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Why Democrats Are Trying to Commit Electoral Suicide

2010 January 3
by Ian Welsh

This question keeps coming up, so let’s tackle it.  45% of the Democratic base now says they aren’t going to vote in 2010 or are thinking of not voting.  This is a direct result of Democrats in Congress and the Presidency doing things the base disagrees with or not doing things the base wants to see done.  It appears politically stupid to act as they have, and yet, they did.  So why?

Elected Democrats at the Federal level are members of the national elite.  If they weren’t a member when they were elected, they are quickly brought into the fold.  They are surrounded by lobbyists, other members and staffers who were lobbyists, as a rule.  They learn they need to raise immense amounts of money in the off years when normal people aren’t giving, and that the only way to raise that money is for corporate interests and rich people to write the checks.  They also receive the benefits of elite status, very quickly. It’s not an accident that the every Senator except Bernie Sanders is wealthy.

Whatever Americans think, whether they support a public option or single payer; whether they’re for or against Iraq or Afghanistan; whether they agree with bailing out banks or not, elite consensus is much much narrower than American public opinion.  It starts at the center right and heads over to reactionary (repeal the entire progressive movement and the New Deal, taking America back to the 1890s).

The elites are convinced they know what has to be done.  Not necessarily what’s “best”, but what is possible given the constraints they believe America operates under and the pressures which elected officials work with.  So Obama can say, and mean, that if he were creating a medical system from scratch, he’d go with single payer.  But he “knows” that’s impossible, not just for political reasons, but because there are huge monied interests who would be horribly damaged or even destroyed by moving to single payer.  On top of that, he looks at the amount of actual change required to shift all that money away from insurance companies and to reduce pharma profits, and to change which providers get paid what, and he sees it as immensely disruptive to the economy.  In theory, it might lead to a better place, but to Obama, the disruption on the way there is unthinkable.

The same thing is true of the financial crisis.  The banks may be technically insolvent, but the idea of nationalizing them all, or shutting them down and shifting the lending to other entities would mean that the most profitable (in theory, not in reality) sector of the economy would largely be wiped out.  Add to that the fact that Obama was the largest recipient of Wall Street cash of the major candidates for the Presidency, and the immense influence the banks wield through their alumni who are placed throughout the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and other departments, and the idea of actually radically reforming the banking system becomes unthinkable.  Virtually every technocrat giving Obama or most Senators advice, will be against it.

Moreover they understand that with a few exceptions, the financial economy is the American economy.  It’s what the US sold to the rest of the world: pieces of paper in exchange for real money which could be used to import real goods, so Americans could live beyond their means.

Shut that down and what’s going to replace it?  How are you going to avoid an immediate meltdown of the US standard of living? How are you going to avoid a large part of the elite being wiped out?  You or I may have answers to that, except to wiping out a large chunk of the elite, which is something which needs to be done, but those who grew up under the system, who believe in the system, and who ran the system don’t.  What they’ve done all their lives is what they understand.  And more to the point the system has been good to them.  The last 35 years may have been a bad time to be an ordinary American, but the elite has seen their wealth and income soar to levels even greater than the gilded age.  The rich, in America, have never, ever, been as rich as they are now.

And if you’re a member of the elite, your friends, your family, your colleagues—everyone you really care about, is a member of the elite or attached to it as a valued and very well paid retainer.  For you, for everyone you care about, the system has worked.  Perhaps, intellectually, you know it hasn’t worked for ordinary people, but you aren’t one of them, you aren’t friends with them, and however much you care in theory about them, it’s a bloodless intellectual empathy, not one born of shared experience, sacrifice and the bonds of friendship or love.

So when a big crisis comes, all of your instincts scream to protect your friends, your family, and the system which you grew up under, prospered under and which has been good to you.  Moreover, you understand that system, or you think you do, and you believe that with a twiddle here and an adjustment there, it’s a system you can make work again.  Doing something radical, like single payer or nationalizing the banks or letting the banks fail and doing lending direct through the Fed and through credit unions: that’s just crazy talk. Who knows how it would work, or if it would work?  Why take a chance?

