Their Plan

by lizard

Robert Reich has articulated a compelling breakdown of the Republican plan to use their tea-party trojan horse victory last November to make a three-pronged attack on Americans.

The whole piece is below the fold, and it’s a must read. But I think the concluding question Reich leaves the reader with is key, and might be helpful to consider while reading his analysis, so here it is:

What is the Democratic strategy to counter this and reclaim America for the rest of us?

THE REPUBLICAN STRATEGY

The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans want Americans to believe that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. They hope to deflect attention from the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich – making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent.

The strategy has three parts.

The battle over the federal budget.

The first is being played out in the budget battle in Washington. As they raise the alarm over deficit spending and simultaneously squeeze popular middle-class programs, Republicans want the majority of the American public to view it all as a giant zero-sum game among average Americans that some will have to lose.

The President has already fallen into the trap by calling for budget cuts in programs the poor and working class depend on – assistance with home heating, community services, college loans, and the like.

In the coming showdown over Medicare and Social Security, House budget chair Paul Ryan will push a voucher system for Medicare and a partly-privatized plan for Social Security – both designed to attract younger middle-class voters.

The assault on public employees

The second part of the Republican strategy is being played out on the state level where public employees are being blamed for state budget crises. Unions didn’t cause these budget crises — state revenues dropped because of the Great Recession — but Republicans view them as opportunities to gut public employee unions, starting with teachers.

Wisconsin’s Republican governor Scott Walker and his GOP legislature are seeking to end almost all union rights for teachers. Ohio’s Republican governor John Kasich is pushing a similar plan in Ohio through a Republican-dominated legislature. New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie is attempting the same, telling a conservative conference Wednesday, “I’m attacking the leadership of the union because they’re greedy, and they’re selfish and they’re self-interested.”

The demonizing of public employees is not only based on the lie that they’ve caused these budget crises, but it’s also premised on a second lie: that public employees earn more than private-sector workers. They don’t, when you take account of their education. In fact over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education – even including health and retirement benefits. Moreover, most public employees don’t have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year.

Bargaining rights for public employees haven’t caused state deficits to explode. Some states that deny their employees bargaining rights, such as Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, are running big deficits of over 30 percent of spending. Many states that give employees bargaining rights — Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Montana — have small deficits of less than 10 percent.

Republicans would rather go after teachers and other public employees than have us look at the pay of Wall Street traders, private-equity managers, and heads of hedge funds – many of whom wouldn’t have their jobs today were it not for the giant taxpayer-supported bailout, and most of whose lending and investing practices were the proximate cause of the Great Depression to begin with.

Last year, America’s top thirteen hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion each. One of them took home $5 billion. Much of their income is taxed as capital gains – at 15 percent – due to a tax loophole that Republican members of Congress have steadfastly guarded.

If the earnings of those thirteen hedge-fund managers were taxed as ordinary income, the revenues generated would pay the salaries and benefits of 300,000 teachers. Who is more valuable to our society – thirteen hedge-fund managers or 300,000 teachers? Let’s make the question even simpler. Who is more valuable: One hedge fund manager or one teacher?

The Distortion of the Constitution

The third part of the Republican strategy is being played out in the Supreme Court. It has politicized the Court more than at any time in recent memory.

Last year a majority of the justices determined that corporations have a right under the First Amendment to provide unlimited amounts of money to political candidates. Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission is among the most patently political and legally grotesque decisions of our highest court – ranking right up there with Bush vs. Gore and Dred Scott.

Among those who voted in the affirmative were Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Both have become active strategists in the Republican party.

A month ago, for example, Antonin Scalia met in a closed-door session with Michele Bachman’s Tea Party caucus – something no justice concerned about maintaining the appearance of impartiality would ever have done.

Both Thomas and Scalia have participated in political retreats organized and hosted by multi-billionaire financier Charles Koch, a major contributor to the Tea Party and other conservative organizations, and a crusader for ending all limits on money in politics. (Not incidentally, Thomas’s wife is the founder of Liberty Central, a Tea Party organization that has been receiving unlimited corporate contributions due to the Citizens United decision. On his obligatory financial disclosure filings, Thomas has repeatedly failed to list her sources of income over the last twenty years, nor even to include his own four-day retreats courtesy of Charles Koch.)

Some time this year or next, the Supreme Court will be asked to consider whether the nation’s new healthcare law is constitutional. Watch your wallets.

