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Matt Stoller: Voting This Year Means Choosing the One Who Beats You

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Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a political analyst on Brand X with Russell Brand.  You can follow him at http://www.twitter.com/matthewstoller.

Every election cycle, Americans are greeted with a bevy of condescending lectures from well-heeled political elites about the importance of voting.  It’s your duty.  People died for right to vote.  And so forth.  This year, a far more compelling message about democracy is coming from miners in Spain, who, beset by austerity measures imposed by both political parties, are shooting at riot police with homemade rockets and slingshots.

These miners – who live in a country that was until recently considered a wealthy Western democracy – have the right to vote.  But in spite of their right to vote, politicians and bankers in Spain are threatening their families with endemic poverty and powerlessness.  These miners feel that they may have a vote, but they have no voice – as one of them said, their democracy is just dictatorship by another name.  And so they are doing what people have done for thousands of years when confronted with a series of indignities from their political leaders – they are rebelling.

Before examining similar unrest could occur in America, let’s go to our own leadership’s attitude towards voting.  This cycle, the award for cynicism in civics goes to Obama advisor turned millionaire banker Peter Orszag, who wrote an editorial for Bloomberg in June arguing we should make voting mandatory.  Just six months before arguing for mandatory voting, Orszag wrote a column in the New Republic subtitled “Why we need less democracy”, arguing we need “depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions”, most likely in order to cut social spending programs on which normal Americans not in the political class rely.  So on the one hand, Orszag wants everyone to vote, to participate in a system, but on the other, he wants those votes to not matter when it comes to preserving their own ability to buy food and medicine.  This is exactly the dynamic that led to Spanish miner battles.

Orszag’s attitude is pervasive among political elites, and has been for years.  However, such an authoritarian impulse has never in our lifetimes intersected with recent economic, climactic and political circumstances in this country.  According to recently released data, wage inequality has risen faster under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush.  The biggest source of wealth for most Americans – home equity – has collapsed in value.  And the recent sign-of-the-apocalypse heat wave has sent food prices soaring – over the next decade years we can expect the food insecurity that sparked the Arab Spring to bite in America.

So, could we see an Arab Spring or Spanish miner style resistance here?  Rebellions have happened in America, though they have been mostly whitewashed out of our history books.  In 1921, in West Virginia, over one million rounds of ammunition were fired during a coal strike called the Battle of Blair Mountain.  Warren Harding threatened to call in bombers left over from World War I, and private planes were hired to drop gas on striking and armed miners.  Far from unsuccessful, these radical mineworkers later helped organize the massive upsurge in labor power in the 1930s through sit-down strikes.  This militant pro-labor attitude held for decades, flattening wealth and power distribution in America and leading to a broad-based middle class.  In 1952, one in three Americans were part of a strike of a thousand people or more.  In 1970, with a much larger labor force, that number was still one in four.  Most Americans had the experience of striking, of having power – it was common.

Today, the ability to participate in the most basic form of democratic control over one’s life – the decision to contribute or withhold one’s labor – has basically ended.  In 2009, only one in a thousand Americans participated in a large scale labor action.  But as we saw with Occupy Wall Street, there is no reason large scale civic action can’t happen here.  And with paramilitary forces breaking up these largely peaceful protests, and new draconian measures imposed on protesters in cities across the country, the lesson American elites seem to want to teach those who seek redress from their government is that peaceful change isn’t possible.

John F. Kennedy once address radical political and economic inequality by noting that, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  Kennedy was addressing Latin America, but as inequality increases radically under both Democrats and Republicans in this country, and political rights decline in the Citizens United era, we would do well to listen to this maxim.  Though perhaps, as American politicians layer remarkable surveillance technologies, expand the importance of one’s credit rating, encourage media consolidation, allow unlimited corporate cash in politics, and expand militarized policing on top of a giant prison complex, it’s clear that the organizers of the country understand this all too well.

Turning America into a giant prison where the prisoners are forced to vote for the one who beats them may prevent normal people from having the ability to make economic decisions themselves.  It may allow the rich to control American politicians, and make the normal people entirely dependent on their employers.  It may free up the political class to seize even more wealth and power, and let the children of the wealthy escape from having to compete with the children of the middle class.  But a prison is still a prison, even if it is the size of a country, and even if some of the cells are gilded.  Is this really where American elites really want to live?

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119 comments

  1. Capo Regime

    Great work. Understanding that voting in the U.S. (and many other places) is a mere ritual and not a function is the first step to bursting a cruel illusion. Illusions are strong in America as is isolation–having lived in both Spain and the U.S. the credulity and subservience to authority/government/experts is greater in the U.S. (one can argue that the dark arts of PR born here are of necessity much greater as well) and thus action will take longer. Also, in spain democracy is a recent phenomenon brought with the death of Franco in 1975 and the equivalent of U.S. baby boomers are not as awed and wedded to the voting booth and “democracy” given that it has not delivered as promised. More than once I have heard an elderly relative state “la democracia es pura mierda”.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      CR, credulity is part of Mass America’s DNA, compounded by gross ignorance and denial of reality.

      1. PaulArt

        I have been pondering on this lately and had this question: Is there an infrastructure that exists to fathom public opinion in a comprehensive and authentic manner? The MSM have been corporatized. So how can we conclude that its mass ignorance that is keeping America in the thrall of corporate handcuffs? Here is a thought experiment, fewer and fewer people vote in each election cycle but in 2008 a lot of people turned out for Obama under the misapprehension that the fellow was a true liberal. I would think that this points to the fact that a majority of Americans are supportive of things like Universal Health Care, more paid time off, more Government regulation etc. The problem is, the ‘voice of the people’ mechanism has been subverted and every time we hear the wail and moan of the Tea Party through the MSM we get discouraged and think, that is what America is. We could be wrong. I am paying 500% more for healthcare now since I started working in 1994, I am sure there are millions of White collar wage slaves like me and I for one find it hard to believe that a majority of them don’t want Universal Healthcare. We would see our pay rise by $500 or $1000 a month if we could pass Single Payer, I refuse to believe middle level technology workers and office administrators are that dumb to oppose this kind if a pay rise.

