Mad As Hell

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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19 Comments

Glenn Greenwald had a good article about this

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/27/krauthammer/index.html

 

That is the same crisis -- which exploded during the Bush presidency -- from which we still have not recovered, which has progressively worsened.

That crisis presented a huge opportunity for Obama and the Democrats to bring about real change in Washington -- the central promise of his campaign -- by capitalizing on (and becoming the voice of) populist anger and using it to wrestle away control from Wall Street and other financial and corporate elites who control Washington.  Had they done so, they would have been champions of populist rage rather than its prime targets. 

But, as John Judis argues in his excellent New Republic piece, they completely squandered that opportunity.  Rather than emphatically stand up to the bankers and other oligarchical thieves, they coddled and served them, and thus became the face of the elite interests oppressing ordinary Americans rather than their foes.  How can an administration represented by Tim Geithner and Larry Summers -- and which specializes in an endless stream of secret deals with corporate lobbyists and sustains itself with Wall Street funding  -- possibly maintain any pretense of populist support or changing how Washington works?  It can't. 

There are few more bitter ironies than watching the Republican Party -- controlled at its core by the very business interests responsible for the country's vast and growing inequality; responsible for massive transfers of wealth to the richest; and which presided over and enabled the economic collapse -- now become the beneficiaries of middle-class and lower-middle-class economic insecurity. 

But the Democratic Party's failure/refusal/inability to be anything other than the Party of Tim Geithner -- continuing America's endless, draining Wars while plotting to cut Social Security, one of the few remaining guarantors of a humane standard of living -- renders them unable to offer answers to angry, anxious, resentful Americans.  As has happened countless times in countless places, those answers are now being provided instead by a group of self-serving, hateful extremist leaders eager to exploit that anger for their own twisted financial and political ends.  And it seems to be working.

 

by jeopardy 2010-08-30 06:08PM | 0 recs
RE: Glenn Greenwald had a good article about this

Yea, but it started earlier, something which I don't see many standing up to remember they were wrong with at the time either. That is, when Bush called for the bailouts, first in line to take a lead for being Yes Sir was Obama. In fact, I'll have to look, it may have been that Obama and Bush both worked on it together.

McCain was a joke, but at least he could sense where the public was on the issue. He would have likely won had he stood against it. But, you got the sense that the bankers, when he went to NYC, told him to stfu if he wanted Cindy to keep all her money.

Anyway, that was the moment the deal was sealed. I'd like to look back and take a look at it then, to see who was on the right side of telling the banks to cut their own losses; so Glenn is missing the time by a bit as to when the change might have occurred.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-30 07:49PM | 0 recs
RE: Glenn Greenwald had a good article about this

I seem to remember meetings with Bush, Obama and McCain before the elction. The articles at the time described McCain as not saying anything, and Obama asking a bunch of good questions and coming up with ideas.

I remember thinking at the time "god, I hope Obama wins. That's the kind of guy we need in the White House and McCain doesn't know what the hell he is doing."

by jeopardy 2010-08-30 07:55PM | 0 recs
RE: Glenn Greenwald had a good article about this

Yea, McCain came around quickly, over a weekend. Al Hunt was pretty good at describing it.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-30 08:59PM | 0 recs
RE: Glenn Greenwald had a good article about this

" McCain was a joke, but at least he could sense where the public was on the issue. He would have likely won had he stood against it. But, you got the sense that the bankers, when he went to NYC, told him to stfu if he wanted Cindy to keep all her money. "

LOL. Memories have faded, but TARP truly was an emergency. Even krugman came out in favor of it.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/30/people-i-agree-with-part-two/

Jamie Galbraith, pre-House-debacle, offers a jaundiced pro-Dodd-Frank argument essentially the same as mine:

In short, as I said at the beginning, the bill is a vast improvement over the original Treasury proposal. Given the choice between approving or defeating the bill as it stands, I would urge supporting the bill. I do so without illusions.

We need not forget, the callously stupid decision to let Lehman fail is what handed the election to the democrats. 

by vecky 2010-08-30 08:59PM | 0 recs
You think McCain would have won if Lehman was saved?

You have to remember that by August 2008, unememployment had risen from 4.5% in late 2007 to 6.1% and the GDP report that was released days before the election was sure to be negative even without Lehman.  The economy had been in dire straights by March 2008, when Bear Sterns went down.

by Kent 2010-08-30 09:34PM | 0 recs
RE: You think McCain would have won if Lehman was saved?

Ofcourse, though it's never 100%. The polling before Lehman for the Dems was far less clear than what followed afterward. So clearly whatever Obama's position on TARP it did not hurt his standing.

by vecky 2010-08-30 10:23PM | 0 recs
RE: You think McCain would have won if Lehman was saved?

