Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mandate, My Foot

Is America becoming  the stupid country? The easy-to-brainwash country? A country of lemmings? Other countries have lost their way in the past - Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Argentina, Mexico - is it America’s turn now?

Millennials and other young people made up  13% of all the votes on November 4.  Oh sure, it’s not worth voting, you say, because you are terribly busy, and the system is rigged anyway...Those are some of the excuses. Well, good luck with that! If you keep letting old men decide who is going to rule, you will continue to get screwed by the plutocracy  for the rest of your lives. Better learn to live with that. You make your bed and you’ll have to lie in it.

Reactionary Behavior: Obama saved us out of the Great Recession, the worst thing in eighty years, and Americans are practically ready to lynch him. What is that?

However, an  historical perspective might help: such reversals are common. In 1945, immediately after Churchill had saved his country, defeated Hitler and won World War II, the British electorate kicked him out and replaced him with Labour’s Clement Attlee. How is that for ingratitude?

Reaction and regression are part of history. In the words which  Lenin famously reversed: “two steps  forward, one step back.”

Take the French Revolution - 1789. It was followed by Napoleon’s dictatorship and a century of monarchy and restoration. Not until 1871 did France become a permanent Republic.

Ancient Rome, same story: There were many populist efforts at dismantling the senatorial and patrician oligarchy, for example those of the Gracchi brothers,  those of Marius and  those of Caesar, who was a populist. To little avail.  The aristocracy ALWAYS came roaring back. Sulla triumphed over Marius, the Gracchi and Caesar were assassinated. 
The US? Here, we had a Civil War,  Lincoln’s heroic presidency, his Proclamation of Emancipation, the 14th Amendment and  an attempted  radical Reconstruction of the Deep South. And then? The rise of Jim Crow laws, the KKK,  and  the sordid reaction which persists in some forms to this very day.

So now the pendulum  swings back once again. We are going through the “GREAT AMERICAN REACTION” (set in motion by Reagan, by the way). 

While we cry over the gradual abandonment of President Obama by the public, remember that  this, too, is fairly normal. Table One presents some of the data found at Composition of Congress.

            Table One; Presidents’ last two years, and Congressional Composition


Obama’s last 2 years
Clinton’s last 2 years
Reagan’s last 2 years

What happened on Nov. 4, 2014  tends to happen almost every time: By the time a President has served  for six years,  many  are ready to kick him out, or at least to kick out his party. Weird.

Among the three presidents in table One, Reagan was the worst off  in this regard. Yet, many (not me, but many) see him as a great president. Therefore we can surmise that Obama’s legacy and reputation will not be affected  by the Nov. 4 election results.

And then, what about our undemocratic “democracy”? Do you realize that every single election, INCLUDING THOSE WON  by Republicans, has MILLIONS more people voting Democratic than Republican?

This happened  of course when  George W. Bush and the Supreme Court stole the presidency  from Al Gore  in 2000. It happened when Republicans won a majority of house seats in 2010 and in 2012, and it probably happened again on November 4, 2014 (see More Democratic Votes).   It is astounding that despite the vastly greater proportion of old, conservative people voting, even on a day like November 4, there are more people who  vote democratic than republican!

Democracy schmemocracy!  Majority rule is circumvented  through gerrymandering, the electoral college and other tricks.

The Con Job:
Americans are a  generous and altruistic people; they  assume the best in others;  to their credit, they are not envious. However,   they are also na├»ve and gullible. They lack class consciousness. They often fail to perceive or to vote for their self-interests. On November 4, millions of lower middle-class people, little old ladies in tennis shoes, tea-partiers and other  people barely getting by on miserable incomes, voted in such a way as to make the 10% most opulent fat cats in  America even richer - at the little people’s own expense.

Now comes the next con job: After the election, Republican leader Mitch McConnell was like a pussycat.  Oh so magnanimous and reasonable. He is willing to work with President  Obama, he said.  “There will be no government shutdown and no default on the debt.” As to Obamacare? “We just want to replace it with something better.”

