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There are four major classes of political problems in the US:

  • Structural governance issues - endemic corruption, lack of an organised left, lack of organised labour, far-right media landscape, excessive military and corporate influence on government, creeping police state, etc.

  • Medium-term policy issues - a third-world infrastructure, structural current accounts deficit, unsustainable energy supply, decrepit health and education, lack of industrial policy, imperial overstretch, etc.

  • Short-term do-or-die issues, where policy has to be changed yesterday - climate crisis, pro-cyclical economic policy, structural oil dependency, etc.

  • Values politics - torture, criminal wars, high and increasing inequality, rampant sexual discrimination, unreconstructed racism, support for repressive regimes abroad, etc.

Now, nobody is demanding that Obama fixes everything on this list. That would be unrealistic. Not, perhaps, unreasonable, but unrealistic. The problem is that I'm not seeing any kind of progress on any of them.

Of course any kind of progress faces substantial institutional barriers. But there are so many issues where progress is needed and so few where progress is made that I think it's legitimate to ask whether these institutional barriers are, in fact, insurmountable, or whether they are simply being used as a convenient excuse for inaction. A determined attempt to enact sane policy (not even left-wing policy - demanding that from a centre-right president would be clearly unrealistic) could surely find at least one or two areas where the defences could be decisively breached.

Further, even minor progress is not sufficient. Eventually, the Democrats will lose power, and the Republicans are by now composed mainly of Taliban-wannabes and unreconstructed fascists. So losing power will mean another sickening lurch towards the far-right. Unless the gains achieved during a Democratic incumbency more than counterbalance the damage done under the Republicans, they're playing a losing game when averaged over the whole electoral cycle.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 06:08:43 PM EST
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