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Two possible American futures: A European response

by Frank Schnittger Sun Dec 2nd, 2007 at 08:37:32 PM EST

This started out as a comment on Montereyan's post on American politics: "There Are Two Possible Futures - Ron Paul or Progressivism".  It grew so lengthy I felt compelled to publish it as a diary in its own right.  However I must caution - I am responding to his paper very much from a European perspective and without an in depth knowledge of US domestic politics.  Nevertheless, I felt a different perspective might be useful.

Firstly, the linkage between liberalism and years of relative economic plenty seems proven - certainly in the US - and it was largely the children of the privileged who led that crusade.  It always seemed too fragile to survive major wars or recessions which threatened the ruling class itself.  These always seemed to lead to a conservative retrenchment.

However liberalism also ran foul of the moral conservatism of those who should have been its natural supporters.  Compared to Europe, the American working and middle classes seemed much more religious, morally conservative and wedded to a philosophy of personal self-sufficiency.  

Perhaps it is a Catholic Europe versus a Protestant America thing, but Europeans of whatever hue never had the same problem with the state having a much larger paternalistic role in managing their lives.


But what really destroyed liberalism was the wishy washy tolerance and pluralism of its message.  It is hard to sell complexity, however virtuous and correct, against the much simpler slogans of the right: freedom, the free market, self-reliance, anti-bureaucracy, anti-Government waste - which appealed to the little guy who felt that his life was being controlled by forces beyond his control.  (Little matter that those forces where largely those of big business rather than big government).

The rise of the Latino-Catholic population may well reduce the difference between Europe and America in this regard, but it seems to me that any rise in support for progressive politics has to reduce the lock that the Right has on moral/social conservatives.  It is not as if the right has ever done anything effective about the "moral issues", it has simply plugged into that social conservatism for support and then gone off and done its own thing with hardly a backward glance - except at election time.

This is where the liberal/libertarian philosophy might still have something positive to contribute.  You can support conservative moral values but not do anything about them in office because to legislate for e.g. school prayer would be unconstitutional or interfere with the individual freedoms protected by the constitution.

But that is just Machiavellian politics to get you over the transition.   What of the central thesis of Montereyan's paper that there will, in due course, be a natural demographic majority for a progressive form of politics?  Interestingly, that thesis is predicated on the assumption that the US is in terminal and irreversible decline as the world's only superpower.  A period of such decline in the past might have been presumed to lead to a right wing revival.  Why should the future be any different?

Upwardly mobile African American and Latino voters who support the Democrats now might well switch to the GOP when their success s threatened when times are hard.  The unprecedented disgrace of the Nixon era led to only a very brief liberal revival under Carter.  The success of Clinton was largely built on his extraordinary charisma and political skills, in re-united Democrats with some of their African American and Southern base, and in succeeding to re-ignite the economy largely through centrist rather than liberal/social democratic policies.

So I wouldn't assume that an American decline will lead, inevitably, to an enormous opportunity for Progressive politics.  Certainly the Bush disgrace will lead almost certainly to a Democratic win - probably for Hilary Clinton, but will she be the last in the line of centrist/liberal politicians rather than the first to usher in a new era of more progressive politics?

Certain structural changes will be required if more progressive politics are to consolidate their position, starting with a Congressional as well as a Presidential Democratic win in 2008.  Firstly, voter registration will have to be made compulsory, and governed by Federal statute, with strong penalties for partisan state administrations which fail to ensure full registration, and some incentives for people to actually vote.  (Voting is compulsory in some countries).  

Otherwise the very low turnout of marginalised citizens will continue to inhibit the development of a natural progressive majority.  It is a scandal that any country can call itself democratic when the turnout in elections is routinely below 50% and when many adults aren't even registered.

Secondly, campaign finance reform.  Just because the Democrats are currently matching the Republicans in fund-raising is no reason to long finger this one.  The inbuilt advantage that huge funds gives any candidate is an invitation to special interest groups to suborn the democratic process.  Start by making all commercial TV advertising and corporate donations illegal.  America is a democracy of citizens, not of corporations.  The right to Free speech should be restricted to where the airtime is given free as well!  If you have to pay for it, it is hardly free, is it?