And so, until disaster turns into absolute catastrophe, the elites will fiddle with the dials, rather than engaging in radical change.  When the time comes when it becomes clear even to them that radical change is required, they are far more likely to go with their preconceived notions of what’s wrong with the US, which are very reactionary, than to go with liberal or progressive solutions.

So you’re far more likely to see Medicare and Social Security gutted, than you are to see the military budget cut in a third or Medicare-for-all  enacted. You’re far more likely to see a movement to a flat tax (supported by idiot right wing populists) than you are to see a return to high marginal taxation.

To the elites, ordinary Americans are pretty much parasites.  It’s not the bankers, with their multi-trillion dollar bailouts who are the problem, it’s old people with their Social Security and Medicare.  The elites made it.  They are rich and powerful.  They believe that their success is due entirely to themselves (even if they inherited the money or position).  If you didn’t, then that means you don’t deserve it.

Democratic party elected leaders, as a group, are members of this elite, or are henchmen (and some women) of this elite.  They believe what the elites believe, and they live within a world whose boundaries are formed by those beliefs.

They have no intention of engaging in radical change which threatens elite, which is to say, their, prosperity and power.  The financial industry must be saved, the medical industry must be saved.  Social Security and Medicare, which they don’t need and don’t benefit from, not so much.  The military, which funnels huge amounts of money to them, must continue to expand (in real terms military spending is now twice what it was in 2000.)

As long as elected Democrats at the Federal level are members of this elite, or identify with the elite they are not going to make fundamental changes against the interests of that elite.

And so, no, there is no “change” you can believe in from this class of Democrats.  There is no “hope” of an America which is better for ordinary people.

That doesn’t mean things are hopeless, but it does mean there’s little hope for anything radical from this Congress or President.

As Adam Smith pointed out, there’s a lot of ruin in a nation.  America’s going to have to endure a lot more of it before things actually change.

33 Responses
  1. Suspenders permalink
    January 3, 2010

    That sounds like a good explanation, Ian. The example of Zimbabwe should cure anyone’s doubts as to the ruin elites can subject their own country to.

  2. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 3, 2010

    I’m working on an idea about what’s going on; one of the posters at the Agonist suggested we’re becoming a feudal form of governance and I had been kicking around the idea of Neo-Slavery; but it didn’t seem to fit exactly so I came up with what I call Neo-Serfs or Neo-Serfdom, as in, we’re becoming the new serfs. Our government seems to be evolving into a feudal system of elites (hate that term) who are the castle owners; the princes (our senators and congressmen/women; the manager class and the rest of us. As serfs we’re not owners and the recent events has created that reality.
    Unemployment is so high and there is no relief in sight, so it will only be through the bestowal of jobs created by the government and elites, that we’ll start to see employment. This will take awhile.
    As to why the dems are committing suicide? Are they really? Is there so much difference between the two parties? Rulers are rulers and serfs are serfs. And as long as we (the serfs) act like this (politically passive) why should anything change? By not going to the streets we’re the ones committing suicide, not the dem elites.

  3. BDBlue permalink
    January 3, 2010

    Yet the elites do seem to know – or at least suspect – a larger failure is looming. At least that’s the plausible theory first posited by Zero Hedge and further refined by Jesse for why the new SEC proposed rules would restrict people’s ability to withdraw funds from Money Markets in a time of crisis. They’re already planning for the next bank run.

  4. January 3, 2010

    “And so, until disaster turns into absolute catastrophe, the elites will fiddle with the dials, rather than engaging in radical change.”

    Or to put it another way, “Until the stalled plane hits the ground, the elites will mash the starter button and stomp on the ailerons, because they refuse to consider the idea of jumping out with a parachute if they can’t take their wealth too.”

  5. January 3, 2010

    What do the Dems care? Elective office is like an unpaid internship. The real money comes after.

  6. Ian Welsh permalink*
    January 4, 2010

    Oh, Senators and Reps do just fine. It’s not all about money, a lot of it is about power and the perks of power.

  7. Ian Welsh permalink*
    January 4, 2010

    Neo-feudalism is what Oldman (and various others) have called it.