The strategy as a whole

These three aspects of the Republican strategy – a federal budget battle to shrink government, focused on programs the vast middle class depends on; state efforts to undermine public employees, whom the middle class depends on; and a Supreme Court dedicated to bending the Constitution to enlarge and entrench the political power of the wealthy – fit perfectly together.

They pit average working Americans against one another, distract attention from the almost unprecedented concentration of wealth and power at the top, and conceal Republican plans to further enlarge and entrench that wealth and power.

What is the Democratic strategy to counter this and reclaim America for the rest of us?


  1. Turner

    What, indeed, can we do? The left is split between pragmatists and purists. The purists are seriously undercutting efforts to resist the extreme right with their message that there’s no important difference between the parties.

    Obama, Tester, Reid, et al. are sell-outs. So stay home. Don’t vote.

    The pragmatists (I lean that way, I’m afraid) acknowledge the fact that most elected Democrats have been very disappointing.

    But the Republicans’ plan for America is so disturbing, so dangerous, that they will continue to resist it by backing the only serious alternatives — Democrats. Even Democrats who sell out much of the time.

    In politics, it’s nearly always a question of the lesser of two evils. The problem in 2012 with be how to turn out voters to support candidates who aren’t nearly as bad as their (Republican) opponents.

    • JC

      “in politics, it’s nearly always a question of the lesser of two evils.”

      The problem with "the lesser of two evils" is that even the lesser is evil.

      You may try to concoct a dichotomy (purists vs. pragmatists) but that does the broad swath of people who are on the left and consider themselves to be independents a great disservice. Nor is it a continuum, suggesting their is a smooth path from centrist dem to far left indy.

      Here in MOntana many of us far left indies are very libertarian. You can simultaneously be pragmatic (advocate for a public option, i.e.) and purist (lambast a solution that mandates buying into a private insurance only solution).

      The problem with dems is that they want the far left to compromise their positions up front, and then join together in the final outcome, which most often is ideologically distasteful or disgusting. And to top it off, they take those far left votes for granted, and then lay the blame for current events at their feet for not turning out to vote.

      I happen to think that a man who labels me as an "extremist" does not deserve my vote, even though I donated to his last campaign and worked for his election.

      There is a thing called integrity which is becoming in shorter and shorter supply in our political battleground. When I detect that a politician is lacking in it, and is becoming corrupt (which I documented in Tester's canoodling with Wall Street during the FinReg markup), then it becomes obvious that the election will be about the lesser of two evils.

      If Tester wants my vote, then he can reject triangulation, dangerous epithets, and sliding into corrupt ways. But as it is, he has lost my trust, my admiration, and my respect.

      So tell me again why I should vote for him? Because he's the lesser of two evils? I can't in good conscience do that. When I go into the booth, self-respect will force me into finding a third choice with which to mark my ballot.

      Of course, he can repent. I do believe in redemption. Unfortunately pride is the bastion of the politician, and humility the bane. How I wish it were otherwise.

      • Rob Kailey

        Then I suggest to you, JC, that you have a very … difficult … view of what Representative politics is all about.

        • JC

          Difficult? Yeah, sometimes. That’s why for a large part of my professional life where I was devoted to issue & policy work, that I found it hard to reconcile that with the politics that were at odds with it. And it is why I voted for a lot of third party candidates. And worked on some progressive dems/reps campaigns that were going to lose.

          Of course “difficult” also poses some opportunities. I hope that by venting some of my frustrations here, that some politicians will begin to take notice. I know for a fact that some of Tester’s office pays attention to my rants. I know some of those people personally.

          So I hope that by letting my feelings and attitudes be known that maybe a politician or two may change their modus operandi and be more careful with words and the choices they make.

          I call it holding the person I elected accountable. And as I said, I believe in redemption. And just as Obama had to apologize for his remarks about guns and bibles, I think that Tester should apologize for labeling his supporters as extremists–which in Montana can be dangerous as “extremists” have been the target of violence in the past.

          Politics should not be about triangulation and polarization. It should be about finding common ground and working together. And in that, Tester has failed miserably in many ways.

          • Rob Kailey

            JC, this comes from a guy who likes you. You know what? You are an extremist. See, Tester’s comment about extremists was directly devoted to environmental extremists. I’m certain, with some evidence, that he had Matthew Koehler in mind. But you embrace the “extremist” label. I don’t understand how it does grant you that importance, nor really do I want to. You’ve chosen that label to be the special snowflake, when in fact, Jon Tester wasn’t discussing you at all. And now you want him to apologize for what you see as an insult that wasn’t and wasn’t leveled at you, regardless. How important you must be.

