The Two Political Spectrums

2008-Jul-24

For decades we have assumed the political spectrum ranged from Liberal to Conservative, and assumed that all political groupings from the Klan to the Commies could be squeezed into that spectrum.

Well, we are about to discover that the importance of the Liberal/Conservative spectrum is becoming secondary to the far more primordial spectrum, that of the Haves vs Have-Nots. Yes, we will still have elections decided on the issue of whether gay guys should be able to have abortions on demand, but when people have to decide whether their kids will get food or medicine this week, at least some of them will get the picture that they must (at least temporarily) set aside their differences and concentrate on physical survival.

We used to have a middle class in this country. But no one will die middle class any longer. In a generation, all middle class jobs will be done by cheap imported or offshored labor for a fraction of their current wages, and anyone who manages to last until retirement will find anything they saved will be eaten up inflated food or energy or transportration costs, by medical costs not reimbursed by their medical plan, or they will have to sign over all their assets to some nursing home.

No need to worry about the “death tax” because only the super-rich will have anything left but debts when they die.

I’m seeing small groups of people starting to get together, getting past old differences, and cooperating on getting ready to survive the coming hard times. I’m seeing networks where leftie Pagans are getting with right-wing Fundie Christians on common issues.

The coming wars (acknowledged or not) will be between the top one tenth of one percent who will own everything and the rest of us who will own nothing…not even ourselves.

If those of us who are prey can get together soon enough to defend ourselves from the predators, we have a chance to make a society with a substantial middle class again and lessen the growing inequality. But so far it’s just a chance…


Republicans 1994 – the bigot vote

2007-Jan-21

In 1994, the Republicans effectively ended FDR’s New Deal Democratic coalition by forming a more successful coalition of their own which took votes away from the former Democratic coalition. If the Democrats want to take over again, they must do the same: break up the Republican coalition and take parts of it back into their own fold.

Here is my take on who the the Republicans got together to create the “”Republican Majority” that held the presidency, both houses of Congress, the clear majority of Supreme Court appointees, and control of a clear majority of state governorships and state houses after 1994.

First the racist bigots:

The shift in the loyalties of racist bigots from the Democratic Party to the Republican party has had immense consequences in presidential campaigns and party votes on legislation.

After the Civil War, the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln was associated with anti-slavery (and other moral issues), and white southerners associated Blacks and the Republican Party with the setbacks they suffered after the war, and for a hundred years the Solid South was solidly Democratic.

Then in 1964 President Lyndon Johnson, Democrat and Southerner, passed the Civil Rights Act, and was seen by the South as betraying them, and the Solid South and bigots from all over the country abandoned the Democratic Party and the Solid South became solid Republican, and Democratic majorities in many northern states were shaved much thinner.

Practically all openly anti-minority racist groups are solid Republican now and the consistent use of the “southern strategy” by the Republican Party guarantees that racists will remain loyal to the Republicans for the foreseeable future. They gain the southern states and the few percent of majority whites who vote racist partially nullifies the loss of minority votes in northern states.

But lest we think too highly of ourselves:

Racism (like any form of hatred) is not the inherent state of humanity but results from fear, and can be created by pitting groups against each other, as in the artificially-created competition between too many workers for too few jobs. Throughout our nation’s history, minority groups have been brought into the country, forced by the greatness of their numbers to compete against Blacks (and other minorities) to reduce the wages of both, then the new minorities have been permitted to become “white”, receive comparable wages with other whites, while Blacks remain as our permanent underclass, ready to be used to reduce wages of new arrivals with derived racism used to disguise the ultimate causation, the economic cupidity of those who will economically benefit by competition and the racism it engenders.

Unfortunately, all too many of those who purport to be “Liberals” or “Progressives” also benefit financially through reducing jobs (by downsizing or similar means) and simultaneously increasing workers through various forms of legal and illegal immigration, which results in too many workers chasing too few jobs, which results in low wages, loss of benefits and job security, and the inevitable rise of fear, hatred, and racism, misplaced thought it may be.

But those who will, once again, promote the importation of endless hordes of “cheap labor” and who will pride themselves on “opposing racism” by classifying those new minorities as “white” in a generation or so, while allowing Blacks to remain black, are just as complicit in racism as their more honest racist cousins in the Klan or the White Aryan Nation.

Opposing racism means opposing setting groups to compete agains each other economically, not just getting them to call each other by nice names.

The power of the public racists in the Republican Party will continue as long as we continue to quietly act as their enablers by supporting the elite in their eternal quest for cheap labor.


Political Realignments

2007-Jan-21

In the United States we have a two-party, winner take all system. When Ross Perot took 19% of the popular vote in the Presidential election in 1992, he got nothing, and Bill Clinton won despite only getting 43% of the vote. So (like it or not) (especially not), in order to win elections, only the two major parties typically have any realistic chance, and any group wanting a say in the political process has to join in a coalition with either the Republicans or Democrats.

The many and varied interest groups don’t just automatically like the positions and values of the major parties, so shifting alliances can occur at any time if the groups feel they can do better with the other party, and one party or the other can form a coalition that may allow them to take control for long periods.

In the 1930s, after the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought together the many disadvantaged into an alliance against the rapaciously wealthy that lasted for many decades.

Then, as the Democrats slowly began themselves to be corrupted by the corporate elite and failed to deliver value to their supporters, the coalition began to crumble, and the Republicans began to take control by developing their own coalition, first with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and finally when the Republicans took over both houses of Congress in 1994. They got control by creating an unlikely alliance of what ought to have been disparate interest groups. But they succeeded.

