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    • Democratic Congress Members Want What Republicans Want
      So, here we have it: On Hugh Hewitt’s show, McConnell says it’s “highly unlikely” he’d allow Biden to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2024 if he’s majority leader. He also doesn’t commit to allowing a vote on a nominee if a seat opened up in *2023*. “Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens.” This is the new normal. Republicans get all of their Supreme C […]
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The people who can master the Ring usually wisely turn it down

It just occurred to me that the Obama presidency is like what would have happened if Boromir had succeeded in taking the One Ring to Gondor.  They should have sent Faramir to Rivendell.


Anglachel has (yet another) informative post up, Primary Objective, breaking down the dynamics of primary challengers to incumbent presidents.  Go read the whole thing.  Here’s the conclusion:

There’s the landscape for a primary challenge. Anyone who would try this had best be ready to give up all hope of a political future, as he or she would be mounting a campaign against the dominant faction. There simply isn’t anything in the Democratic party analogous to the Movement Conservatives behind Reagan. Hillary is probably the only Democrat who has that kind of support and loyalty from her coalition, but is the last person in the party to deliberately undermine a sitting president that way. No other candidate has name recognition, an established base, and/or a defined cause.

Someone could act as a spoiler, much like Kennedy in 1980 or Bradley in 2000, but those two came in with media support and a dedicated base. Obama is unpopular in the party, but not mortally so (contra Carter), and he is still the beloved of the media (contra Gore) for intraparty battles, so is unlikely to be as damaged by a primary challenge as Carter or Gore. If there is another big economic shock and/or if unemployment stays as is or worsens, then the cumulative bad news may embolden challengers from his own faction and make the press distance itself from a loser.

Mostly, the danger to Obama will be in the general, where wider dissatisfaction, resentment voting and a less fawning press will put him in a condition closer to Humphrey’s or Gore’s in the general.

The trouble with the Democratic Party, an organization that is the worst in politics except for all the others, is that it has not discovered a way to recombine the populist and progressive modes of its liberalism in a way that matches the force of the New Deal coalition. Until it purged itself of the Dixiecrats, it could not do this. Since doing so, the progressive faction has not cared to do this.

It needs to build an analogue of the Movement Conservatives, and that cannot be done without the majority of the white working class once again agreeing that it’s material interests are best served by this party.

Now, I understand the reasons why she comes to the conclusions she does and I wouldn’t argue that her analysis would logically lead anyone to the same point.  But history does not necessarily have to repeat itself.  The facts lay out instances of failure when the Stevensonians have attempted to usurp the process.  What I take away from this is that there has been a schism in the Democratic party for quite some time now.  This is what Anglachel describes as the Stevensonians vs the Jacksonians.  I think most readers of this blog would say they are a little of both.  Yeah, admit it, you thought Tsongas was a contender, didn’t you? (Read the rest below the fold)

But I’m going to go out on a limb here and using absolutely no facts at all for this hypothesis will assert that over the last 40 years, the bulk of the country has been tending towards Jacksonianism, if that is a word.  And the reason I say that is because the American industrial landscape is a hulking, smoking ruin.  The working class no longer just works with its hands, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  The new working class now also encompasses workers in highly skilled, technical jobs that require a college degree or its equivalent. Pretty soon, the MBAs will be joining us, though they’re in a state of denial at present that they’re jobs are exportable.  The new working class is anyone who gets a paycheck for their income from another source.  This working class contains people like programmers, accountants, system administrators, chemists, biologists, geneticists, nurses and teachers.  They have now joined the busdrivers and autoworkers except that most of these new working class people have never been in unions.  They may have thought that their college degrees made them more “professional” and less likely to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that the older industrialized economy fought through.

Maybe the turmoil inside the Democratic party has as much to do with this new reality as the colossal stupidity of the Stevensonian wing.  Maybe the new working class has to come to some kind of understanding with itself and realize that the powers that be has taken the smart and well educated down a notch in the social hierarchy.  To the rich and well connected, it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have.  Your purpose in life is to become a handmaiden to the shareholders.  You are a specialist, a technician, a servant.  Nothing more than that.

Of course, there will be people who through circumstances or initiative will become self-employed or budding entrepreneurs.  These people carry the weight of their own survival and everyone else’s on their shoulders.  These are your new independents.  Neither party really offers them what they need but when it comes right down to it, they’d rather not pay so much in taxes for all their hard work.  And the bonus class is making more and more of these people as they cut these former wage slaves free of their former secure tethers to a steady salary.