Finally give ordinary people something concrete to fight for - like universal public health care.  Otherwise, the battle is so much theory and hot air as far as many citizens are concerned.

So in answer to Montereyan's thesis that there are only two possible futures for America: Ron Paul's libertarian conservatism or Progressivism, I would argue that from my European perspective it doesn't look that way at all.  The Right has an enormous natural advantage in the simplicity of its message, the potential for fund raising, the level of organisation, and its ability to mobilise its natural supporters.

Most of a Progressive politics natural constituency is currently deactivated - amongst the 50% who don't or can't vote.  Even a considerable demographic shift won't change that unless the vast majority of the "new entrants" into citizenship are politically activated and organised in a sustained way.  Evan the debacle of the Bush regime may result in little more than a temporary setback for the Right - a Carter interlude - if someone like Obama is elected.

There is, I'm afraid, no substitute for the hard slog of educating, "conscientising", mobilising, and organising the huge underclass who currently don't vote at all and who are held in thrall by a dominant corporate media.  A decline in America's global dominance will only squeeze them further.  Only the Clintons, it seems from this remove, have the organisational skills that could withstand the onslaught of an enraged Right if their power bases in the media, the military, and corporate America are truly threatened.

The question is, will Hilary even get the Democratic nomination, so splintered is what remains of that once great party.   We debated here the pressure Chavez is under in Venezuela, despite his enormous democratic mandates.  The Military-industrial complex is now far more powerful than democracy in America itself.  A weak reforming President will simply get blown away, by unconstitutional means if necessary.  Hilary is America's only best hope, and she is neither a Progressive nor a Conservative.

Sometimes even the longest journeys have to start with a few small faltering steps.  Neither Ron Paul nor Progressive politics will triumph in the near terms, and the future is all to play for.  But there is absolutely nothing inevitable about it.

Display:

the linkage between liberalism and years of relative economic plenty seems proven - certainly in the US

And which times of "economic plenty" are you referring to? The post WWII period, or the last 25 years?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 05:38:29 AM EST
with respect, i think you are muddling social liberalism with economic liberalism.

whether the former is a luxury, contingent on the success of the latter, would make an interesting subject for discussion...

i believe the meaning-conflation here has benefited the right in the propaganda wars, and so have a pet peeve with it, as long time ET readers will have doubtless picked up on by now!

as far as i can understand, social liberalism embraces human rights, while economic liberalism is another name for laissez-faire capitalism.

economic liberalism, imo, has brought some benefits, (cutting unnecessary bureaucracy), but more problems, (resource depletion, runaway growth without taking 'externalities' into account, governmental corruption-by-corporation), while social liberalism has no downside...

i do agree with montoyan's thesis, if i understand it correctly to stipulate that middle ground between extreme right and what is demonised as extreme left (progressive) political poles, with the stresses of economic decline and global warming to push matters to a head.

he is also projecting 10+ years into the future, wheres the situation you describe seems more rooted in the present.

and i think he's right about obama.

i hope hillary wins, if she's the nominee, but think edwards would be a better choice, as would obama.

they all need to get a clue from kucinich, and borrow a lot of planks from his platform, because nothing else will make sense when gas is $10 a gallon.

i think our cause is helped by the fact that the right's candidates will get increasingly wingnuttier, cf ron paul, who might be doing well now, but i don't think is electable as a president, though i'm not as sure of this as i'd like to be...any country that can vote gwb in twice has some pretty serious identity issues, and paul might be pulling all those non voting survivalists out of their hideaways and to the ballot box.

Otherwise, the battle is so much theory and hot air as far as many citizens are concerned.

i give america one - max two - presidential election cycles before that statement is true.

 

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 08:51:09 AM EST
there is some sense of hope in your comment that the US is still not so disfucntional....and that another roosvelt-type presidence is possible .and that a new "great comrpession" in wealth (as P. Krugman calls it) could indeed be possible  bringing the US back on track with other counrries BRIC in this century.

