Exploding on the leftist launchpad, again

A full discussion of the issues raised by Taylor Marsh’s personal expedition into further-left space (“Obama: The Party’s Over”) will have to await some other day, but one oddly phrased sentence struck me:

George W. Bush inspired the rise of the Tea Party, so one hoped that Barack Obama’s repeated applications of conservatism would unleash a requisite uprising on the left.

The economic and political circumstances left behind by the Bush presidency obviously contributed to the eventual rise of the TP – as to a whole lot else – but W was comfortably in retirement by the time Rick Santelli ranted his famous rant calling for a “tea party” while primarily targeting a possible bailout by the “new administration” of distressed homeowners.  Since that time, the Tea Party has taken on a much different form and wider range of issues than Santelli seemed to be envisioning, but, as for Marsh’s point, as far as I can tell the name “Bush” only occasionally comes up in TP circles.  The TP is an Obama Era phenomenon.

If you want a leftism that stands in relation to Obama and centrist liberalism in approximately the same way that the Tea Party stands in relation to establishment Republicans, or if you maybe just want to promote a discussion of the idea, you will need at least some credible understanding of the historical moment you’re modeling.  Why and how one president, but not the other, would “inspire” the further-right to muster under a new label with new recruits, but would leave the further-left relatively divided and uncertain, may in fact be your true starting point.

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20 comments on “Exploding on the leftist launchpad, again

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  1. Well you face the contradiction that we may face with Romney, a movement in large part backed by the rich, scapegoating the rich, the Geithner, Buffett, Corzine examples illustrate the point, Now the idea would be some kind of Popular Front,
    because ultimately you can’t be out of power, like the civil right movement, which was about an undeniable claim, not so here,

    • Popular Front was a topic I was considering, but it’s a complex discussion.

      I’m not sure to whom you’re referring when you bring up “scapegoating the rich.” Is any discussion of wealth and power, or of progressivity of the tax code, “scapegoating”? Why shouldn’t the Democrats or even the further-left have good relationships with the wealthy, and include them?

  2. I put in quotes, because I don’t take it seriously, but when the advocate of a rule, hasn’t even paid vhis own required share of taxes, who pays his most trusted employee, a pittance like Bob Cratchit, it’s just too silly.

    • What quotes? I didn’t notice any quotes in your comment.

      You appear to be suggesting that Warren Buffett is a known tax cheat and you also seem to believe you know what his secretary is paid. Do you have some evidence for either charge, or is it just the usual rightwing blogger calumny?

    • Having a complicated tax bill being worked out with the IRS as part of a relatively lengthy process isn’t unusual, and is not a question of Buffett’s “own required share of taxes.” Please bring better bullshit next time. And what about the Cratchit crack?

      Not that either has much to do with the post.

  3. Blah, Blah, he doesn’t pay more tax, because he has arranged his affairs to do so, behind Foundations and other instruments,
    One is supposed to hate the Koch’s and Murdock, apriori, but Soros, who is the economic Alfred Nobel, is giving glowing press, despite insider trading convictions, his provoking the Asian economic crisis,

    • Try again, Miguel: Berkshire Hathaway is not a he, even if in some regards it might be treated as a corporate person. Your fantasies about Soros and his press, or your feelings on behalf of poor, poor pitiful Koch and Koch and Murdoch are equally irrelevant to any argument except for one you may be having with your own demons.

  4. I know that I’ve fallen behinder and behinder, but did I send you the reply to a commne tof mine on his blog wherein your pal Slater announces that he’s broken with MondoBrat?


    Anonymous said…
    jerome, sorry to see that the outright bigots are following you here and that the borderline bigots native to MondoWeiss are trying to defend the drivelous mess.

    Are thoughts on the end of Khaled Meshaal’s leadership?

    January 22, 2012 12:59 AM

    Jerome Slater said…
    Thanks, Anonymous. You and others should know that I don’t intend to publish any further comments of this ilk.

    Let me take this opportunity to say that I have broken with Mondoweiss, for precisely the reasons you suggest. I will no longer write for it, nor allow my writing to be crossposted there. I am considering whether to announce this on my home page, if only to alert readers that if they want to follow my posts, this is the only place to do so.

    As for Meshal’s decision not to continue his leadership of Hamas, I’m not sure it portends any change of Hamas policies Meshal has been considered to be the main leader of the Hamas hardliners, but he has been moving steadily towards accepting a de facto two-state settlement with Israel; that now appears to represent the overall Hamas position.

    January 22, 2012 9:22 AM

  5. You can’t dispel the negativity of a word by ‘owning it’ as Chris Rock, entertains, it’s not possible there is a reason why David Duke, a wretched thug, and a consummate conman on three continents picks that word, Is MJ really that stupid, well he legitimates this poison, so I would assume malice, not simple ignorance,

    • EI is not advocating “owning” the expression, DM – I don’t see that concept entering his argument at any point. He also isn’t advocating usage of the expression.

      As for MJR, he’s quite open about the “negativity” he feels toward the people whom he calls Israel Firsters. Not sure “malice” is the right word, since he considers them warmongers. In fact, as I reflect on it, the point isn’t whether the the I1ers intend to put Israel first, but whether their politics objectively put Israel first.

      As for David Duke, I don’t consider him very relevant anymore to much of anything, but if everything he said or supported needs to be condemned, then yoy, for example, have gotta lotta splainin to do.

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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