The progressive netroots movement has always been about the populism of getting people involved with political activism. "The Rise of People-Powered Politics" was part of the subtitle of Crashing The Gate; the election wave of victories in '06 Moveon.org capped the slogan"People Powered Politics" atop the historic wave election for Democrats. However, over the past couple of months, I'm becoming convinced that the perception, to put it simply, is that the Democrats have become the party of the bankers.
The story goes that Obama, when he decided to let the Goldman Sachs/Wall St alumni run his Treasury, paid off a campaign debt to his biggest financial backers. But it wasn't just a tip of the hat, as it led to Obama & the Democrats becoming the establishment face of TARP (with that second round of bank bailout money), which is arguably the biggest miscalculation of his Presidency, and for Democrats this cycle. It might take failure to pass healthcare reform, or a reneging of his promise to pull out of Iraq in 18 months, to top that bank bailout mistake. To Big To Fail has become The Big Fail. There is even talk now that some of the TARP money will be used to paydown the deficit. That's smart because people are worried about the deficit over boosting the economy by a 2:1 margin according to recent Peter Hart polling. But you have to wonder if the damage has already been done:
In September, the Democratic pollster Peter Hart asked registered voters who they thought had benefited most from the Obama administration's economic policies. Sixty-two percent said the main beneficiary had been the "large banks." In contrast, 65 percent said the "average working person" and "small businesses" hadn't been helped. Seventy-three percent said "my family/myself" hadn't been helped.
The Republicans are jumping at the frame:
Under Obama's policies, he is reorganizing the Democratic Party into the elitist coalition, representing Big Government, big bankers, big Wall Street, big universities, big Hollywood -- all protected under the mantra of "too big to fail."
That's Craig Shirley, Elites overlook power of populists
, but you have to go back to read what he wrote in April of 2006, How the GOP Lost Its Way
, because he's seen this coming for a while now in the Republicans. The mix of populism with movement conservatism to create the populist conservative moment is underway. All for it is Matthew Continetti, A case for the new populism
. All against it is Patrick N. Allitt, Instead of going rogue, Instead of going rogue, Republicans should cultivate leadership in ideas and solutions
; and then there's Christopher Hitchens, best known for his neocon atheism, who believes that if the likes of Palin represents populism, the opposition should go all in with embracing elitism, Base Appeal
(what I want to know is why it takes Democrats a couple of decades to remake the party while it only takes Republicans a couple of years).
That Democrats this year lost the opportunity for a "Barack Obama, FDR and the Hundred Days" moment is pretty clear in hindsight. To recover the momentum, we have to roll up a package of issues, vote them up or down, and if they don't pass, run on them in '10. Right now, Democrats are so afraid of failing that nothing is getting done.
Yea, there's a whole progressive agenda that's been left by the wayside so far, but if Democrats don't halt this move toward becoming the party that holds the bid for JP Morgan right now, even worse will happen.
I just got my copy of "Censored 2010: The top 25 stories of 2008-09" and you know what the first one is? Its "US Congress Sells Out to Wall Street" and lays it at the feet of Democrats. Since the start of 2009, Wall Street has donated more than any other sector to DC politicians, and "58% of that has gone to Democrats, marking a change, perhaps, in political strategy. Not since the 1990 election cycle have finance, insurance, and real estate companies given more than 52% of its overall donations to Democrats, and from 1991 to 2006, finance gave the majority of its money to Republicans."
That's change, for the wrong people. Yes, this is reflective of a political strategy furthered by D politicians such as Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel. Basically, their thinking goes, since the Republicans have relied upon lobbyist, corporate, and financial funding to maintain an advantage over the past decades, undercut that, and D's will gain the financial advantage over R's.
It reminds me of the sort of thinking that went along with Bush and the Republicans willingly signing McCain-Fiengold CFR into law; and many establishment Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, thought the Democrats were committing funding suicide. I wrote just the opposite was happening-- that it would lead to the Democrats being funded by the grassroots. And that happened, no doubt surprising the Republicans that they were suddenly being outspent a few cycles later.
The upside of this topsy-turvy state of funding turmoil is that funding of Democratic institutions by populist progressives has come to a standstill, funding of conservative populists is going to rocket. Funding of Democrats by the big banks is at record levels, and funding of Republicans by those same banks is on the wane. Alongside the perception that Democrats can't pass meaningful legislation and that Obama is too passive in pushing for the promises on which he campaigned, it does add up to an electoral disaster-in-waiting in '10.
Rahm Emanual is reading the '09 tea-leaves, and now says that"reducing Americas long- term federal budget deficits is now is foremost on his mind and the mind of the economic team". This midnight conversion of Hoover/McCain thought can't be taken seriously.
Then there's the first line of Politico today: "BREAKING I: Obama administration to launch big financial fraud crackdown. A senior administration official tells POLITICO: "We will be announcing a sustained, multilevel attack on financial fraud." Sounds like another window dressing initiative.
There's does seem to be the possibility for movement/moment right now for take down of one of the architects of this disaster, Timothy Geithner.
Geithner has been Singled Out In TARP Watchdog Neil Barofsky's Scathing Report On AIG Bailout. He's game for being the scapegoat.
Update [2009-11-17 14:40:52 by Jerome Armstrong]:A bit more on this last point from Joe Costello:
SIGTARP, the Special Inspector General for TARP, who is supposedly charged to make sure your tax dollars going to the banks aren't wasted, which is funny in itself, released their first report
, which is a joke in itself. The report basically says the New York Fed under Mr. Geithner was basically played by the banks in the money paid through AIG. Of course, that's not really true, AIG was simply used to funnel money into the banks, that was without a doubt always the idea. Whether you think that was criminal or in the public interest, well it was criminal. Yves Smith has a longer
To quote the Epicurean Dealmaker
: Tim Geithner and the Federal Reserve got royally played. And you and I, my friends, paid dearly for the privilege.