  8. tjfxh permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Good analysis, Ian. What it leaves out in the underpinning in political philosophy. The US is the epitome of a capitalistic country. Capitalism is about the formation and deployment of capital for profit. That’s what happens here. Everything is oriented to that and the bailouts of capital in the crisis are the proof of it, if anyone questions it. The country is run for capital and the rest is trickle down. There must be a permanent stock of unemployed to undermine the bargaining power of labor to keep wages down, for they are the principal expense of business.

    The situation now is like the McKinley years that ended in Hoover and the Great Depression, when excess leverage took the system down and debt deflation ensued. The world was in the struggle between two models then, capitalism in the West and communism in the East. The New Deal was possible because the rich were willing to make concessions to avoid a worse fate. But they immediately began working to reverse those policies and legislation. That happened in earnest when the Soviet Union fell and China adopted market socialism. Then the gloves came off and the New Deal was under direct attack. A lot has been done already to dismantle it, but Social Security and Medicare remain on the agenda to get rid off.

    As Ian points out, both political parties are agents of the elite. Those on the right want an immediate take down of “socialism,” as their base wants, while the agents of the center want to move more slowly so as not to rock the boat of their base. There is no significant party of the left in the US at present.

    It took an economic disaster that resulted in social catastrophe to change the system last time. The same will be required again. I have little doubt that this in the cards at this point. The elite of the right is too strong and is committed to equating economic efficiency with political policy. The problem with this is that they have the economics all wrong and are are rushing headlong into another debt deflation fueled by excess leverage that will take down not only the US but also the world economy under Western leadership. What will emerge from the ashes is anyone’s guess. There is no force capable of preventing this at this point.

    The wild card is EROEI — energy returned on energy invested. This has been in decline for petroleum, the major source of transportable energy. See An EROEI Review at Oil Drum for the basics. What is happening is that the poor countries are transferring energy to the rick countries, so that the the per capita use of energy in the West is high, while the rest of the world has been low. That is changing and it is unsustainable, especially since the cost of energy is going to rise as externalities are used to compute true cost, which is necessary to address global climate change. This is going to have serious repercussions economically, and it has already begun. We are getting some respite due to the economic contraction, but as soon as the world begins to recover, energy prices will inevitably rise, drastically changing the standard of living for all but the wealthy.

    The final grab is on, and the elite are making sure that they not only get the lion’s share but also keep it by increasing security. It is now possible for the president to legally disappear anyone he designates a terrorist, and Total Information Awareness is also in place, so that it is now impossible to organize. Etc.

    But don’t worry, the voters will be provided with bread and circuses to keep them distracted, so that there will be no revolutionary ideas or sentiment. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985) is a book by educator Neil Postman. Here’s the cartoon summary.

  9. tjfxh permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Oops. I didn’t include the link to the cartoon.

  10. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Hadn’t heard of it until a few days ago, interesting.

  11. January 4, 2010

    This letter I wrote to My house rep Rush Holt. During the bush wack days. A lot of it still applies.

    Honored Member of the House,

    Maybe, Just Maybe, The President and the Attorney General would not feel so inclined to circumvent the Constitution if you and you esteemed colleagues would not be so inclined to do so ether. Two wrongs do not a right make. It is time sir; it is time to lift the 435 membership cap on the house, and Return the House of Representatives to the People.

    Yes I know your position is powerful, But what good is that power in a unconstitutional government? A House that seems to lacks the will to act for the people. When the man you’re supposed to put in his place thumbs his nose at you, the people, and the constitution of the United States, the Supreme Law of the land, what do you do? Your House Body is out of order and unconstitutional and so is Your President. So you go to the A.G.? You know what that means, nothing! Cut a Deal? No Sir, No Way, No How! You stand on the foundation of this Nation, Our Constitution and call this whole thing out for what it is, a farce. Remember your oath, your sacred Honor!

    Sir, the people, being so under represented by the House now affects You and other members ability’s to perform their duties. The President tells you, the people, and the constitution, to take a hike, so he can be the Decider? Or is that the dictator? The A.G. feels empowered enough to say it to you also? AND WHO THE HELL IS HE? He’s an appointee, not even elected to his office, not a servant to the people. When The House Puts its collective foot down it is the president that should jump. In stead, The House behaves like a compliant servant.