You could be certianly right.... but..pufff it coudl not be the case.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 02:03:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
besides the comments above I would also like to point to another weak argumetnation here in this excellent dary.

The idea that republcian or conservatives ideaa are more "easy" to sell that progresive or left-wing ones.

This is just a common place.. and a flase common place. conservative ideas and progreesive ideas in the politics world are just as simple and as complicated as you want them to be.

Human brain is not conditioned in one way or another.. what the brain wants are histories, myths, narrative, discourses..this is the unviersal sutuff up there.. you can propagate dieas of selfishness, sell that the human being is selfish, ust compit, ideas of belonging to a race a subgroup..
but these ideas are not more natural (or unnatural ) than any idea or concept from the left.. from cooperation to the so loved enlightenment values.

What we got wrong is that left-wing ideas and enlightenment ideas are jsut "default histories", that these narratives would be the ones that everybody would see as "true" if only exosed t them.

But oh my, antrhopologichal studies show that enlightenmet values are no "default" values or ideas, they should be spread as any other narrative , myth or discourse.

but they are not worse, nor less natural, nor less difficult to propagate. Myths, narrative and discourse propagation is a matter of serious hard-core science... just ask any company doing advertisement.. and the hundred of athropologists working there..

what happened is that reublicans and the right took anthroopology seriously and use it in the real world.. and bought media (something the Nazi already knew and used).. while the left lived in some kind of iddle palace believing something that was not subtantivated by science.,namely believing that enlightnement and left-wing ideas where "natural" in our cultural environment.

We should have done the same as the right. Buy media, and make researcha bout discourse and language..and more researcha bout how to build-up the concepts ad the links amon them ad the histories that form anrratives..and hwo to group narratives ina great encomapssing myth, and market.. and make a left-wing noise machine... for chris sake.. libertarians ,anarchists, everybody in the XIX century knew that.. why oh why the left stopped doing it..a d why o why we know seem to believe that our ideas are more difficult to market than cosnervative ones... I tell you why.. e ahve been mythically brainwashed into believing that the huamn being is bad ,selfish by nature.. and they have used and missquote darwin.. they have ignored recent advances in biologicahl evolution and hyde everything that coud smell to human beign no sefish.... you can find wahtever you want in the natural-animal world.. you can interpret animal behavior as incredible generous adn ove-caring.a dn other behvior as selfish.. it just a matter on what you project and what you look for.

The truth is that the brain is completely plastic in those issues...and the study of brain development and myth adquisition is a world/science wonderful of surprises.. but left ideas are as easy and natural (or unnatural) as conservative ones.

the moment you see one million bears demonstrating againt the Iraq war or in favor of jailing and killin or all inmigrantss I will accept that left-wing (or irght wing dieas) ideas are more natural....

Meanwhile. the human brain just expects histories...we have just to buy media to provide the progressive side. and then wrk as the right, research, more resach, more research abut the myth and ideas evolution.

A constant struggle.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 12:49:34 PM EST
beautiful comment, kc..

What we got wrong is that left-wing ideas and enlightenment ideas are jsut "default histories", that these narratives would be the ones that everybody would see as "true" if only exosed t them.

ouch....

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 01:09:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is really amazing how supposed left-wing guys decided to willfully ignore a complete science (antrhopology) and all the thorough and comparative analysis of social movements in the XIX and XX century (not science but good history) just because it did not fit their world  (and would have force them to work as mad as the right was doing).

So much that now the tide have turned so much that non-enlightenment, prot-fascist ideas are thoguht to be "more easy to sell". what a turnaround.. scince distorted, eclogy research sdsitorted, neurobiology abused adn denigrated.. all to pursue the idea that right-wing disgustign ideas are "natural" and we are supposed to be the side of scinece, you know.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 02:00:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
as so many of your posts do, you sliced through the gordian knot of confusion i have about this issue...

jejeje

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 04:35:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blushed....looking to the floor.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 at 06:29:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you got it right. The problem i see is that for the right to buy media, it takes one Murdoch.
For the left to buy media, it takes a million committed citizens agreeing on the media purpose and content.
This in a very rough picture.
by Torres on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 at 05:48:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well..we have a couple of center-left Murdochs in Spain...

