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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 3, 2022 by Tony Wikrent   Strategic Political Economy “America Is Sliding Into the Long Pandemic Defeat” Ed Yong [The Atlantic, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-28-2022] “In 2018, while reporting on pandemic preparedness in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I heard many people joking about the fictional 15th articl […]
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Two Wrong Perspectives

I did not have time to see more than a few minutes of the news yesterday, so I cannot vouch for the context, but what I saw was likely quite similar to what was on all day. First, I flipped on the news for five minutes in the morning on MSNBC, and the chyron was something like, “Jobs report disappointing for second straight month.” The number of jobs created missed “estimates,” whatever that actually connotes. But the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9%!

It used to be that the only thing that the news focused on in these reports was the unemployment rate. Over and over, they gave Trump credit for this. Now we have seen Biden’s administration obtain an astounding drop in the unemployment rate, originally expected to not go under 4% until 2026. Further, there have been an immense number of jobs created. Often the numbers get increased from the last reports; I think 340,000 more jobs were added to the previous two months’ numbers, in this new report.

I am not an economist; and the “dismal science,” so-called, is full of anomalies and complexities. But by any reasonable standard, Biden and his economic team have done an incredible job in restoring the economy in one year, in all metrics. There is always a long way to go, there are always some numbers which could be better. But in terms of the number of people going back to work; in terms of salaries rising, it is incredible. Of course, inflation is an issue, and that is mostly due to pent-up demand, and the companies not having ramped up supplies sufficiently.

The problem is that the media continues to portray a picture of the economy which is negative, and very inaccurate. This allows Republicans to keep gloating about numbers which they would have held parades about had it been under Trump. And more significantly, it gives people the absolute wrong impression, even though their own experiences are positive in terms of their job situation. So it inevitably sets up the reason for Biden’s poor poll numbers. People are constantly told that things are bad economically, when they are mostly good. This is one small step away from the media constantly saying, “Vote for Republicans.” It has about the same effect, and it is appalling. If people are not told the truth, then they will come to the wrong conclusions.

So that upset me; but then in the twenty minutes more I spent watching yesterday, I saw a story on some organization in Georgia which appeared to have been running an ad, or maybe they wrote an article, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And this group, a spokeswoman for which was being interviewed, is saying that “unless Biden and Harris (scheduled to come to Georgia to emphasize voting rights) come with a firm promise to get the Voting Rights Bill through, and overcome the filibuster, we don’t want them to come here at all.”

And this Black woman, whose organization I assumed was of Black people, seemed quite proud of their stand. Again, I did not see the whole interview, so maybe I missed something. But the audacity of this appalled me. The article went on to say that Georgia had given Biden the election and the Senate, so he had better recognize that, and do what they demanded of him.

Well, first, Georgia did not give Biden the presidency, he would have won even without Georgia. One might as well say that Arizona or Wisconsin gave him the presidency. Yes, the two Senate seats were very important. But to say that Biden is beholden to Georgia, is absurd and selfish. California gave Biden by far the most electoral votes of any state. Does Biden owe California?

How about, every Democratic voter supports the party and its candidates in this crucial time, and realizes that everyone must do his or her part, since there is no alternative but to vote for all the Democrats? How about all for one, and one for all? What is this nonsense about Biden owing one particular state more than another, that Georgia is the state which gave him the presidency, so he must do what they tell him?

More importantly, how does this group propose that Biden force Manchin to change the filibuster rules? Threaten him in some way that I cannot conceive of? Take away his committee seats, which would cause McConnell to become Majority Leader? Yell at him on the phone? Wave the legendary Wand of Power at him?

We can be sure that Biden is doing everything he can think of to get Manchin and Sinema to change the filibuster rules. But how does he do it? Yes this is such an absolutely crucial time. And yes, if we do not get the Voting Rights Bill passed, we could lose the democracy. But the implication that Biden and Harris are not trying to do this, and so they should not even go to Georgia to press the issue, is insulting, to them, and to the Democratic Party. Does this group think that by writing this, they will get Biden to do the thing they want?

