Sunday, October 3, 2010

American Politics For Dummies

Here is what I love about the conventional wisdom on American politics. Most people, almost all in fact, think that the Democrats are incompetent and, hence, they always blow it when they get a chance to govern. But this thought has one basic error or rests on one basic error, viz., that the Democrats are actually interested in real reform rather preserving the status quo. If you take this one basic thought out of your head, put it aside for awhile, you will see that the Democrats are only as incompetent as they need to be to preserve the status quo. Obama the Magnificent became Obama the Incompetent when he undertook to "reform" health care after his election. He apparently "forgot" how to rally the troops or got "confused" about how to proceed. But, on the other hand, consider that our "two" parties are not actually interested in reform but are, rather, status quo parties. This is what even the Tea Partiers know, or at least what those know who are challenging the Republican establishment. Do you think that the Republican Party will be sad if Christine O'Donnell loses? Why? Because they actually oppose masturbation?

And what is the "status quo?" Well, first and foremost, it is the power arrangements that now exist and that have led to power and privilege both Democrats and Republicans, as well as those who are called "Wall Streeters" but who could be called simply "the wealthy." Wasn't it interesting that the election of 2006, in which the Republicans took it on the chin and was about the war in Iraq, changed almost nothing? It certainly changed nothing with regard to Iraq, just as Obama's election in 2008 changed nothing with regard to Afghanistan. And what about all those "Wall Streeters" Obama appointed to oversee the bail out? Oh yes, that was real reform - and if I had wheels I would be a taxi cab!

The current relevance of this argument is that while everyone, or almost everyone, thinks that the upcoming election bodes ill for the Democrats, I think, in fact, the Democrats are not going to be all that upset if the Republicans do well. Then, of course, the Democrats can say, truthfully, "Well, we tried reform and it has been rejected. Now, we will just have to see what we can do with the help of the Republicans." And guess what? They will get help from the Republicans - health care passed after Brown was elected in Massachusetts! - and reform, real reform, will disappear, once again, buried in what we will be told are the "realities" of American politics. It happened after FDR's landslide election, it happened after LBJ's landslide election, and it even happened after Ronald Reagan's landslide election [Reagan ended up raising taxes 11 times!]. If you want to go on thinking that these are the results of some "hidden force" buried deep in the American political scene, be my guest. I cannot help but think that the "hidden force" is only hidden because we choose not to see it - and it is our "two party" system!

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