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Monday, November 23, 2009

Not Looking Good

Some of the Republican healthcare lies are getting traction, at any rate confusing and dividing opinion in the public and in the caucus, and the Democratic numbers are showing it.

Republican numbers are even lower, so their ongoing refusal to participate in problem-solving no longer seems to be working as it did through an entire generation of a Republicanism that said "we think government is good for nothing" and then proved their case by being relentlessly good for nothing.

Since mid-terms often turn on turnout in the respective bases, though, Republicans are counting on a Left base demoralized by the necessarily compromised sausage-making that ensues in the aftermath of the poetry of campaign rhetoric around actually shared ideals and clearheaded If-I-Were-King policy prescriptions (a demoralization now exacerbated to the point of crisis by deliberate flabbergastingly irresponsible Republican obstructionism, of course) and on a Right base energized by the spectacle of unrestrained infantile celebritized id -- since at this point the Republican base is more or less the Mob, that most traumatized, enraged, precarious mass, irrationally belligerent (recalling that greed is a kind of belligerence), scarcely educated, often racist and who knows what else in the hate department, sometimes even outright theocratic.

It would seem that the mass-mediated lies and confusions, coupled with the real elements of crapola that freight any possibly passable healthcare reform at this point, taken together, mean that Democrats now face the ugly alternatives of taking a real electoral hit in the midst of an economic crisis for passing a confusing compromised bill, or not passing even this bill and taking an incomparably greater hit, possibly squandering their majorities, hobbling the President, shunting off absolutely necessary reform into a future in which it won't matter because it will be too late for America by then. Passage of the bill will be, on balance, a good thing, helping many Americans who most need it almost form the moment it is signed into law, but I no longer expect this accomplishment to provide electoral payoffs.

We get nothing better than a foot in the door, and this isn't enough to give the governing party a leg up in an economic environment such as this. And it doesn't matter that it isn't really the Dems' fault more than the Republicans who are likely to benefit from the mess electorally, especially since the Dems' toothless bailouts of the worst financial offenders really were so ill-conceived that our slimy smug corporatists do deserve a heaping dollop of blame, too, anyway. Not that the justice of making corporatist Dems pay for their mistakes with the loss of their majority would do anything at all to correct the situation rather than handing over power to just about the only people in the world hell-bent on making things incomparably worse.

It seems to me (not that anything I say matters or anything) that Obama can only retain the majorities he needs to get anything done in the face of Party of No obstructionism by purchasing these majorities with a jobs bill that gets money and security directly into the hands of millions of voters (filling potholes, planting trees, laying rail, shoring up bridges, insulating schools and civic structures, training nurses and teachers, and so on).

Budget hawks are making their neo-Hooverite noises, and whenever that happens they are always the only ones who get listened to even though they are also always completely catastrophically wrong about everything. Since they are saying what the rich want to hear it doesn't matter that they are wrong and will bring on the usual ruin. Given the ambiguities of healthcare reform, nothing is more important than ignoring the Hooverites and investing in jobs that make majorities of people feel government really is on their side and worth keeping in power.

More jobs or less votes for Democrats, it's as simple as that, and less votes for Democrats means the end of America, it's as simple as that.

The republicans are set on the road to outright fascism, the Bush years made that plain enough, and the truth of the matter is that I believe that dream is ultimately unworkable. But Republicans don't have to install fascism to destroy America -- they need only paralyze us long enough that we become a failed state in the midst of energy descent and climate catastrophe to destroy America. An America destroyed on those terms would not be the worst thing for the world at large, frankly, though there is no question that an America on the path to reasonable sustainable social democracy testifying to the power of the diversity of our immigrants and our commitment to free expression would be an undeniably good thing for a planet with a powerful authoritarian China in it.

So, we must somehow pass relatively unpopular health care reform, we can't expect to get the boost such an accomplishment deserves but must treat it as laying the foundation for longer term successes through ongoing struggle and count our blessings. Meanwhile, we've got to get people working else we're going to give a determinative voice in government to people who hate the very idea of good government and who will inevitably destroy this country because only good government can save America in the face of energy descent and climate catastrophe.

If the Republicans win big time in the mid-terms, or if Obama fails to secure a second term to the Presidency, I'm beginning to think you would be crazy to stay in this country if you are a progressive, intellectual, or precariously stigmatized person. Go to Canada if you can, South America, Europe or even India at that point, because that's where almost everybody will be who will actually be doing anything to solve the problems that matter to the future of the planet. I suppose Pacifica and the Northeast and maybe Chicago will hold on for a time to sanity in the face of the unraveling. But I fear it will be triage and martial law and tent-revival time in America most everywhere else, in a toxic brew of irresolvable irrational hatreds and Greenhouse storms.

Things are not looking good to me right about, I'm sorry to say.

The vicissitudes of the health care debate over the next month and the noises about whether or not jobs are going to be prioritized over deficits and hearing just how deep in the big muddy our troops will be (not to mention, no doubt, the impact of end of term grading and so on) will be driving my ups and downs from here on out right up through January.

1 comment:

jimf said...

> . . .often racist and who knows what else in the
> hate department. . .

I picked up an issue of _Newsweek_ in the laundromat
last weekend and came across this:

Raina Kelley
Play the Race Card
Why avoiding the issue doesn't help.
Published Sep 19, 2009
Let me say this clearly so there are no misunderstandings:
some of the protests against President Obama are howls of
rage at the fact that we have an African-American head of
state. I'm sick of all the code words used when this subject
comes up, so be assured that I am saying exactly what I mean.
Oh, and in response to the inevitable complaints that I am
playing the race card -- race isn't a political parlor game.
It is a powerful fault line in a nation that bears the scars
of slavery, a civil war, Jim Crow, a mind-numbing number of
assassinations, and too many riots to count. It is naive
and disingenuous to say otherwise.

So when Idaho gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell jokes about
hunting the president or South Carolina GOP activist
Rusty DePass calls an escaped gorilla one of Michelle Obama's
ancestors, it's racist. . . When "Tea Party" leader Mark Williams
appears on CNN and speaks of "working-class people" taking "their"
country back from a lawfully elected president, he is not just
protesting Obama's politics; he is griping over the fact that
this country's most powerful positions are no longer just for
white men. No, I do not believe that everyone who disagrees
with Obama is racist. But racists do exist in this country,
and they don't like having a black president. . .

So color me a little offended when the "mainstream media"
suddenly discovered that there might be a racial element to
the attacks on Obama. Maureen Dowd's Sept. 13 column in
_The New York Times_ is a perfect example: "I've been loath to
admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer—the frantic
efforts to paint our first black president as the Other,
a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie,
Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would
indoctrinate kids—had much to do with race." But at least
she did acknowledge it. A _Times_ piece just a day earlier
explained why Obama is so unpopular in Louisiana and somehow
managed to omit race as a factor. It took 20 paragraphs for a
Politico column titled "What's the Matter With South Carolina?"
to mention race. This hesitancy to even speak of racism widens
the divide between readers and the journalists who are supposed
to be covering the world as it is, not as they want it to be.
It also explains, at least in part, the popularity of alternative
news sources like _The Daily Show_ or the _Huffington Post_
that love to identify racist double-talk. . .