Showing posts with label 2012 Election. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2012 Election. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How the Left Can Become a True Political Force to Be Reckoned With

By Bill Fletcher & Carl Davidson
Progressive America Rising via Alternet.org

Nov 13, 2012 - The 2012 elections may prove to have been a watershed in several different respects.  Despite the efforts by the political Right to suppress the Democratic electorate, something very strange happened: voters, angered by the attacks on their rights, turned out in even greater force in favor of Democratic candidates. The deeper phenomenon is that the changing demographics of the USA also became more evident—45% of Obama voters were people of color, and young voters turned out in large numbers in key counties.

Unfortunately for the political Left, these events unfolded with the Left having limited visibility and a limited impact—except indirectly through certain mass organizations—on the outcome.

The setting

On one level it is easy to understand why many Republicans found it difficult to believe that Mitt Romney did not win the election.  First, the US remains in the grip of an economic crisis with an official unemployment rate of 7.9%.  In some communities, the unemployment is closer to 20%.  While the Obama administration had taken certain steps to address the economic crisis, the steps have been insufficient in light of the global nature of the crisis.  The steps were also limited by the political orientation of the Obama administration, i.e., corporate liberal, and the general support by many in the administration for neo-liberal economics.

The second factor that made the election a ‘nail biter’ was the amount of money poured into this contest.  Approximately $6 billion was spent in the entire election.  In the Presidential race it was more than $2 billion raised and spent, but this does not include independent expenditures.  In either case, this was the first post-Citizen United Presidential campaign, meaning that money was flowing into this election like a flood after a dam bursts.  Republican so-called Super Political Action Committees (Super PACs) went all out to defeat President Obama.

Third, the Republicans engaged in a process of what came to be known as “voter suppression” activity.  Particularly in the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections, the Republicans created a false crisis of alleged voter fraud as a justification for various draconian steps aimed at allegedly cleansing the election process of illegitimate voters.  Despite the fact that the Republicans could not substantiate their claims that voter fraud was a problem on any scale, let alone a significant problem, they were able to build up a clamor for restrictive changes in the process, thereby permitting the introduction of various laws to make it more difficult for voters to cast their ballots.  This included photographic voter identification, more difficult processes for voter registration, and the shortening of early voting.  Though many of these steps were overturned through the intervention of courts, they were aimed at causing a chilling impact on the voters, specifically, the Democratic electorate.[1]

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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

'Lazy' People, Voting Rights and Republicans Caught with Their Pants Down

Our march on Harrisburg, PA to protest voter suppression.

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin' On

Sometimes Republicans just can't help themselves. Put a little heat on them, and they blurt out the truth, showing what they're really thinking.

The latest case in point: The retrograde Pennsylvania 'Voter ID' law was rejected today, Oct. 2, at least in part, by a state judge, Robert Simpson, allowing people to vote normally at least on this Nov. 6. The decision was a victory for labor, the NAACP, retiree groups and all who care about defending civil rights and liberties.

The main author of the bill, State Rep Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), however, chimed in with this comment:

"Justice Simpson's final decision is out of bounds with the rule of law, constitutional checks and balances for the individual branches of state government, and most importantly, the will of the people. Rather than making a ruling based on the constitution and the law, this judicial activist decision is skewed in favor of the lazy who refuse to exercise the necessary work ethic to meet the commonsense requirements to obtain an acceptable photo ID."

Yes, you heard that right. This guy thinks those objecting to this bill are 'the lazy who refuse to exercise the necessary work ethic.'  And all of us here in Western PA not fresh out of the pumpkin patch know exactly who he thinks he's talking about. When Gov. Romney went over the top in a recent closed session with his upper crust friends talking about a 47% of the population who wouldn't 'take responsibility' for their lives, I thought things had pretty much hit bottom in the racist dog whistle department. Little did I know!

Metcalfe has done us all a favor in self-exposing the racist mindset behind this GOP voter suppression effort, and revealing exactly why they thought that, if implemented, it could tip the state to Romney. Now they've been monkey-wrenched, at least for the time being.