but in the US.. I am afraid you are generally right.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 at 06:26:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even that doesn't work. The French newspaper Libération was founded in this way. Thirty years later, it has been bought by the big Capital (a Rotschild, for god's sake !! ) and is hardly progressive anymore...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2007 at 07:08:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US, Pacifica Network seems to be doing all right.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2007 at 07:57:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's why youtube is quite the revolution, tho dialup users can only drool...

if every citizen comes armed with recording equipment and the knowledge of how to use it, that's a lot of potential truthtelling right there.

think of that tasered guy in canada...

deconsolidating the media through legislation would be the shortest way to smashing the mighty wurlitzer, but until that happens, the lie-machine is springing millions of tiny leaks from the tiny cuts people are making.

thanks to consumerism and asian electronics...wanna see people getting pissed off?

take away their gadgets and ask governments to give up the taxes harvested from their sales!

we have to take back the media...

and we will, because interactive is so much more efficient, push media will eventually have to roll over or change.

adam boulton's blog is positively rude, it makes you realise how much of a mask he wears for sky...

being real gives more satisfaction, the writing's on the wall for the topdown bullshit merchants.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2007 at 12:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi all, many thanks for your thoughtful comments, and apologies for my delay in responding, I have been away.

First of all I take the point that progressive ideas are not inherently more difficult to sell than right wing ones.  But the Right has been much quicker to adopt the lessons of branding and marketing and has had the access to corporate expertise and finance to propagate these ideas much more successfully than the left.  So much so that the dogmas of the free market now seem as natural (and scientific) as gravity or natural selection to most people.

In contrast left wing discourse has often been excessively complex, intellectual and difficult for the ordinary mortal to relate to.  By eschewing "personality politics" the left has also made the sales job much more difficult.  Most people relate more to people, than abstract ideas, and the right has been more successful at building a more glamorous youthful brand in more recent times.  Hell, left wingers are still stuck with Che Guevara posters.

Secondly, I am well aware of the distinction between social and economic liberalism, as well as the distinction between social and economic conservatism.  But building successful political movements or parties is also about building coalitions between otherwise disparate groups.  Both Economic conservatives and Economic liberals have been quite successful in recruiting social conservatives to their side - even though they have rarely delivered much of a social conservative agenda.

Part of my argument was that economic progressives or social democrats might have to build a coalition with at least some socially conservative groups to achieve a governing majority - at least until Montereyan's natural demographic progressive majority is achieved!

And which times of "economic plenty" are you referring to? The post WWII period, or the last 25 years?

Actually I was thinking about somewhere in between - from the Kennedy era in the early 1960's which coincided with the emergence of the US from post war trauma and the emergence of a younger, more self-confident and prosperous generation of leaders - drawn very much from the economic/social elite.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 06:44:55 PM EST
 But the Right has been much quicker to adopt the lessons of branding and marketing and has had the access to corporate expertise and finance to propagate these ideas much more successfully than the left.

Your words, my words.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 at 06:30:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a certain accuracy in the charge that progressives didn't take to branding and marketing as their opponents did, and this has something to do with academic/bureaucratic thinking. But it also has to do with money. It's true that Xtian conservative churches raised a lot in grassroots donations but I'll bet that's overstated.  Big business=big money.  It isn't always just the message, but how much it gets repeated.

As for liberalism in the US, it was achieving dominance in the early 1960s, and might well have reasserted itself in the late 60s, when it was most powerfully attacked from the left, not the right.  The assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, along with Martin Luther King, killed it.  How that happened is beyond my powers of analysis, but I am among those who believe that this is what happened.  These remain the political tragedies of my lifetime.

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Wed Dec 5th, 2007 at 05:49:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and being 52 I can also claim the generations long "stupid" American status, or rather generationally under the influence of propaganda/commercial media.  This is an extremely destructive force in place here.  People actually vote based upon physical apprearance, or because Hillary "is a woman".

