Five years ago, Thomas Frank wrote “What’s The Matter With Kansas?”, about how the GOP uses cultural populism to dupe rural working-class Americans into supporting pro-corporate policies that hasten their own economic demise. Today’s Obama/Rahm/Reid Democrats have turned that dynamic on its head, in more ways than one.
Not only have Obama and the Senate Democrats adopted pro-corporate policies that will hasten their own political demise, but they have allowed the Republicans to keep their hands clean and pretend to oppose legislation that they would have happily championed a few years ago. Some of the most egregious examples:
- Candidate Obama pushed for the TARP bailout,which ended up passing with far more Democratic votes than Republican ones, in both the House and the Senate.
- Obama nominated Ben Bernanke for another term as Chairman of the Fed, despite his failure to see the meltdown coming, and his utter lack of concern about unemployment. A majority of the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee voted against him, but only one Democrat.
- Obama and Senate Democrats are pushing vigorously for a disastrous crippled abomination of a health care bill which would deliver the insurance industry a huge captive market without requiring them to give up anything meaningful in return. No public option, no drug reimportation, no meaningful ban on rescission, and they can still put caps on annual payouts.
Better yet, all of those lower-income lucky duckies who get subsidized insurance premiums will find their co-pays and deductibles to be so high that they can’t afford to actually use the insurance they were forced to buy, making them even more of a (taxpayer-sponsored) windfall for the insurance industry.
And how many Republicans are supporting this hideous unpopular corporate giveaway? Not a one. If it becomes law, the Democrats will own it in its entirety on election day.
The end result of all this braindead Democratic fuckery is that the Republicans no longer have to rely solely on cultural resentment to paint themselves as common-man populists protecting the little guy from big-city liberal elitists – now they can point to actual policy. “Look, we were the ones who voted against giving Wall Street hundreds of billions of dollars, who voted against that tool at the Fed who doesn’t care about your job, who voted against forcing you to spend your hard-earned money on junk insurance you can’t afford to use. Obama and the Democrats are screwing you over to funnel money to corporate fatcats, and we’re trying to stop them.”
Strip out all the racist/birther/deather/eliminationist garbage, and that’s pretty much the teabagger narrative in a nutshell. As Jane alludes to, we may have actually reached a point where have more in common with the teabaggers than we do with our own party (on policy, anyway). Populists and activists at both ends of the spectrum are now finding common ground in the fight against corporatism (or as our conservative counterparts like to call it, “socialism”).
Unless Obama and the Democrats pull their heads far enough out of their corporate donors’ asses to hear the transpartisan outrage brewing outside the Beltway, the 2010 and 2012 elections will be very very bad for them. They will reap all of the pent-up rage and resentment that was aimed at the Republicans in 2006 and 2008, and we know how that turned out.