But here's an interesting thought. I'm not a constitutional lawyer, even though I've studied it some. Where does it or our state voting laws suggest, anywhere, that lazy people or people with a hampered work ethic, don't have the same right to vote as energetic workaholics? 

The wealthy have best be careful here. As the saying goes, most people work for their money, but a few people are able to let their money work for them. They can laze about, enjoying the good life of the idle rich. There's a slippery slope here they may want to avoid for the future.

Carl Davidson is a member of Steelworker Associates. He lives in Western Pennsylvania and writes for BeaverCountyBlue.org, the website of the 12 CD Progressive Democrats of America.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What to Do in November, and Beyond

The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama's Record … Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him

The 2012 election will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Carl Davidson
Progressive America Rising via Alternet.org

August 9, 2012 - Let’s cut to the chase. The November 2012 elections will be unlike anything that any of us can remember.  It is not just that this will be a close election.  It is also not just that the direction of Congress hangs in the balance.  Rather, this will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.

Unfortunately what too few leftists and progressives have been prepared to accept is that the polarization is to a great extent centered on a revenge-seeking white supremacy; on race and the racial implications of the moves to the right in the US political system. It is also focused on a re-subjugation of women, harsh burdens on youth and the elderly, increased war dangers, and reaction all along the line for labor and the working class. No one on the left with any good sense should remain indifferent or stand idly by in the critical need to defeat Republicans this year.

U.S. Presidential elections are not what progressives want them to be.

A large segment of what we will call the ‘progressive forces’ in US politics approach US elections generally, and Presidential elections in particular, as if: (1) we have more power on the ground than we actually possess, and (2) the elections are about expressing our political outrage at the system. Both get us off on the wrong foot.

The US electoral system is among the most undemocratic on the planet.  Constructed in a manner so as to guarantee an ongoing dominance of a two party duopoly, the US electoral universe largely aims at reducing so-called legitimate discussion to certain restricted parameters acceptable to the ruling circles of the country. Almost all progressive measures, such as Medicare for All or Full Employment, are simply declared ‘off the table.’ In that sense there is no surprise that the Democratic and Republican parties are both parties of the ruling circles, even though they are quite distinct within that sphere.

The nature of the US electoral system--and specifically the ballot restrictions and ‘winner-take-all’ rules within it--encourages or pressures various class fractions and demographic constituency groups to establish elite-dominated electoral coalitions.  The Democratic and Republican parties are, in effect, electoral coalitions or party-blocs of this sort, unrecognizable in most of the known universe as political parties united around a program and a degree of discipline to be accountable to it. We may want and fight for another kind of system, but it would be foolish to develop strategy and tactics not based on the one we actually have.

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Saturday, April 07, 2012

April 4 Vigil Vows to Fight GOP on Voting Rights

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HB 934 Exposed as ‘Modern-Day Poll Tax’

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

About 80 labor and civil rights activists, together with a few elected officials, gathered at dusk at the Beaver County Courthouse April 4 for a candlelight vigil. The somber but militant event commemorated the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and protested the current efforts of rightwing PA Republicans to block citizens from voting in 2012.

mlkrally 008 "They're declaring war on us," said Lynwood Alford of the Beaver County Labor Council and the Minority Coalition. 'Taking away our voting rights is taking away the little power we have in the fight for survival."

Lynwood repeated the refrain several times as he introduced new speakers. The vigil was also sponsored by the Lawrence County Labor Council, SEIU Local 668, and the Beaver County NAACP. The 12 CD Progressive Democrats of America also endorsed the vigil, and turned out a good-sized contingent.

The target of everyone's anger was the passage into law of HB 934 last month, the so-called 'Voter ID Law'.

"We plan to challenge this as a new version of the unconstitutional 'poll tax,'" explained a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union to the crowd. "They claim that a state driver's license or state ID is free. But since the new homeland security rules, you have to have a legal copy of you birth certificate. May people don't have one, and there is a charge for getting one, and you have to appear personally, also a cost.

"Many older people were also born at home, and never had a birth certificate. Also, if you are living in an assisted facility for the elderly, all of your old bills with old addresses are no longer legal backup ID. So this does have all the undue burden of a poll tax."

mlkrally 019 Mike Scarver, International PAC Coordinator of the United Steel Workers, tore into the entire nationwide GOP effort as anti-union and anti-worker.

