Could Sarah Palin become the next POTUS?
All it takes is low voter turn out plus a third party spoiler (Michael Bloomberg or Ralph Nader) and Mama Grizzly's movin' into the White House!
I'm not saying it will happen, but it could. And with the President (along with much of the Democratic Party leadership) suffering from Stockholm Syndrome (in Frank Rich's words this morning), a third party spoiler might not even be necessary.
I'm beginning to think that the fix is in no matter who wins what in 2012. The tax cut for the plutocrats is an economic disaster coming at us like a runaway freight train with no one to stop it or even slow it down. The deficit everyone so sanctimoniously wrings their hands about will balloon by $20 billion in 2 years, and $700 billion in less than 10. All that free money (which will be paid for by more borrowing and raising taxes on the rest of us through increased fees and sales taxes, and reduced government services) will just get socked away in overseas tax shelters and never see the light of day. For that kind of money, we could get much better economic results if we just gave everyone $25 thousand in cash for free.
I'm beginning to think that this is not about economics, but about control. I read an essay by some libertarian thinker at the Cato Institute who made the rather insightful comment that liberals want to work in the 1950s and conservatives want to live in the 1950s with the clear implication that both schools of opinion ignored fundamental technological and social transformations that made those desires impossible. Perhaps, but I can't help but notice that the beginning of the 21st century is rapidly starting to look more and more like the end of the 19th century. It seems at that time that everyone in the USA either worked for, or owed money to, about a dozen people. Elections were passionately partisan affairs that ultimately signified nothing. A frustrated electorate went back and forth between two parties on the take. There wasn't much real difference between Republican Benjamin Harrison and Democratic Grover Cleveland. Senators openly boasted about the size of the bribes they took from railroad, manufacturing, and banking interests. Foreign governments would send their diplomats to make courtesy calls on the President and Congress. But for real business with the United States, foreign governments sent diplomats to meet with JP Morgan. For all the Horatio Alger stories of rags to riches, the USA was a rigidly stratified society at that time with a caste system based on race, ethnicity, class, and access to education (determined by the other 3). The colleges and universities of that time were gate keepers who usually kept the gates closed to all but a well-connected establishment elite. Despite all the Horatio Alger talk of self determination and the Herbert Spencer rhetoric about "survival of the fittest," the very wealthy and their families with their influence and powerful connections largely enjoyed the protection of the state from misfortune, while everyone else was very much on their own. If floods or fires happened (as they always do), then there were always church charities and the Red Cross, so the conventional wisdom assumed. The very idea of any government relief from disaster was unimaginable. When the great 1900 hurricane hit Galveston, Texas, there was no Coast Guard to rescue anyone and no FEMA to help anyone rebuild, no publicly funded effort to prevent a the loss of a third of the city's population in one night. The system was one of socialism for the rich and rawest capitalism for everyone else.
I think those days are coming back. We are watching the last act in the greatest transfer of wealth in American history, from the rest of us to about 1% of the population. This process began in 1981, then accelerated with financial industry deregulation and "tax reform" by both political parties. And now it's all about to be fulfilled in one enormous shift of wealth to the top, and the tax burden to the bottom. With a greater share of the wealth comes a greater share of power. The next easy step would be toward a Prussian style shareholder democracy.
JP Morgan didn't like free-market competition any more than Lenin did. He believed that a paternalistic oligarchy run by a few monopolies and cartels would be best for the United States. He believed that this would bring stability and security at home, and make our relations with other nations more reliable and less risky. While not any utopian ideologue, he shared the ideologue's distaste for the messy unpredictability of history.
His dream may be at last coming to its fruition.