Ever Wonder What People-- Voters & Non-Voters-- Really Want?
Yesterday, Marianne Williamson wrote in a much-discussed post that Neoliberalism is the political philosophy that dominates both major political parties. "It replaces democratic values with market values as the governing principle of our society, making free-market capitalism, deregulation and reduction in government spending a false economic god to which all are expected to bow. We can stand up for the 'little people' (aka the vast majority of the citizens of the United States) just so much before the hegemonic forces of corporate greed-- from Big Pharma and Insurance to Big Oil to the Military Industrial Complex to the NRA to Big Ag to Big Chem to Big Tech to Big Whatever Else-- come down with the sledgehammer of their donor and dark money power to squash whatever dreams are left of a 'government of the people, by the people, and for the people.' Should we refuse to so bow, we’re pushed to the periphery of the public conversation by neoliberalism’s minions within establishment politics and mainstream media. Whether through character assassination or party politics, they come at heretics with a vengeance. And in so doing, they’re destroying America."
A couple of days ago, Max Berger tweeted "Democrats don't have a message because it's impossible to simultaneously represent the interests of workers and capital." It's similar to what Marianne was getting at when she wrote that "The purveyors of neoliberalism apparently thought, and think, that we can have it both ways: make short term corporate profit the bottom line of how your economy functions, but keep the quaint ideals of a democratic society operative. How kind of them. The truth, however, is that such contradictory truths are in the long run impossible bedfellows. You can’t spend billions of dollars squashing the rights of the people to a healthy, fair society-- one in which its citizens, particularly its workers, are continually exploited for purposes of economic gain on the part of those who own the system-- and then just say the exploited are free to put together millions of dollars in small donations to give the bastards a run for their money, if they so wish. How fucking dare they."
And make no mistake about it. This forty year rampage of unfettered, unregulated capitalism has taken America to the brink of disaster the likes of which few expected to ever see in this country. It has created a massive transfer of wealth into the hands of so few, and massive economic trauma and anxiety in the lives of so many, as to produce a petri dish of danger and collective dysfunction. From those on the right whose exasperation with the state of affairs has led to conspiracy theories and the polishing of their guns, to those on the left whose exasperation has led to nihilism and the embrace of communism as some utopian fix, it’s fair to say that our political center no longer holds. Even now, however, the neoliberal elite within both parties still claim the right to fix the very disaster they created. Politicians who have spent years entrenched within the machinery of neoliberal politics have the audacity to pose as the saviors of the downtrodden and the answer to America’s problems. It would be funny if it weren’t so infuriating.
What we need is a political miracle now, a shift in perception from “We can tweak this and all will be well” to “We have got to break free of the lies that they have told us.” At this point, things have gone too far. And in the words of John F. Kennedy, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” Either our government will make a radical turn in the direction of seriously helping people who are suffering at the hands of its corporate donors, or widespread violence is on the way.
No one can doubt that the hour is late. Our government has been so corrupted by the undue influence of corporate money, becoming little more than a system of legalized bribery, that Lincolns’s description of a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” is perishing-- and on our watch, right in front of us. What has happened as a consequence could and would have been predicted, by anyone with the slightest knowledge of or respect for history. We will either create a peaceful revolution now, and quickly-- replacing the corporate tools now so empowered in America, with non-corporate backed politicians at every level of government-- or the future will be more than bleak. It will be deadly, if not to our citizens then definitely to our democracy.
That’s a tragedy we must not allow to unfold.
Marianne suggests that people agree wither assessment contribute to the "non-corporate backed Congressional primary candidates who represent a new wave of American possibility." You can find the candidates Marianne has endorsed (so far) here.
Honolulu progressive Sergio Alcubilla, a director of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii is running for Congress-- endorsed by Marianne-- to replace neoliberal Blue Dog Ed Case. "We don't need more rich people running as fake populists," he told me yesterday, "using their fortune to amplify racist rhetoric meant to whip people into a frenzy. We saw what the consequences of that type of candidate can be on January 6, 2021. The primary barrier to entry into government is how much money you or your rich friends have access to. It's hardly a secret that many go into politics in order to advance their own selfish financial interests and enrich themselves, no matter how much it damages our democracy. This is one of the many reasons why we need to fix our broken campaign finance system. Whatever limits exist on how much you can donate to a political candidate should apply to the candidates themselves."
Meanwhile, over at Alternet, John Stoehr interviewed former right-wing media pioneer Matthew Sheffield about the big mistakes Democrats make about the press and politics. Sheffield: "Republicans have spent decades whipping their furthest-right voters into a violent frenzy. They literally fantasize about killing liberals. Democrats want to tell you about their latest policy idea."
