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Democrats lost because they aren't liberal enough

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jan 20th, 2010 at 10:31:36 PM EST

Now also available in Orange and on Boo.

The received wisdom in mainstream US political discourse appears to be that Martha Coakley lost the Massachusetts special Senate election (to replace Ted Kennedy) because Obama's policies were too liberal even for the most liberal state in the Union. The US people, even in Massachusetts, it is said, want Obama to go back to the centre and govern in concert with moderate Republican and Democrat legislators.

I'm not usually all that enamoured of polls which appear to be designed to confirm a particular thesis, but the Research 2000 poll of Obama Voters in Massachusetts still makes compelling reading.  Obama won the state with 62% of the vote in 2008, so how could Martha Coakley lose a seat which had been held by Ted Kennedy with such distinction for so long?  This poll attempts to find out why.

Research 2000 Massachusetts Poll Results

The Research 2000 Massachusetts Poll was conducted for three organizations -- the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, and MoveOn.org -- on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 after polls closed in the special election for Senate.

500 Obama voters who did NOT vote in the special election were asked one set of questions. 500 Obama voters who DID vote -- and voted for Republican Scott Brown -- were asked another set of questions. Each has a margin of error of 4.5%.

2774 Obama voters from 2008 who voted Tuesday were reached -- of which 2274 (82%) voted for Democrat Martha Coakley and 500 (18%) voted against her.

Research 2000 is a reputable pollster, and the results appears to present clear evidence that Coakley lost because the vast majority of Obama voters felt that Obama had not been radical enough in pursuing his agenda and either stayed at home or voted for the Republican candidate in protest.  So lets start with those Obama voters who switched their vote to the Republican Candidate:


Obama voters who voted Republican. Key Findings:

  1. Obama Voters who voted for Brown supported the Public Option by 82% to 14% but opposed the Senate's health care plan by 48 to 32%.  Those who opposed the Senate plan were asked whether they opposed it because it went too far, or not far enough.  23% opposed it because it went too far, and 36% because it didn't go far enough.  Thus even Brown voters thought the Senate proposals much too timid by a clear margin.

  2. More generally, a 57 to 31% majority of Brown voters did not think Obama was delivering enough of the change he promised during his campaign and a 37 to 15% majority felt that Democrats were not doing enough to challenge the Republican policies of the Bush years.  Remember, these are the voters who just voted for a Republican candidate!

  3. 48% of Brown voters felt that the economy was very important in deciding how they voted, compared to only 32% for health care reform.  Brown voters felt that Brown better represented their concerns on this issue than Martha Coakley by a margin of 25 to 13%.  When given a choice of tightening Government regulation on Wall street or decreasing Government spending as a means of improving the economy, they opted for tightening Government regulation by a 43 to 25% margin and a 53 to 14% majority stated that such actions would make them more likely to vote Democratic in 2010.

  4. When asked whether Democrats in Washington were on their side, or on the side of the Lobbyists, a 47 to 23% majority said they were on the side of lobbyists.  A 52 to 23% majority felt that Democrats hadn't really changed how Washington works, and a 51 to 31% majority felt that Democrats' policies were more focused on helping Wall Street than main street.

Thus large majorities of Obama voters who voted for Brown felt that health care reform had not gone far enough, that Obama had not delivered enough of the change he had promised, had failed to regulate Wall street effectively, and were too beholden to lobbyists.

Obama voters who stayed at home. Key Findings:

  1. A 49 to 37% majority of Obama voters who didn't vote in the Special Senate Election felt that Obama and the Democrats were not delivering enough of the change they had promised in the 2008 campaign and a 39 to 12% majority felt they weren't challenging Republican/Bush policies enough.

  2. A 43 to 34% majority opposed the Senate health care reform proposals (53% because they didn't go far enough, and 8% because they went too far).  86% supported the public option, and 55% opposed the Mandate to require American to buy health insurance from Private companies (i.e. without a public option).

  3. A 26 to 9% majority felt that Coakley better represented them on economic issues than Brown, but this obviously wasn't enough to sway them to go out and vote. Stronger regulation of Wall Street would make them more likely to vote Democratic by a 56 to 5% margin and a 46 to 21% majority would opt for tighter regulation rather than reduced taxes as a means of improving the economy.

  4. Similar majorities (to those that voted for Brown) also favoured the notions that Democrats in Washington were too much on the side of Lobbyists, hadn't really changed how Washington worked, but were almost equally divided on whether Democrats favoured Wall Street or Mains Street.