            Politics is what it is. You don’t get to make that call. You don’t get to say what it’s about, though you just desperately tried. That is the point of representative Democracy. Please, by all means, vote for whomever you wish. But quit with the pretense that an elected official owes you something. They don’t. A politician’s accountability isn’t to you, but to the electorate, and you ain’t that. You aren’t the base you think you are. Do try and keep that in mind.

            Here’s a worthy example of just how twisted you might have gotten:

            And just as Obama had to apologize for his remarks about guns and bibles,

            This is the direct quote:

            “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

            Did you think Obama was wrong? I didn’t. Do you think he mispoke? I don’t. But you seem to think he “had” to apologize for speaking the truth. That’s what you just said. I didn’t. But you do, because … why? ~sigh~

            Obama is not evil. He’s tried, very hard actually, to stand against evil. But you have no wish or will to brook disagreement. It’s your way or the highway, and the highway apparently doesn’t care about you. You proclaim that “THIS WILL NOT STAND!” You create the idea that evil will follow your righteousness with it’s malice, when in fact you’re acting a roll that no one cares about, and no evil is involved. You embrace a word that Jon Tester used because it makes you feel important. Guess what? Your caterwaul hurts the rest of us, because you help elect people like Rehberg. You assist real evil because you’ve allowed your ‘betters’ to redefine the goddamned word. You don’t get what you want, so it’s okay that others get willfully hurt and ain’t that grand.

            What you call “triangulation”, I call (sometimes) compromise for the greater good. What you call “polarization”, I call your deepest desire and will. You have no interest in common ground, JC. You want what you want and fuck the rest of us. Tester has done exactly what you want, finding common ground. But you don’t really want that. You want ‘accountability’. You want ‘redemption’, a religious term, for the record. You want polarization, most evident by your plea against it.

          • JC

            Wow. Touched a raw nerve did we? Well, there’s a lot more to the story than you know, but which I don’t really want to expound on here.

            But a few comments. Tester said “extremists”, not extremist as in reference to one person. For the record, I believe his comment to be directed at a group of people working together called the “Last Best Place Wilderness Campaign” of which I am a member.

            But I fail to see how the “conservative” position–maintain the status quo–is the extremist position. I commit no crimes in my advocacy. I think it is far more “extremist”, to borrow a word, to destroy wilderness for the sake of a few bicyclists, motor recreationists, and trans-national corporate loggers/miners. But that’s my cross to bear.

            “A politician’s accountability isn’t to you, but to the electorate, and you ain’t that”

            Well, I haven’t gone all megalomaniacal enough to believe I am the electorate. But I am a voter. And I do believe that a politician needs to be accountable to those who voted for him–whether individually or collectively (“the electorate”). And if I want to be a hard ass on Tester for his choice of words, I’ll continue to do so. That’s my prerogative as a citizen and a voter. And if he wants to avoid criticism, he can avoid saying stupid, dangerous shit.

            NOw with the Obama quote, I didn’t say I thought he should apologize, I said he “had to apologize” because he wasn’t astute enough of a politician to 1) not get caught saying something that while truthful was a political hot potato and 2) not being able to make the case publicly and with force why he thought and said the things he did. His apology was born out of the necessity of him being a novice and tepid politician.

            NOw I never said Obama–or Tester for that matter–was evil. It was Turner, and a whole lot of other people who bring up the “lesser of two evils” analogy. You put it to me that way, and I’m going to respond with “I don’t vote for a person who is a little bit evil over the person who is a lot more evil” everytime. Is Jon Tester evil? I doubt it. I think his “extremist” quote was just stupidity. And I guess I don’t like stupid politicians about as much as I don’t like evil ones.