You think he would have won?  If so, we should want Hank Paulson castrated for heaping this on us just to show all the big boys that he had balls.

by Kent 2010-08-30 10:45PM | 0 recs
RE: Glenn Greenwald had a good article about this

Agreed.  Also, "changing the way Washington works" doesn't necessarily have anything to do with being a populist against the bankers.  I took it to mean what I heard Obama talk about so much, being bipartisan and not reliving the fights of the 1960's, which I still see as being fought today.  I never so Obama as a populist.

by bookgrl 2010-08-30 09:31PM | 0 recs
Pssst.

(soto voce) You used turmoil twice in the first sentence.

by Stoic 2010-08-30 07:13PM | 0 recs
RE: Pssst.

italics means....

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-30 07:42PM | 0 recs
Let it go

Had John Kerry listened to Greenberg instead of Shrum, he'd have won the Presidency in 2004.

Yes, because the "2 Americas" slogan worked out so well for John Edwards. As it is Kerry came close. Closer than I expected at least.

by vecky 2010-08-30 09:06PM | 0 recs
Interesting read with one big caveat

Doug Schoen is exactly the kind of person who is advising Obama right now. He and Pat Cadell (the man who advised numerous disastorus presidential candidates) recently wrote an op-ed piece called "Our Divisive President", filled with the usual crap. The fact is these people look at the tea-party and identify with them, same 60+ white demography. If anything Obama and his team has alienated the left and embraced an elusive center. These types of book/op-eds just paves the way for what is inevitable, a full-scale rejection of the base and sharp move to the right (as if he wasn't to the right already). It's quite obvious now that this administration diluted the bills that were signed to placate the right, if the Republicans win congress expect nothing to get done. We will have two parties staring at each other, like two pieces of turd in a bowl, like always, in perfect ennui.

by tarheel74 2010-08-30 09:59PM | 0 recs
RE: Interesting read with one big caveat

That's a really good point.  It also explains while why they see the populist movement has two sides, they still argue the left side is "effectively represented" by Obama and congressional Democrats.  If that were true, why would the left side be angry?  It makes no sense.

by bookgrl 2010-08-30 11:00PM | 0 recs
RE: Interesting read with one big caveat

Yea, I agree with that, and does mean that it will be a one-sided understanding. Still, will be interesting to see their interpretation of the poll results I think.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-30 11:52PM | 1 recs
The Tea Bagger Movement Couldn't Exist Without Fox News & Talk Radio!

This whole article is nonsense because it totally MISREPRESENTS the the Tea-baggers, mischaracterizes the arguments against them, and pretends to a symetry between right and left that doesn't exist.

1. Tea-baggers are simply the right-wing of the Republican party. They are the same people who have been voting Republican for years and are sure as hell NOT stirred up because they're:

<blockquote>"citizens demanding to be heard by an out-of-touch political establishment. Their concerns are real and their issues are legitimate."</blockquote>

The minute you hear crap like that you know this is a propaganda piece and not real research. Birthers and "Obama = Socialist Muslim!" is "legitimate" and "real?"Where's the "reality" in their racist paranoia? Are minorities really pushing whites aside and taking their jobs? Or is corporate America massively transferring jobs overseas?

2. Tea-baggers are stirred up because Fox News and Rush Limbaugh spend endless hours telling them that White America is getting screwed and it's the "magic Negro" who's doing it to them. They're suffering and minorities are rolling in welfare.

To pretend that's not deeply racist is simply more propaganda.

Because the fact remains that whatever bills got through Congress were decidedely NOT "socialist." And minorities are NOT rolling in federal dollars at the expense of white people.

So to pretend as these idiots do that we have 2 semetrical "grass roots" movements when one "movement" is orchestrated by a massive and ongoing propaganda effort is like calling Stalin's mass political theater a "grass-roots movement." The whole thing is an orchestrated fraud -- from the top down. Of course the anger and fear is real, but it's whipped up deliberately by self-conscious propaganda.

If the Tea-baggers aren't going away that's only because Fox News isn't going to stop stirring up racial discord. If it weren't for an endless campaign of lies and deception these idiots would go back to being simple Republicans -- unhappy ones because NO government is EVER going to be able to satisfy their fantasies, but Republicans nonetheless.

It's FOX NEWS that has convinced them that they're part of an "historic gathering of Patriots! instead of a manipulated band of idiots."

by Cugel 2010-08-31 12:42PM | 0 recs
By Article I mean Rassmussen's Article!

Rasmussen's research is nonsense, not Jerome's article

by Cugel 2010-08-31 12:45PM | 0 recs
Ras/Shoen's good points are ruined by partisan overtones

The underlying notion that Obama and the Dems represent the progressive movement is laughable, as Jerome noted, and I believe it's the primary reason for the decline in their popularity. Both parties are in bed with corporate interests, the only difference being that the Dems aren't publicly spooning them.

Big Money already has a representative party. Democratic strategists must end their love affair with Big Money and rekindle their relationship with FDR, otherwise the Democratic Party serves no purpose in American politics.

by Spiffarino 2010-09-02 10:31AM | 0 recs
Its BOGUS .. the teaparty is BS

If a Republican wins the White House in '12 the teaparty vanishes.

 

by RichardFlatts 2010-09-03 11:09AM | 0 recs

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