It is the result of a phenomenon that is even more serious than the regime itself.
That phenomenon is the deliberate deformation of what was a flourishing democracy in America and its transformation into an unconstitutional authoritarian regime by political and economic elites over a 30 year period acting under the aegis of the Republican Party.
The Bush/Cheney regime's brand of international terrorism and torture, best expressed in their illegal invasion of Iraq to get control of its oil, was made possible by the concerted efforts of these elites to deform the American political system and subvert the sovereignty of the American people.
They did this by:
1) Joining with anti-democratic Democrats to gerrymander the majority of electoral districts in the country to prevent insurgent candidates from running against the parties' favored sons
2) Flooding the political process with corporate campaign contributions and lobbyists to buy the votes of our elected representatives in both major political parties
3) Fabricating divisive cultural wars in order to capture an electoral base, which the Republican Party and their elite backers did not have 30 years ago, comprised of religious fundamentalists.
Most significantly, these elites used and continue to use their concocted culture wars (and post 9/11 scare tactics) to divert public attention from their primary agenda, that of enriching the giant corporations which are the driving forces behind them, especially the oil and defense industries.
The core challenge is not so much to get rid of the Bush/Cheney regime and the self-destructed Republican Party, but to restore popular sovereignty and a constitutional democracy to a country whose electoral and legislative processes are no longer controlled by the people.
With the federal government headed towards insolvency because of tax cuts for the rich and $700 billion being spent annually on defense, and with both the Republican and Democratic candidates for president in 2008 appearing to be in the pockets of corporate campaign contributors, it is going to be a long hard fight.
Given the deliberate deformation of the American political system over the past 30 years, it may very well be impossible in the foreseeable future for the American people to elect a government that truly represents their will.
I cannot figure out from what you and Chris have written what it is that you are going to do on your new site that you could not do on MyDD.
I guess out of respect and affection for Jerome you decided not to share that part of your decision.
What I infer is that you are going to do more of what you have been doing with a sharper edge. At least this is what I am hoping.
What I can tell you is that I will gravitate over to your new site in the expectation that you will be charting new ground in fomenting the progressive revolution that is underway in this country.
Yes, it is a revolution that is underway as the ground gives way to the rumble of the people, as I heard Ralph Nader characterize it at his "Taming the Giant Corporations" conference in Washington, D.C. last week.
What is most important about your analysis of the current scene, Matt, is that you have arrived at it having lived on both sides of the dividing line between those who are being ruined by the status quo and those who are driving and profiting from it. Because you understand their respective and diverging points of departure, you can easily juxtapose one to the other without hyperbole.
I put you in the same exalted class of relentless unyielding critics in which I put David Sirota and David Michael Green in terms of your ability to nail down in writing just what it is that the Republican and Democratic Parties and the corporate predators who have us in a stranglehold are doing to destroy our democracy and our free enterprise system.
For the past 18 months, you have simultaneously served as analyst, teacher, debater, bully pulpiteer and whipping post on MyDD as you put two and two together to articulate what I consider to be the most cogent portrayal of what is ailing the country.
Most importantly, by your example, you have shown me and your readers how to prepare ourselves for the unprecedented role that the blogsphere is going to play in driving our politics from here on in. The roles you have blended together have created a unique space for you and us that have changed our mindsets and transformed many of us into virtual progressive revolutionaries. Clearly, the best is yet to come. I have no doubt that you will be in the forefront of whatever transpires.
Personally, I am very grateful to you for being the voice that articulates the perspectives with which I most closely identify. I am quite a bit older than you with a broader, deeper background on many political issues (thanks to my additional years on this forlorn but infinitely promising planet) but there is virtually no difference between where you stand on the issues and where I stand.
Many thanks and best wishes for continued success at your new post. Let 'em have it!
It is difficult for me to imagine a scenario in which any Republican presidential candidate can beat a Democratic presidential candidate, given the current line up of hopefuls and polls documenting popular disdain for the Republican track record of the past 12 years.
There is going to be a flushing out of Republicans up and down the line, no matter which Democrats run against them.
What is making the Democratic Party moribund at this point in time, despite these prospects, are the unfounded fears of self-serving Democratic candidates that they might lose if they actually took principled leadership stands supporting the clear mandates of the American people instead of following outdated polls and serving the corporate hands that feed them.
These people need to be flushed out of American politics one way or the other. I certainly do not favor the exodus of progressives from the Democratic party unless that proves to be the only way to elect a government that recognizes the sovereignty of the American people.
My interpretation of the significance of the statistics you provide is that while both major parties are losing public support, the most spectacular failure is the Democratic Party's inability to capitalize on the current widespread popular antipathy towards Republicans and their track records at all levels of government.