Conclusions

Massachusetts isn't representative of all of America, and a Special election in January isn't the same as a general election in November.  You can take issue with how some of the questions were framed, but overall I think the poll was a fair attempt at trying to discover whether those people who voted Obama in 2008 but had stayed at home or voted Brown in Jan. 2010 did so because the Obama administration had been too liberal, or not enough.

The resounding conclusion has to be that it was because they were disillusioned with the Obama/Democratic administration because it had not done enough to promote radical reform in health care, the economy, and the way in which business is done in Washington.

I have to say that the logic of voting for (even a relatively liberal) Republican in response to that disillusion escapes me, but then politics is as much about emotions as it is about rationality. Scott Brown may have been a very marketable candidate but it is hard to believe that the Obama voters who voted for him (or stayed at home) could not but have been aware that voting for even a liberal Republican is to put the Obama administration's current strategy and legislative program in peril.  

Obama simply hasn't delivered on his promises to them, and if the Democrats are to win the 2010 midterms in the North East, they are going to have to take that message on board.  The question is whether they can do that without losing everywhere else.  In a divided nation, those who attempt to straddle the middle tend to get shot down from both sides.  

Obama's attempt to address the unpopularity of the Wall Street bail-out obviously came too late to effect the out-turn in Massachusetts.  The question is whether he can now do enough (with a 59 vote senate majority) to turn things around before November.  The price of raising peoples hopes is that to are judged on those raised expectations.


Poll
To win in 2010...
. Obama will have to swing hard left 83%
. Obama will have to pursue an even more "moderate" bipartisan line 0%
. Retain the current policy/personel mix - no reason to panic 16%

Votes: 6
Results | Other Polls
Display:
I agree that the results are pretty clear. I wonder if the White House filter system will strain out this message? I wonder if Obama will want to hear it?
The received wisdom in mainstream US political discourse appears to be that Martha Coakley lost the Massachusetts special Senate election (to replace Ted Kennedy) because Obama's policies were too liberal even for the most liberal state in the Union.

That's the received wisdom" only because, as usual, the dems fail to set the terms of discussion in any useful way.
Naomi Kline says it well:
(article appeared in Alternet, but was released in error--no longer available)

Oh, well. It was really good. To paraphrase from memory, she points out that the Obama phenomenon was the coalescing of many popular desires for change, and that Obama actually did our leg work for us, and rather well. The large and diverse body of people who elected him shows how broad the popular desire for change really is, and if ever that coalescence of opinion finds a leader with real intention to act on it, it can happen.

Apologies to Ms. Klein if I paraphrased it inaccurately.

Massachusetts vote was in large part a ( rather self-destructive) response to his failure-- to act.
Unfortunately, I think it's who he is, and he's already squandered the most incredible pile of political capital ever heaped together in one place- certainly in the last half century. And thrown away a political weapon of nuclear proportions.
 

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 02:44:11 AM EST
Hullabaloo
So Howard Dean goes on Hardball today and points out that today's DFA poll shows that of all the people who voted for both Obama and Brown, three out of five voted for Brown because they had wanted a public option and of the Obama voters who stayed home, 80% wanted a public option.

Here's what followed:

Matthews: There's two facts on the table right now. The Democratic candidate was for the public option. She was very aggressive, very progressive. She was much more progressive than the president. She stuck to the line, "I want an individual mandate and I want a public option." Period. She said it right to the end and never broke from that. So she took the position you're advocating right now. The other guy said I'm going to kill it in its bed. The voters voted for the guy who said he was going to kill it. So the voters had a choice between the public option candidate and kill it and they voted to kill it. So how do you explain that?

Dean: The voters were sending a message to Washington. They asked for change and they haven't gotten change...

Matthews: But she said "I want to give you a public option" and they said no to her...

Dean: They've had a year of dealing with every interst group, the banks ...

Matthews: Governor, you're whistling past the graveyard here. She ran for the public option.

Dean: Our polling shows what it shows.

Matthews: But she's for the public option and got blown away.

Dean: People who are for the public option ...

Matthews: Why didn't they vote for the public option?

Dean: because they wanted to send a message to Washington of real change ...

Matthews: How about voting for a candidate who's more progressive. Wouldn't that have done it?

Dean: You know voters as well as I do and the voters ....

Matthews: I'm just saying that "I'm more progressive than the president, vote for me" and that was Martha Coakley's position and they said no. And the other guy comes along and says, forget about it all, I'm voting to kill it." Ok. He's calling himself Mr 41. This guy, Scott Brown is walking around signing his name, "Scott Brown 41" I'll be the 41st guy who votes for the filibuster.

Dean: There are a lot of people outside Washington who don't thiunk that bill ought to pass because it's too watered down...

