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The question is whether you have a leader from the Democratic party who's willing to head left like FDR did, or whether you have someone who closes off the possibility for the Democratic party to move Left.  And if the path Left within the two party system is closed off, then the only other option is from a third party rising up to the Left of the Democratic party to push the discussion to the Left.

Maybe I shouldn't be so dismissing of the possibilities for that to happen without prompting conservative backlash.  The rise of Labour from the shadow of the Liberals stands out as a model, but that was prompted by a simultaneous expansion of the franchise, and the removal of power from the House of Lords.  In short, it was the continuation of a process of change set forth from within the system.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 02:34:49 PM EST
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The President can almost certainly single-handedly prevent the Congress from "heading left" in Foreign Policy. The President would have much more difficulty preventing a Congress from "heading left" if it was determined to do so.

I expect that what would be required to get a House determined to "head left" would be a sufficiently well-organized movement the succeeds in primarying obstructionist Democrats. That is, of course, the other reason why 2010 is a pivotal year.

In the US political economy, it is important that there is a strong progressive-populist component to that movement, since populist sentiment that is not channeled in the direction of constructive change will otherwise certainly be channeled in a far more destructive direction.


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 Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 03:52:08 PM EST
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In theory, what you say is on the ball.  That's what's written on paper, but institutions are more than something written on paper.  And I think that the agenda setting power of the US President has not been given significant notice.

My concern is that we have a US President of the "Left" who promotes liberal not social democratic policy.  And that when the pot boils over, social democratic policies do come, but from a third party.  And that you have this political "revolution" where the party system collapses like happened in Italy in 1994.  But that was not a time of economic crisis, 2008 is.

As for primarying, I think that this may actually make things worse.  Because I think that a lot of this movement has been directed (in money terms) by liberal, not social democrats, and that when faced with a conflict between social democracy and liberalism, many of the new Congresspersons and Senators have adopted a social democratic path.  

And because the movement behind these primary challenges is fundamentally liberal, not social democratic, I think that the risk exists that social democrats will be the subject of challenges by liberals.

Pelosi? She's been a god damn joke, she's the uberliberal who's been at odds with social democratic tendencies from the new members.  She blocked labor from meeting with the new members at the same time as she set up a meeting for Robert Rubin.  After I created a stink about it on Daily Kos, her staff emailed me saying that there would be a later meeting with labor.

So far as I can tell, it never occurred.  

Now who's the wunderkind behind the Obama campaign?  

Rubin and his disciples.

They were successful in using the primary to make sure a liberal , not a "social democrat" was the nominee.

Do you see a theme here?


And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 05:37:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for primarying, I think that this may actually make things worse.  Because I think that a lot of this movement has been directed (in money terms) by liberal, not social democrats, and that when faced with a conflict between social democracy and liberalism, many of the new Congresspersons and Senators have adopted a social democratic path.

What has been happening has been in part due to the absence of an movement up to the task.

Indeed, it seems highly dubious proposition for a movement to be built in the process of trying to primary members of the millionaires club ... the focus has to be the House.

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 Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 05:57:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It hasn't been the ability of the "movement" that I'm talking about here, it's their identity.

What I'm saying is that you have liberal bankrolling candidates who are social democrats, and then the donors act shocked when their agents don't act as liberals advancing their liberal interests.  

A point of clarification, I'm talking liberal in the economic, European, sense, here.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 06:09:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the bankrolling of candidates by those who can write big cheques is symptomatic of the lack of a progressive movement. Trial attorneys would likely represent the largest numbers of people able to write big cheques who have distinct anti-corporatist sympathies ... other than that, most big money donors are clearly more liberal in both sense of economic liberalism and social tolerance.

And part of the conflict that you point to is intrinsic, because there are "liberals", in that double sense, who are insisting on achievement of policy objectives, for example regarding the environment and global warming, where achieving the objective is incompatible with their fundamentally liberal stance.


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 Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 06:39:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is why social democrats must push for campaign finance reform.  If an effective reform is enacted before the 2010 election, we could see a much strengthened progressive, social democratic component of the Democratic caucus in the House.  With someone of Kucinich's persuasion as speaker you would see a very different Democratic House.

Another significant reason to enact campaign reform is that a significant portion of the current contributors are going down in the flames of the melt down underway. Reform would obviate that problem.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 08:33:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... of that ... given that any progressive movement in American politics is always an ephemeral thing in the longer scheme of things, campaign finance reform would be one of the things that the movement would work to push through as a structural reform to consolidate the ability to defend whatever progress has been achieved.

The formative enterprise for a progressive movement would be taking advantage of the gross gerrymandering of Congressional Districts to elect a solid Progressive-Populist caucus and using peer-to-peer small donation networks to ambush opposing members within the Democratic majority to spook them into going along with the Progressive-Populist caucus. On the back of that, real campaign finance reform might be attainable.

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 Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 08:40:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That may be a way to get there.  If so, 2010 would be the earliest possible date to accomplish anything.  I have my doubts that the current financial problems can be solved without directly attacking the problem, which will be strenuously resisted by the financial industry.  I don't see how incremental bail outs of the scale of $700 billion at a time are politically sustainable and I don't see how the existing bail out can succeed.  It will cost vastly more than $700 billion to blunt the effects of all of the excesses from the collapse of the bubble.  The decline in real estate values alone is wiping out over $2 trillion.  With around $50 trillion of derivative contracts coming due every month, who knows what further damage awaits?  Banks are right not to trust each other.

Were the food chain for our country contaminated from one end to the other by poisons, and people were dying in droves, adding a small portion of known good food to the supply would not solve the problem, even though that is probably what the Bush FDA would try to do.  The only certain way I can see to provide reliable credit in a relatively short time span is to create new banks operating under new rules with their capital provided by the US Treasury and taxpayer.  With a 3% reserve requirement $250 billion of the "bailout money" could capitalize new banks with a lending capability of  over $8 trillion.  These banks would be free of taint.  They would also be strenuously opposed by the financial industry.  Creating them would essentially be like releasing the real economy from being held hostage by the existing financial services industry.

The market to Bush and Paulson:

"Hands up! Your money or the economy!"

Bush and Paulson to the market:

"We're thinking, we're thinking!"

What they are thinking is that they would rather give the money to the existing financial services industry, even though there is no reason to think it will help.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 11:45:43 PM EST
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