While the Republican Party appears to be entering what may become an irreversible decline, I would not be surprised if the Democratic Party follows closely behind.
This would be due to the fact that the large majority of Democrats in public life are more likely to follow the lead of their corporate campaign contributors than their constituents, just like Republicans.
It is astounding that they fly right in the face of public opinion and refuse to pass legislation that is favored across the board by their constituents on major issues like Iraq, universal government-funded health care and the minimum wage when it conflicts with the interests of their corporate benefactors.
They do this because they know they can get away with it, given the manner in which the two major parties and their corporate backers have deformed our electoral and legislative processes over the past 30 years. Voters are stuck with them for the time being and the major party candidates know it.
The posturing and triangulation of the 2008 presidential contenders would be laughable if they were not such a pathetic and transparent travesty of democracy.
The most significant finding of the Pew Report that you cite is that 66% of a representative sample of voters do not think that their elected officials care what they think.
("Americans feel increasingly estranged from their government. Barely a third (34%) agree with the statement, 'most elected officials care what people like me think,' nearly matching the 20-year low of 33% recorded in 1994 and a 10-point drop since 2002.")
This is truly astounding in a country that calls itself a democracy. But it can easily be explained by the fact that the large majority of electoral districts are gerrymandered to favor one party or another and prevent insurgent candidates from winning electoral races against the dominant party's incumbents, who get re-elected term after term.
When you add to this structural deformation of the electoral process the fact that most representatives are beholden to the wealthy individuals and large corporations that fund their campaigns, you get legislative processes and outcomes that betray the vital interests of the American people. Is it any wonder that a whopping 66% of the American people think that their elected representatives do not care what they think?
With a deformed political system like this, is it any wonder that people are starting to defect from the two major political parties?
With statistics like this, is there any doubt that the stage is being set for the progressive movement and progressive candidates who are in tune with American voters to take over the increasingly moribund Democratic Party, or to break away from it and form a new party?
Yes, the Israel lobby is a major part of the reason that Congress cannot follow the wishes of the American people and end the occupation. And Israel, which does not want to see the U.S. booted out of the Middle East, is a major proponent of the U.S. attack against Iran that appears to be in the making.
AIPAC, the formidable pro-Israel nationwide lobbying organization, has its tentacles on our legislators through its demonstrated ability to defeat candidates for office who voice opposition to U.S. unconditional support for Israel.
Add the influence of AIPAC to the energy interests that are core drivers of the military industrial complex and you have the formula for defeat of the wishes of the American people to end the occupation.
Congressional representatives are not going to vote against the energy interests that are getting a stranglehold around Iraqi oil resources through the oil agreement the Bush administration is trying to force its Iraqi puppet government to sign before it collapses altogether.
The American people, on the whole, understand these dynamics. They just can't do anything to stop the bloodletting at the moment.
What we need are real leaders and not sycophants, real leaders who tell the truth and stand behind it.
Why can't any of the representatives stand up and tell the American people that this is all about oil and the defense of Israel, that the U.S. is broke and borrowing money from its adversaries, and that staying in Iraq is making the U.S. more vulnerable rather than less at the cost of more American and Iraqi lives?
What the Republican Party and its elected representatives in Congress, together with wimped-out Democrats, are doing by refusing to exit Iraq is signing their own death warrants.
The American people are watching this debacle and, I believe, coming to the conclusion that the political party system and the government, which the military industrial complex has deformed by financially corrupting the electoral process, must be dismantled. It may take years and even decades to do it, but it is clear that incremental reforms and legislative representatives or presidents elected by this deformed system are not going to put American citizens and voters back in charge of their own government.
The frustration I felt at not being able to exercise the power Dean said we voters have led me to invent Citizens' Winning Hands.
The lessons I learned during his campaign about the loss of voter control over electoral and legislative processes and the paucity of options we have for regaining it are described in the About section of the Citizens Winning Hands website.
According to public opinion polls, the majority of Americans have wanted the U.S. to get out of Iraq for quite some time now.
It is gut-wrenching to see our out-of-control president and Congress continue the war against overwhelming public opposition.
The disconnect between what the people want and what Congress does on Iraq and a whole slew of other issues demonstrates that the U.S. government is not run by the people and does not respect the popular will.
It is time for the American people to dismantle this government.
Actually, the data I am familiar with show that Republican voters are more affluent on the whole than Democratic voters.
Please see my response above to Texas Dem. My statement about voters voting their pocketbook is intended to apply to those who are not low-information or mesmerized by political propaganda.
The Republican Party has gone all out to politically mesmerize people and conceal information they need to effectively protect their vital interests and pocket books when they go to the polls.
Increasingly, as the working members of the electorate see their economic status eroded by predatory economic policies and practices, they will wise up and vote their pocketbooks. That's why I predict that the Republican Party and its neo-liberal economic ideologies and policies will eventually be thrown on the dustbin of history.