Matthews: Not Martha Coakley...she was all the way for a pogressive, public option.

Dean: You're being silly Chris because you know very well what voters do. Voters were sending a message to Washington: we don't want business as usual. That's what they were sending the message about.

Matthews: How do you know that?

Dean: Because we polled


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 09:52:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh my. "You're a Democrat so I should behave like brat", is it?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 01:18:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... behaving like a brat is what he defines as "Hardball".


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 10:53:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for your poll, Frank, I think there are other, more powerful forces at play. One is popular reluctance to admit you made a mistake, or to give up a hero. Obama might get reelected by that factor alone, or in combination with a GOP candidate from the hard right. He will never turn hard left, and in any case, the window for a significant turn is now probably closed. After propping himself up to be used as a dart board for a year, the frame is too far advanced to turn. If he tried, he'd be crucified.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 02:52:23 AM EST
The worst outcome for 2012 would be for Obama to be elected with a Republican congress.  He would be a poster boy putting an acceptable veneer on quasi fascist regime.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 10:46:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How is the current situation worse than 1994?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 10:53:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not - accept that things have gone a long way downhill since 1994, and then just as it looks like Obama is beginning to re-float the boat at least to some degree - it gets holed below the waterline again.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 11:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean Clinton failed to get Hillary's heath reform past the Congress and the Gingrich's Contract with America took control for the Republicans. Is Obama's record going to be any worse than Clinton's?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 10:31:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed that would be nasty, but the Chris Matthews interview and more than a few other bits suggest a worse (and rather likely) outcome:

--The old-school, failing mainstream media cling to the economic and political models they grew up with, leaving them no real allys but the right- their natural partners, (parents?)anyway:

--The scripted and funded noise machines like the tea baggers, together with the above media continue to succeed in making it appear as if progressive politics in general are discredited policy, in the public eye.

Then what? This scenario does not spell success for the GOP, I don't think- the people who coalesced behind their imagined Obama still want real change, and they are in the majority, I think.

Media vs. Reality?

Think of those flags that keep reappearing at the rallys- the ones that push for a national partition along ideological lines--secession.
Then there's Texas. Poor Texas.
A giant nation so polarized, so lost in a morass of pandering, manipulative bullshit it still swamps the University of Chicago with entry applications.

Smells like civil war, almost. Or is that just Darwin  burning?  

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 10:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
secession

The only near term destabilization I can envision is bankrupt states making noise over federal tax dollar redistribution. Following that, an independent Texas would be immediately poorer, actually.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 04:44:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This latest e-mail from OFA doesn't cut much ice, and doesn't give any clear sign that lessons have been learned and that tactics will change... but then, what do you expect at this stage?


Frank --

Yesterday's disappointing election results show deep discontent with the pace of change. I know the OFA community and the President share that frustration.

We also saw what we knew to be true all along: Any change worth making is hard and will be fought at every turn. While it doesn't take away the sting of this loss, there is no road to real change without setbacks along the way.

We could have simply sought to do things that were easy, that wouldn't stir up controversy. But changes that aren't controversial rarely solve the problem.

Our country continues to face the same fundamental challenges it faced yesterday. Our health care system still needs reform. Wall Street still needs to be held accountable. We still need to create good jobs. And we still need to continue building a clean energy economy.

The President isn't walking away from these challenges. In fact, his determination and resolve are only stronger. We must match that commitment with our own.

But it won't be easy. Real change never is. For that reason, I am grateful you're part of this fight with us.

Thank you,

Mitch

Mitch Stewart
Director
Organizing for America



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 08:46:37 AM EST
Obama's plan does not go far enough so let's vote for the teabagger? <head explodes>

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 10:55:10 AM EST
Brown could be the GOPs big star after Palin.  The anti-Washington/Wall street establishment populist sentiment runs so deep it taints everyone in Washington and makes them appears as pawns in a conspiracy against the little guy.  The health care reform ended up being the worst of all worlds - forcing people to buy health care insurance from private companies who were screwing them and providing them with no public alternative.  Even Nixon and Clinton promised more progressive alternatives (but didn't deliver).  The Supreme Court has just ruled unconstitutional constraints on corporate election spending - so how is any independently funded political party going to compete against billions in corporate brainwashing?  Obama is part of that establishment now, and so gets blasted from both libertarian and populist left and right.  There probably isn't a sustainable middle ground in that context.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 11:26:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only way to vote against someone is to vote for someone who can get elected. Especially in this culture, too, punishment plays a primary role - when something goes wrong, we look to punish someone before we look at how to improve whatever failed.