Ron Paul's support is in part a protest against what many see as the mediocrity of mainstream and government's refusal to do anything good.  Some of his support comes from anti-globalist groups, yes the anti-Illuminati  crowd is solidly in Ron Paul territory.  The people are mad, even if they don't really understand what to be mad about.

The democrats who won sweeping victories last Nov 7 have failed any attempt at "reform" and are even passing legislation more Satanically oriented than the patriot act, S 1959, a draconian thought crime bill is in the works now.

Yes, I said it long ago, as the US falls down Europe gets to stand up.  Hey guys, that might even be before next summer.

by Lasthorseman on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 09:37:57 PM EST
Lots to respond to here; others have done a good job with specific parts of it.

I do want to suggest that US liberalism hasn't actually been that tolerant or pluralist, at least not in practice. It claimed to be such, and gained the votes of minority groups from time to time on that basis - but since 1933 there has been an almost constant effort by those excluded from liberal government to produce something that ACTUALLY is pluralist and democratic. Liberals have often resisted this, sometimes bitterly, sometimes violently.

I think conservative opposition to liberalism has often taken liberalism's claims at pluralist representation at face value and then argued that because diversity is inherently wrong, amoral, unstable, whatever, that liberalism is therefore flawed and that only a return to "traditional values" (that is, white protestant values) can save the country from doom.

In other words, I am skeptical of the existence of the "moral conservative" as a force outside racialized claims to political legitimacy, as a force for anything positive.

Perhaps this is where American Catholicism differs from European Catholicism, as there is a significant wing of the American church that is ardently right-wing.

Your other point is about how right-wing power and wealth can blunt a progressive movement, even if it has demography on its side. I agree with that assessment, and my worry is that those forces will successfully forestall the maturation of a pluralist progressivism.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 10:55:10 PM EST
Perhaps this is where American Catholicism differs from European Catholicism, as there is a significant wing of the American church that is ardently right-wing.

Hehehe... No, you got it exactly backwards: the wing of liberal Catholicism is much stronger in the US church than European ones. (While alienation from the Church is stronger in Europe than the US.) Witness disputes in Papal conventions and such.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 at 03:35:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However even a right wing Catholic church gets people into the habit of centralized government, unlike the US approach to religion...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2007 at 07:15:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No. It gets people into the habit of centralised authority which is not - quite - the same thing.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2007 at 10:58:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many good points. It was especially worthy to (1) emphasize voter turnout, (2) point out that economic problems are likely to lead to right-wing revival rather than progressive activism of the victims, and (3) that one should look beyond the next election victory and consider a repeat of the Carter Interlude. (I was almost certain that Kerry would have meant such an interlude and argued against him on that basis.)

Now for some critical notes.

Montereyan's vision of a scarcity-plagued economy and a multi-ethnic majority leading to progressive structural majority is certainly undermined by the fall of the Roman Empire, when the multi-ethnic empire turned to Christian fundamentalism and destroyed itself economically, culturally and socially, at last giving an easy prey to the Germanic tribes. However, the before-last revival of liberalism in the US was during FDR, that is during the worst economic crisis in US history and on the way out.

I don't think your Catholic (Europe)-Protestant (USA) counterposition makes much sense. I know it is popular in the Anglo-Saxon world, and Ireland is Catholic-majority, but protestant Scandinavia and North Germany are even stronger counterpoints to the US than the Catholic parts, and Switzerland and the Netherlands also are European counterpoints.

Lastly, that Hillary has a good image in coverage we get in Europe has to do with the superficiality of that positive coverage (originating in part in her gender and in part in of her celebrity status, but also a lot in of the inbred cocktail party elitism and lazy domestic-media-condensing work routine of most Washington, nay most foreign correspondents). But, unfortunately, Hillary is THE establishment candidate, with corporate support and muddied message and track recod of foul compromises. The very embodiment of the business-as-usual liberal politics Montereyan branded nonviable. Don't expect her machine to work against corporations and for progressives.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 at 03:27:29 PM EST
The Clinton's receive rave reviews in Ireland because of his very committed and skilled support of the peace process.  From an Irish, and probably from a European point of view, ANY Clinton Presidency is likely to be a damn sight better than what we have had with the Bush's.