            As to your quote about common ground, when it comes to wilderness legislation, you are correct. There is little place for common ground when the deck is stacked with having to trade resource extraction for designation. Give me a bill that just designates, and then let’s find the common ground between parties. Then lets put a forest bill on the table and find some common ground. But you will not find common ground among people who believe in conserving the status quo and those who do not believe in wilderness. When you say “Tester has found common ground”, sure he has–but he found it among a very narrow interest range of people. He did not find it among the greater populace. Or among its fringes. Those of us “wilderness extremists” are more than happy to kill legislation that is regressive. Odd to think that the extremist position is the one that minimizes government intrusion, has the least expense, has the most ecological benefits, and preserves the status quo–and it all happens without having to do anything. So odd…

            And about the “redemption” quote, what’s with the stab at it being a “religious term?” I happen to believe in redemption, though I am not a religious person. I think humility, even in a politician, is a good thing. I think that the more our politicians exhibit true humanity, the better of our politics becomes.

            But maybe what gets me the most is that that some people are so a’feared of losing a senate seat to the likes of a Denny Rehberg, that they will take a kid-globes approach to the incumbent. That a politician’s every action goes uncritiqued. At what point does it become ok to question Tester’s actions? Look into his motivations? See who is funding him, and who he is meeting with during markups?

            Or must we just look at the alternative and then turn a blind eye to the failings of the incumbent? Because if that is what people want, then the whole political process becomes worthless and meaningless to me. And I may as well not participate or vote, because it is all just one big illusion. I say the things I do because I care. And sometimes I give voice to the unsaid things that many people want to say, but don’t.

          • JC

            Actually Rob, the more I think about it, and look at what i have written and how you–and others elsewhere–have responded, maybe it is just time to hang the “curmudgeon” shingle out and call it a day.

            • Rob Kailey

              Fine. Vote for whatever independent runs against Jon Tester. I applaud our choice..

              • JC

                You have no idea how I’m going to vote.

                And I’d like to think that Tester hears that he’s going to have to win this independent’s vote instead of taking it for granted–or that his supporters don’t take my vote granted.

              • JC

                Oh, and one more thing. Until and unless you’ve been the target of a grand jury after being labeled an “extremist”, I’d avoid labeling such people “special snowflakes.”

                You really have no idea how it can disrupt your life being the target of a federal smear campaign when you’ve committed no crime. Ever had your phone tapped? Been under surveillance? Had your family and employer questioned about your activities? Had agent provocateurs try to get you to break the law and involve you in conspiracies? Had evidence planted on your property? I have.

                Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but Tester’s actions remind me of a very dark time. Not so different from McCarthyism, and much more recent.

    • lizard19

      What, indeed, can we do? The left is split between pragmatists and purists. The purists are seriously undercutting efforts to resist the extreme right with their message that there’s no important difference between the parties.

      i would echo JC and say this dichotomy you have put everyone in on the left isn’t representative or helpful, and i get really tired of hearing that it is somehow our fault the right wing recovered so fast and punched back; our fault for holding strong to our principles and pointing out where the Obama administration is continuing the policies of the Bush regime.

      Obama, Tester, Reid, et al. are sell-outs. So stay home. Don’t vote.

      just for the record, i have never suggested abstaining from voting should be the response for being disappointed by certain democrats. hell, i know i’m going to vote against Rehberg, and that might even mean holding my nose and giving it to Jon. but i also don’t expect sending Tester back or reelecting Obama is enough to right the wrongs of a decades-long assault on the middle class and the poor.

      The pragmatists (I lean that way, I’m afraid) acknowledge the fact that most elected Democrats have been very disappointing.

      But the Republicans’ plan for America is so disturbing, so dangerous, that they will continue to resist it by backing the only serious alternatives — Democrats. Even Democrats who sell out much of the time.

      what i consider disturbing and dangerous must be different from what you consider disturbing and dangerous.

      torturing prisoners is disturbing and dangerous and still happening at GITMO and with Bradley Manning. continuing to be the ONLY country to provide cover for Israel to keep building settlements is dangerous. keeping the emergency power of the Patriot Act is dangerous. failing to address the insanity of wall street and the complicity of the Fed is dangerous.

      what’s still going terrible wrong in this country and with our actions across the globe must be understood without partisan fealty; some people’s strategy of ridiculing others into adhering to the party line is not productive.

      • Well said. Right now I am sitting at the bar at The Grand Hotel surrounded by Republicans waiting to listen to Denny Rehberg talk. I am the only lefty in the bar. Nothing new. But wish you and JC were here with me. We could discuss what is going on in Madison.
        I have been on a journey. I started the first Democratic central committee ever in Sweet Grass. I threw myself into electoral politics along with other Edwards, Kucinich and Dean people (I won’t use “folks” like our president loves to do even though I might have more of a right). Party and electoral politics was a surprise to me. It was so top down. There was little “Fraternity”.