3rd parties can't supply that, and won't until something or someone comes along to crystallize a new narrative.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 02:29:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Especially in this culture, too, punishment plays a primary role - when something goes wrong, we look to punish someone before we look at how to improve whatever failed.

What he said.

The problem with waiting for Godot-er, a new narrative is that the narrators are in the bag.
Godot aint coming.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 10:46:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the loss in Massachusetts is what has sent Obama to the left - talking about not allowing banks to be to big to fail - I would say it was an efficient strategy by the voters.

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 Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 04:33:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, talking he's always done. And as a Frenchman, I know about presidents merely talking liberal.

Let's see some action, please.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 06:00:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Obama going "to the left"? El Pais, which for its US coverage simply parrots Village talking points or US blogs like politico of HuffPo, claims Obama is abandoning his change agenda (in Spanish, see google's translation) by which they mean he's dropping the rest of his reforms including health care and focusing on the economy and the banks.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 10:48:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess it comes down to what one guessed was empty talk previously and what one guesses is empty talk now.

If Obama takes action and breaks down the to-big-to-fail banks I would say it is a sharp turn to the left in economic policy.

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 Sun Jan 24th, 2010 at 06:58:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Year 1 was always going to be for fire fighting (the stimulus) and more difficult issues like Guantanamo, health care, Iraq, Afghanistan, where Obama could leverage his approval ratings.

Year 2 was always going to be for more populist issues like regulating banks aqnd a "Jobs bill"  because Obama has to recover popularity in the run up to the Mid-terms.

The question now is whether Obama will have any substantial victories to celebrate after year one - with the Stimulus only partial;ly successful, health care in a mess, Guantanamo not closed, and Afghanistan going nowhere despite an unpopular escalation.

Obama is still in the driving seat as far as initiating measures is concerned, although he has been curiously unwilling to take the lead - preferring an unpopular congress to make the running.

I wouldn't underestimate his ability to change tack and take popular initiatives.  The question is now how much he can actually achieve with a spineless congress and a resurgent GOP.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 24th, 2010 at 01:38:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
more numerology, ht js revenge,


Facebook Posts since Jan. 1: Brown (128), Coakley (58)
Facebook Fans: Brown (70,800), Coakley (13,529)
Tweets since Jan. 1: Brown (142), Coakley (144)
Twitter Followers: Brown (9,679), Coakley (3,385)
YouTube Videos: Brown (57), Coakley (52)
YouTube Video Views: Brown (578,271), Coakley (51,173)

Read more

illustrates candidates' aptitude for exploiting "new media" canvassing --popularized by BHO-- and correlates youth (18-29 y.o.) vote and turnout reported elsewhere.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 01:33:43 PM EST
Sen.-elect Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) Web guru, Rob Willington, has become one of the country's most sought-after online political strategists overnight.

Read more...



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 03:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown's campaign spent about 10 percent of its media budget on online ads, breaking Republican Bob McDonnell's record of 8 percent during his successful bid for Virginia's governor's mansion. (Willington said that's an early estimate and not a final number.)

About $233,000 went to Google alone, paying for search ads, Gmail ads, Google Apps, Google's "network blast" to all Massachusetts voters, and even Google Voice for the campaign's Election Day hotline.

The campaign's Google ads were seen by Massachusetts citizens 60 million times, according to Google spokesman Galen Panger. (There are only 6.5 million people in the commonwealth.)

The Internet was by no means the primary advertising vehicle. By comparison, the campaign spent $2.2 million on TV spots.



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 04:00:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
with national politics in the US.  That's the only right way to read Dr. Dean's polling data.  It was an election based almost entirely on local dynamics: An uncharismatic democratic candidate against a surprisingly compelling Republican one.  Infighting within the Massachusetts Democratic Party between the the western part of the state and the Bostontonians.  And the fact that people just don't like it when politicians play games with their votes -- the whole shenanigans about changing the law first to prevent a Republican governor from appointing Sen. Kerry's replacement had he won the 2004 Presidential election, and then changing it back when it served Democratic interests didn't sit well with people at all.  

And although the Democrats lost a filibuster proof majority, it changes nothing at the national level -- Democrats weren't using that super-majority advantage anyway.  With a majority House and a 59 seat majority in the Senate, the Democrats still retain hegemonic power to set national policy. If they can't do it, the only reason is incompetence, and right now a synonym for incompetence spells something close to "Harry Reid."

by santiago on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 02:26:48 PM EST
You can't really argue with this:

I'm finding this almost surreal. I don't believe it's possible for bright people to be so blinkered and inept that they can't push through the legislation they want.

It would be like Labour in the UK in 1997 deciding that it couldn't do a damn thing unless all the Lib Dems agreed - not for any good procedural reason, but in the interests of some entirely imaginary vision of bipartisanship.

