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Friday, February 08, 2008

Less Guns, More Butter

[via Seattle Times]
The way to get the country out of recession -- and most people think we're in one -- is to get the country out of Iraq, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

Pulling out of the war ranked first among proposed remedies in the survey, followed by spending more on domestic programs, cutting taxes and, at the bottom end, giving rebates to poor people in hopes they'll spend the economy into recovery….

Forty-eight percent said a pullout would help fix the country's economic problems "a great deal," and an additional 20 percent said it would help at least somewhat. Some 43 percent said increasing government spending on health care, education and housing programs would help a great deal; 36 percent said cutting taxes.

"Let's stop paying for this war," said Hilda Sanchez, 44, of Waterford, Calif. "There are a lot of people who are struggling. We can use the money to pay for medical care and help people who were put out of their homes."

It is striking to compare the overwhelming anti-militarist pro-social welfare sentiment expressed here to the campaign rhetoric coming out of presumptive Republican Presidential nominee John McCain: more wars and unending occupations, coupled with making Bush's tax cuts permanent and a refusal to address the healthcare and subprime mortgage crises with anything but the same shopworn "free market" pieties that led us into these messes in the first place.

I think it is foolishly premature to celebrate the hostility expressed by some social and religious conservatives to the McCain candidacy in these early moments of its ascendancy, as if these expressions of frustration represent the prospect of an inevitable victory for Democrats in 2008. To underestimate the capacity of Republicans to fall in line with a Party command, even when it directly contradicts the apparently deepest and most belligerently expressed convictions of the last moment, is to make an inexcusable error given the evidence of the last decade of turn-on-a-dime Republican about faces on everything from impeachment to rule of law to up or down votes to states rights to civil liberties to on and on and on. Nevertheless, I also do agree with those who believe that at least some Republican higher ups are essentially writing off this election as a strategic matter, and directing their serious attention to planning for a 2012 bid exploiting the pain that will inevitably attach to any serious efforts to clean up the catastrophic messes left by the Killer Clown Administration.

I happen to think, however, that these bright brittle Republican strategists may be underestimating the extent to which this election could represent at last a well-nigh comprehensive repudiation of Movement Conservatism's actually logically contradictory but apparently emotionally gratifying combination of anti-government with pro-militarist rhetoric. So, too, they may be underestimating the extent to which demographic realities (among them the more comfortable and open-minded attitudes of straight white younger voters toward queer folks and people of color) represent at last the crumbling effectiveness of the racist Southern Strategy on which corporatist Republicans have depended since the Johnson Administration to whomp up enough popular support to implement policies that benefit moneyed minorities at the expense of everyday majorities.

The effort to recast the Southern Strategy through a racist anti-immigrant politics seems to me exactly as doomed to fail in its actual ambitions as the comparable effort to recast the Cold War through the racist "Clash of Civilizations" in the Middle East. This is not to deny the mischief, violence, heartbreak, and injustice Republicans and conservative Democrats are managing to accomplish through these tired sequels of old 20C political frames, but it is just to suggest that this time around these gambits seem less capable of amping up hegemony and damping down democratic resistances quite so effectively for as long as they would need to do to keep people-powered politics from flourishing for good, especially in light of emerging p2p formations.

In other words, by 2012, Movement Conservatives may find themselves more deeply in the wilderness than they could easily imagine right now, even in the midst of their obvious current distress, given their long habituation to such sustained control of so much of the political discourse and budgetary priorities. Of course, corporate-militarist influence on the Democrats themselves may well manage to blunt this opportunity and keep the door open for the scoundrels and thieves of the Right after all. Heaven knows, if it had been up to me, most of them would have been impeached or forced to resign by now, and rotting in jail cells for war crimes, fraud, and corruption.

For now, I can only hope that Obama and Clinton are listening to the less guns, more butter message the American people are calling for so loud and clear. Certainly Obama would do well to listen to that advice much more than to the social security privatizers and tax cut crackpots who alarmingly dominate his team of economic advisors at the moment.

McCain could not be more palpably out of touch with the sentiment of the American people with his rhetoric of endless aggressive war together with his appeasement of corporatists by mouthing tired "free market" slogans we've all heard a million times before by now. Obama (and Clinton, too) need to get out in front of this and make their difference from McCain stark here, and align themselves with the American people whom they claim to want to represent.

1 comment:

Eric said...

but, but smaller (except corporate welfare and war) gummit! cut (rich people's) taxes! start more wars! freeeeeee (for corporations only) markeeets!...*sputter*...*wheeze*...*thunk*