Who Are The Koch Brothers? And Can We Stop Them From Buying Up The Rest Of The American Government?
The video above is compelling... and scary. In short, it points to a domestic fascist movement poised to take over the United States. What it doesn't say is that the Democratic Party is too compromised and too conflicted to stand up and fight effectively to protect the interests of the 99%. Some Democrats-- your Rahm Emanuels, Harold Fords, Max Baucuses, Ben Nelsons, Blue Dogs-- are allied with the Republicans against us. Others will fight along side us-- real progressives like Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, John Conyers, the Blue America candidates, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkely-- but most, from Obama to the garden variety careerists in the House and Senate will follow... whichever side looks like its winning.
Eugene Robinson highlighted a study this week that helps explain why an unfunded ragtag outfit like OccupyWallStreet is winning.
The hard-right conservatives who dominate the Republican Party claim to despise the redistribution of wealth, but secretly they love it-- as long as the process involves depriving the poor and middle class to benefit the rich, not the other way around.
That is precisely what has been happening, as a jaw-dropping new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office demonstrates. Three decades of trickle-down economic theory, see-no-evil deregulation and tax-cutting fervor have led to massive redistribution. Another word for what’s been happening might be theft.
The gist of the CBO study, titled “Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007,” is that while we’ve become wealthier overall, these new riches have largely bypassed many Americans and instead flowed mostly to the affluent. Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I don’t remember voting to turn the United States into a nation starkly divided between haves and have-nots. Yet that’s where we’ve been led.
...This is not what Republicans want you to think of when you hear the word redistribution. You’re supposed to imagine the evil masterminds as Bolsheviks, not bankers. You’re supposed to envision the lazy free-riders who benefit from redistribution as the “poor,” and the industrious job-creators who get robbed as the “wealthy”-- not the other way around.
If Americans were to realize they’ve been the victims of Republican-style redistribution-- stealing from the poor to give to the rich-- the whole political atmosphere might change. I believe that’s one reason why the Occupy Wall Street protests have struck such a nerve. The far-right and its media mouthpieces have worked themselves into a frenzy trying to disregard, dismiss or discredit the demonstrations. Thus far, fortunately, all this effort has been to no avail.
Funny the Democratic Party hasn't pushed that revelation. Or is it? As many as half the Democrats in the House and an even greater percentage in the Senate would be hung from the same lamp posts as the Republicans. Which explains why so many people were so happy on Friday when The Nation finally emancipated Gordon Lafer's much discussed article, Why Occupy Wall Street Has Left Washington Behind, from behind the subscription-only barrier. DWT regulars will want to read the whole piece (at the link). Here's something to wet your appetite:
Public discussion of the Wall Street protests has focused on the movement’s indictment of the economic elite, but Occupy Wall Street marks an equally profound critique of the country’s political system. As the weeks tick by, the protests at Zuccotti Park and across the nation are driving home this profound realization: this is a fight that can’t be won by voting. The crisis that most fundamentally shapes our lives cannot be solved through the legislative process. This is not because the agenda is unpopular-- 54 percent of Americans support OWS, with only 23 percent opposed-- but because the system is corrupted beyond repair. This slowly dawning realization is both invigorating-- an invitation to engage in the kind of bold, blue-sky strategic thinking that leftists have not entertained for decades-- and disturbing, a harbinger of just how nasty the future may get.
...The movement comes at a time of economic crisis and unparalleled cynicism about government, particularly in the wake of the Citizens United decision. Congress’s approval rating--13 percent [since Lafer wrote this now fallen to 9%]-- is the lowest ever recorded.
The protests are also in large part a response to the disappointments of the Obama administration. Indeed, almost every policy demand that OWS might possibly voice has already been proposed, debated and defeated-- at a time when Democrats controlled all branches of government. Members of Congress considered but declined to enact proposals to impose a tax on Wall Street transactions; to limit executive compensation; to fund a mass WPA-style jobs program; to allow bankruptcy judges to mark underwater mortgages to market; to make it easier for Americans to form unions and bargain for better wages; to eliminate tax benefits for companies that transfer our jobs overseas; and to forswear any more NAFTA-style trade treaties. The OWS refusal to articulate policy demands reflects the conviction that any remedies that fit the scale of the problem are impossible to pass-- not only in the current Congress but in any Congress we can realistically imagine... [I]f the Republicans are cheerleaders for the 1 percent, most Democrats are quiet collaborationists. I met some very dedicated and hard-working people in Congress. But ultimately the Democrats are too beholden to big money. In last year’s Congressional elections, more than two-thirds of all campaign contributions came from one-quarter of 1 percent of the population. Even Democratic candidates got ten times as much money from corporations as they did from labor unions. There is simply no chance that the little people will triumph over big business in this process.
...The OWS moment seems to reflect a recognition that we [are] being ruled by a system that, whatever its other virtues may be, is powerless to solve the most important problems plaguing the country.
Lafer writes that the OWS Movement "is Shays’ Rebellion without the guns." But it's the other side-- the side that will protect the interests of the 1% who have the guns... and the will to use them. Until Lafer and those who think like him-- a growing number of people on the Left-- are willing to give up their own lives for real, reform is still a better option, at least in my opinion, than revolution. That's why Blue America is buying radio and TV spots and billboards and urging people to contribute to righteous candidates for the House and Senate rather than stockpiling ammunition. But... watch the video again, if you dare.