I got a call this morning from my brother Bill, who is spending the day as a poll worker in Pennsylvania. In his precinct the registered voters are almost evenly split between the Democratic and the Republican parties. As of midmorning, more than twice as many Republicans had voted than Democrats.
In Vietnam when a soldier had screwed up as badly as the American electorate seems to be in the process of doing, he was said to have stepped on his own dick.
Well, what the hell. I have seen the country elect Nixon not once but twice — and the second time after Watergate. I have seen it elect Reagan, also twice. And George W. Bush once — after he lied us into an unnecessary war. Nothing should surprise me anymore.
And I’m not really surprised by what’s happening today. Just, once more, saddened. When will they ever learn? Never, that’s when. But still I voted. It isn’t quite Hobson’s choice. We can slow our descent.
To see how, and how far, we have slid already, read this from Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post. (To see Hobson himself, look below the excerpt.)
When the Tea Partyers get around to identifying how America has changed and to whose benefit, however, they get it almost all wrong. In the worldview of the American right — and the polling shows conclusively that that’s who the Tea Party is — the nation, misled by President Obama, has gone down the path to socialism.
In fact, far from venturing down that road, we’ve been stuck on the road to hyper-capitalism for three decades now. The Tea Partyers are right to be wary of income redistribution, but if they had even the slightest openness to empiricism, they’d see that the redistribution of the past 30 years has all been upward — radically upward…
As the right sees it, America’s woes are traceable to the New Deal order that Franklin Roosevelt, working in the shadow of the even more sinister Woodrow Wilson, imposed on an unsuspecting people. In fact, the New Deal order produced the only three decades in American history — the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s — when economic security and opportunity were widely shared.
It was the only period in the American chronicle when unions were big and powerful enough to ensure that corporate revenue actually trickled down to workers. It marked the only time in American history when, courtesy originally of the GI Bill, the number of Americans going to college surged. It was the only time when taxes on the rich were really significantly higher than taxes on the rest of us. It was the only time that the minimum wage kept pace (almost) with the cost of living.
And it was the only time when most Americans felt confident enough about their economic prospects, and those of their nation, to support the taxes that built the postwar American infrastructure…