News Flash: Money in Politics Works

Funny what a 2 and a half percentage point victory will do. I’ve been seeing a number of liberal pundits (Bill Keller, NY Times editor for one) holding president Obama’s victory out as proof that it’s NOT a problem that wealthy individuals and businesses dump massive, historically unprecedented amounts of cash into political campaigns. And that it’s NOT a problem that the Republican Party has its own in-house, 24/7 cable propaganda channel masquerading as “News” (“fair and balanced” news, at that). Why would liberals, of all people, say these are not problems? Well, because president Obama won. So the money and the propaganda machine didn’t work. Good sense prevailed over nonsense. So it’s not a problem. Not to worry folks, nothing to see here, just keep moving along. Oh, and don’t dream of turning off the flow into the bottomless advertising trough.

Well, the kindest explanation I have for this line of thought is that some liberals are dumbing down in a bipartisan attempt to be as equally logic-free as Republicans. Wouldn’t want them to feel like they’re the only stupid kid on the block.

So a narrow victory is proof that the losers propaganda didn’t work, huh? I think it’s proof that all that money worked pretty darned well. When a party’s main policy goal—written and published in the official platform, and specifically articulated at every campaign speech—is to cut taxes on the wealthiest  1 or 2%, and cut social programs (Social Security, Medicare, education) that benefit everyone else, HOW DOES THIS NOT LOSE BY 25% INSTEAD OF 2.5%??  Sure, there’s a quarter of the population who couldn’t find their own ass with both hands and a hound dog, and wouldn’t vote for a Black man and/or Democrat if that person promised to move them into a brand new double-wide next door to Dollywood and install a free pipeline from the Budweiser factory. But even as cynical a person as I believes that the other 25% of the electorate who cast a vote for Romney really are capable of looking at a platform that promises lots of goodies for people who already have more than anyone in the world and cuts for everyone else, and at least go “wait a minute, what’s with this?” That is, they would except for the constant drumbeat of paid political ads and Fox “news” shows that keep touting the magical thinking that “more for them is good for me.” (see also my previous post Of course this is the same trickle-down theory that plutocrats have been peddling for 32 years—and has never worked once (except for the plutocrats). The only thing trickling down from the 1% is yellow rain and laughter, and unless we reform campaign finance, next time, the 1% will win, provided they find a candidate who can more consistently simulate an actual human being.

Next post will give “The Answer” to laissez-faire politics—stay tuned.

The Grand Bargain

President Obama likes Grand Bargains with Republicans. Just prior to the election, he made these comments to the Des Moines Register:

I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending…

And, he is eager to point out to the chorus of ankle-biting snakes that make up the Republican leadership, cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and education are on the table as his part of the bargain.

Now, I like grand bargains as much as the next person,  at least when they involve something like “buy one, get one free” on cinnamon buns (and they’re not stale). And “bargain” sounds so fair. Each side gives up something it wants in order to reach agreement.  So what’s wrong with that? Well, how about this “grand bargain.” Dad wants a 2 week vacation in the Cayman islands and Mom says they should spend the money on school clothes and supplies for the kids. Dad suggests they strike a bargain. They take only a 10 day vacation and buy clothes for only the child who grew the most. Fair enough, right? A little pain from each side. What could be more equitable?

Well, “equitable” means that each side is giving away something of equal value. And in monetary terms, that’s correct—$1000 is $1000, whether it’s spent on a vacation or kids’ clothing. But do you really think that mom should be bargaining with dad at all? Or should she say “What are you talking about? We’re not spending on any vacation at all until the kids are taken care of.” What would happen in your house? Right, I figured.

So why are we not saying, “No, we’re not cutting care for old people, sick people and kids’ education just so you can have lower taxes on the well-to-do and more military spending than the rest of the world combined. We’re not bargaining those things away.” Oh, that’s right, we want to appear reasonable. But it’s not reasonable to trade jewels for junk just because they weigh the same. We should cut our wars and war spending (including the war on drugs) and restore taxes to Clintonian levels. That’s reasonable. Bargain that.