Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Primary season 2014: Neoliberals vs the 99%

So, as many of us have noted for a long time--Obama wants to cut your Social Security.

First, here is a run down on why Chained CPI is a bad idea.

But I'm struck by something that I can't go without posting on, with the release of his budget we have reached an important moment in history.

The Neoliberals--aka the Goldman Sachs wing of the Democratic Party, who have controlled the Democratic Party agenda for decades--have now shown their cards.  They've done it in a way that NAFTA and "Free Trade"/Globalization talking points during the 90's never did or could.

Yves Smith notes [Obama Moves Forward with Cutting Social Security and Medicare as We Lecture Europe Otherwise]:
Given the stakes, it’s not surprising that Obama’s remaining fans are pulling out their tired “trust our fearless Leader” card. But Obama didn’t do the right thing when he had freedom of action. As Matt Stoller wrote in “The Progressive Case Against Obama“:
Many will claim that Obama was stymied by a Republican Congress. But the primary policy framework Obama put in place – the bailouts, took place during the transition and the immediate months after the election, when Obama had enormous leverage over the Bush administration and then a dominant Democratic Party in Congress. In fact, during the transition itself, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson offered a deal to Barney Frank, to force banks to write down mortgages and stem foreclosures if Barney would speed up the release of TARP money. Paulson demanded, as a condition of the deal, that Obama sign off on it. Barney said fine, but to his surprise, the incoming president vetoed the deal. Yup, you heard that right — the Bush administration was willing to write down mortgages in response to Democratic pressure, but it was Obama who said no, we want a foreclosure crisis. And with Neil Barofsky’s book ”Bailout,” we see why. Tim Geithner said, in private meetings, that the foreclosure mitigation programs were not meant to mitigate foreclosures, but to spread out pain for the banks, the famous “foam the runway” comment. This central lie is key to the entire Obama economic strategy. It is not that Obama was stymied by Congress, or was up against a system, or faced a massive crisis, which led to the shape of the economy we see today. Rather, Obama had a handshake deal to help the middle class offered to him by Paulson, and Obama said no. He was not constrained by anything but his own policy instincts. And the reflation ofcorporate profits and financial assets and death of the middle class were the predictable results.
This is what the defenders refuse to acknowledge: the Obama critics, again and again, have been proven right, yet we have seen remarkably few mea cuplas, let alone apologies (and that includes you, Charles Pierce and Scott Lemieux). Obama is proving to be a litmus test of where commentators’ loyalties really stand: is it to “liberal” beliefs, which get redefined evermore to the right, or is it to the Democratic party neoliberal technocrats, which Obama embodies? The budget battle is pure and simple about squeezing the middle class dry, and those who pretend otherwise are simply insulting the intelligence of their audience.

We are at an important moment of history.

I think this is what the Political Philosopher Sheldon Wolin, author of the excellent book
Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism would call a "demotic moment" within the Democratic Party.

Chained CPI brings the Neoliberal agenda front and center into the political debate in a very real way.  It hits bread and butter issues that citizens understand--we aren't talking securitized  mortgages, rent seeking, or regulatory capture--we are talking about Grandma's ability to keep the heat on and feed herself.

The 1% has skillfully kept its priorities off the radar, and its dollars flowing into the coffers of the the party for decades, so as to control the agenda (but allow the hoi polli rank and file activists to feel like the party truly is the party of FDR, the party fighting for working people).

I know rank and file Democrats. The activists who keep the party machine rolling, who GOTV and send in their $15 contributions; who put up the yard signs and register the voters. I was a county Chairman of a metro Atlanta county committee during the 2008 election cycle. I've worked closely with Democratic State Representatives as a Legislative Aide in the Georgia General Assembly.

I've run GOTV plans for State House and Senate candidates.  In 2010,  I myself ran for State Senate; winning my primary against the Democratic Senate Caucus' candidate with over 60% of the vote.  I know the values and priorities of the base of the Democratic Party and what I've learned from my time working side by side with these truly kind, thoughtful, and committed people is that they do not support the priorities or agenda of the Goldman Sachs wing of the Democratic Party.

This is an important moment within the Democratic Party and its up to activists to seize the moment.

Any Democratic member of Congress who does not speak out now, this week, in a loud and clear manner regarding their opposition to Obama's Social Security cuts should have a primary opponent within the next 5 weeks.

Let me give you a little pro-tip I've learned in my short time in politics--the "Vote to cut Social Security" and I will primary you metric is the wrong metric to use.  By the time voting comes around to cut Social Security valuable fundraising time, key canvassing efforts-- the kinds of things it takes to win a primary (especially against the 1% donor funded kind of Politican)--has long since past.

Also it allows some of the Goldman Sachs Democrats to stay silent and let Chained CPI get pulled out at the last minute only to come back with a Republican in office where they are "forced" to support it.

Its time for a roll call within the Democratic Party about which side our Democratic members of Congress are on.

Any politician not speaking out via Twitter and Facebook; any politican not mobilizing working people within the community to unite and fight these cuts has alliances and allegiances with the Neoliberal wing of the Party and they need to be taken on directly at the polls.  We don't win over Republicans through compromise--we win over people through educating and empowering them (via Facebook and Twitter).  We win over the policy debates by mobilizing people and forcing the issues that matter--the jobs crisis, the student debt crisis, the infrastructure cliff, Paid Sick Days, Too Big to Fail Banks, inequality and the decline of the middle class.

April 8th was the 78th birthday of the Works Progress Administration which had a huge impact addressing the last economic crisis the 1% created for us. Did the WPA just happen because politicians from on high thought it would be for the best?  No, unions mobilized working people who took to the streets and demanded politicians act!  It was a demotic moment!

Its the kind of demotic moment that is needed right now to address the woes within our economy, our democracy, our spirit as a people--a people united by geography and cultural history.  A demotic wave of activists within the Democratic party to take on the Goldman Sachs Democrats is the kind of politics that must take place if the 99% are ever to start to get the kinds of proactive Government policies needed to get our economy working for working people again.

As happenstance will have it, Obama just opened up the door for just such a movement.

Activists across the nation must heed the call: demand public statements from your Democratic member of Congress (or in a neighboring district) and if they fail to speak out right now, then it is up to you to run against them and engage voters in your community on the issues that matter.

Unions have to step up to recruit and support union members to run for office.

Citizens have to begin the long process of not waiting for poll-tested leaders to tell them what to do and how to do it; but doing it themselves.  Learning to run for office, learning to organize and mobilize; these are the types of things that will be won even in districts that won't be "won" when the votes are counted on Primary Election day 2014.

But the time is now and the moment is ours for the taking.

There are worse things in life than losing a political campaign to the 1%--life goes on just fine afterwards I promise!

And it will go on for me December of 2014 if I fail to unseat my member of Congress if they fail to speak out and mobilize citizens right now in my Congressional District against these cuts to Social Security.

Its time to send a memo to Obama and the Goldman Sachs wing of the Democratic Party----> #itsOn

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