        • lizard19

          i’m drinkin’ a toast to ya right now, maven.

          and hell yes we’d be talking about what’s going down in Madison: the people brought the pressure, and local democrats saw the opportunity to use unconventional tactics, and acted.

          its critical to realize the people were the impetus, and the democrats followed their lead.

        • lizard19

          and we could also discuss this:

        • Rob Kailey

          Oh no, I can’t believe how liberal Sweet Grass County has gone. I worship the ideals that have taken Sweet grass county … oh wait, They’ve gone ultra right wing, haven’t they? Let’s burn the park in Big Timber. Let’s call bullshit on the left wing. That’s what Big Timber has called for, right?

          Yeah. I’m drinking a toast to the Maven for handing Sweet Grass county to the Tea Party. Well done.

    • Steve W

      Your analysis ignores the fact that pragmatists are in control of the levers of power and it’s they who didn’t inspire people to come out and vote. why not?

      Because people don’t support what you pragmatists support, so why would they come out and vote for what they don’t support?

      Oh yeah. We are supposed to vote against what they most fear, not vote for what we most hope for. i almost forgot for a second…

      How’s that working out?

      So you can lecture people about how their lack of enthusiasm for Democrats who vote like Republicans is somehow the problem, but i think you are missing the real problem. But good luck, i hope it works better next time than it did the last 200 times.

  2. Rob Kailey

    Turner, I have a real problem with the whole “lesser of two evils” thinking. Simply put, it redefines “evil” such as to be meaningless. What is evil? Somebody doing something which doesn’t favor what you want? Or someone doing something that actively harms you and those you value? Banal thinking has lead to those becoming the same thing. Thinking that ‘our folks are bad, but their guys are worse’ never establishes a baseline for what bad really is. And so the tripartite Republicant strategy can work because my bad isn’t the same as Lizard’s or Tokarski’s or even yours, and what is evil to you folks ain’t anything to me.

    If there is a ray of hope in the current political climate it is this. People are now getting a very clear picture of how bad the Teahadist American Taliban and their Republicant toadies really are. That has and can continue to unify Democrats against what is really bad. Citizens United? Evil. Union Busting? Evil. Attacks on the rights of minorities and women? Damned well evil.

    Don’t get me wrong. I hold little hope that that ray may actually illuminate anything. I’ve been screaming for years that these wingnut, fundamentalist, regressive fruitcakes are taking over. And yet frequently, I’ve been that bad guy, because liberals have taken to using the same tactics and thinking as their wingnut counterparts. Oh yeah, you think that policy x is good but what about this isolated incident over here? HUH? WHERE”S MY PERFECTION! Oh, we’re getting our perfection, all right. The perfect confluence of evil behind people like Warburton, Skees, Kerns, Knox, Hinckle, Burnett …

    • i support many of the same goals as you but as you know i don’t fit in your tiny “pup” tent of purist democratic doctrine wulfgar!

      i find it just a tad stifling…..

      not to mention arrogant, condescending, exclusive to an insane level of intolerance, and annoying.

      • Rob Kailey

        My ‘pup’ tent appears a fuckload bigger than yours, little purist teddybear. Care to clarify?

        • kptrng

          The Kailey Principle: The more one sneers, the less one knows.

          It doesn’t take long for you to revert to form. How quickly you devolve into profanity and sneering.

    • Turner

      I used the phrase “lesser of two evils” because it is in common currency not because it is precise in its meaning. I think everybody knows what I mean by it.

      It’s only stating the obvious to notice that in any election, we have to choose between two, rarely three, candidates. There are no perfect candidates. But some, who want to do away with unions, eliminate a woman’s right to an abortion, suppress voters, deny gays equal rights, and subsitute religion for science, are clearly unacceptable to anyone who believes in justice and morality.

      Maybe they’re not “evil,” but give me another name for it.

      • Kptrng

        And the other party that doesn’t fight for you when the chips are down. That is the problem. Republicans have always been crazy. We’ve always known that. It is the submission of the Democrats to money power that is undoing us.

        • Turner

          OK, I’ll concede that many Democrats have been disgustingly submissive. But come the next election, what do you do? What do you actually do?

        • kptrng

          Nothing. YOu cannot effect change via the two-party system. It’s a stacked deck.