If we are a group that wants our values and principles represented in the political process, we simply must understand where we fit in to the current system of political coalitions and alliances, and how we can achieve more leverage.

So….much more is coming detailing past, current, and future political coalitions…


Breaking Up is Hard to Do

2006-Nov-28

Not only empires but also political coalitions are breaking up into their tribal constituent parts. The Republican Party, an unlikely coalition of groups with very different values held together only by a period of mutual success, is now (due to public political failures) about to explode. And the Christian Right looks like it is doing likewise inside itself, and even the Christian Coalition is having growing…oops, shrinking pains. And the Christian Coalition has just lost its new President when he tried to go beyond its Theocratic roots of hatred of abortion and gays to try to expand to include the many “Lassie & the Waltons” Evangelicals who want to promote values that Jesus actually supported:

… such as easing poverty and saving the environment.

Sure, Reverend Hunter’s genuinely Christian ideas were rejected by the Christian Coalition, but this skirmish shows the war is starting. Fundamentalists are different from Mainline Christians, and they really do have different value systems. And anyone with any political wisdom at all will help hammer the wedge between the Fundamentalists and the Evangelicals a bit deeper and start making connections with all of the Rev. Joel C. Hunter’s of the world. The Mainline Christians just might start finding out they had many values in common with the Progressives all along.


Muddled Middle: Endangered Species

2006-Sep-29

I’ve already criticized the foolish Democratic strategy of ignoring our base and concentrating on winning the “Muddle-of-the-Road Terminally Undecideds”. A bit more ammunition from over on MyDD (always a wealth of political insight):

… the Bush pollster discovered that the traditional swing voter was fast becoming an endangered species as only 7 percent of the electorate in 2004 had voted independently of party loyalties. …. “Rove instantly recognized the significance of the numbers. ‘Really,’ he said, grabbing the sheet from Dowd’s hands, his voice rising with excitement. ‘Man, this is a fundamental change.'”

So the Republicans have been winning and winning by energizing their base and getting them out to vote, and the Democrats have been consistently losing by running away from their base and running to that vanishing middle. Kerry tried it against Bush (saying he’d do the same things as Bush in Iraq, but somehow it would all work better if a Democrat did it) … and he lost. Jeanne Carnahan tried it against Jim Talent (I still remember her debate with Talent in Columbia where Jeanne said, “But I voted with the President [Bush] 83% of the time!” and Jim responded, “But that’s not good enough”) … and Jeanne lost. And Claire McCaskill lost to Blunt. In fact, running to the middle has never been a winning strategy for Democrats. The only example they try to point to–Bill Clinton–where running to the middle supposedly won is spoiled by the fact that Ross Perot gave the presidency to Clinton by taking 20% of the vote, and taking more from the Republicans than from the Democrats (all protestations from James Carville to the contrary).

The way to win is to run to your base–your core constituency groups, and try to break up the alliance of core constituency groups of the other side … and let the Muddled Middle work themselves out. Losing the votes of the middle 7% is insignificant compared to seeing 20% of your base get sick and tired of being ignored and deciding to sit this one out.

Until Howard Dean came around, the main Democratic strategy was to tell the Unions, Blacks, and Progressives, “You have to come out and work for us. Sure, we’ve done nothing for you, we’ve taken corporate cash and worked for the interests of the corporations and the rich just like the Republicans do. But we’re not as bad as they are, so you have to choose the lesser evil.”

Well, not only has it been a morally corrupt strategy, it has been a loser of a strategy. How many more Democrats have to lose before they stop using it?


The Coming Realignment

2006-May-24

In one of my (many) favorite local Progressive Yahoo Groups, I just noticed a posting which linked to an article by Tom Englehart at the Lew Rockwell site.

I’d like folks to think about the profound implications of seeing this article here. This was on a Liberal/Progressive email list, but is a link to a Paleo-Conservative website. The Paleo-Conservatives are profoundly peeved at the Neo-Conservatives for hijacking the Conservative movement (and control of the Republican Party) away from them. The Paleos believe in limited government, low taxes, free market economy, and avoidance of ambitions to military empire. Besides http://www.lewrockwell.com they can be found places like
http://mises.com/ and http://antiwar.org/ .

But the article is not by one of their Paleo-Con stalwarts, but by Tom Englehart, a Liberal/Progressive from the Nation Institute and who has a blog at Tom Dispatch.

And the article from TomDispatch is not about typical fellow leftists like Noam Chomsky, but is an interview with Andrew Bacevich, a West Pointer career military man who is a “cultural conservative, a former contributor to such magazines as the Weekly Standard and the National Review, a former Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin”.

Anybody here notice that the Left and the Right are becoming totally intertwined? In areas like the Partiot Act, the FCC and media monopolies, spying on citizens, and many other areas, the Left and Right are not only working on the same side on the same issues, but are actually cooperating and nourishing each other.

I see a profound realignment of the political compass, with the differences between Progressive/Liberals and Conservatives being put on the back burner as both sides fight together against the unholy alliance between the Neo-Conservative Military Empire-builders, the Corporatist Feudalists, and the Christian Reich.

More here later on how we used to be aligned and how things may work out in the future.

All the more reason why it may be a politically fatal mistake to ignore the political base of the other side and concentrate only on the Terminally Befuddled Undecideds.