"Who are the main groups registering new voters", he asked? "The League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and the unions. But now in Florida they want to make it so that if your forms aren't turned in 48 hours, you're up on a felony for voter fraud. One union teacher registered her seniors on a Friday, but Monday was Memorial Day, and offices were closed. So she turned them in the next day. Not good enough, says Florida, they're a day late. Now she's hit with felony voter fraud charges. With this kind of stuff going on, what do you think is going to happen to volunteer voter registration efforts? Make no mistake about it. This is an attack on all of us, especially our unions."

"Our right to vote is precious," added County Commissioner Joe Spanik. "It's an outrage, and we have to fight it with all we've got."

Other speakers included Congressman Mark Critz, Willy Sallis, President of Beaver County NAACP, and Kathy Jellison, President of SEIU Local 668. Kim Villella, a Baden resident running for State Senator against Republican Senator Elder Vogel, who voted for the bill, spoke about the difficulties nursing home residents will have with this new voting restriction.

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"Something has to change," said Rev. Kevin Lee, also and IBEW member, at the close. We have to find a way to mobilize the energies of a new generation." As everyone was lighting candles, the NAACP's Mtume Imani followed by recalling her own experiences at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,' then led everyone in singing the civil rights anthem, 'Ain't Going to Let Nobody Turn Us Around." It captured the spirit of the gathering as it dispersed, newly informed and energized.

Eric Hoover, Vice-President of the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council, closed the program by reminding everyone of the importance of standing together.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tragedies, Crimes and Trayvon Martin

How Newt Played the ‘Race Card’ Against Obama’s Decency

By Carl Davidson
United Steel Workers Blog

Every so often an outrage happens that lights up the sky, like when lighting strikes at night, and all of a sudden everything previously hidden in darkness and shadow stands out in sharp, bright relief.


The murder of Trayvon Martin was such an event, even though it took a while for the rolling thunder of its full impact to spread across the country. Slowly at first, and then in greater leaps, the news media, after being nudged, picked it up.


I have one quarrel with most of the reports and statements. This was not so much a tragedy as a crime. It was an old-fashioned lynching dressed up with modern-day ‘gun rights’ being exercised in today’s gated communities.

But put that to the side. Most everyone now has dutifully called it a tragedy, called for an impartial investigation to ‘get to the bottom’ of it and see that ‘justice is served.’ Even President Obama finally spoke up, with the proper caveats against prejudging “current investigations,’ but adding that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon, a point he made to show empathy with the Martin family.

Then we have our former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, who, after deploring the tragedy, came up with this attack on Obama in an interview with Sean Hannity:

“It’s not a question of who that young man looked like. Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe, period. We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background," Gingrich said. "Is the President suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be ok because it didn’t look like him?"

"That’s just nonsense dividing this country up. It is a tragedy this young man was shot," Gingrich continued on Hannity's show. "It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban or if he had been white or if he had been Asian-American of if he’d been a Native American. At some point we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American, it is sad for all Americans. Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling.”

Newt, I have news for you. There’s something truly appalling here; in fact it stinks to high heaven. But it’s not Obama, and if you want to see the source of it, look in the mirror.

Gingrich fancies himself an historian, even something of an expert on the Civil War and its aftermath. He should then know something about lynching. If so, he would know that when the Reconstruction governments were overthrown, the KKK terror started in South Carolina by lynching nearly as many poor whites as Black Freedmen. The aim was to deeply drive home the wedge of the original ‘Southern Strategy’ aimed at dividing the working class in the South and elsewhere.

But as lynching rolled on over the decades, tens of thousands of Blacks bore the brunt of it. Anti-Lynching laws, also for decades, were promoted mainly by Blacks and a few radical allies, while white reactionaries blocked them.


There is nothing colorblind about lynching. It never ceases to amaze me when Republicans claim to be colorblind lovers of Dr. King, while being ‘appalled’ at what they consider the main racists in high places, who are the African Americans supposedly ‘playing the race card.’