Republicans are now clamoring that  they are not just “against” things (Obama things). They claim to  have a positive agenda.  They want to accomplish things. For example, they wan to start with “tax reform.”

And here is where the con starts. Do you know what “tax reform” is? It’s tax CUTS. They say: (a) we’ll close loopholes and (b) we’ll reduce marginal rates and corporate rates. But I know what  will happen: only (b) will happen. Loopholes can never be closed. New rules can always be circumvented. When they eliminated the home office deduction for professors in the 1980s, all we had to do was to separate our writing  business from our teaching business in order to continue to use the home office tax deduction. “Tax Reform” will not be revenue neutral.

Replace Obamacare with something better?  Since Obamacare, Republicans have professed to be   concerned about health care. For 150 years, they have resisted all attempts  at providing health benefits to  the entire population, including the dozens of millions of poor Americans who have had to forego medical coverage. They have loved the fact that America’s profit-based health care system consumes 17 % of our economy, much of which has nothing to do with healthcare.  Are people blind?  Isn’t it obvious that the “better” system they want to introduce is  a  return to the status quo, sending back 60 million people to the uninsured rolls? Republicans have never given a damn about public health, only about the bottom line. Now suddenly that would change? Come on.

There will now be renewed efforts at privatizing everything, and further assaults on   government,  public services and  unions. Privatization will mean renewed attempts at handing over the last vestige of a meager “defined benefit” plan  - Social Security - to the grubby hands of Wall Street gamblers.

The plutocracy is on the march. America is becoming a highly stratified society. The “land of opportunity” now has a class system every bit as rigid as that in Europe, where upward mobility now surpassed ours.

The Power Structure:
As ever, the dominant power in America is the white, rich, middle-aged male. He is numerous, powerful, resourceful and cunning. No other group approaches his level of power.

The media are complicit. It is said that they are just the messengers, and that one should never kill  messengers. But the problem is that the media  deliver the message so badly. The media are fearful, and they therefore  collaborate with the power structure. Under the guise of “balance,” they give a pass to cheats and  liars.

When Ted Cruz is  interviewed by the allegedly “centrist” NBC, that network  lets him get away with an oft-repeated lie about Hillary Clinton: That she said  she didn’t care about our embassador’s murder in Benghazi. That is a lie. What she said was: “What difference does it make whether he was murdered by an organized cell or a spontaneous riot?”

When  allegedly liberal NPR interviews the Colorado legislator who introduced  a  more “patriotic” history curriculum, they let her get away with the following amazing statement: “We look at both sides of historical issues, both the pros and cons of slavery.” Why didn’t NPR say at that point: “you can’t be serious?”

The solidly democratic Sacramento Bee  prints more right-wing syndicated columns (Krauthammer, David Brooks, etc.)  than progressive ones - Paul Krugman being one of the few of the latter sort. So the allegedly “centrist” and “moderate” media kneel before the right-wing spokesmen.

Unlike the media, I will not equivocate: Flawed as it is, the Democratic Party is still a regular political party. Its goal is to improve the lives of the American people, including  schools,  infrastructure,  safety,  health,  environment.
The Republican Party’s goal is  to maximize the wealth of its supporters. It cleverly uses slogans and subterfuges - “freedom,” “individual responsibility,” “wasteful, inefficient and corrupt government,” “lazy takers,” “take America back.” However, their true agenda is to stuff  as much money into their own pockets  as possible. That is what  “the pursuit of happiness” means to them.

There is no reason for the Republican Party to exist. It is against people, against Americans, against justice. It should disappear. We need a multi-party system without a Republican Party. Americans who belong to the Republican Party  or who vote for a Republican are either dishonest or fools.

Now that the Democrats are nearly the opposition party (apart from that great Hawaiian-Indonesian-Kenyan-Anglo-American in the white house), they should start doing what the Republicans  have been doing for six years: Oppose everything, filibuster, paralyze every republican initiative. Obama can still achieve a lot through executive action, and he may even be able to push some legislation through Congress, as there is now a heightened expectation from Congress to finally “do something.” leave comment here

© Tom Kando 2014