Friday, February 17, 2012

A Real Political Party?

Serving Wall Street and the 1 percent

By Mike Krauss
Bucks County Courier Times

In an agonizingly disingenuous oped, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently made the case that America urgently needs a “second” political party.

His argument is that the GOP has become so “captive to conflicting ideological bases” that there can be no agreement on basic policy issues within the party that is sufficient to form a majority with which the Democrats — a “real” political party — can do the nation’s business.

Here “we” are, Friedman worried, six months from the GOP nominating convention, and still no agreement on its candidate for president. A real political party, Friedman suggests, would be like the Democrats and have these things settled by now.


How did the Democrats achieve the unity and cohesion that Friedman implies? Beginning with Bill Clinton, by subordinating every constituency in the party to a policy of abject servitude to what once was one of many voices in the party, and now is the only voice the administration and Democrats in Congress represent: the profits of Wall Street and the welfare of the 1 percent.

The Democrats are themselves no longer a political party, but merely a unit in Wall Street’s business model, fitting into the organizational chart somewhere below the Federal Reserve and above the Congress, like an accounts payable department, dispersing a share of the profits to the politicians and pundits on the payroll.

Now, there is no denying that the GOP has become a sorry excuse for a political party, its candidates lost in a bidding war for its 1 percent: the increasingly few, anxious and older voters who dominate the early primaries and caucuses.

But today most Americans have little interest in a dog fight over abortion, gay marriage, candidates’ marital infidelities or where the capitol of Israel should be, and so take no part in that process.

Making a living and keeping their families out of the poor house now takes up most of the time of the middle class that is the former majority of the GOP. (Actually, for millions of Americans, the streets and not the poor house are increasingly the only option to hanging on.)

And the GOP primary process is of no interest to them. But what Friedman avoids is that large numbers of Democrats have no interest in “their” party’s nominating process.

There is huge unhappiness with Mr. Obama’s policies throughout the Democratic Party. And his nomination is assured only because his Wall Street and special interest patrons — energy, defense, the national security industry, health care and the rest — are rewarding his service with massive campaign contributions and the promise of more.

So like the former middle class majority of the GOP, the former middle class majority of the Democrats figure — why bother?

And this produces apologists like Friedman who pretend that what is wrong with our politics is well funded pitchmen in the GOP, fawning over a handful of voters, as opposed to the bought bag men in both parties doing the bidding of the crowd that can pony up individual contributions of the tens of millions of dollars, to serve those Americans who can pony up tens of millions of dollars.

And it allows Friedman to get away with an utterly unimportant litany of what is wrong with America. And here is his list.

No. 1: a failure to prepare America for the competition between “high imagination enabling” and “low imagination enabling” countries (“HIEs” and “LIEs”).

Yeah, that keeps me up at night.

No. 2: debt and entitlements.

The debt is the price tag of unending war and an obsession with projecting American power — as opposed to American beliefs — and the entitlements are corporate subsidies.

No. 3: The need to find energy in a way that does not destroy the environment.

OK, we can agree on that. Of course, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

But are any of these more important at this time than jobs, homes, a decent diet, health care and education, and a measure of economic security for the many millions of Americans who lack some or all of these?

Are Friedman’s priorities more urgent than reviving a belief that justice still matters in this nation?

Only if you are a very well-to-do, expense-account-supported columnist for the New York Times whose world view is bounded by the East and Hudson rivers.

So Friedman disingenuously points to the failure of the GOP to find a partner with whom the Democrats can do business, to address his list of pressing long-term challenges, while ignoring completely the present dire circumstance of tens of millions of struggling Americans in every class but the 1 percent.

There is a long shot developing in the GOP primary circus, but not so long as it was six months ago, and it is possible that the GOP may get to its convention with no candidate having the nomination locked up.

If that happens, there is a chance for a “brokered” convention, meaning the delegates will do what they used to, and in a democratic process these elected representatives of the GOP rank and file will nominate someone who can represent the broad majority of those needed to both win the presidency and lead the nation in an attack on the urgent problems of the people.

Then the American people might see a real political party once again.

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