Dig it

Reading Bloomberg’s article about how the GOP, when it takes control of the Senate, should embrace infrastructure spending, made me laugh. Just the language, with its nod towards hippy vernacular, was priceless.

“Dig, if you will, a picture: Republicans, basking next month in the glow of victory, draw up a few broadly reasonable civic goals for the new Congress and agree to achieve them without doing anything dumb. Spending to shore up the country’s public works–bridges, ports, the electric grid–should be near the top of their list.”

Still, the idea that Republicans should embrace government spending now that they control Congress, has a certain ring of truth. After all, they only hate government when the Democrats are in power and federal largess is going to “those people.” The other side of the coin is that, supposedly, the Democrats are the party that effectively wields government to advance the cause of progressive politics. However, as writer Arun Gupta explains, it ain’t necessarily so. Gupta claims that the Democratic Party under Obama has emerged as the true party of neoliberalism, which is why they suffered catastrophic losses in the recent mid-term elections.

“It’s time to rethink this notion that Democrats lack principles. They have a clear agenda and are actually more ideological than Republicans. Democrats like Obama are willing to lose power to carry out the neoliberal agenda. Since the Clinton era, Democrats have been the most effective architects of policies that increase the wealth and power of those on the top of the economic pyramid. Now, neoliberalism is often thought of as synonymous with privatization, deregulation, and trade and capital liberalization, but the state will discard these policies for corporate handouts the instant elites get into a self-inflicted mess, as with the Wall Street crash.”

Wall Street influence and ideological symmetry dates back to the Clinton administration, but most members of the Democratic coalition didn’t get the memo. They bought into the the notion of Obama as a blank slate that they could pour their aspirations into. His campaign slogan–Hope and Change was voted Advertising Age magazine’s “Marketer of the Year” by the Association of National Advertisers. However, early Obama actions should have raised red flags about his connections to and support of Wall Street. During the 2008 election Obama raised more money from Wall Street than did McCain. Then as president he nominated “Little Timmy” to be his treasury secretary.

Lambert, at Naked Capitalism explains the Democrats’ dilemma of relying on corporate and Wall Street funding while expecting minorities, woman, unions, environmentalists and young people, to vote for them.

“If the essence of neo-liberalism is transforming public social relations into transactions — ideally involving rental extraction — because markets, then ObamaCare is the quintessential neoliberal program. And — nobody could have predicted — ObamaCare was not a vote-getter. But Democrats went ahead with it anyhow. Out of principle!

The midterms were not a “wave election” for Republicans, and in fact left policies were adopted by voters. The Democrats did not lose because of technical factors like the electoral map, structural issues with their “coalition,” or even for the reasons put forward by emo-dems. Rather, the midterms were a protest against neo-liberal principles and policy outcomes successfully achieved by Obama and the dominant factions of the Democratic Party”

This is the essence of our political reality that makes me want to tear my hair out. I get that the Republicans are evil-motherfuckers, but the Democrats are almost worse with their pathological misrepresentations. The Democratic party either needs to change back into a party that represents the majority of Americans that are neither rich or corporate, or cease to exist. We definitely don’t need two corporate parties.

And, by all means GOP, start digging. We could really use some infrastructure.

Update: Former congressional staffer, Matt Stoller reviews Al From’s book,  “The New Democrats and the Return to Power”  and discusses in more detail why the modern Democratic Party governs the way it does.

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