Clearly you are correct that in specific cases, we need to devise complex multi-causal models that include the variables to which you relate. Even in this case, economic status is going to be the primary causal influence for non-low-information voters and voters not mesmerized by political propaganda.
I agree with your views and qualification of my statement that you quote above.
That said, as low-information voters become better informed and voters mesmerized by political propaganda acquire greater insight into the ways in which they are being manipulated and their economic interests violated, my core observation will hold true.
The large majority of well-informed objective voters, irrespective of race, ethnicity and religion, will vote their pocket book against political parties and politicians who support policies and economic interests that are putting their livelihoods at risk and aggravating income inequalities.
A sociological analysis of class as measured by income provides a better grip on the determinants of future political alignments than race, ethnicity or religion, as far as I am concerned.
Most voters vote their pocketbooks, with the exception of low-information voters and voters who are mesmerized by political propaganda. As more voters in the U.S. see downward mobility on their horizon in terms of their class status, i.e. the prospect of moving from being middle class to the working class to the working poor to the impoverished, greater numbers of the electorate are going to vote their pocketbooks.
The anti-terrorist scare tactics employed by the Republican Party to entrench itself in power is wearing thin as voters see the writing on the wall in terms of their increasingly precarious personal finances.
The overriding importance of class versus race, ethnicity and religion applies to domestic U.S. politics as well as international conflicts like the so-called clash of civilizations between Islam and Christianity.
Very often, attempts are made to conceal the economic class warfare that is ravaging the U.S. and the international community of nations under smokescreens like these, which are designed to deflect attention from economic policies to ethnic, racial or religious cleavages.
For example, most experts outside the U.S. attribute the conflict between the al Qaeda movement and the U.S. not to religious, ethnic or cultural differences but to the economic deprivation inflicted on Muslim populations as a result of U.S. actions in the Middle East to obtain cheap oil from dictators and oppressive monarchies.
Another example is the politicized Christian right in this country which, as has been well-documented, was the creation of Republican strategists bent on building an electoral base for the large corporations and wealthy individuals that were using the Republican party to get a stranglehold over U.S. government as well as the economy.
The Christian right and its fundamentalist issues have been exploited and misused by the Republican party to deflect attention from the excessive profit-taking that has been occurring in the U.S. and throughout the world by the large corporations that provide the party's core financial support.
They have used the party and its right-wing electoral base to hi-jack control of the U.S. government via campaign financing and force completely unregulated free markets on everyone, wrecking indigenous economies and livelihoods everywhere, here and abroad.
It is very important to see through these ploys and the pseudo-religious smokescreens that they use to conceal their underlying economic objectives.
A good example is the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq on behalf of the oil interests that are an integral part of their careers in and out of politics. The invasion was driven by economic motives above all else, with WMD's and democracy-building serving as the smokescreens. The facts of their ploy are amply documented by Michael Schwart's recent piece, The Struggle Over Iraqi Oil. As soon as the U.S. troops were on the ground, they headed for the oil pipelines and the Iraqi oil ministry to get control of these assets. Every major American envoy, from Bremer to Khalilizad to Crocker, has had as their first mission getting an official Iraqi government signature on the oil agreement granting control over Iraqi oil to Western oil interests.
Not too suprisingly, obtaining this signature is one of the "benchmarks" the U.S. is trying to impose on the faltering Iraqi government at the cost of even more American and Iraqi lives.
Fortunately, for the Iraqis, they have refused to have any of the smokescreens pulled over their eyes that Americans have had pulled over theirs. The vast majority of Iraqis and the rest of world public opinion, for that matter, have do doubt whatsoever that the primary U.S. motivation for invading Iraq was to turn control over its oil assets to Western oil interests.
If Schwartz is correct, no such agreement will ever be implemented, so universal is Iraqi determination to keep U.S.-backed oil interests from getting control of Iraqi oil.
What all this points to is the need to connect the economic dots and focus on the declining class status and income of those who are being ruined by predatory economic policies and practices, here and abroad.
These relationships are the real drivers of what happens in politics and how people are going to vote in the future. More and more voters are understanding these dynamics, and those of us who are attempting to psyche out the political lay of the land in the future would do well to keep them uppermost in our minds.
What I'm sure of is that both parties are losers in this conflict whereas both could have been winners and remained in a close working relationship.
Obama got a tainted URL with less than 20,000 friends stained by his campaign staff's ill-advised seizure of the site.
Anthony ends up with the option of creating a second-class URL and cast-off site with 160,000 up-ended friends who had gathered around the nucleus of the community that he had been painstakingly building by himself on his own initiative for two and a half years.
