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Tuesday, March 29, 2011
One Last Gasp, An Appeal to Wide Awake Progressives
Before the 2008 campaign I believed that the next president was headed for the same fate as Jimmy Carter, too much to clean up in too little time. Nowadays I am not sure. President Obama has a Reaganesque way of communicating and a Clintoneseque way of triangulating. Speaking a little left and a little right and governing a little right of center may just get him reelected despite persistent high unemployment and looming national debt. Most progressives would agree that what we need to deal with those 2 big issues is to increase domestic spending vastly on building the green economy in both the short and long term, to cut taxes substantially on working and middle class individuals and families, to increase taxes significantly on the wealthy, and to cut deeply spending on perpetual war and empire building and maintenance.
Given all we have witnessed thus far from this administration, we can expect, at most, a half-hearted attempt to change the nation and an eager willingness to continue to stretch our military and hire mercenaries at the expense of making the investments we need in our domestic economy. I am now convinced that the president will become the next Lyndon Johnson, except he will probably run for and win a second term to do more of the same. The prophetic words of Martin Luther King are still ringing true. The green economy is being shot down on the battle fields of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and who knows where next.
I do not want to see this happen. I want to believe that the President is biding his time, waiting to gain a landslide mandate in 2012 so that he can finally do what he and we really want to do: end the wars and the corporate welfare state and replace it with a truly functional and peaceful green society. I want to believe but my faith is running on fumes. Rather than coast to a possible change in 2012, I am now determined to make my little effort to force the change before the next election.
How? That is a tough question, one which is complicated by real fear. I fear that we are far beyond the point of no return, that the neo-con strategy to drown the baby in the bath water has succeeded. I fear that another military Keynesian stimulus is right around the corner, that permanent war will be the permanent solution to our persistent economic problems. I fear that new jobs will come from new armaments and more consumerism based on unending credit traps. I fear that most Americans have been beat into compliance and will be complacent with whatever savior brings us 7 percent unemployment. I fear that we have become permanently myopic about environmental and generational dangers and content to let jingoism, fundamentalism and all sorts of other addictive suppressants divert our attention while the wealthiest pick the pockets of the present and future poor. I fear the left is content to be able to say, I told you so. All of these fears tempt me to throw up my hands and walk away, find some oasis somewhere and wait for the apocalypse.
But maybe there is an outside chance that we can do something now to get the president's attention, to change the course toward where we thought were heading in November, 2008. A few whispers of a primary challenge have surfaced. If that plan gains traction, we will roll out the red carpet for Romney/Pawlenty or its moral equivalent in 2012. I think another option holds greater promise; although, pulling it off will require hugely unconventional risk taking. What progressives need to do is to deliver a punishing blow to the conservative GOP establishment which will also serve as a real warning to the president and all the other capitulating corporatists who have successfully hijacked the Democratic party. Please hear me out because I know this is going to sound crazier than repeating the 1980 primary.
We need to make a deal with Ron Paul. He is willing and we've got nothing to lose. Before you jump all over me with the obvious, let me say that the libertarian fantasy of laizzez-fairy tales is just that. There is no way that we make massive tax, spending and regulation cuts and get anything but massive unemployment and dog eat dog economic Darwinism. While Dr. Paul honestly believes we can create a better world through shifting most of the functions of government to the private sector, he also has a very realistic outlook on political compromises that have to be made before we can restore America to its prelapsarian free market glory he dreams of. He has stated very clearly, based on political realism and genuine compassion for the dependent poor, that he would pinch his nose to preserve entitlements for a while by savings gained from rolling back American empire building and maintenance. He has basically promised that increases in domestic spending are palatable if we will agree to a net cut in overall spending.
The details of such a deal remain to be worked out but fortunately, unlike most politicians, Ron Paul has a proven track record of integrity. He does what he says he will do. President Obama has a bit of a mixed record. He did, as promised, escalate the conflict in Afghanstan. No sense rehashing where he has reneged on his promises; we all know what's gone down, but he just might keep another promise: a freeze on "domestic discretionary" spending for at least 5 years. We don't know all the details of that deal either, but with the wind at the back of a salivating GOP, he seems destined to do them the favor maybe even at 2008 spending levels. He has called for increased military spending even while he has occasionally advocated token, non-net cuts in obviously ridiculous weapons manufacturing fetishes. George W. Bush isn't criticizing the President and I am beginning to understand why.
Given the apostasy that is fast engulfing us, making a deal with an heretical angel seems almost divinely mandated. A pact with the Paulines is a desperate measure but these are desperate times. As I see it, 2016 is the earliest we have any chance of turning the ship of state around. That ship may sink completely before we can grasp the wheel but at a minimum, Ron Paul libertarians seem willing to give us life vests and maybe even a few seats on the lifeboat. If you think conditions are not so bad that we have to jump ship, it might be because you still have a computer and can afford a high speed connection. Turn off your docetic, disembodied, gnostic wasteland machine, get in your private transport, fill up your carbon tank, drive across town or out into the country side and take a clear-eyed look at the other America we speak so passionately about vindicating. They are abjectly impoverished portents of the third world dictatorship we are becoming.
The plan is rather simple. The 2012 Democratic presidential primary is finished. Unless there is some serious primary in your state for a senator or a governor, change your registration to Republican and vote for Paul. We all know what happened to him in 2008 is likely to repeat in 2012 unless enough progressives jump ship. If enough of us switch for the caucus in Iowa and the primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina, in all three heats Paul can win or finish at least second in a large field of Palin and Romney clones. A Ron Paul surge early on will be impossible to ignore and should provoke a ground swell of progressive subversives joining the coup. Some of us will be willing to do this only in the primaries but many of us can be persuaded that the progressive agenda will never gain traction until the military-pharmaceutical-carbon industrial complex is effectively crushed. Libertarians are on board with us to roll back corporate welfare and its host empire building and maintenance.
Liberal and conservative corporatists are certain to give us nothing but lip service while they slash Medicare and social security and maybe spread a few crumbs around green ambitions. A four year coalition that preserves the best of our government by savings from slashing the MPCIC is not ideally what any progressive wants, but it's all we got and may become a bridge to a rebirth of hope. Wait to say, "I told you so" and have nothing to work with or hold your breath and dive in the cold water... it's our choice. In this emergency, I say,"Yes, we can. Dive in!"
Posted by Cornelius at 9:55 AM