I don't dispute that Hilary is an establishment candidate, but she is from the more progressive side of the establishment, and very possibly the the most progressive candidate with any realistic chance of being elected.

Does Obama have any more substance that Kerry, Dukakis, Mondale or McGovern?  Probably less.  We have had enough good losers, especially if the alternative is Mike Huckabee!

Montereyan's thesis of a forthcoming Progressive majority is still very much in the future, and a huge amount of organisational work will be required to mobilise that majority even if it does emerge.

There is no better polical organiser than Bill Clinton.  He can do the long-term stuff in the field whilst she runs the day to day stuff from the Oval Office.  From a European perspective its the best chance we've got.  Has Obama even been to Europe?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 at 07:03:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Has Obama even been to Europe?

Yes.

Barack Obama - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, Obama co-sponsored the enactment of conventional weapons control and transparency legislation, and made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 at 08:44:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.  I hadn't even bothered to check.  However the perception in Europe is that he is more likely to look West rather than East in terms of trade and political alliances.  One quick trip to eastern Europe hardly speaks to an abiding concern to build a close relationship with the EU.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 at 09:02:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Being a good organiser only counts as positive point if what they organise is a good thing. Otherwise, they organise bad things. I note that the Clintons failed to organise universal health care in 1993, and the lesson they 'learnt' from it was to not to try harder, but to not even try and cozy up with the establishment, which in Bill's case also meant to allow Greenspan free rein in letting the bubbles economy expand -- an economy that was fed on foreign credits (which more than balanced the trade deficit ballooning under Clinton's second term), including European capital, which was doubly bad for us (capital drain from our economies and much of that lost once the bubble burst); and at the same time the Clinton government and its appointees in IMF and World Bank pushed the neoliberal 'reform' recipe across the world, causing spectacular crashes from Argentina to Russia.

What is worse: a good loser, or a Carter interlude that does not even dare to be as progressive as Carter was?  Especially if Fox News et al will be successful in making a President Hillary inherit the blame for failure in Iraq, and other crises including energy issues on which her establishment 'liberalism' would make her too timid to take bold enough government action: then we'll get someone much worse than Huckabee in 2012. (Jeb Bush, anyone? Can you imagine the damage potential of a Dubya with brains?) On Obama and the others you compared him to, sadly I think Obama has even less substance than Kerry, who didn't have much either whatever Fox News cried about his liberal extremism, and Hillary 2008 even less.

Considering that Hillary voted for and argued for the Iraq War, and that the Democrat foreign policy establishment (Albright et al, Brzezinski et al) are very much in favour of Empire Light with Europe kept under US wings as vassals (Albright used to chide European leaders for standing up to Bush, not for the policy reasons but the 'alliance' behaviour), I wouldn't take any comfort in Clinton's greater international experience.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Dec 5th, 2007 at 04:05:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"...To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together." Zbigniew Brzezinski: The Grand Chessboard, p. 40


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Dec 5th, 2007 at 04:07:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not really arguing against you, but it does depend on what you regard as possible in 2008 in the absence of Montereyan's projected emergent progressive majority.  Certainly Clinton's early (and perhaps naive and incompetent) health care reforms were defeated ignominiously in the face of a very hostile congress.  

No President can effect a significant reform program without at least the passive support of Congress, and so it is crucial that the Democrats can win both Houses in 2008, preferably with a significant majority because some Democratic legislators are very conservative as well and might block more radical reform proposals.

I base my support for a Clinton Presidency on their demonstrated ability to listen and make common cause with the rest of the world, and particularly with Europe, an alliance which is crucial to strong collective action on Global warming, peak oil, Iraq, Iran, Russia, and sub Saharan Africa and just about any global issue you can think of.

Some of the Republican candidates appear to be retreating into a xenophobic fortress America approach which could be disastrous in terms of tackling global issues.  Obama is very much an unknown quantity in all of this and his inexperience tells against him.  He could be very good, but will be allowed to implement a progressive program even if elected?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 5th, 2007 at 08:33:46 AM EST
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