    The House set up the UN-constitutional 435 cap rule in 1911, now it is so out dated that not only the people, but you too have to deal with the problems it causes. Why 435, because the building was too small? The Poor Representative’s desks were getting to small?? Now think about how petty that is! Deny the people the fair representation it needs and deserves because the desks were getting to small? Those days are long over.

    Have you ever herd of a lap top computer and a secure wi-fi connection? The house can meet any where today. Or break it down and meet regionally, Most of the House’s work is done in committee. So why the need to put all our eggs in one basket called Washington DC, for some loony to bomb.

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” — John F. Kennedy

    How this affects you me and everyone else will only get worse in time. The inequity of this system must be addressed A.S.A.P. Before the rifts are too deep and we have blood in the streets. I’m too old to face that, and I can’t stand to see our people, our children, and our nation die. Die over something that could have been stopped by something as simple as more representation, or caused by desks being too small.

    A small cost to save our union.

    Your House position was meant for a maximum of 60,000 people per Representative , that’s your House rule not mine. That’s a lot of people in the house for sure, A little more than 6,000 I know, but Washington himself suggested 30,000 per district, 12,000 Reps. is way to many. (Letters from Washington suggest that he did realize how large this nation would become.) A lot of added expenses as well, as you can see. But you also have an 18 person staff per House member. This as I understand, is to address the 750,000+ constituency’s you and the rest of your colleagues each have to deal with on a day to day basis. This staff could be pared down to a more reasonable level almost automatically. The More house members you have = the less constituency you all have to service = lower House membership Work load = Lower staff levels required to do this work.

    No matter how you look at it we would all benefit. If the numbers don’t mesh entirely I personally would pay more tax to have the representation I need and deserve, and to maintain staff levels needed to serves busier districts. Any one who complains about the cost of Representative Government Does not deserve it.

    SIR, if you really love this, your country you would aid in the return to the constitutional government that was promised by George Washington, and the rest of the founding fathers. Not just pay it the lip service that is so, common in the government today.

    Think about this also Sir, if you aided in this endeavor you would be remembered with the Highest of honor, By We the People. You would be “THE” House member, who put it all back together, and made it work. It would work well enough on it’s own but what the hell, take all the credit you want if you could do it. And when The Future President’s would stand at Their State of The Union, and Address the Joint members of Congress. It would indeed be the massive body our founding fathers did indeed imagine it would become

    Good luck in your duties Sir.

    Yours truly,

    A citizen

    PS a better explanation can be found on,
    http://www.thirty-thousand.org.

    Thank you for your time. 750,000 are way too many to serve in your position.

  12. January 4, 2010

    The stuff about elites is pretty spot-on, I think, and I speak as someone swept up from the hinterlands into the fancy college machine (Jerome Karabel’s “The Chosen” is an excellent book on this process). Some other thoughts.

    1. One of the things that makes our time different from the New Deal is that labor isn’t powerful (no “clear it with Sidney”). The technocrats therefore don’t really encounter many who are different from themselves.

    2. Here’s a link to an article expressing similar thoughts by Michael Young, who coined the phrase “Meritocracy.” Of course the article was written in 2001 so everything has been solved in the interim: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/jun/29/comment

    3. From time to time I pull down Umberto Eco’s essay called, I think, “The Return of the Middle Ages,” written in the 70s, and outside of a few stray references to hippies it seems about right.

  13. B Schram permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Yet again, spot on Ian. Your description of the Elite, reminds me of the year I spent in the DC area. After that experience I would not be so kind as to offer that most even have an intellectual empathy. It was so heartbreaking to watch, it was a primary cause for us to move back to the mid-west (where at least it was at far more moderate terms).

    I am curious, you hinted that some of the “concessions” of the elite during the depression were due to the elite’s fear of communism, and coincidentally our current erosion began as our “communistic” foe was in it’s death throes under “saint reagan”. I think someone else mentioned that having a strong labor pool also helped (they were also necessary and organized). Do we have really anything to bargain with today? If we are a tech economy, the techies are neither organized or necessary, as they can get farmed out to third world companies at a whim. No one is afraid of communism, or particularly interested in it for that matter. Is there any way we can avoid being passengers in a doomed plane while fools twiddle knobs while it crashes (to steal an apt metaphor)?

