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Agent MattPosted: Apr 12, 2011 - 10:31

Genuine American Monster

Level: 70
CS Original

by BooMan
Mon Apr 11th, 2011 at 10:20:16 PM EST
The intertubes are clogged with the choral wailing of frustrated liberals. Digby provides a good example, but the same is available pretty much anywhere else you'd think to look.

The fact is that there is no liberal establishment willing to validate liberalism. Indeed, for reasons only they can tell us, they almost always go out of their way to exclude anyone who can readily be identified as a person of the left and rush before the cameras and into print to reassure America that they have no support. I have my theories about why that might be, but suffice to say it's a fairly easily documented phenomenon. There is simply no space in the establishment political dialog for explicitly left policy or rhetoric.

This is exactly right. But what's strange is that it almost seems to come as a surprise to people. Why was Dennis Kucinich the only presidential candidate who was willing to argue for single-payer health care? Because he was the only one who knew with certainty that he'd never get elected and have to try to keep his promise. No one is going to get single-payer through Congress in this country. Not now, and not in a hundred years. Were Edwards, Clinton, Obama, Dodd, Richardson, and Biden just too timid? Shouldn't they have tried to get a mandate for change?

The truth is that our government is set up to frustrate change. Our election laws and our media landscape create a lopsided political playing-field where those who already have huge amounts of money can pretty much guarantee that they continue to get more of it and everyone else gets less. We can make arguments. We can try to move the Overton Window, but what is actually achievable in Washington DC is extremely limited. There really isn't much sense in making a lot of promises that we can't keep. The only times the Democrats have been able to make breakthroughs have been brief interludes when we had enormous majorities. Right now, we have a small majority in the Senate and we don't control the House. Basically, in this situation, almost nothing can be accomplished, and even less can be accomplished on our terms. This is the context within which the president must perform.

And when the president makes budget cuts at a time when increased federal spending is one of the only ways to reduce unemployment, of course it is frustrating. But I think it shows a degree of political immaturity to not understand that the president is going to take credit for brokering a deal that both lowers the deficit and keeps the government open. The alternative wouldn't have helped unemployment either. The alternative wouldn't have prevented a lot of people from being hurt or inconvenienced.

Part of what is annoying me is that everything is being put through this prism where government spending goes in and a rainbow of awesome stuff comes out. Yes, in the particular situation we finds ourselves in, more government spending makes sense. But, as a general matter, our government spends way too much fucking money, which is why we are trillions of dollars in debt with no end in sight to the bleeding. When I hear people moaning that the president is legitimizing budget cuts, it just rubs me the wrong way.

Now, our spending addiction is obviously exacerbated dramatically when we refuse to raise any revenue. That's why it's crucially important that the president somehow succeed in rescinding the Bush tax cuts. And our priorities are all screwed up, which is why it is vital that the president succeed in cutting defense spending in any deficit-reduction package. He probably won't succeed in those efforts though, because Washington is rigged against doing anything that makes rich people uncomfortable. You have to know this. Nothing could be easier to see.

I stopped being very idealistic when I finally got around to making myself understand our system of government. I don't get disappointed by a whole lot because my expectations are so low. I see a real threat out there. I see a threat to our way of life and to all humanity, and it stares me in the face every single day. That threat isn't coming from Barack Obama or the Democratic Party. It's coming from the other side of the aisle. And insofar as the Democrats are failing to meet the challenge (and they are failing) the real culprit is deep and structural and ingrained in our system and in our laws.

You may have noticed that the right is engaged in this fight on a structural level. They go after the people who register voters. They pass laws making it harder to vote. They attack the unions. They attack They go after anyone in the media, be it Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Phil Donahue, or Dan Rather who expresses any skepticism about the right. They built their own cable news station and took over the radio spectrum. They make it so corporations can give unlimited money anonymously. They are coming after us with real aggression, trying to make it impossible for even middle-of-the-road Bill Clinton-style Democrats to get elected in this country. If we want to defend ourselves and ever see real progressive change in this country, we have to fight on this structural stuff. In the meantime, we're playing defense. And we can't do much more than that.

So, I'm obviously troubled and concerned about our country and the future, but I am pretty clear-sighted about what our limitations are and why we have to settle for so little. Our problems are not one man's fault. One man cannot fix them. But we also need to remember that we have one man standing between where we are now and an immeasurably worse situation. I think about that every day, too.

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CyborgJesusPosted: Apr 12, 2011 - 12:20

Level: 6
CS Original

Looks like a lost fight to me. I don't think the democrats would have nearly as much power if they had pissed off Wall Street and the major health insurance companies, which they probably would have had to do to "fix" the country.
It wouldn't be impossible, you'd just have to get a lot of people willing to flush their political careers down the toilet in a room and feed them strategy for a week, but I guess TZM will gain critical mass before that's gonna happen.

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Agent MattPosted: Apr 12, 2011 - 12:21

Genuine American Monster

Level: 70
CS Original

Just need to do away with Bush era tax cuts for those in the top income bracket.

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