are reading blogs instead of the mainstream media, you can run circles around anyone making that claim.

If we manage to upset some races around the country, it may put the fear of God into our party officials and the tide may turn in our favor.

If we don’t do it, we can look forward to social unrest.  It’s coming.  The financial aces who have been riding high on our 401K contributions are busily tunneling out our economy.  To them, it’s all global now.  What happens in the US is collateral damage as they race to the bottom chasing lower and lower labor costs.  It’s very short term thinking but they aren’t worried about it right now.  It is time to focus our elected officials’ attention.

It’s either reform now or socialism later.

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