  14. john in the boro permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Years ago, when I was a young paratrooper, my det sergeant had the best pre jump routine. He would go through all of the points of performance, one by one, including the various types of main chute malfunctions. If the main fails to deploy and the reserve fails to deploy: “Form a knife cutting edge with the right hand and insert it into the upper right hand corner of the reserve. Grasp as much canopy and suspension lines as possible and pull it out and up over either shoulder and throw it down and away in the direction you are spinning. If the canopy fails to inflate, pull it back into your body and throw it down and away in the opposite direction. It may not work but at least it will give you something to do on the way down.” That seems to be the gist of Ian’s essay. The wealthy are just doing what they know on the way down. Slaves to habit, which, as William James notes, protects the wealthy from the”envious uprising” of the less privileged.

  15. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 4, 2010

    john in the boro;

    Queens?

  16. Mad Hemingway permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Excellent point Ian.

    Over on Washington’s Blog ( http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2010/01/gandhi-and-dalai-lama-are-not-opposed.html ), they talk about the Founders’ intent on gun ownership.

    It looks like the only way to get control of the country back, is another American Revolution.

    Btw, one particular thing (among the many) about our elected “elites” is their lifetime benefits (pension, healthcare, etc) they collect for all the damage they do. Ex-presidents in particular like Bush 41 & 43 collect $1.3M each annually.

  17. nihil obstet permalink
    January 4, 2010

    One of the changes the U.S. never recognized is the growth of productivity that makes the employment of the maximum proportion of the population for the maximum workday/year unnecessary. Mid-20th c., the prediction was that the great challenge was the growth of leisure. Instead, the country went the opposite direction (with some exceptions — the UAW tried to shorten work time, but were demonized as lazy for doing so, and for a while earlier retirement was touted as a trend). Instead of focusing on quality of life issues, like discretionary time and supportive social infrastructure, American culture focused on acquisitiveness — more money, more things, everything bigger.

    I don’t see anyone in a large organizational leadership position working on how to distribute the means to a full life to everyone without requiring full-time employment, and I don’t see how the financial problems are going to end without that. To maintain demand, we’ve put more members of the family to work, we’ve increased work hours, and we’ve run up our limits on debt. What’s left?

  18. January 4, 2010

    Collapse…and all the leisure time we could want to pursue bare survival.

  19. BC Nurse Prof permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Would it have been any different if Dennis Kucinich had become president? I know he couldn’t have, but if he did?

  20. Jim permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Ian, very nice class analysis.

    Nihil obstet, you say, “I don’t see anyone in a large organizational leadership position working on how to distribute the means to a full life to everyone without requiring full-time employment, and I don’t see how the financial problems are going to end without that.”

    This, to me, is at the crux of the problem. If your job has permanently been replaced by technology or shipped to a cheaper labor market or your work time cut in half or wages reduced, then how do you survive in our current economic environment? It is all about JOBS, putting people to work so the very important circulation of money can continue. There is 50% unemployed in Detroit. People without money can’t meet their basic needs. How is our society going to deal with this problem? All the rest is window dressing.

  21. January 4, 2010

    Not to sound overly conservative, but maybe we the people should stop looking to the government and its version of “the economy” for the answer. Or, a demented manner of looking at the “personal responsibility” meme so favored by the Right. We could (and no i don’t have a plan) refuse consent to be governed by “the economy” and direct our efforts towards a parallel structure. We might take personal responsibility for building such structures rather than waiting to catch a little trickle-down from the corporate toilet bowl.

    Oh sure, it’s probably absolutely unrealistic and pie-in-the-sky. But an illegal version was successful in Northern California. Are there economic lessons to be learned there that can be applied elsewhere and/or through different means?

  22. jo6pac permalink
    January 4, 2010

    . Thanks Ian, yep I’ll be voting 3rd party if there’s one this time or may be write myself in.

