Saturday, January 29, 2011

We, the confused

I truly enjoy the writing of Mark Ames--and have since he and Matt Taibbi were writing The Exile from Russia.  I have already linked to articles of his five different times on this blog.  But today, I use Mark's writing to illustrate much of what has gone wrong with left / progressive thinking.

Ames would like us to believe he has done some deep thinking on why anyone with less than $250k / year income would vote Republican because this would seem to be a perfect example of someone voting against their own economic interests.  And on the surface, this really is such a good question that the only answers seem to be some variation on madness.  Or are they?

If someone believes the Democratic Party is an organization that gave us the New Deal, the space race, and Keynesian economics, Mark's question makes some sense.  But the reality is that it requires someone in their 60s or older to remember that Democratic Party.  Anyone younger can only remember the Democrats as the party that gave us Jimmy Carter's deregulation madness and his dismantling of usury laws, Bill Clinton's NAFTA, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the repeal of Glass-Steagall which set the stage for the current crime wave on Wall Street, and Obama's staffing of his White House economic team with the most revolting anti-Producer stooges available.  In fact, the last Democratic Labor Secretary that had even the remotest concern for the welfare of Producers was probably Willard Wirtz of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

And then there is this little problem of "affirmative action."  The idea that today's workers should somehow pay for the sins of past discrimination is beyond odious but Democrats have supported this injustice for 40+ years now.

Let's see.  The white male worker has been sold down the economic river by a string of elected Democrats all the while being told by sanctimonious pricks that historical discrimination is his fault and he must pay.  The Republicans have been just as bad (or worse) economically but at least they don't lay on the guilt trip for historical injustices.  So poor white males vote Republican and this confuses an otherwise smart guy like Mark Ames who somehow thinks the Democrats are still trying to pass legislation like the Wagner Act and that Frances Perkins is still the Secretary of Labor.

Of course, it would be nice if Democrats became the party that represented the interests of the folks who run the real economy and believed in a STRICT meritocracy, but if Ames is as smart as the new Democrats get (and he may well be) this may be impossible.  So it may be time to stop hoping the Democrats will EVER be a party of economic progress again.

(sigh)  You see, I AM old enough to remember when Democrats actually stood for important economic principles.  I remember a country they created that was so prosperous and innovative, we could send members of our tribe to the freaking moon just to prove we could do it.  I remember when the hard-working Producers could support a family and have a life.  The Democratic Party COULD be such a party again but not while the party is controlled by the same people who enabled--and have NOT prosecuted--the most recent wave of crime on Wall Street.

We, The Spiteful
by Mark Ames | January 22, 2011 - 2:30pm
In the summer of 2004, I published an article in the New York Press that answered Thomas Frank's question "What's the Matter With Kansas?" The Bush-Kerry campaign was heating up, and it was clear to me that the American left was going to make the same mistake it's been making for 30 years, and will continue making until it faces some unpleasant truths about the rank, farcical psychology that drives American voting habits. Why don't they vote in their own economic interests? Why don't voters vote rationally, the way we were taught in grade school civics classes? In a rational world, with rational voters voting in their rational economic interests, Bush--who dragged America into two lost wars before destroying the entire financial system--would've been forced to resign before the first primary and exiled to Saudi Arabia; rationally, rational voters would have elected anyone or anything, John Kerry or a coconut crab, over that fuck-up of fuck-ups, George W. Bush.
The answer came to me just I was just finishing my book Going Postal. Researching and writing that book was a real mind-fuck: spending all those isolated months sloshing through Middle American malice. I realized something obvious when I pulled back from all that research and looked at the Kerry-Bush race: malice and spite are as American as baseball and apple pie. But it's never admitted into our romantic, naive, sentimental understanding of who Americans really are, and what their lives are really like.
If the left wants to understand American voters, it needs to once and for all stop sentimentalizing them as inherently decent, well-meaning people being duped by a tiny cabal of evil oligarchs--because the awful truth is that they're mean, spiteful jerks being duped by a tiny cabal of evil oligarchs. The left's naive, sentimental, middle-class view of "the people" blinds them to all of the malice and spite that is a major premise of Middle American life. It's the same middle-class sentimentality that allowed the left to be duped into projecting candidate Obama into the great progressive messiah, despite the fact that Obama's record offered little evidence besides skin pigment to support that hope. (For the record, I called out the left's gullible Obamaphilia during the primary campaigns in early 2008--here in Alternet, and here in The eXile.)
Here we are, in 2011--and although 2004 seems like a different world from today, separated by more events than we can make sense of, the left still hasn't come around to answering that big Kansas mystery about Americans' farcical voting habits. So the left was left baffled once again when, in 2009, millions of Americans volunteered as foot-soldiers to fight for a second-rate TV personality named Rick Santelli and his rich speculator friends at the Chicago Exchange, who called for a revolution to protect their money from "losers" because Santelli and his speculator buddies didn't want to "subsidize losers' mortgages." Next thing you know, these same losers took to the streets to defend the semi-celebrity Santelli, his rich speculator pals, and the Koch brothers from... losers. more
Earthrise shot from an Apollo spacecraft
orbiting the moon
produced by an industrial economy advised by Keynesians

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