So, maybe it is putting the cart before the horse to expect that this group will prevail against the Stevensonians, who seem to come from an entitled class of pseudo liberals.  As Anglachel points out, what made the Republicans the dominant force in American politics today, besides the obscene gobs of cash, is a movement.  And Democrats don’t have a movement.  The Obama Movement was a manufactured one, slickly produced by a marketing team in some conference room, complete with powerpoint slides with carefully researched images created by  professional graphics teams and finished off with plenty of branded swag in complimentary gift totes after an elegantly catered luncheon.  (Smoke filled rooms are declasse)  The reason it didn’t last beyond the election of 2008 is because it was a fad, like flash mobs.  It didn’t really have meaning to the lives of the new working class, who just didn’t want another four years of Republicans in power.

Obama needs to get this through his thick head: he was never personally popular among the Democratic base.  He was just “The Democrat”.  No one really liked him.  He’s not charming.  He doesn’t have magical oratorial skills.  He’s not a political wizard with a secret 11 dimensional chess plan.  He’s not even good at politics.  He was gently carried over all of the obstacles of the 2008 campaign by the media and his own party.  And he knows it.  If he’s insecure and thinks he can’t do the job he is clearly unprepared for, he’s got a good reason to feel that way.  If he’d waited 8 years, even I might have voted for him.  But he didn’t.  And the fact that he is NOT “The Democrat” that everyone thought they were voting for because they didn’t really have a choice, has left the Democratic base deeply disappointed.

But unless Obama bows out, and I sincerely hope that someone convinces him that it would be the best thing for the party and the country, he will go on to lose the 2012 election and we’ll be stuck with another mean spirited, hard hearted conservative Republican.  And this is something the delusional left, like Chris Hedges and Will Bunch have to get through their heads: no one they suggest as an alternative is going to win.  The country isn’t going to suddenly become infatuated with Kucinich or Feingold or Dean.  Nah-Gah-Happen.  These Democrats do not resonate with the voters.  And forget Elizabeth Warren.  She’d be a great champion of protecting the middle class from financial predators but she’s never run for public office.  Whenever I see this stuff in various comment threads I have to wonder if what color is the sky on the commenter’s planet.

What this country needs is a real movement.  That voting bloc, that movement, is just sitting there, with no one currently representing or championing it.  A savvy politician would appeal to the realities of this new working class, consisting of the old working class and the new educated working class.  There is one obvious frontrunner there but as Anglachel points out, she won’t be disloyal to her own party.  But would she be disloyal to her country if she thought that the country couldn’t survive another four years of bad government from either side of the aisle?

Which is more important?  Party or country?

But whoever that champion of the new working class might be, he or she is not going to be able to win as long as the new working class does not realize that they are all in this together and that the education of the college professionals and technicals must form a coalition with the older union and industrialized workers.  Until that happens, the Democratic base will remain fragmented and at the mercy of a bunch of snobs that populate blogs like OpenLeft and FireDogLake and journals like The Atlantic and newspapers like The Washington Post.  They don’t want to associate with or acknowledge the reality of the new working class and so they will not represent or speak for you.

You have to form your own movement and speak for yourself.  Then you can pick the candidate of your choice to represent you and your interests and tell the snobs to go eat granola.

Primary Responsibility

I just realized the other day that Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias are still in their twenties.  When I was their age, I was working full time and caring for a kindergartner.  My life was full of routine and responsibility, paying my bills and making sure the kid was well fed, dressed and safe.  I could still have fun, within boundaries.  The constrictions on by time and life were not too much to ask, though the money was tight.   I was the first person in my working class family, ever, to get a degree and that in a fairly difficult subject.

Things are different for the Matt and Ezra types who, it appears, never had to struggle economically for their ivy league sheepskins or current cushy positions behind the megaphone.  Now, that could be interpreted as a bitter remark, full of class resentment.  But to be honest, I see them as perpetual adolescents who have yet to feel the environmental stresses that would force them to grow up.  These immortals are going to live forever.  They just don’t live on the same tier of Maslow’s pyramid that the rest of us are occupying, or sliding down.  Their decision making processes, what and who they support and why, are radically different from ours. What they write about will not affect them personally.  They have the luxury of distance.

Of the most frequent contributors to The Confluence, half of us have either been laid off or have had an immediate family member laid off.  We have seen our salaries disappear, our health benefits gone or become prohibitively expensive, seen our family support team disintegrate.  The Mother of All Recessions is very real to us.  And we are not the steelworkers and industrialized disadvantaged, the low skilled workers of thirty years ago, not that there’s anything wrong with working with your hands.  No, the frontpagers of The Confluence who have lost their jobs are economists, academics, mathematicians.  Their laid off family members are chemical engineers and cheminformaticists.  These jobs require years of training and education and experience.  In this Recession, there is a fundamental shift in the nature of the jobs being lost.

This time, there is a plague of locusts, out of control, eating the seed corn.

