Mike Lofgren’s piece on truthout today is a great read and a relevant red flag for anyone who really cares about the preservation of the American democratic experiment. In it, he draws some chilling parallels between the fall of France’s Third Republic in the early to mid 20th Century and the state of socioeconomic and political affairs in the United States today.
He cites the following connections between the two historical periods:
- The rich corrupt the system and buy the peoples’ representatives.
- Political polarization becomes the order of the day.
- Government becomes gridlocked.
- Politicians of the right demand war and refuse to participate in paying for it.
- Plutocrats “engage in class solidarity as alleged ‘job creators’ who are owed unconditional deference that outweighs their loyalty to the nation at large.
- A growing share of the population develops “a visceral sense that the system is rigged.”
- A “retrograde religious Right” seeks to “roll back the secular state.”
- “The political groupings of the center and left, on the other hand, are dithering, irresolute, and have not the courage of their own alleged convictions.”
This description does have a clear ring of familiarity about it, does it not?
As I’ve said before here, I worry more about the decimation of the Right than I do about the one-time defeat of the Left if it happens. Without a strong two-party system — and within the framework of reality that we will never have a multi-party parliamentary-style democracy despite its obvious advantages — we fall into dictatorship. And I don’t care if the dictating party is left, right, center or Mars. It will be a Bad Thing.
This is another attempt to wake up America. I hope the alarm clock goes off where it’s needed.
According to press reports, President Obama is getting huge leads in early voting in a number of key states. Reports from various sources this morning indicate that:
- 21% of Ohio voters have already voted with a 66% – 34% Obama lead. (Ohio is about the only crucial swing state left in real play.)
- In Iowa, a Wall Street Journal Iowa Poll shows 18% of TOTAL votes cast in 2008 have been cast early. Obama leads 67% to 32%
- In Nevada, Democrats racked up an 11,000 vote lead in the first day of early voting Saturday
Of course, none of these is an indicator that the Democrats and Obama will carry those states at all and certainly not by those margins. But it is indicative that the Democrats are proving far more effective at getting out the early vote than the GOP.
As I’ve said before repeatedly, this election is just about locked in for Obama despite all the ludicrous national popularity polling that shows this to be a close race. At uberpolling site fivethirtyeight.com, Obama is a 70% favorite to win the Electoral College.
The ground game is going to be determinative, as it almost always is. Republicans have abandoned registration efforts in several states due to a terrible legal snafu with the company they hired to register voters. Reports suggest that in those states their GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts have also flagged as workers become discouraged with the antics of the party apparatchik.
Blame it on Jimmy Carter.
Our 39th President, while running for re-election in 1979, delivered what has become his most famous speech. It is widely referred to as the “national malaise” speech even though President Carter didn’t use that phrase in his talk.
The key pull quote from that speech is probably this one:
“In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.”
Having concluded that the nation needed a good dose of conscience over the mess it had gotten into, that tough choices demanded to be made, the President essentially told the people to suck it up. Although the early poll results after the talk were positive, they quickly turned sour as pundit after pundit — primarily, of course, on the Right — accused him of having blamed the American people for what the commentariat saw as his failure of leadership.
Politicians took notice. Not once since that day has an American politician dared to stand up and say, “Things are tough. We need to make difficult choices and engage in shared sacrifice to fix this mess.” Yet that is exactly what we need to hear today; real leadership would be saying it. But I promise you won’t hear it in this election, at least not from either major party’s candidate for the White House.
Carter was right in 1979. The sentiment has been appropriate multiple times since then. But don’t expect any so-called leader to tell you that. The precedent is on the books.
Mitt Romney won tonight’s first Presidential Debate fairly handily, I thought. He looked energetic, sounded smart, articulated well, and contrasted with a professorially desultory President Obama.
But I think Romney’s victory will prove more costly than its real long-term value for three reasons.
First, he all but abandoned the Right on their hot-button issues. He “moderated” his stance on regulation, on tax policy, on Obamacare, and several other topics so far that he came off sounding reasonable. Which the Tea Party will not tolerate.
Second, he lied while flip-flopping on his 18-month-old economic plan and claiming he doesn’t plan to implement any tax cut that increases the deficit.
Third, he came off like a bully in his shabby treatment of moderator Jim Lehrer and the rules of debate.