The trade union movement over the years has paid some high tuition to learn that mutual respect among nationalities is not rooted in being ‘blind’ to each other’s distinctiveness. Solidarity with a white top and a Black bottom simply doesn’t get the job done.


But the race card is indeed being played against us. It’s been constantly played by those who would keep us under their thumbs, from Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 up to a ‘gated community’ in Stanford, Florida. If you want to see it in action, for starters, watch Fox News or the GOP campaign any day of the week—then to oppose it, gather up some friends to attend a ‘Justice for Trayvon’ rally and work to defeat every candidate and incumbent of the party of the ‘Southern Strategy’ in November.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We're All in the Same Boat?

On the Topic of Obama, the

GOP Can't Even Blush Anymore

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin' On!

If Hollywood gave Oscars for shamelessness, the Republican responses to President Obama's State of the Union speech last night, Jan 24, would have swept the field.

Take Indiana's Gov. Mitch Daniels, who gave the official GOP response:

"No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others," he said. "As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat."

Amazing. One top GOP candidate, Newt Gingrich, is running around the country attacking Obama as the 'Food Stamp President,' while the other, Mitt Romney, whose newly released tax returns show he takes in more in a day than a well-paid worker does in a year, critiques Obama's business skills using a shuttered factory as a stage prop.

Obama, of course, never shut down a single factory, yet that was precisely the business Mitt Romney and his outfit, Bain Capital, was famous for, including shutting down a factory in Florida, where his video message was being recorded.

"All in the same boat" and 'castigating others' indeed. Governor Daniels uttered these words as the state he presides over is currently engaged in a notorious 'right to work for less' battle to strip Indiana's workers on their ability to bargain collectively.

Like many Americans, I watched the President's speech with a critical eye. As he detailed a number of manufacturing and alternative energy industrial policies, I thought, finally, he's giving some voice to his 'inner Keynesian' and forcing a crack in the neoliberal hegemony at the top. I cheered when he took aim at Wall Street and declared, "No more bailouts, no more handouts, and no more cop outs." On the other hand I winced more than once at the glorification of militarism and the defense of Empire-I'm one quick to oppose unjust wars and who has long believed a clean energy/green manufacturing industrial policy needs to trump a military-hydrocarbon industrial policy.

This speech was also Obama in campaign mode. One thing we've learned over the last four years is that his governing mode is not the same thing, and requires much more of us in terms of independent, popular and democratic power at the base to make good things happen.

But one thing is clear. My critical eye has nothing in common with what's coming from the GOP and the far right. The first Saturday of every month, the pickups trucks from the local hills and hollows, growing numbers of them, fill the parking lot of the church on my corner, picking up packages from the food pantry to help make ends meet. In these circumstances and lacking better practical choices, I'll go with the 'Food Stamp' President any day of the week.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Far Right Exposing Its Own Class Hatreds

Shameless Opposition to the Jobs Bill Reveals

The GOP's Deep Hatred of the Working Class

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin' On

If you want to have your class consciousness raised a few notches, all you have to do over the next few weeks is listen to the Republicans in Congress offer up their shameless commentary rejecting President's Obama's jobs bill.

This week's doozy came from Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, who was outraged that capitalists were being restricted from discriminating in hiring the unemployed, in favor of only hiring people who already had jobs elsewhere. I kid you not. Here's the quote:

"We're adding in this bill a new protected class called 'unemployed,'" Gohmert declared in the House Sept. 13, 2011. "I think this will help trial lawyers who are not having enough work. We heard from our friends across the aisle, 14 million people out of work -- that's 14 million new clients."

One hardly knows were to begin. 

First, the Jobs Bill does no such thing as creating a 'new protected class.' It only curbs a wrongly discriminatory practice.

Second, so what if it did? Americans who uphold the Constitution, the 14th Amendment' equal protection clause, and the expansion of democracy and the franchise generally, will see the creation of 'protected classes' as hard-won progressive steps forward from the times of the Divine Right of Kings.

Third, if Gohmert had any first-hand knowledge of the unemployed, he'd know they usually can't afford lawyers, especially when the courts are stacked against them.