The numbers of friends swelled during the period of time that Anthony was collaborating with the Obama campaign staff, which shows the potential of a working relationship between net-savvy grassroots activists and campaign staffers who are just learning the ropes of social networking.
It could have been a win-win for both sides had Obama made sure that his campaign staff knew what he says he knows about finding common ground among people who disagree and bringing people together to conjointly solve their problems and create partnerships and relationships that were not there before.
Basically, I blame Obama for running a campaign operation staffed by people who do not know how to build relationships and solve conflicts in a way that honors all participants.
I also blame him for not anticipating the difficulties of working with the netroots and for failing to hire people who know how to build relationships with dedicated web activists like Anthony. If you read Joe Trippi's book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (and I advise Obama to read it immediately, assuming he has not already read it), what the Dean campaign figured out early on was to let the campaign be built by its most enthusiastic frequently tech-savvy supporters. That Obama has not learned the lessons offered by the last election does not bode well either for the future of his campaign or an Obama presidency.
What I would like to see is for Obama to step in RIGHT NOW and show us how he would apply his reconciliation philosophy to back-tracking this mess into an agreement that honors the work and potential of Anthony and Obama's staff to work together to leverage the collaborative energies they initially brought to the table.
Maybe he could invent a new template for integrating netrooters like Anthony into hard-core campaign operations.
Obama's failures created the conflict but quite possibly the peace-making capabilities he says he has or is striving to develop could be put to good use to patch things up.
Is this too much to ask, that a presidential contender apply his governing philosophies to his own campaign?
The main policy question facing the American electorate and their elected representatives is not merely whether to fund a continuation of the Iraqi occupation without a timetable.
It is also whether the electorate and their representatives want to authorize the Bush administration to continue bankrupting the U.S. by tax policies that favor the rich and do not generate enough revenues to fight the war or protect the U.S. homeland.
The real question is whether Americans want their representatives to authorize the Bush administration to continue to borrow billions of dollars a month from foreign countries and economic competitors like China to fight a war that is decreasing U.S. national security and causing the deaths not only of U.S. troops but tens of thousands of Iraqis.
Do they want to add to their tax bills and those of their children the payments on interest and principal that this borrowed money is going to extract from their income over the next century?
Do Americans want to continue to spend more than $600 billion a year on defense and the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq when there is not enough money coming into the federal government to cover its entitlement obligations or adequately secure the U.S. homeland from terrorist attacks?
All the pretexts for continuing the occupation fall by the wayside when compared to these trade-offs and contrasted to the dire financial straits in which the American people find themselves at home.
If it were put to a vote, there is little doubt in my mind that the vast majority of Americans would prefer to transfer the money being spent on the lost war in Iraq and the Bush administration's bloated defense budget to providing universal, government funded health insurance and adequate protection of the U.S. homeland.
That the U.S. Congress can act so irresponsibly and illogically from a financial point of view and also flagrantly disregard public opinion polls and the results of the 2006 midterm elections favoring a rapid end to the war shows that there is a tragic disconnect between what the American people want and what Congress does. In the end, it is the American people who will pay for the ill-advised policy decisions of a Congress that does not represent their views or protect their vital interests.
Does your post above reflect the Obama presidential conflict resolution model - i.e. humiliate, demean and denigrate your opponent even if he started out being on your side?
What happened to the renowned Obama spirit of conciliation and ability to see all points of view?
Just exactly where in this post do you seek common ground with Anthony? An amicable resolution of the conflict?
If the negotiations between you and Anthony broke down, how does that justify your seizure of the asset he created? He had every right to change the password if he thought you were negotiating in bad faith because he created the site. You might have been able to go around him to get MySpace management to deny him access to the site he created, but all you have ended up with is a purloined asset that most non-Obama enthusiasts believe is ill begotten.
I am less concerned about the so-called formal rules of the game by which MySpace now operates than the fundamental immorality of your actions here.
Until you and Anthony come to mutually acceptable terms, you have no moral right to the fruits of his labor. He was two years ahead of you in creating the URL and put in two years of work on the profile before Obama was even a candidate and you were a paid staff member. You fail to give him a smidgeon of respect for having built the nucleus of the community and maintained it for years on his own initiative. That was where the hard work really took place.
All this gobbledygook about his only having 40,000 friends and changing passwords is just a smoke screen to demean his efforts. Having read your post, what I am most concerned about now is not the mistakes that were made before your post but your inability to acknowledge them in the post and seek common ground.
Your rhetoric at the end fails to conceal the fact that you still have not put together an acceptable deal with Anthony. In the past it was easy for heavy hitters like you to snuff out the "little guys". But as you will see, Anthony and his progressive netrooter friends will have their say via the web until the cows come home...or you craft a deal that speaks well of both parties.