And it's working. It is already difficult-to-impossible to obtain local access to abortion in most parts of the United States. It is not only difficult but damn-near illegal to protest in public. And even where you can legally protest, you get diverted, attacked, and arrested anyway. The relationship between your politics and your ability to obtain or keep a job is increasingly so strong that anyone who isn't on board with the arch-conservative program is terrified to make any statement that can be interpreted as economically liberal in the hearing of anyone who might make their employer aware of it.
These things add up, especially in an environment where "equality" means little more than an equal shot at no jobs.
And this is why, above any other issue, I am on board with Stuart when he says:
Restoration of the New Deal framework is my priority policy agenda.Yes, because the New Deal framework is fundamental to any other social liberty.
This is because I am convinced that social liberalism's successes, e.g. civil rights, the successes of liberation movements (sexual, women's, etc.), intolerance with respect to security state regimes, etc., follow from the small-d democratic, economic and cultural empowerment of the majority of ordinary citizens. The history of the 20th century is the history of the balance of powers created by such a modern liberal-democratic framework, and the "culture of liberty-entitlement" that such empowerment produces in populations of otherwise reactionary-agricultural or labor-competitive citizens.
Without the New Deal, or a New Deal-oriented governing framework, there is no liberal democracy, only oligarchy. Without liberal democracy, the cultural forces of popular reaction take hold in American populations, and social liberalism's creativity has little value in solving the problems faced by ordinary folks under plutocratic rule. Without liberal democracy, majority literacy itself is at risk.
Bedford Falls' economy's culture produces the broad acceptance and (therefore) legality of privacy rights. Pottersville's economy's culture produces the broad rejection of and (therefore) illegality of natural selection being taught in public schools. One comes before the other. In post-19th century capitalist America, there can be no civil rights, and no dominance of individual liberty without first securing the economic rights and democratic power of the majority against "the old enemies of peace."
Of all of the policy agendas I support, such as limiting executive power, expanding privacy rights, de-industrial militarizing of America, reforming the justice system, inhibiting poverty creation, etc, there is a preference order, with "Restoration of the New Deal Framework" being at the top. My vote will therefore reflect what I believe to be the priority policy agenda for movement liberals.
I know that my vote, in Maryland, will have no impact on the election. Barack Obama will win handily. Stuart can reasonably expect the same of his vote in New York.
So what can my vote accomplish? A vote for Romney would be wasted even if I thought it would slow the Grand Bargain train to elect Romney. (And, you know, it might - it might be that since Obama is more competent and less likely to be fought by his own party, he will be best suited for wrecking Social Security, and thus Romney would be the better choice. But I have no say in that matter.) All a vote for Romney says in Maryland is "one more person who wants right-wing government". A vote for Obama would also be meaningless, since it could just be interpreted as support for his odious, anti-democratic, hateful policy of wrecking the New Deal.
To the extent that my vote can have any impact at all, it is that it makes a statement, and the statement I want to make is that I do not support the policies of either of these two chiselers. I want it to be clear that when I don't vote for Obama, it isn't because he was "too liberal". Jill Stein is on the ballot, so I'm voicing my choice for someone who supports the New Deal. I know she won't win, but at least I will have made an "official" public statement that not everyone is happy to let the oligarchy have its way.
A note about Making a Statement: I know the party leadership is not listening to the people, and neither is the establishment media. It doesn't matter what I say to them. But as I have long noted, it's important for ordinary people to talk to each other, to make clear that whatever appears in the headlines does not necessarily reflect what most people think. I noticed a long time ago that people around me simply assumed that everyone agreed with whatever was in the headlines of the Daily Mail, even though there were several issues on which it was clearly difficult to find anyone who agreed with them. If people don't talk to each other, they don't know what their neighbors really think. So I won't be casting that vote to influence the election (it can't) or to speak to my undemocratic leaders or the press, but to talk to my fellows instead, and say I don't support right-wing government.