The reason why this is happening is not because there are structural changes in the economy.  No one who has been paying attention to the pattern of unemployment believes that.  The reason why this is happening is because no one is stopping it from happening.  Congress and the White House have taken a very hands off approach to dealing with this problem. It’s not even good for business, although it will take a few years for that reality to sink in.  The result is a severe weakening of the economy.  If you are in constant fear of losing your job, you don’t spend money.  If you don’t spend money, more people lose their jobs.  It’s a vicious cycle that leads to deflation and depression.  You don’t have to be an economist to understand this, though Dakinikat can explain it to us now that she has plenty of time on her hands, when she’s not shopping for a salary.

I get very angry when I read about our expectations of the 2012 and 2016 elections.  There is a resignation that Obama has the Democratic nomination all sewn up.  There won’t be any money for a challenger.  That small evil group to which no one we know belongs has already made the decision for us.  We aren’t invited to participate in our own democracy.  It’s the Matt’s and Ezra’s and BTD’s out there who have crafted this conventional wisdom because there is no stress on them to perceive things differently.  To them, it goes without saying that Obama will get the nomination.  It’s tradition.  It’s his turn still; no one else gets their turn until Obama is through with his two terms.  It’s just incomprehensible to contemplate that anyone else would have the rudeness and incivility to challenge him.  And besides, all of the African Americans would abandon the Democrats.

That last statement is an indication of how disconnected the progressive blogosphere really is.  Do they really think that people who can’t get decent jobs are going to pass up the opportunity to vote for someone who they think can actually help them?  That they are so wedded to identity politics that they would forget which politician shoved them aside for the wealthy and well connected and which politiician has a history of doing the right thing?

It’s always been a mystery to me why the Matt, Ezra, Kos, and Chris Bowers types of the self identified “creative class” hate the Clintons so much.  They excoriate the Senator from New York for voting for the Iraq War Resolution even as they give John Edwards and now, Barack Obama a pass.  They complain about NAFTA, when North America is not the problem.  They lament the welfare reform bills without having any conception of how damaging welfare is for families.  No one *wants* to be on welfare, even if there will always be a tiny subpopulation of people who will need ongoing support because they are mentally or emotionally unable to cope with the outside world.  But somehow, the harshness of the actual bills, get attributed to the Clintons when their terms were actually hammered out by movement conservative Republicans.  They forget that the last truly liberal justices appointed to the Supreme Court were Clinton appointees.  Elena Kagan is no Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

And now, I am receiving emails blaming the Republicans in advance for proposed cuts in Social Security.  I have an idea, Jim Dean, why don’t you ask Barack Obama to disband the commission he put together to decide where the cuts will be?  And by the way, I’ve been paying into social security and the babyboomer trust fund since I started my career.  My retirement investment decisions were based on a portion of my income coming from social security.  It is too late for millions of us who are still decades away from retirement to make a course correction, nor do we want to.  We paid into it, we believe in it and we want Barack Obama and the Democrats to stop using it as a political football.

Social security has taken the place of abortion in scaring voters to the polls.  The curtain has been pulled back on the abortion issue.  This incarnation of Democrats doesn’t really care about women.  All they care about is manipulating enough of the people most of the time.  It is the same with Social Security.  I’m calling it out.  This is beyond reprehensible.  There’s an element of political calculation here that is evil.  If Republicans retake Congress this fall, it sets Obama up as a hero for defending social security from their most draconian cuts. Democrats may think they have the media eating out of their hands and can push this meme down the throats of every voter out there but voters are getting wise to them.  They see the disconnect between words and their lives.

We are invisible, Hillary told us in 2008.  We are still invisible.  But we are not powerless.  And we need not be helpless and drifting, waiting for the next wave to propel us towards some predetermined outcome.  If Matt and Ezra and the rest of the progressive blogosphere are disappointed by Obama, they should know by now that he’s not going to change.  He is what he is.  This is the guy they married.  He’s careless, inexperienced, immature, self-agrandizing, manipulative and selfish.  More time with him, persuading him to be better than he is, isn’t going to work.  He isn’t a secret progressive.  He is a political opportunist.  If your lives aren’t getting better *now* when he has all of the votes he needs and all of the money to influence people and all of the crisis required to exert his power, then your lives are not going to get better.  He is saving it all up for the moment when he thinks you will abandon him and then he will scare you into staying.  That’s what’s going on here.

If you stay with him, you are irresponsible.  If you don’t threaten him with a primary challenger, you accept the system as it is.  If you don’t allow someone else to take over the reigns and actually govern for the benefit of all of the people, then you allow the continued suffering of millions of families who will lose their tether to the middle class.

No one is entitled to four more years in order to check some accomplishment off of their life list.  Those four years have meaning to the rest of us.  And even if it is hard, we owe it to each other to not allow our country to be squandered and consumed by the ravenous few to the detriment of the many in order to preserve some kind of conventional wisdom.  That may mean voting for a third party, or one that already exists or it could mean insisting that Barack Obama step aside in 2012.  If we wait until 2016, it could be too late.

We all need to accept responsibility for what happens to us in 2012.

Starting now.