Mad As Hell
by Jerome Armstrong, Mon Aug 30, 2010 at 05:28:45 PM EDT
A new book coming out by pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen use extensive and original research to explore the mind and heart of the populist turmoil that has suddenly thrown American politics into turmoil.
Here's what they say about it:
In the past, populist movement have taken root either on the right or on the left. Today’s populist revolt is unusually broad and has two wings: a left wing that wants universal health care and redistributive economic policies and a right wing that wants to reduce the power of government to interfere in our lives. Both are hostile to the Washington political class, Wall Street, and the mainstream media—all of which they consider out of touch with the concerns of “real” Americans. The key difference is that the left populists are effectively represented by Barack Obama and congressional Democrats who are pursuing their agenda, while right populists are chiefly represented by Fox News and voices outside of Congress—an angrier and potentially more powerful political force.
So-called professionals in politics, business, and media have completely failed to comprehend the new populism and have dismissed it as marginal and extreme. The authors explore the broad-based nature of the new populist movement and explain how it is reshaping American politics—whether politicians and elite journalists like it or not.
The Tea Party movement is not a flash in the pan, as many have assumed. Nor is it a movement of racist rednecks and ignorant boobs, as its detractors have crudely suggested. To the contrary, it is an authentic grassroots movement of concerned American citizens demanding to be heard by an out-of-touch political establishment. Their concerns are real and their issues are legitimate. Moreover, the new populism is here to stay and it has already changed our politics for the better.
An interesting interpretation. It confirms my opinion that there is a progressive-libertarian axis here for populist revolt to pivot on. However, much of the progressive Netroots has had a fixation on the partisan politics ahead of of the populist impulse. What's good for Obama & the Democrats, staying in power and beating back antagonists, is placed ahead of other concerns. Pragmatism, in the name of a two-party system, does want to demand this sort of fealty.
The notion though, the left populists are effectively represented by Barack Obama and congressional Democrats who are pursuing their agenda, is un-true. Just examine the two priorities listed, universal health care and redistributive economic policies, with what occurred legislatively on these two issues, to see the equation come up short. We got mandated to privately fund coprporate-sponsored healthcare (the liklihood of the Bush tax-cuts remaining will be seen).
That's just a blurb though, and I want to stick to the notion of agreement from the populist impulses that both "are hostile to the Washington political class, Wall Street, and the mainstream media—all of which they consider out of touch" which is entirely true. I'll look more at this with the book coming out in a few weeks.
It's not as if this is something that just occurred either. I thought that Stan Greenberg's book "The Two Americas" was phenomenal in laying out the undercurrencts of the populist sentiment, published in 2004, from focus groups in Aug 2001 to 2003. Had John Kerry listened to Greenberg instead of Shrum, he'd have won the Presidency in 2004. This is what Greenberg wrote:
Because the Republicans have overreached on behalf of corporate interests in an age of public revulsion against it, Democrats have the opportunity not just to attack but to become champions of the whole, by defending the public interest and its values.
Democrats had that opportunity after the 2008 election. Instead, Democrats went down the bank bailout path. Then, on what should be the signature issue, healthcare reform, they burdened it with a pro-corporate mandate. At that point, they pretty much sealed the deal with the public trust and opinion for 2010.
It's common to believe that if unemployment were less than 9.5% things would be different, but that's just the point. The problem is the perception as to where the priority lays; and the actions point toward a different direction than the public interest with things like the bank bailout and mandate.
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