Democrats face many problems, as they are the only barrier against fascism. I’m sure they wish they did not have to be. But when only two Republicans, Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz Cheney, showed up at the Capitol to honor the people who battled against the violent insurrection of January 6 of last year, we can see where things stand. So this group of people in Georgia, who somehow think that it is Biden who is keeping the Voting Rights Bill from being passed, and not overcoming the filibuster, and are telling him, “Don’t come here unless you can guarantee us that you will do it,” are not only tone-deaf, but causing even more problems.

Republicans never criticize leadership. Democrats often do. There is a place for that. Sometimes I analogize Democrats to ancient democratic Athens, and Republicans to totalitarian Sparta. Democrats are really a loose amalgam of various groups. And every so often, one or more of these groups gets affronted, and complains. About a week after President Clinton was elected, some Gay groups complained that he was not living up to his promises on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” When Hillary Clinton, in the midst of the 2016 primary campaign, made a statement honoring Nancy Reagan, who had just died, and adding that she was an unseen voice in the fight against AIDS, some gay people got very angry, because President Reagan had not helped Rock Hudson, and said that they were reconsidering their support of Hillary.

These people and groups have the right to say what they want. But sometimes they go too far, and they are really just indulging themselves, and give aid to the Republicans. This is not an era where we can afford to let the Republicans win a battle. We certainly cannot, as may have been the case in earlier decades, afford to let them win the Congress or the Presidency. Because as a party, Republicans are the epitome of evil now. And because there may well not be a next time.

The Nader voters gave GW Bush the presidency, because Gore would absolutely have won Florida were it not for the 4% who voted for Nader instead. Jill Stein gave Trump the White House, along with the group of Sanders supporters who simply refused to vote for Hillary for whatever absurd and abysmally ignorant reasons that they held onto. Just imagine how different this country would be now if Gore and Hillary had been elected.

This new group might want to think about that, but they likely will not, because such groups are always so full of their own passion and certainty, and they refuse to consider the implications. It is as if the Democratic Party is always a potential hostage to one or the other of the fragments which threaten to break away from what should be a whole, in what has become a two-party, zero-sum-game framework.

We need more people to hold onto the wider perspective, and to realize the effects of blasting away at Biden or the Democratic Party, just because they are frustrated. I wish it were not this way, there should always be room for debate and different viewpoints. But maybe right now, people should keep in mind the famous warning by Benjamin Franklin, about the need to all hang together, lest we all are hanged separately. And I would like to see the Democrats as a group pushing back at the media’s almost unbelievable insistence that the economic reports are “weak” or “tepid” or “disappointing.” Because they are none of those things.

6 Responses

  1. Perhaps off topic:

    The USA’s Hard Left persists in the delusion that there is a vast, untapped army of potential Hard Leftists out there in White America, awaiting only to be energized and activated for the Left by a hard-charging, uncompromising, Dear Leader figure–a Trump of the Left.

    The Hard Left apparently believes that the Republicans clobber the Democrats in much of White America NOT because the GOP appeals, quite deliberately, to the racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry which persist among all too many of my fellow white Americans, but because the Republicans WANT IT MORE and DARE to HATE their ENEMIES, while Democrats are flaccid, boring wimps who want us all to get along and accomplish good and useful things.

    The Hard Left believes that the majority of right-wing Americans are not really right-wing–not really supportive of fascist or semi-fascist ideology–but rather, they are mere sycophants of bullies, and the Repubs project the Bully image better than the Dems, so all that the Dems (or Pure Left Third Partiers) need to do is to project as bigger and stronger bullies than the Repubs, to win over the loyalty of the sycophants.

    • IBW., I totally agree that the Hard Left, as you call them, is absolutely convinced that if the Democrats just ran people like Sanders, they would win everywhere. There is absolutely no data to support this, but they are sure of it. “Bernie woulda won” they said after they torpedoed Hillary in 2016. Some of them wanted her to lose, so that Bernie coulda gotten the presidency in 2020, but of course he did not, nor did he get the nomination.