It might be another matter if I lived in a swing state. Then I might have to ask myself if a Romney win might actually be beneficial. Would Democrats rise up and make noise if Romney tried to wreck Social Security? Would word spread and cause Republican voters to call Congress and demand that they vote against any such plan? I wish I knew. But what I do know right now is that rank-and-file Democrats seem to be sleepwalking their way to the gas ovens behind Obama's leadership, and I don't like it.
The question for voters in a swing state isn't between policies, because the policies are not really different. The question has to be: Which one is more likely to be able to get it done? And then vote against that bastard.
The primary purpose of voting is neither protest nor symbolism.Now, the idea that Romney will be less competent at destroying the New Deal is just a fantasy. In fact, Romney is very good at getting what he wants. Just read what Greg Palast had to say in The Nation about Mitt Romney's Bailout Bonanza (or listen to him telling Sam Seder about it on The Majority Report).
The primary purpose of voting is to influence the viability of priority policy, either in the long, medium or the short term.
A vote's potential value is maximized when priority policy made the most viable in long, medium and short terms as the result of an election in which that vote's designee carries.
When the priority policy is likely to be immediately and negatively impacted by all candidates' likely future administrations' agendas, one must assess the likely degree of negative impact of potential administrations' successful agenda execution, and vote for the candidate whose administration is least likely to successfully execute, both in political and policy terms.
Therefore, the immediate choice for voters confronted by candidates whose election would likely result in the pursuit of harmful policy agendas is between which particular candidate's future administration is more likely to fail in such pursuit, whether due to incompetence, the political circumstances likely to be created by election results, or a combination of both.
I will be voting for the candidate whose election is most likely to result in the failure of that candidate's agenda with respect to priority policy, which I believe to be the restoration of the New Deal framework, i.e. "good government." The evidence seems to be that both candidates would pursue --in different ways-- further degradation of the New Deal framework.
At this time, neither candidate has yet convinced me that their administration would be more likely not to deliver their intended policy agenda, given the probable circumstances of their successful election.
But if I really believed Romney couldn't pull it off, yeah, I'd be saying vote for Romney, because I know Obama wants to round-file the New Deal, and I think he can do it. And then we're screwed, because the New Deal framework is fundamental to any other social liberty.
Yves Smith says, "It's Time for a Tax to Kill High Frequency Trading: It's frustrating to know that there's a simple solution to a serious problem but no one seems willing to do the obvious." The serious problem is High Frequency Trading, electronic front-running, which happens to be illegal. But the SEC won't stand up to it, and Tom Harkin and Peter DeFazio have introduced legislation to tax it out of existence. They want a .03% tax, although Yves says even .01% would do it, since that's more than such transactions make. It wouldn't hurt real investment, and it would get rid of a highly destructive process. (via)
What are the chances that anyone at the WaPo or the network news programs will be accurate about the Social Security COLA?
Did I mention yet that "tweaks" are slashes? "It has been estimated that for the lowest 20 percent of couples, their wealth is reduced by 18 percent. The highest comparable income group has a reduction of eight percent. Any higher taxes on the rich or battery plants in Michigan will be cold comfort to those in benighted circumstances absorbing a retirement age tweak. [...] Much has been made of Republicans' flagrant disregard of truth. And Lord knows they deserve it. But what of their counterparts? I suggest that if Democrats are honest, they would a) acknowledge their own exaggerations of the program's difficulties, and b) spell out the impact of their purported "tweaks." After all, if Romney ought to spell out how his magical tax proposal reduces rates and recoups all lost revenue, shouldn't Democrats do the same with respect to their Social Security reform nostrums?"
Charlie Pierce on Paul Broun and What the Democrats Cannot Do - It can't be true that Democrats can't put up a candidate against a legislator who even other Republican voters thinks is crazy.
At the Tory conference: "At a moment when the Conservative faithful recognise that their party is on course to lose the next general election to a rabble of leftwing zombies, they see Boris as the fat white hope, Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, El Cid, Superman, Indiana Jones."
Lies about "socialized medicine" and Social Security are an old tradition.
Getting the details on the Romney Tax Plan.
Books read: Snuff by Terry Pratchett. He hasn't lost his touch.