Monday, August 13, 2012

1% having been getting massive handouts for decades. This election they want to kick it into overdrive...

One challenge that political campaigns have when taking on the 1% and their apologists, which I learned during my State Senate campaign in 2010, is that it can be very hard to get people to recognize that the debate we are having (or at least should be having) is not really a big gov. vs. small gov. debate.  As the economist Dean Baker notes in the opening line of his book The End Loser Liberalism, "Money does not fall up," and the massive transfer of wealth that has occurred over the past 30 years wasn't inevitable or via "natural market forces," it occurred because of specific policies that undermined the level playing field which the New Deal had created for the middle class. 

The more we can talk about how Government has been redistributing massive amounts of wealth upwards over the past 30 years, the more we can talk about the ways the 1% have loaded the deck to come out on top, the stronger the case will be for Progressive candidates up and down the ballot.
Conservatives love to use Government policy to redistribute wealth upwards, but they often do so in a ways (via how they structure the market) that aren't as obvious as sending a check. So it appears as if its natural, or "earned."  But there is an important debate we are not having when we accept this right wing framework.

We have to debate these core issues because they are actually core values--does hard work get rewarded or do we continue to allow the 1% to buy off politicians and set the rules of the game so that only they can win?  Is that the America we want where hard work and determination have nothing to do with your outcome of success?

In fact I think Paul Krugman makes a really good point about why Romney choose Ryan--not to have a debate, but to avoid one:

It is not about satisfying the conservative base, which was motivated anyway by Obama-hatred; it is not about refocusing on the issues, because R&R are both determined to avoid providing any of the crucial specifics about their plans. It is — as Jonathan Chait  also seems to understand — about exploiting the gullibility and vanity of the news media, in much the same way that George W. Bush did in 2000.

Like Bush in 2000, Ryan has a completely undeserved reputation in the media as a bluff, honest guy, in Ryan’s case supplemented by a reputation as a serious policy wonk. None of this has any basis in reality; Ryan’s much-touted plan, far from being a real solution, relies crucially on stuff that is just pulled out of thin air — huge revenue increases from closing unspecified loopholes, huge spending cuts achieved in ways not mentioned. See Matt Miller  for more.

So whence comes the Ryan reputation? As I said in my last post, it’s because many commentators want to tell a story about US politics that makes them feel and look good — a story in which both parties are equally at fault in our national stalemate, and in which said commentators stand above the fray. This story requires that there be good, honest, technically savvy conservative politicians, so that you can point to these politicians and say how much you admire them, even if you disagree with some of their ideas; after all, unless you lavish praise on some conservatives, you don’t come across as nobly even-handed.

The trouble, of course, is that it’s really really hard to find any actual conservative politicians who deserve that praise. Ryan, with his flaky numbers (and actually very hard-line stance on social issues), certainly doesn’t. But a large part of the commentariat decided early on that they were going to cast Ryan in the role of Serious Honest Conservative, and have been very unwilling to reconsider that casting call in the light of evidence.

So that’s the constituency Romney is targeting: not a large segment of the electorate, but a few hundred at most editors, reporters, programmers, and pundits. His hope is that Ryan’s unjustified reputation for honest wonkery will transfer to the ticket as a whole.

I think that could be correct.  If so, I think that social media can play a major roll on twitter and facebook by forcing policy issues to go viral.  

There have been many cultural shifts in recent years and the capacity of twitter to change the agenda, or bring up questions that the media are not asking is hugely important at a time when the 1% will likely spending a billion dollars to defeat Obama and get Romney/Ryan into office.  Millions of Americans are struggling and the 1% want to change the subject.

Its going to be pivotal for people to start getting out of their comfort zone and start engaging others publicly--as far too many people are more worried about keeping the peace than in making sure that the facts are out there for all to see.

The parasites want to change the subject--its up to us to stop them.

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