November 02, 2010
Hobson’s Choice?

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…


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at November 02, 2010 03:51 PM
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Pardon my crudity - the American voters seem more than happy to have their houses bulldozed if that's what it takes to keep the niggers off the porch. I used to think they hadn't realized that was the deal they had struck, that their houses were being bulldozed. But in the last couple years, we have seen too many of them cheering as the rubble piles up.

And some of that rubble is literal. We're tearing up the roads. We're turning off the streetlights. Darkness and rubble. We're not even talking about politics anymore - these are the very trappings of civilization. And we're making excuses for sloughing them off.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on November 2, 2010 4:03 PM

That golden age of the 50's, 60's, and 70's is looking more golden with every passing year. I hate to think what this country will look like in another couple of decades. Staggering inequality, poverty, the tyrannical corporate control of politics - we'll be ripe for a whole new deal, and hopefully Democratic politicians will give it to us and a Democratic electorate will organize to make it happen.

Seems like we're going to have to sink pretty low before bouncing back.

Posted by: George on November 2, 2010 6:17 PM

Idiots vote for idiots. America is on the way to become a country of dangerous fools.

That comment coming from a German ...

Posted by: Peter on November 2, 2010 7:27 PM

Naomi Klein told us this was coming. Now we have to claw our way out the way they did in the robber baron era. I don't see any Teddy Roosevelts or Franklin Delano Roosevelts on the horizon. And John Roberts and his crew may make sure we don't see one for 6o years. Say goodbye to your children and your grandchildren's future. We've left them a tough road. We let this happen by voting for crooks. We should have been listening to wise old sages like the author of the blog instead of basking in "they hate us for our freedoms" while all our jobs were sent overseas. Those old timers from the depression are all gone, the ones before the war who were anti-war until world events made us fight a war, which had the effect of turning us into a bunch of war making fools and we're suffering the consequences. I remember my grandfather constantly saying "don't buy that German junk, don't buy that Japanese junk". Who's not guilty of that? I've got a quote from Hannah Arandt about ideas of world conquest (i.e. neocons) and I'm going to post it, but now it's time now to reflect on how to build a better America. The future starts today.

Posted by: on November 3, 2010 7:00 AM

The discontented are ruling America. Not visionaries or even people with clear political goals. Thats the way to fascism.

Posted by: Peter on November 3, 2010 12:06 PM

"but now it's time now to reflect on how to build a better America. The future starts today"

True. America will have to re-invent herself, or perish. Conservativism in its true sense might even be a chance in that context. But the Republicans of the tea-bagger-variety are no conservatives. They are mindless barbarians.

Posted by: Peter on November 3, 2010 2:20 PM
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