    Thanks tjfxh for the cartoon it was great.

    I’ve read most of what commenter’s have mentioned here and it’s amazing to watch Amerika slip back into the serf period. If there is another revolution what will the new minute men/women be called? Terrorist.
    jo6pac

  23. Lori permalink
    January 4, 2010

    BC – Kucinich didn’t have the leadership skills or he would be president.

    Clinton would have led to the left. That’s why Wall Street gave Obama the cash to run. That’s why James Roosevelt, CEO of Tufts Health Care and Chairman of the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee, made sure that Obama got enough delegates from Clinton to insure his nomination.

    Didn’t you ever wonder how a junior senator with less than two years in the US senate, no record on the national stage and no history of accomplishment in his entire time in lower office, as a civil rights attorney, law professor or private citizen raised more money than people like Dodd and Biden who have spent decades sucking up to corporate America? Why was Wall Street investing in Obama? Why was it so incredibly important to the CEO of a health care organization that Clinton not get delegates that she legitimately won, and that Obama get delegates that he had not won? In Michigan, in the end, the bill written entirely by Republicans that moved the primary up passed only with Republican votes. It was the signature of ONE Democrat that cost Michigan half their delegates. Why would the Democratic party play favorites like that? Why steal delegates from the candidate that won the most votes to give delegates to a candidate who gamed the system and still required cheating to win? Why? Are you under the impression that corporate America was afraid that Hillary, with her voting record closer to Boxer than Feinstein, was going to be too pro-corporate for their taste?

    A huge amount of corporate energy and cash went into making sure that Obama became president and Clinton didn’t. Just what do you think that was all about?

  24. January 4, 2010

    Chaos is the plan.

    The failure next fall Krugman wrote about today is, too, as is neo-feudalism in a post-industrial world.

    To think that Clinton would have led to the left is a delusion. Is the Clintonista known as Larry Summers familiar to you? How about Robert Rubin?

    Real lefties, those.

    These are highly intelligent, manipulative people.

    Believe it, even if we could stage a New American Revolution a new Napoleon would emerge as surely as the first did from the French Revolution and as sure as slavery emerged from 1776.

  25. DWCG permalink
    January 4, 2010

    Spot on Ian.

    I think another commenter statement that the decline of the union power has a lot to do with it. What other well funded large membership entity do we have to combat corporate America’s influence and money? Then again, unions to a large extent have brought their decline on themselves by, for the most part, remaining isolated from other aspects of the progressive movement, and only stepping up when their personal interests are at stake.

    Re: Clinton v. Obama, I’m far from believing Clinton was some progressive crusader. They were both bought and paid for, Obama was just an easier stooge. We’ve passed the time a progressive can actually run a credible presidential campaign. The base is too ignorant, the media is entirely bought, and the damn campaigns cost a billion dollars. Who in God’s name other than a corporate anointed lackey could possibly compete?

    It’s why I was behind Edwards. When’s the last time we saw a top-tier candidate run a campaign led by unions using progressive rhetoric (and yes I do think rhetoric matters)?

    I just thought Clinton would better master the system. Hard to see her screwing up health care as badly as Obama and pissing off the base so regularly. I’d probably still be cursing a Clinton bill, but it would likely have reimportation of prescription drugs, a public option that was closer to Hacker’s original proposal, and an auto-enroll into the public option for everyone without private insurance, as opposed to a mandate. Sure as hell wouldn’t have the Stupak amendment.

    I also think we would have gotten a much more progressive Supreme Court nominee, the Bush US Attorney’s would have been escorted to the door by security she was sworn into office and regarding the bailout she would at the least be putting more into helping those who have been foreclosed upon as the banks. Definitely would have put more money in the stimulus for the big cities. Clinton’s know how to keep the Mayors happy.

    I think someone said it best in response to the “He’s better than McCain” b.s. that’s constantly being spewed from the Obamabots: No one is questioning whether we’d rather have McCain. But a whole lot of people are questioning whether we would have been better under Hillary.

    I don’t think there’s any doubt now.

