Friday, January 22, 2010

What Just Happened?

In one week the Supreme Court has subverted the Bill of Rights and the most progressive state in the union aligned itself with the party of meanness and mendacity.

By reinterpreting free speech to include corporations, elections might as well be decided in the board rooms. I don't think the framers of our constitution had an oligarchy in mind when they met 225 years ago.

The Massachusetts election result was a triumph for pseudo-populism, a complacent Democratic party, and a slumbering constituency.

Who are these Independents who move, en masse, from one party to another? Are they sheep with woolly minds and ears at the ready for the next noisy shepherd? Are they the dispossessed, out-of work with legitimate grievances? Do they make no logical or ideological connection to the source of their discontent?

Populism has a long tradition in our history and many faces. It was the voice of small farmers under Wm. Jennings Bryan at the turn of the last century, then became The Progressive Party of La Follette in the mid 1920s. It later took an ugly turn in 1968 when white southern backlash was harnessed under George Wallace. It is a term with overtones of grass-root, plain folk's rage against a perceived power-elite. Unfortunately the present populists are being played by demagogues who direct their bitterness against scapegoats while the real perpetrators or systemic causes get off untouched.

Today we have a considerable body of low-information voters mad-as-hell at the government for their plight. Too bad those groups are largely funded by the very corporations who out-sourced their jobs and financial institutions who gambled and lost their life savings.

The Republicans have a single mission. It is to render government impotent; to stock cabinet positions with appointees whose job it is to virtually destroy that department. The Labor Secretary was anti-Union, the Interior Secretary favored development of the wilderness, the incompetent F.E.M.A. director gave us the Katrina disaster. etc...

Of course, these same people love government when it serves their interests with defense contracts, agribusiness subsidies etc...

However when government agencies are under-funded and diminished they are powerless to act in times of crisis and become an easy target for popular animus. Even we, the enlightened, fall prey. We become disengaged and our cynicism is fed. Be not dis-encouraged.

1 comment:

  1. A lot of what you say is true but the administration and the Democratic party have brought this on themselves.

    I've emailed myself hoarse to you about this and will not visit it here yet again.

    Your writing as always is exemplary.