Fourth, to create even more confusion, Gohmert raced to the House clerk to submit his own 'Jobs Bill' before Obama's, but with a similar name. Its content was a hastily scribbled two-page screed consisting of nothing but cuts in corporate taxes.

What's really going on here is becoming clearer every day. The GOP cares about one thing: destroying Obama's presidency regardless of the cost. They don't even care if its hurts capitalism's own interests briefly, not to mention damaging the well being of everyone else.  Luckily, Obama is finally calling them out in public-although far too politely for my taste.

The irony will likely emerge if and when they ever do take Obama down. I'd bet good money that a good number of the GOP bigwigs would then turn on a dime and support many of the same measures they're now opposing.

But most of them, especially the far right, would still likely press on with their real aim, a full-throated neoliberal reactionary thrust that repeals the Great Society's Medicaid and Medicare, the New Deal's Social Security and Wagner Act, and every progressive measure in between.  Their idea of making the U.S labor market 'competitive' and U.S. business 'confident' is to make the whole country more like Texas, with its record volume of minimum wage work and poverty, and then Texas more like Mexico-the race to the bottom. They're not happy with 12% unionization; they want zero percent, where all of us are defenseless and completely under the thumbs of our 'betters'.

In brief, prepare for more wars and greater austerity.

If you think I'm exaggerating, over the next months observe how the national GOP is trying to rig the 2012 elections in Pennsylvania, Michigan and a few other big states. Our Electoral College system is bad enough, but they are going to 'reform' it to make it worse by attaching electoral votes to congressional districts, rather than statewide popular majorities. This would mean Obama could win the popular vote statewide, but the majority of electoral votes would still go to the GOP. Add that to their new 'depress the vote' requirements involving picture IDs, which are aimed at the poor and the elderly, and you'll see their fear and hatred of the working class.

We've always had government with undue advantages for the rich. But just watch them in this round as they go all out to make it even more so. We have to call it out for what it really is, and put their schemes where the sun doesn't shine.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jobs Programs: The Right and Wrong Turns

The Hot Potato Too Many Beltway Wonks Avoid:

The Need to Tie Job Creation to Industrial Policy

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin' On

If you want to be a good policy advocate for jobs these days, two starting points will help you a lot. One is to take off your national blinders and see the economy globally. The second is to grasp how the need for revenues to finance the creation of new jobs can best be filled by increasing taxes on unproductive wealth.

A good example of the problem is Robert's Samuelson's 'Job Creation 101' op-ed column in the Sept 12 Washington Post. If we simply follow his lesson plan, we would end up creating new jobs in the third world--and doing so mainly at the expense of the wrong people at home.

Samuelson begins his argument wisely enough by stressing how increasing demand for goods and services creates jobs, and government has to have a hand in it. But then he goes astray:

"If government taxed, borrowed or regulated less, that money would stay with households and businesses, which would spend it on something else and, thereby, create other jobs. Politics determines how much private income we devote to public services.

"To this observation, there's one glaring exception. In a slump, government can create jobs by borrowing when the private economy isn't spending."


On the first point, tweaking taxes so both people and businesses have more cash to spend glosses over the matter of where and how the money is spent. Using extra income to pay down your Visa Card doesn't help job creation much. And if you spend it at Wal-Mart or other big box stores, you'll create some demand to hire more workers in China or Malaysia, but not much here.


On the second point, it's not always wise to create jobs simply by borrowing. It certainly adds to the revenues of the banks and bondholders.  But it's much smarter to go after unproductive pools of capital with progressive taxation. The proposal for a financial transaction tax on Wall Street speculators is an excellent example.

The rule-of-thumb is to tax activities you want to discourage, such as unproductive gambling in derivatives, while subsidizing efforts you want to encourage, such as new green manufacturing startups. It's called 'industrial policy,' and it's why some countries that have one, like China and Germany, are weathering the economic storms better than others.


If Obama's new jobs program is going to be thwarted by a hostile Congress anyway, those politicians who are serious about creating jobs would do well to fight for the best options-direct government programs that fund increasing local demand for local labor and raw materials.  If we had every county in the country funded to build a wind farm or solar array as a public power utility, it would be a good start. So would the building of the new and massive 'Smart Grid' power lines for clean and green energy.