          What you do is what is being done in Egypt, Libya, Iran, Wisconsin (and now Indiana) – fight.

          • Turner

            By nothing I guess you mean you won’t vote. So Rehberg is just as acceptable to you as Tester?

            Maybe you should put up a yard sign for him. Because by not voting you’re supporting him.

            Meanwhile, you can “fight” by, hmm, doing what? Please be specific.

          • kptrng

            I hear you, but I just prefer not to pretend that nothing is something. Yeah, you can vote for either Dennis or Tester, and you might be slightly better off with Tester, but neither will bring about the structural changes we need. We’re a fake democracy right now, and neither of them will change that.

            That “slightly” better is not enough to make a difference. Look at all the voting we did in 2008, and look what we got! Nothing.

  3. RKailey

    Turner, I have a real problem with the whole “lesser of two evils” thinking. Simply put, it redefines “evil” such as to be meaningless. What is evil? Somebody doing something which doesn’t favor what you want? Or someone doing something that actively harms you and those you value? Banal thinking has lead to those becoming the same thing. Thinking that ‘our folks are bad, but their guys are worse’ never establishes a baseline for what bad really is. And so the tripartite Republicant strategy can work because my bad isn’t the same as Lizard’s or Tokarski’s or even yours, and what is evil to you folks ain’t anything to me.

    If there is a ray of hope in the current political climate it is this. People are now getting a very clear picture of how bad the Teahadist American Taliban and their Republicant toadies really are. That has and can continue to unify Democrats against what is really bad. Citizens United? Evil. Union Busting? Evil. Attacks on the rights of minorities and women? Damned well evil.

    Don’t get me wrong. I hold little hope that that ray may actually illuminate anything. I’ve been screaming for years that these wingnut, fundamentalist, regressive fruitcakes are taking over. And yet frequently, I’ve been that bad guy, because liberals have taken to using the same tactics and thinking as their wingnut counterparts. Oh yeah, you think that policy x is good but what about this isolated incident over here? HUH? WHERE”S MY PERFECTION! Oh, we’re getting our perfection, all right. The perfect confluence of evil behind people like Warburton, Skees, Kerns, Knox, Hinckle, Burnett …

  4. appearances often decieve, wulfgar. you clarify fuckload.

    some may respond submissively to the cattle prod wulfgar. please allow me to indulge with a scene from one of my favorite movies which may clarify my position…..

    “no, no don’t do that. if you shoot him you’ll only make him mad.”

  5. kptrng

    The President has already fallen into the trap…

    If only it was a matter of him being that stupid! He is not that at all. The problem here is not necessarily Democrats, though the low quality of the majority of them is indeed a large problem. But there are systemic problems, two that come to mind: Winner take all voting, and campaign finance.

    Winner take all freezes out third parties, who are usually reform-minded. So winner-take-all prevents reform.

    Finance essentially cedes the political system to big money. And since big money finances both parties, the system mutates from two parties into one.

    The Wisconsin uprising hearkens to the past, when movements defined politics. The Democrats did not start it, do not support it, will help suppress it.

    For some to say that despite the systemic (and fatal) flaws in our system, that the only road to meaningful change is to work through that system, is lunacy.

    • The Polish Wolf

      “Winner take all voting, and campaign finance. ”

      I’d add to that a Senate wherein Senators ‘representing’ a fifth of the population can block all progress on any given law.

      • kptrng

        Man, you got that right. But that’s a voluntary concession of power by the Democrats, and so can be brought back to the two-party-one-financier systemic problem.

        • That’s true, but even take out the filibuster and other power-checking Senate rules and you have the same problem, just less intense – Wyoming has just as much power in the Senate as California. With the exception of Vermont, this doesn’t much aid progressive causes. I don’t think it’s possible to change it, it will just always mean that the political beliefs of people living in less populous states will be disproportionately represented. That set up prolonged slavery for decades, too. I guess the one possible upside is that it may compensate for the concentration of cultural and economic power among urban elites.

        • Kptryng

          There’s an assumption around that the Constitution, even with all its amendments, is a near-perfect document. Out government was structured as it was in part due to fear of the rabble. The Senate, with appointed members, stood as a barrier to the lower house, whose members had to face the voters (those allowed to vote) every other year.

          I really prefer parliamentary structure, and most of the democratic world does too. The U.S. form of representative government has not been imitated much.

          We are badly in need of change, and your thoughts about the senate are dead on, in my view.




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