First, so no one mistakes what I mean, a definition of terms. By “us” I most certainly don’t mean “me”. Anyone who practices politics on the singular pronoun level is self-centered and greedy and those are the politics, the fight against which comprise the reason that politics are necessary. And I don’t mean the extended form of “me” as in me as a gay man or someone whose income places him in the category of the working poor, without insurance, growing older and with health problems becoming more likely. Or even “me” as one looking out for the interests of the progressive to lefty faction in politics.
Politics on the left is either for the common good or it is leftist politics that has already surrendered to that most insular form of the singular pronoun. I mean “us”, the side which is about the common good, the side that is for equal rights right down to the most radically subversive of those rights, economic rights, and beyond into the ultimate common good, the good of the common property of us all, the biosphere which is under threat and the loss of which will end up killing us all, right down to the last billionaire rolling in his now economically useless billions as his last hoarded means of sustenance runs out. I will not mention our other fellow beings, the animals and plants because this prelude is the merest of outlines of what is at stake. That is the “what” in “what’s in it for us”.
Barack Obama has been a real disappointment. The fine speaking voice, bold, decisive and confident, the bold change promised, has turned into a record of compromise from a voluntarily chosen position of weakness, unwilling or unable to discipline his purported allies in the Senate, foolishly allowing some of the most corrupted of those to undermine his stated intentions. And not just once but repeatedly. The obvious cowardice and inexperience of his inner circle in the face of difficulties further weakening his administration in legislative battles, his economic advisers in dealing the wreckage of the deregulated economy ill chosen because they were among those creating the disaster. That record of disappointment is well known to us.
What we get from having him there is probably less than we would have gotten under other circumstances, though any Democratic president would have faced many if not all of the roadblocks put in his way by the actual Republican-quisling majority in the Senate. He is, beyond question, superior to McCain-Palin, who would have worked with the same Republican-quisling majority in the Senate to ram through more of the Bush style measures that were being passed before 2006 and after with the help of right wing Democrats, after Republicans lost strength in the House. That isn’t an unimportant matter. For all his many failings and frustrations, Barck Obama isn’t as bad as that would be.
But this election isn’t about Barack Obama, it is about the control of the House and Senate and state governments which will set the districts under which elections will be conducted for the next ten years and likely longer.
Nancy Pelosi is the real Democratic leader in Washington, the only one who is exerting leadership. I’ve been over it many times here, she is an extraordinary Speaker, even setting identity aside. I’ve pointed out the approximately four hundred bills she has managed to pass which are stalled in the leaderless Senate which the impotent White House is powerless to move. That has been a growing total of pending bills mounting for the entire time she has been Speaker. I can only imagine what the frustration of that situation must be like for her. As of the last time I checked, she is continuing to fight that fight with her determination to bring the middle class tax relief bill to a vote in the House even as the Senate leadership appears to not be willing to make the effort. With her political experience and acumen. Watching the Democrats in the Senate do the most politically stupid thing they’ve done yet and refuse to vote on tax relief for the vast majority of voters because they are afraid of Republicans saying bad things about them, which they will do in any case, all I can say is I’d be tempted to just give up. But I’m not a person who has accepted the enormous responsibility for carrying what part of the progressive agenda up a steep hill under constant fire, she is. She and her progressive colleagues in the House have done that over and over again with insufficient to no backup. They deserve our support because they had done what they could.
It’s far harder to make any positive case for the Senate, with a very few exceptions they have been the planned aristocratic voice in government, the stall on democracy, the roadblock to any change that we ever believed in and had a right to believe this president would fight for. The best thing that they have done to date is confirm two supreme court justices who are far, far less bad than what, God save us, McCain or Palin would have nominated. Those justices replaced what passes as liberal justices on the present day court, they would have made Anthony Kennedy’s infrequent “liberal” majority rulings a thing of the past as the Roberts majority turned this country into a corporate oligarchy by law instead of just by corruption and cowardice. That is not an inconsiderable difference. The only reason that it appears at all possible that any kind of reasonable break on the Republican war against women, minorities, and the entire progressive agenda is that those two justices are there today. There is no likelihood that a six-three Roberts majority would deliver justice on those issues.
This week some of the major provisions of health care have been coming into effect, which are far less than they should have been and far less unambiguously beneficial than they should be. But they would never have been forced through a Republican-controlled Senate any more than they would have been signed into law by McCain or Palin. There are other measures that are less bad than the alternative that have leaked through the blocked Senate that are better than nothing and far, far better than the Republican alternative. And those Republican alternatives would have been law if the Republicans had won the last election.
I am furious with Barack Obama and his administration which has compounded its ineffectiveness with its clear willingness to disregard and even insult an important part of its base. I am furious with Barck Obama in not cracking down on Emanuel and Gibbs and wiseing up Axelrod. Being a member of that part of the base it is something that I’m not willing to accept quietly, I protest it regularly, letting my congressional representative know that I’m not happy, writing to the White House. I am even more furious with the Democrats in the Senate for electing leadership which has been in the hands of people answerable to states which don’t have Democratic majorities and who will not push an agenda favored by the majority of Democrats and independents. To top it off with their complete lack of political competence is incredibly frustrating.
There are admirable Democrats in the House and even a few in the Senate, whose integrity is largely intact despite being in the cesspool which the Supreme Court has made of our politics. Some of them are not only fine and honest representatives of The People but are also crafty politicians. I look to them for leadership, I ask myself what is it they think will produce the best available result I don’t see any of them wishing for the Republicans to take over one or both of the houses or the majority of state governments. They’ve done the work of trying to represent us under extremely trying conditions. And they deserve our support, just about any of them could be pursuing a far easier and more profitable line of work. Their case is the strongest one that a person such as myself can make for supporting even the lesser candidates who are the only hope of blocking a Republican takeover. They do not see any benefit in that happening.
The only Democrats I’ve ever heard touting the benefits of Republicans winning elections are the DLC type democrats, the insider hacks who are obviously mostly in politics and the government to feather their own nests. They are the people for who “us” means “ME”. You can often hear them on C-Span and on the other, more obvious voices for oligarchy. Giving up and letting that happen would reward Republicans and the corporatist Democrats who work hand and glove with them, in power or out, it will hand over our government to the most willing servants of wealth and privilege. That should tell us what is at stake for The People in this election.