Progressive Cynicism and Misplaced White Anger:
The Far Right’s Two Magic Weapons for 2012
By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin’ On
If you want a Republican sweep in the 2012 election, follow this simple formula: Keep blaming the White House alone as the main cause of every problem the country faces, and ignore the Tea Party as overblown has-beens.
That’s not advice from me. That’s from Richard Viguerie, who some might remember as the think-tanker and skilled pollster of the 1970’s New Right that helped usher in Reagan and the era of neoliberal hegemony we’ve suffered under ever since. That’s what he hopes the center and left will do over the next year.
An Aug, 10, 2011 syndicated column by Viguerie reminds us that presidential elections don’t require a majority of popular votes, but only a majority of votes in the Electoral College.
“The Aug. 8 Gallup tracking poll shows that Obama is at 50 percent or better approval rating in only 16 states, the majority of which are normally considered Democratic bastions. Those 16 states represent 203 electoral votes of the 270 needed to win the presidency.” Then he adds: “Key states, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida that contributed to Obama’s 365-to-173 blowout of the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008, are in play at this time. It gets better. The states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, which are now in play, were three of the top states where the tea party wave swept new constitutional conservative members into Congress.”
Viguerie goes on to discuss the role of the Tea Party insurgency in Michigan and California among angry white voters. He adds an astute point: if the GOP puts up a ‘moderate’ like Romney, Obama wins narrowly. But if it plays its ‘wild cards’ like Bachmann and Perry, the far right’s activist base is energized-and at a time when Obama’s strategy is dissing his own left-progressive base for the wimpy and ever-narrowing ‘center.’
In short, keep the left inactive, the progressives and the center divided, and the Tea Party energizer bunnies get their 270 electoral votes.
It’s not a bad projection for the prospects of a neoliberal alliance with proto-fascists, with the latter in the driver’s seat. The alternative view is that the majority of serious Wall St finance capital is circling the wagons around Obama. They’re not interested in the wilder instabilities that would be fueled by Bachmann or Perry White House.
Maybe so. Serious money matters in American politics. But the far right has some serious money too, and they can combine it with an army of insurgents.
Therein lays our problem. At the moment, we have no candidate for peace and prosperity at the top of the ticket. But we need candidates of that sort at any level if we are to unite and mobilize a left-progressive base in 2012. We have the negative motivator of a possible Tea Party win, but only if we take them seriously. But we need more than that. We need candidates that will fight positively for what working-class people need, not what Wall Street needs. The People’s Budget of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is a good starting point. We’ll have some candidates who will back it, but we’ll need them placed in the states with clout in electoral votes. We don’t have enough at the moment.
Don’t expect much help from the Blue Dog and upper crust Democrats. No matter how you slice it, it’s going to be a tough fight. So organize your co-workers and neighbors independently, and prepare for some fierce battles.
Progressive Cynicism and Misplaced White Anger:
The Real Crisis: When Everything Decent Is ‘Off the Table’
By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue
Leave it to the New York Times to look for a silver lining in the dark cloud of a Wall St-rightwing victory on ‘The Deal’ over the phony budget crisis.
“Democrats can look forward to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts next year,” says their Aug 1, 2011 editorial, “and will have to make the case in the 2012 elections for new lawmakers who will undo the damage.”
In other words, the bondholders will be paid on time, the markets will be stabilized for a short time, and matters will continue to get worse for the jobless and the rest of us. Tighter your belt another notch and get used to it. As for 2012, you have ‘nowhere to go’, so don’t expect much.
No thanks. This ‘deal’ belongs to those at the top who benefit from it. The rest of us have no choice but to organize and keep fighting. Demanding an end to tax breaks for the rich will be part of it. So will throwing out useless politicians owned by Wall Street and the banks where we can.
So the Times editorial has a minor point.
But we have a better platform to stand on-the ‘People’s Budget’ of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Conyers Full Employment Bill HR 870 to supply jobs where they’re needed most, Medicare for All, passing EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act and ending three wars. Fund it all with a financial transaction tax on Wall Street’s unproductive speculation.
What’s interesting about this package of demands is that they have all been declared, by our supposed betters, ‘off the table.’ It means we are outside their circle of manufactured consent called ‘neoliberal hegemony.’ Never mind that each one has majority support among voters. Never mind that the largest caucus in Congress supports them. And never mind that they would actually work, and build a progressive path out of prolonged austerity.
Instead, our leaders owned by finance capital have taken a position of circling their own wagons, while making the crisis deeper and longer for everyone else. To sell it, they repeat the mantra that this is going to create jobs by ‘confidence building,’ i.e., making business people feel better about themselves and their bank balances.
They’re fooling themselves as well as the rest of us. Jobs are created by increasing demand-and they are right now implementing a deal to lay off government-funded workers and cut demand everywhere. Our current wars, in addition to being unjust, are making us less secure and prosperous, not more so.
Getting a seat in the dining room where we’ve been declared ‘off the table’ is no good anymore. We need to start building a new table. That means vastly expanding grassroots organization with a fighting capacity, at the polls and it the streets, and the sooner, the better.
I hope it’s a call to man the barricades!
A Democratic source on Capitol Hill tells The Huffington Post that the Congressional Progressive Caucus will hold an “emergency meeting” on Monday to discuss the final deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
The meeting will take place at 2:00 p.m. and there will be “a formal vote on the Caucus’ position to the deal.” Members have been urged to attend.
Earlier on Sunday, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a co-chair of the caucus, put out a statement harshly opposing the deal as it has been described in press reports.
“This deal trades peoples’ livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it,” the statement read. “Progressives have been organizing for months to oppose any scheme that cuts Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, and it now seems clear that even these bedrock pillars of the American success story are on the chopping block. Even if this deal were not as bad as it is, this would be enough for me to fight against its passage.”
How progressive lawmakers come down in the final vote may be the key to its passage. There are 76 members of the CPC, including one senator, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Should House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) bleed a good chunk of votes from his party — a perfectly conceivable outcome — he will be forced to rely heavily on Democratic votes.
Progressives have swallowed their complaints about major pieces of legislation before, including health care reform and the extension of the Bush tax cuts, but they do hold some leverage going into the debt ceiling vote, which will be held Monday or Tuesday.
— Sam Stein
Going to one of the hundreds of meetings around the country called by Van Jones and MoveOn.org?
What should we do when we get there? First, listen, assess views and count. But if you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy.
Overall, we are going into these things to develop a popular front vs neoliberalism and its rightist allies. That means organizing forms at the grassroots with platforms that that can unite a progressive majority—Progressive Democrats of America, Working Families Party, Greens in some cases—and then using these as a base community to build broader coalitions with labor and community and youth groups outward and upward.
We have to develop these base organizations and coalitions, using central labor councils where appropriate, to have both an electoral and a mass action capacity to put heat on the local reps of the more backward forces. At key goal is to build the strength of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
For jobs, we push HR 870 and mass local meetings to define its local specifics and to fight for the tax policies that will fund it, framing it with a ‘jobs not war’ and ‘windmills not weapons’ outlook.
All that we already agree on. Once we get into these meetings, take stock, we can make adjustments and additions or subtractions. Let me know how things work out.