I find Greg Sargent to be a must-read every day. He has good politics and is an excellent reporter. Below is a short item from his Morning Plum today that I think is worth thinking about and discussing:
Battle lines are drawn as Campaign 2012 begins: The supercommittee’s failure represented the precise moment when any remaining illusions about the possibility of bipartisan governing compromise died for good — and the moment when it became crystal clear that the only thing that will resolve our biggest disputes is an all-out political war, i.e., Campaign 2012, which begins right now.
Indeed, as Peter Wallsten and Lori Montgomery write today, Obama is quickly pivoting off the supercommittee’s failure to launch a campaign to pressure Republicans to support an extension of the payroll tax cut. The two events are related. Both provide Obama with an opportunity to paint GOP priorities with stark clarity: The supercommittee failed because Republicans wanted the rich to pay less in taxes to secure our fiscal future — yet they are not willing to support a temporary tax cut extention for workers to prime the economy in the short term.
What’s more, the supercommittee’s failure to reach a deal — and the Dem refusal to make the Bush tax cuts permanent — mean the battle over whether to extend them will also come to a head just as the campaign hits its climax. Dems will call for the expiration of just the tax cuts for the rich, while Republicans will oppose extending just the middle class ones in isolation. All these ingredients will be seized upon to draw the sharp contrast of values, priorities, and visions for the country’s future direction that Dems hope will drive what may prove the most consequential election in recent memory.
When I think of consequential elections, I think of 1896, when the Wealthy defeated the Coalition of Democrats and Populist Party with McKinley defeating Bryan. I think of 1932 when FDR beat Hoover. I think of 1980, when Reagan began the whole-scale dismantling of the New Deal and accelerated the Great Class Stratification.
Will 2012 be one also?
First, I want to lay out what I think 2012 is not. It is not an election between capitalism and socialism. The re-election of Barack Obama will not solve every problem, will not create a consensus in America, will not put every one back to work, will not create racial and gender equality, and it won't end the Great Class Stratification (although it might continue to change the direction and ameliorate some of the stratification, especially as the economy grows and health care reforms kick in.)
Second, I want to talk about what a Republican victory would mean? Bush II on steroids. This bunch of crypto-fascists running the Republican primaries would impose austerity, thereby pushing us into a Depression. The NLRB would be gutted, as would EPA (Yes, I hated some of the Obama admin decisions this year, but there still is an EPA). With the supreme court, Roe v. Wade would be jeopardy.
Third, what do I think an Obama re-election would bring? An end to the Bush tax cuts for the rich, I hope. Incremental reforms. I supect Obama will govern more left than before, having seen the folly of bipartisanship, but he's not a leftist. He is a reform capitalist who is left of center (as viewed in the US system, in Europe he might be center-right). Electing a more left Congress is essential, because this will make more reforms possible, and push Obama left also. So will independent grassroots/netroots movements.
Real long-term change must come from the people. Persuading many of the 99% to fight for themselves and that change is possible is key. I remember the phrase, "winning the hearts and minds" of people from the Vietnam Era (said with cynicism often then because it was an era in which they destroyed a village to save it), but I think it is true here. Those who fight class stratification must convince others to join the fight.
Issue activism can change people's minds; so can elected officials by word and deed, but the driver of change is from the bottom, not the top. Winning the people, destroying the Reagan world-view that blinded far too many of the 99%, is a neccessary first step to reducing the Great Class Stratification. Without that, I don't think much is possible.
2012 is not a revolution. Those who seek revolutionary changes will not be happy. I see no electoral path for revolutionary changes. (Occupy has done great things and hopefully will do more but I do not see it as leading directly to the overthrow of world capitalism.)
People who seek revolutionary change are welcome to explore third parties, although I see that as a dead end. But if you see Barack Obama as the cause of the income inequality since January 2009, as one commenter in my diary did yesterday, then you should not support Obama's re-election. I disagree profoundly with that view, but if that's where you are, so be it. Frankly, I'm not talking to you. Your mind is made up; do what you think you have to do.
I grew up in the 60s, turning 15 in 1970. I went to anti-war demonstrations. Lately I do see "the torch passing to a new generation" (JFK) and I'm glad. The Occupy movements (and they are plural) are breaking new ground, using new tactics. Decentralization and without leaders, they allow for local movements to grow. Much is owed to those who fought in Seattle in 1999, who fought free trade, who demonstrated with puppets in the early 00s. I remember Billionaires for Bush. And the anarchists have made a big contribution (although I see black block tactics as counterproductive, but there are many anarchists who reject such tactics). I think OWS is building on all their shoulders, creating something new, and their courage is inspiring.
People of my generation need to look at OWS and learn. It's their turn to try to change the world. And God knows, since the early 70s, many of us have wondered, "where are the young folks?" We have an answer: occupying. And it is fucking great to see.
I'll tell you what I think about 2012: I do think it can be a turning point election. It's a center-left coalition fighting the 1%ers backed by the Rush/Fox haters. It is a which side are you on election to me.
It matters who wins because the amount of suffering will be less if Obama wins and will be so much greater if a Republican like Gingrich or Romney wins. Poor kids in the inner city will have a chance, maybe not much, but better than if the Republicans win. Poor rural folks, who mostly vote R, will be better off. Working people will be better off. The 99% will be better off. I believe that.
I do think it will be a turning point in the road, like 1896. But I also know people differ and I have no monopoly on truth. What do you think?
Update I: Meteor Blades below in the comments explained the third party issue with respect to many of us who are left of the current Dem Party so well, as he often does with things:
Once someone shows me a REAL... (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:TomP, qm1pooh
...path to leftwing power outside of the two-party system, I'm probably onboard. So far, nobody has done that, and nobody I know has shown the wherewithal to put together the precinct-level operation to even win local elections against the two-party juggernaut. We can deplore that, and I do. But, meanwhile, we have a choice: vote for Democrats, don't vote or vote for a symbolic candidate without a ghost of a chance of victory.
I am a radical for whom the Democratic platform and Democratic officials do not go nearly far enough. But I strongly disagree with the idea that because many elected leaders in both parties have intersecting interests there is no difference between electing a majority of Democrats or a majority of Republicans. I also disagree with those who say (re)electing a Democratic President is no different from (re)electing one from the GOP. Democrats have frustrated us on the left, sometimes betrayed us, frequently disappointed us. Never more so than on economic issues. But we have, in a number of important arenas, made significant gains because they, not the Republicans, were in charge. As much as we need? Definitely not. Far from it. But the damage done by Republicans-in-charge is hardly minor.
So, I will, once again, be voting for Democrats who, even though I disagree with a portion of what they do (and what they do not do) support many of the things I do. Because the alternative of not voting or tossing away my vote, is not just bad, it's dreadful. I will also, however, continue to do what I have always done: spend at least half my political time working in and for movement/cause politics. Because that is where all reform begins, whether it's abolition of slavery or the bringing of equality to LGBTQs.
The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]
by Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 23, 2011 at 10:45:31 AM CST