Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tea Partiers and Progressive Democrats, Two Peas In A Pod

by rossl
Tue Jan 11, 2011
So often, those in the tea party equate progressives and Democrats with socialists, communists, Nazis, and whatever other word fits their particular hatred.  Meanwhile, in the Democratic Party, progressives can't seem to go a day without reminding themselves why it's a great thing to live in fear of the latest loon on the right.

Despite great rhetorical and, yes, political differences between the tea party and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the view presented in Adam Levine's recent piece in CounterPunch, "Shared Delusions," is absolutely correct.  Both groups have allowed themselves to be entirely deluded by the ruling class, enabling the corporatization of America.

What makes this possible are the many disempowered voters who are impervious to reason and indifferent to facts; people who fervently believe, for example, that the way to stick it to the Wall Street schemers and gamblers who do them harm is to funnel wealth their way, immiserating themselves...

...Obama apologists have a long way to go too, but their folly is of a different kind. They are like abused spouses who hold on to the belief that their abuser is a "good man" (read "progressive") despite everything.

I have had this thought for a while, but Adam Levine's recent piece in CounterPunch verbalized some of my feelings before I had a chance.  The "shared delusions" of the tea party and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party lead them to similar follies, at a high cost for everyone except those in power.

The tea party, as is obvious to most of the readers here, is one of the more easily co-optable movements in a long time.  Instead of being a movement that drives fundamental change - although that would probably be a bad thing in this case - they have largely limited themselves to the Republican Party.  They've become an electoral engine rather than a broad movement.

And their electoral action is based on sheer delusion, as Levine pointed out.  This is a so-called populist movement that is empowering big business.  We have yet to see the end of the tea party, but it will likely not be pretty.

As for progressives, they have the same problem, only worse.  The only thing progressive Democrats are uncompromising on is their blind loyalty to the Democratic Party.  While an economy based on war, a privatized prison system, the destruction of public education, targeted action against political dissenters, ecological devastation, and the plutocracy all continue to expand under Democratic government, these people who hold reform high in their hearts continue to lend significant support to this same party!

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party is not a movement.  It's barely even a caucus within the party.  It was co-opted before it even began.  The Democrats didn't even have a chance to destroy it like they did the antiwar movement, because progressives gave up any power they could have ever hoped to have the minute they committed solely to the Democrats and electoral activism.

This is the thinking of victims of abuse who stand by their abuser no matter what; the thinking of those for whom the only defense is no offense at all. Organized labor is a case in point. Although they were promised little – basically just the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a reform nearly as milquetoast as Obama's health care reforms -- no one has worked harder to elect Democrats. Yet, from Day One, Obama, continuing Bush's teach-for-tests-and-thinking-be-damned (mis)education reforms – rebranded, of course, and polished over -- took aim at teachers' unions. His next move was to license the Republican-Tea Party assault on what remains of the labor movement, and to legitimize their anti-deficit nostrums, by freezing the salaries of federal workers, even as he turned over billions to bankers and acquiesced in massive tax breaks for the rich. Now even "good Democrats" like Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown are following suit. Is there any question why, with "progressives" like these, Republicans, smelling blood, have taken aim at public employees and their unions? And yet labor is still there for Obama!

There are two faux populist "movements" in this nation that serve only to enable the metastasis of corporate power within America.  One is, as has so clearly been pointed out by so many lately, the tea party.  The other is made up of progressive Democrats.

No doubt. But the calculations of our greediest capitalists hardly make the belief that Obama is a beleaguered "progressive" up against insurmountable odds any less delusional. Apart from a few vacuous speeches given during the campaign and in the first months of his administration, is there any evidence for that belief at all? The problem is not that Obama hasn't advanced a vision of a qualitatively better society as a true progressive would or even that his reforms, though beneficial, enhance plutocratic power. It is that he has done almost nothing to restore the minimal decencies that preceded America's Reaganite turn. Is there any reason to think that he would if he could? Like Obama's enemies, his apologists think so; they continue to believe, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that Obama is a progressive at heart.

It is time to abandon our illusions, and abandon our undeserved loyalty to the established powers.  They are not acting in our interest, so let's stop propping them up.  Neither progressive Democrats nor the tea party are hopeless - at least they recognize something is wrong.  But we must cease to be afraid of radicalism and meaningful dissent.

As long as Obama apologists stand by their man [and progressive Democrats stand by their party] in the way that abuse victims stand by theirs, as long as they subordinate their interests to the conventional view of how best to enhance his electoral prospects, the kakistocrats [servants of plutocrats] will remain in charge. The world cannot wait for Tea Party supporters to outgrow their folly as per Blake's proverb. There is already too much hell to pay. It is therefore urgent that Obama apologists be disabused of their delusions and that those who remain steadfastly recalcitrant be marginalized by the real partisans of "change."