 
When finance capital's opposition in Congress rears its head to crush something that makes perfect sense to everyone else, then we'll learn exactly who is part of the problem and who is part of the solution. If we get political clarity here in a massive way, we'll be in a much better position to assemble the popular power required to get what we really need.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Why Neoliberals Have Trouble Telling the Truth

Media Wars and Manufacturing Consent:

Getting People to Vote Against Themselves

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin' On

"Newt Gingrich: Obama's 'Bureaucratic Socialism' Kills Jobs" is one of many similar headlines appearing on dozens of web-based news portals in this 2012 election season. This one keeps popping up, and I'm getting sick of seeing it.

The reason? It manages to pack several major lies, each of which you could write a book about, into just five words-and hardly an editor anywhere takes a blue pencil to it.

Don't get me wrong. I've got no problem with 'socialism.' My shoot-from-the hip response when someone spits the 'S' word out in a political argument is, "Socialism? I've been a socialist all my life, and proud of it. We should be so lucky as to have some socialism around here. Unfortunately, we're not even close."

First of all, Barack Obama is not a socialist. Even back in his more youthful years in Illinois, at best on a good day, he was simply a neo-Keynesian liberal with a few high tech green ideas. Keynesians believe, among other things, that when markets fail, government has the task of being the consumer of last resort, even hiring people directly to build infrastructure and put people to work,

But these days, surrounded by a 'Team of Rivals' largely from Wall Street, Obama has set aside any earlier Keynesian policies he held and has been, wittingly or not, sucked into the black hole of the prevailing neoliberal hegemony.

What's 'Neoliberal hegemony?' That's a shorthand phrase for the current domination of our government by Wall Street finance capital. It simply wants to diminish any government initiatives or programs, except for those that line their own pockets.

Keynesians and others, in and out of government, have opposed the neoliberals. They've advocated a range of reasonable proposals for getting us out of the current crisis-ending the wars, Employee Free Choice Act, Medicare for All, the People's Budget submitted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. John Conyer's HR 870 Full Employment Bill-but they all keep getting declared "off the table" by the neoliberals.

On Gingrich's second charge, far from being 'bureaucratic,' Obama, wisely or not, has actually reduced the number of federal employees, and made other cuts that will cause the states to do likewise.

On the third charge, far from 'killing jobs,' Obama's initial proposals regarding employment have actually created a few jobs, but not nearly enough. Why? Because of the real job-killing votes of Gingrich's Republican allies in the House.

It doesn't take a chess champion to figure any of this out. Any decent checker player could make an honest call of the false moves in the 'socialist job killer' gambit of Gingrich and other GOP presidential pretenders running the same rap.

But why distort the truth this way? Newt Gingrich is a smart man. He knows that Keynesianism is designed to keep capitalism going, and that socialism is something quite different and has very little to do with this debate. So why does he keep this 'Big Lie' business up?

It's a smokescreen. At bottom, Gingrich, the GOP and the far right are promoting a grand neoliberal project to repeal the New Deal and the Great Society, the primary past examples of liberal government dealing with market failure.

The right's problem is too many things that came out of those periods had some success and are still popular with a majority of voters-the elderly like Medicare and Social Security, labor likes the Wagner Act and the right to bargain collectively, Blacks and other minorities like the Voting Rights Act, and women like Title Seven. To take them all down, which is what the neoliberal-far right alliance wants, means you have to attack them indirectly, rather than directly.

So how does it work? You have to start with what most people fear most-losing their jobs-and then combine it with the darker demons of our past, such as anti-communism, racism and sexism. Next you mush all your potential adversaries--the socialist left, the liberals and progressives, and the FDR-loving moderates--into one huge combined bogey man. You make it into a hideous package that's going to scare voters into casting ballots against themselves. To put a fancier term on it, it's called manufacturing consent to combine with outright coercive force in getting you to submit to a renewed hegemonic bloc.

That's what Newt is doing here. In short, it's when they get you to think all your neighbors and co-workers are your enemies, while all the guys on Wall Street are your friends. You're going to hear a lot of it over the next year. Don't fall for it.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

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.

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