"Sheffield," explained Stoehr, "is an apostate now. "When the right has problems,Sheffield told him, "it gravitates toward tactical modification, not policy modification. Instead of changing the policy ideas they want, Republicans focus on how to better engage their base of voters. Democrats seem to think the public is more aware of their policy ideas than it actually is. This is likely a function of most left-leaning economic and social policies being more popular. When polling showed weak support of the Republican tax cut bill, they passed it anyway. This was the story of most of Donald Trump’s administration. They’d come up with ideas and then just do them. By contrast, with Joe Biden, Democrats seem to be focusing their efforts on policies they see as popular. This is an obsolete approach. Instead of focusing on how to alter larger political dynamics, as Republicans do, Democrats suppose that passing popular legislation, and spending nothing to market it, will prove beneficial. It hasn’t. People aren’t aware of what’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill."
Stoehr noted that Liberals tend to think, "Well, if I know this, everyone does." Sheffield responded that "The public needs to understand how radical the GOP base is and what it wants. The mainstream media will never tell this story on its own, because it's not about DC gossip and because doing so would jeopardize its access to Republicans who have said gossip. At the same time, most people leaning Democratic are rarely spoken to outside of campaign season. Mainstream media has little to offer them. Right-wing media not only defends Republicans; it helps with right-wing organizing efforts. The 'critical race theory' strategy in Virginia only worked because right-wing media helped it along.Democrats seem to think that delivering some speeches and running some TV commercials is how you engage with your voters. Not true."
Stoehr ended with a question from historian Thomas Zimmer: "I’d be interested in the relationship between the right-wing propaganda machine controlling the base versus the base following deeply-held ideological convictions about what ‘real’ America should be." Sheffield's response was to note that "Right-wing media is a bidirectional system. Talk radio with its listener call-ins and websites with easily viewable traffic stats provide instant feedback to GOP elites about what the base wants to hear. At the same time, it is undeniable that right-wing media does work to disseminate messaging campaigns created by elites. The Republican strategy of creating fear and panic over 'critical race theory' is a good example of this. Right-of-center voters were certainly not concerned about CRT before the 2021 campaign. They had never even heard of it."
Trump's announcement that he had been doubled vaccinated and taken the booster, has thrown MAGA world into turmoil. Tim Dickinson: "Over the summer he dismissed the notion of a third jab as 'a money-making operation for Pfizer.' This message vibed with the anti-vax fever swamps, which have long decried Big Pharma for raking in profits by pushing vaccines that (they believe against all evidence) poison patients, instead of protecting them. As the president’s new, unabashed booster endorsement rippled out across right-wing social media, it was met with an combustible mix of anger, confusion, contorted excuses, and denial so pure it’s as if the former president had never uttered a word... On the social media app Telegram, Ron Watkins-- whom many believe role-played 'Q' in the QAnon conspiracy that held up Trump as America’s heaven-sent savior in the battle against satanic Democrats-- sent out a message on the day of Trump’s comments. Watkins blasted 'the insidious global campaign to use poisonous injections to *save* every living man woman, woman [and] child.' Watkins didn’t respond to Trump directly, but later urged the 'VF' (or Vaccine Free community) to 'stand strong, 'never fear,' and 'never comply.' Two days later, Watkins was back to unvarnished anti-vax hysteria blasting jabs and boosters as 'Subscription Suicide Shots.'... A message posted to a popular Telegram channel dedicated to 'controversial media' and 'uncensored views' read: 'How quickly Trumpers and liberal-conservatives forget that this entire COVID debacle, including vaccines and mass vaccination, was initiated and promoted under Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s watch.' The post continued by arguing that Trump and the GOP don’t occupy the 'moral high ground' on Covid and should not be trusted anymore than Biden and the Democrats: 'Democrats are corrupt. Republicans are corrupt,' the post reads. 'If you’re still on that merry-go-round then time to wake up and join us over here where TRUTH and FREEDOM is prioritised[sic] over party politics.'"
Who knows what Trump will do next? Endorse expanding the child tax credit... which is extremely popular with Democrats and independents and... even 42% of Republicans like it.
Manchin says his constituents use the tax credit to buy drugs and go on hunting trips. He's a very sick and very out-of-touch man. Here's what recipients of the tax credit outside of West Virginia say:
"It helped me with fuel for my car and provided me enough to buy my daughter a few things she needed" -a CTC recipient in Representative Hal Rogers' Kentucky district.
"It's helped take the burden off our family. My husband lost his job during Covid but since found another job, but the gap of the job loss was heavy" -a CTC recipient in Representative Sean Maloney's New York district.
"It helps supply groceries and essentials for my 3 year old daughter." -a CTC recipient in Representative Donald Norcross's New Jersey district.
"it has helped with back to school supplies and clothing" -a CTC recipient in Representative Mary Gay Scanlon's Pennsylvania district.
"It has helped me a lot during this pandemic. It helped me afford food and clothes." -a CTC recipient in Representative Jim Himes’s Connecticut district.
"It was a big help. It allowed me to buy things I needed for my house and see my children." -a CTC recipient in Representative Morgan Griffith’s Virginia district.
"Helped with expenses as we try to find a new house after having to move because of job loss." -a CTC recipient in Representative Jim Langevin's Rhode Island district.
"We are using this money to make an improvement to our home and the remainder will go into our 539 college accounts for our kids. This is money we would never have had to put aside for their education and will help a great deal." -a CTC recipient in Representative Jim McGovern’s Massachusetts district.