More cynically, it looks like kabuki. The point of the exercise is not to change anything much, while protesting otherwise.

For example, Obama can grandstand all he wants about shredding the banks now that he no longer has his super-majority, because he's - supposedly - no longer in a position to change anything.

Hands will be wrung and apologies will be made, but what can he do, the poor man?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 02:39:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the Democrats had any spine they would make the Republicans filibuster popular legislation. This is an election year, fer chrissakes. They need to make the Republican senators up for reelection feel threatened.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 04:33:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Democrats have plenty of spine - against voters and popular opinion.

When you're bought and paid for, finding that spine is easy.

I'm not even sure that someone like Grayson isn't just playing the game - grand-stand on dKos, and watch the cash roll in.

It's impossible to tell if there's anyone with any genuine progressive sincerity in the Senate any more.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 05:13:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But at least then make it a real fillibuster - force them to stand on their feet and talk 24/7 for a few months of necessary - reading the bible out loud if they want to. Spring a surprise cloture vote at all hours of the day and night to make sure all 41 have to be there all the time. At least that will keep them out of mischief elsewhere.  

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 05:30:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
obama seems like a finger in the dike of public opinion swelling so much it bursts the walls.

j-u-s-t long enough to finish looting the husk of the economy, then they'll slap in some hard man to keep the peeps browbeaten and accepting their new reality.

horribly inevitable feel to this scenario, the fix is in, just as i saw in kerry's eyes when he rolled over and let bush the terrible hijack the election.

ignore the rhetoric, ignore the campaign fever, what's left? PTB stooge, that's what...

i hope to hell i'm 1000% wrong about this, nothing would give me more pleasure that to eat my chapeau, but my slender sliver of hope is shaved down to transparent.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 04:58:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah. Even Paul Krugman is giving up.
But how do you keep the peeps in line, in a zero-sum punishment culture? Give them enemies, villains.

When the USSR self-destructed, some of us in the wild sociological community wondered how the US would satisfy the addiction to scapegoats, enemies---and it was US.War on drugs, war on crime. And look where that got us. But, in the interest of national unity, the US needs an external villain- now, more than ever.

Any nominations?

Beware lest YOU end up on the enemies list.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 11:00:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i think the PTB has plumb run out of villains...

trotting out phantom osama is losing its fear market, but no fear they'll try and pin a target on someone.

the problem is they are outnumbered, and they know it, as they also know how their international star would tumble if they went all medieval more than they already do. only china imprisons more of its own!

they are painted into a corner, so they have to go through the motions, but if the abuse of the public goes too far, everyone knows there are enough hotheads to throw themselves into the front lines, and the mess would be the crappiest PR in the world, especially after the decades of sanctimony about human rights.

what if other countries boycotted the USA in protest at their internal brutality?

it could happen, if they choose the pariah path. what are they going to do, anklebracelet liberal grannies? of all the social environments for a violent coup and martial law, the USA would be far the messiest, when you consider the amount of hardware, and even a slice of the population that is so brainwashed that violence is the solution to all problems, (if not the summum bonum of human endeavour), that they will cheer it on from behind their tvs. they can't wait for the blood to flow.

i blame this on the moronic level of tv and junk food, but it's too late for diagnosis now, it's damage limitation time...

turning the kyber pass into an ashtray would only keep the peeps ra-ra-ing for a while. sooner or later they'll have to face the music, and locking up the nicest, friendliest, most constructive people in the community, just because they have dissent on their minds, will call for a complete re-engineering of what it means to be an american TM, involving airbrushing out all its founding fathers for a start, all its hoariest myths.

there aren't enough thugs to lock up everyone who 'thinks different', at a certain point the sheer absurdity will cause the public to disarm these budding nazis, for everyone's good. they can only go so far.

remember the whole world is watching now... we've got your backs.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 03:46:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hope so.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 02:28:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think it's a right versus left issue, but an establishment versus populist issue. Obama ran on change, but has let himself be absorbed into the worst of the DC establishment. The Republican activists are also "against" the establishment, although with a different slant.

So I think the poll should allow for the idea that anybody who wants to win next time needs to speak out against the lobbyist industry, the Wall Street issues, etc.

With luck this whole thing will be a significant wake-up call to Obama. Maybe. He's blown his honeymoon year. Now he has two years of hard work to set himself up to get re-elected. As a start, he could use the Haiti disaster, and Pakistan's announcement today that they aren't going to go after the Taliban, as excuses to pull out of the middle east. As if.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8472986.stm

by asdf on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 11:49:49 PM EST


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