  26. January 4, 2010

    It still leaves the question of whether Clinton would have beaten McCain, and while i’d say that her winning would have been likely, i can’t say it would have been guaranteed.

  27. Ian Welsh permalink*
    January 4, 2010

    FWIW, I think Clinton would have won if she’d been the nominee (but then I think almost any Dem would have won). I think she would have had more left leaning domestic policies as President, though I don’t think it would have been radically better. What I do think, though, is that she would have cleaned house in the bureaucracy. No way she would have been the first president ever to leave Republican prosecutors in office, for example.

    Clinton believes in the vast right wing conspiracy. That alone would have (and did, I reluctantly supported her after Edwards dropped out) made her preferable to Obama. That said, while we need to learn from what went wrong, that fight is over.

  28. John B. permalink
    January 5, 2010

    I supported Edwards initially too. He was smart, telegenic and seemed to walk the walk and talk the talk with regards to empowering workers and average Americans. But I think we have to be thankful that he wasn’t the candidate. He would have lost to McCain when the adultery came to light and this would have pegged Democratic telegenic intelligent candidates as womanizing untrustworthy a-holes for a generation at least. Edwards would have been terrible for us.

  29. someofparts permalink
    January 5, 2010

    Thanks for bringing this into focus for me.

    “elite consensus is much much narrower than American public opinion. It starts at the center right and heads over to reactionary”

    “when it becomes clear even to them that radical change is required, they are far more likely to go with their preconceived notions of what’s wrong with the US, which are very reactionary, than to go with liberal or progressive solutions.”

    “To the elites, ordinary Americans are pretty much parasites. It’s not the bankers, with their multi-trillion dollar bailouts who are the problem, it’s old people with their Social Security and Medicare. The elites made it. They are rich and powerful. They believe that their success is due entirely to themselves (even if they inherited the money or position). If you didn’t, then that means you don’t deserve it.”

    I deal with this in people I know personally. Having their mentality described with such clarity will save me time down the road. The sooner I learn to spot those people, the less time I will waste on them. That gives me more time for identifying and connecting with other progressives.

    Hope your holidays were full of friends and good times Ian.

  30. john in the boro permalink
    January 5, 2010

    celsius 233,

    No, uncle sugar.

  31. January 5, 2010

    I agree with Lori and Ian. Clinton, whatever her faults, did not need sponsors, and she became Senator despite the efforts of the establishment that whipped for impeachment of the Triangulator-In-Chief. If anything, the establishment had to worry she might know exactly which deals were necessary to succeed, and which weren’t.

    Obama was sponsored by Daschle and Lieberman, positioned in 2004. If you dig into the “Robert Rubin’s son” aspect of the Taibbi story a bit more, you will see that parts of the establishment covered both contenders with buy-in donations just to play it safe. But it is also clear that those who did quickly realized that the same dollar bought a lot more access and influence on the “challenger” side of the race. Clinton, whether she did give any indication or not, might have had an axe to grind. Obama was the pageant of post-partisan fluffery, and, if you took a good hard look at his positions, the perfect proxy to refine and codify Bush’s transgressions into the new normal.

  32. Lori permalink
    January 5, 2010

    Kelly,

    Maybe it escaped your attention, but Rubin and Summers were working with Obama, not Clinton.

    If Clinton wasn’t going to lead to the left, if she was simply going to let Rubin/Summers do what they’re doing now, then there would have been no reason to spend hundreds of millions to make sure Obama got the nomination. Think about this – Wall Street, in the first quarter of the primary, gave Obama – a brand new senator with absolutely no history of accomplishment – tens of millions of dollars more than they gave the senator from New York whom all of them knew personally.

    Money talks. Whatever they thought Clinton had planned was apparently frightening enough to them that they funded the challenger in the Democratic party that they thought could best beat her. If she’s so bought and paid for, why did they have to buy someone new?

    As for whether she could beat McCain, as late as October 08, she was still doing better against McCain in the polls than Obama. Not only would she have beat him, she would have beat him with bigger numbers.

  33. January 6, 2010

    Maybe it escaped your attention, but Rubin and Summers were working with Obama, not Clinton.

    Not during Bill Clinton’s administration they weren’t!

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