      When McAuliffe, who did not run a good race, lost to Youngkin in Virginia, their takeaway was that if there were only someone from the Left running, he or she would have won. That the Democrats, perhaps deliberately, sabotage their chances t to win by not nominating more Far Left people. This ignores the point that if Democratic voters wanted such candidates, they would choose them in the primaries.

      We are generalizing, of course, but the Hard Left lives in a world of belief, and they will not deviate from it, and they will not compromise. Some of them may come around and vote for the more moderate candidates, but their writers attack such people nonstop. They still hate Hillary, and they didn’t like Bill, or Gore, or Kerry. I was not a follower of the Kos site, but when I occasionally would look at it, I would see the same attacks on these people. It is almost as if they are paid by the Hard RIght to do this, but probably not, they are just fixed in this dream that there will be a great revolution where the Left takes over. Some, like Susan Sarandon, seemed to believe that if Trump won, if the Fascists won, then people would realize that we need the Left in power. They said that just as Nazi Germany was starting, too. It does not happen.

      Finally, I am sympathetic to various Left positions. But I have seen enough of the debacles of McGovern’s campaign, and what Nader did to get Bush elected, and Stein to pull votes away from Hillary, to Trump and Putin, that I am more than tired of their efforts to undermine Democrats’ chances to govern nationally. I am more than happy to support very liberal candidates in states where they can win.But Sanders was a major cause of where we are. And Obama, who was not liberal, fooled the Left into thinking he was, because of ethnicity, and a well-crafted opaque background on positions, and because he was not Hillary. And how many on the Left see this, even now? They thought that Obama was the one they had been looking for, but when they got him, he did not do anything of what they said they wanted. Maybe they really didn’t want those things, they just wanted the image. Hillary was and is much more liberal than Obama. So was Kerry more liberal than Dean. They seem to just want the speeches, or the one issue, the AUMF, to stand for all of their belief system.

      • Prez Obama was a decent and intelligent fellow, but, like Bill Clinton before him, he underestimated the lunacy which had infected the GOP.

        I think that both men, to an extent, thought the Republicans were just posturing for votes, and so, once the elections ended, would go back to the way they were in the 1980s and earlier. However, the Dr. Frankensteins of the Pachyderm Party–Atwater, Rove, and their ilk– lost control of their monster to the True Believers, and I doubt they will ever recover that control.

        Obama, I think, was the first Internet President. I can’t imagine his being nominated, much less elected President, without the Internet, and its contagious social media–nor can I imagine those things for Benedict Donald.

        • I can’t imagine his being nominated, much less elected President, without the Internet, and its contagious social media

          Exactly. If you didn’t support Obama you were liberally painted with the R-word. Totally soured me on Obama, to the extent where I could never vote for him. His entire campaign hinged on Social Media.

          • Yeah, I got PO’d at being labled a r@c!$+. 😡

            That’s the main reason why I voted for McKinney in 2008 and Stein in 2012 (though NOT in 2016).

            However, had I known in 2012 that Stein was anti-vaxx, or at least anti-vaxx-tolerant, and also that she was either Putin’s agent, or at least Putin’s dupe, I would have voted for Obama in 2012.

            I live in the ruby-red Arkanshire, so I knew it did not matter whom I chose in the Presidential election, anyway, so I could indulge in protest votes in 2008 and 2012. I might well have voted for Obama, had I lived in a purple state. I support junking the Electoral College system.

            I have mellowed on Obama since then–despite remaining aware of his flaws, I like the dude now. I wonder now how many of the obnoxious faction of his apparent fans, even then, might have been Russian plants.

      • I suspect that if Sanders somehow had become President, he would be amazed at the speed and fury with which his fans turned on him the first time he disappointed them, as circumstances would eventually have compelled him to do.

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