Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Modest Proposal

Democrats took over Washington last year with an ambitious and very promising agenda. The President actually had an economic recovery plan which he spelled out in his campaign, and it was a good plan.

As soon as they met Republican resistance, they folded. On health insurance reform, they abandoned their maximum demands (like some kind of single-payer plan or extending Medicare to cover everyone) before they even started debating and negotiating. They began with what was already a compromised position. And now, it looks like they will end up with nothing. "They did a lot of horse trading and came up with no horse," said a veteran of the Obama campaign staff today.

The economic stimulus package was not enough. It was enough to avert disaster, but it was not enough to turn the economy around by putting people back to work and putting money in their pockets. They rescued the financial industry from itself, from the consequences of its crimes and excesses, without demanding any kind of reform. They put the financial industry rescue before rescuing the rest of the country. The intention was to free up credit, which hasn't happened. As for the "magic of the free market," if the banks aren't going to start lending (and probably for good reason because no one knows anymore who's honest and who's crooked; so many once reputable firms turned out to be giant fraud schemes or gambling casinos), and the very idea of government intervention is ideological heresy, then where is the money going to come from?

The official unemployment rate is 10% and has stayed there for about a year now. The unofficial rate is about 17%. Add that to the people who are still employed but have had to take cuts in hours or salary, and the percentage of the population in real economic distress is hovering around 20%, a fifth of the population. If this situation drags on any further, this could be a potentially lethal threat to the United States as we know it now. Look at what happened to those countries that did not recover from the Great Depression of the 1930s. Most of them had to wait for the Marshall Plan to rebuild.
And yet, the whole political process appears to be paralyzed in corruption (legal and illegal; and after the last Supreme Court ruling, it may all be legal now), and in constitutional crisis (the inflation of the Senate filibuster has effectively ended majority rule in Congress and put it in permanent gridlock). I don't see any end to this in sight. I hear plenty of people outside of elected office talking candidly about all this, but I don't hear any elected officials doing so.

If the strategy of the Democratic Party is nothing but retreat, if they are hostage to corporate interests whose funds buy them the extremely expensive television time so necessary to modern campaigning, then maybe it is time to start a new party. I'm not interested in another easily marginalized third party. I want a SECOND party. I want a REPLACEMENT for the current Democratic Party. If they are not going to represent the interests of their real constituents (working families, minorities, everyone who's not part of the Fox News demographic), then they should get out of the way of someone who will.


June Butler said...

Counterlight, you've said before that you wanted a SECOND party, and I agreed, but won't we need to have a third party before we have a decent second party?

I will watch the SOTU tonight with a good deal trepidation. I've heard enough of Obama's speeches to know that he can make a great speech, but we need action from him.

Counterlight said...

I still cling to the fond (and probably vain) hope that he will surprise us all in the speech, that he will come out fighting instead of apologizing.

June Butler said...

I hope you're right, love. I'll be pleasantly surprised. I may watch the speech tuned in to the Crack Van at First Draft and shout there, if all is not good. Tom thought that when Obama was elected he'd heard the last of my political rants. Poor baby's heard enough.

JCF said...

the inflation of the Senate filibuster has effectively ended majority rule in Congress and put it in permanent gridlock

Oh, it's not permanent. All you need are 51 Republicans and (ala F Herbert) "the Spice will FLOW!" [i.e., only Democratic majorities equal gridlock. Sigh.]