  2. Capo Regime

    As Ives no doubt knows voting is mandatory in Australia. You get a fine if you do not vote. It is of course a lively multiparty parliamentary system with parties going in and out of existence. It appears to have worked well so far, of course the economic and social realities in Oz are quite different. The Prime ministers partner is a hair stylist–somehow I doubt that would happen in the U.S. a high official (a woman) paired with a workaday stiff…..

    1. Phil Perspective

      The Prime ministers partner is a hair stylist–somehow I doubt that would happen in the U.S. a high official (a woman) paired with a workaday stiff …

      Does the partner actually style hair for the riff-raff? Or only the well-to-do?

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          CR, “riff-raff” = hoi poloi? the people of the polis? How did they get such power?

      1. Andrew

        Julia Gillard is leader of the so called labor party. She is another decepticon…. A gung ho free market, privatization neo-liberal with a “common” working class accent. Australia is a corrupt corporate hegemony of 4 banks, 2 supermarket chains, a handful of massive mining corporations and an assortment of billionaire property developers. A squeeze on federal funding is forcing the States (not exactly reluctantly) to privatise assets like roads and utilities. They are also fueling a credit binge housing bubble with large tax incentives for middle class mug punters to buy rental properties.

        A unique twist of the neo-liberal knife in Australia is means testing for state pensions and a severe tax disincentive if the middle class don’t take up private health insurance. This is part of a carefully planned middle class squeeze which is making Labor (in its current) unelectable.

        1. skippy

          Seconded!!!

          The hole Rudd purge was a randian ideological ax job. Paint – smear your opponent as a dictator for applying the mandate given him by the people and once removed screw everyone with the cult of *I* trope.

          Skippy… BTW Andrew you forgot only two MSM out lets. One of which is fully randian and the other getting hammered by Gina Rinehart to complete the fait accompli. The ABC is political ham strung after Banzai’s slow grilling. Brisbane the 2014 venue for the B20 FFS…..

          PS… Yves its just starting…

          Public servants rally against job cuts

          http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-16/qld-public-servants-rally-against-job-cuts/4134392

    2. Strawman411

      And don’t the Aussies also have an instant run-off voting mechanism in place?

      Were we to have the same, it would seem to go a long way toward weakening the duopoly we are currently saddled with.

      1. Campbeln

        Yes, there is an instant runoff. I’m a Yank who’s now also an Aussie. Voting down here is a slightly different beast than in the US.

        When I turned 18 and was able to vote for the first time in the US I was discussing it with my parents that I’d likely register independent as neither party represented me. My father said “No, you best register R or D, else you are just throwing your vote away.” This statement had the opposite effect as it dug me in more in that if everyone thought this, we’d never get ideas other than that of the R’s or D’s.

        Anyway… with the instant runoff here, I can happily “throw my vote away” by supporting and number of minor parties, while still putting those damned R’s and/or D’s at the bottom of the runoff list. So if the Greens (or Indigo’s or Violets) get a higher percentage of the vote, the politicians listen.

        As to the requirement to vote here in the land of Oz… I was initially against it fervently, but now I’m not so sure if it is such a bad idea. But the jury is still out on that one!

        Cn

  3. James

    One gets the feeling that US border control issues are rapidly going to become more about keeping prospective ex-pats in than migrant workers out. In the meantime, rubber stamping all the current horseshit by taking part in the election charade is a total non-starter, for me at least.

    1. R Foreman

      Yes, should I pick the one facist rich guy, or the other facist rich guy? These are difficult decisions.

  4. Tao Jonesing

    Wow. Shockingly (and refreshingly) forthcoming for an insider, even for you, Matt. Well done.

    Here’s a research project for someone: in the time leading up to FDR’s New Deal, were there pundits out there arguing for “less democracy”? My hunch is yes.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      TJ, Orszag is a ThugShill for the .01% and the unabashed swineface of “human relations.”

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Orszag, from a Jewish family of Hungarian roots, is a true insider of the new world odor (as in stench)—a hardcore Rubinite, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, the Bilderberg Group, and on the board of the Peter G Peterson Institute [for the destruction of Social Security].

        Lo and behold, immediately after his brief stint as public servant to the Trojan Horse, with a key role on the Health Racket Bailout Act, he landed vice chair of Global Banking at Citigroup to make his killing with piplines to the US Treasury.

        An elitist’s manservant, “Why We Need Less Democracy” would be a frank signature title for Orszag’s neoliberal worldview. I thought Matt Stoller was joking snidely about the subtitle, but it’s for real, unlike the rug on his head. Not much reason to pretend anymore I supppose.

    2. JamesW

      To answer your question:

      http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/53/committee.html

      Plus, you may wish to look into the Walsh Commission, circa 1913 or thereabouts.

      A zillion thanks to Mr. Matt for quite an intelligent and thoughtful blog post, and one would expect such nonsense from Orszag, who came from Rubin’s Hamilton Project, within the Brookings Institution, that project to “privatize everything.”

      When one looks back to the time immediately prior to WWII,and afterwards, and how the richest families were financing the Nazis (Rockefeller, Du Pont, Mellon, etc., although the Morgans appeared to have been financing Mussolini’s fascist Italy, but were probably also financing the Third Reich), then the very same families were responsible for the creation of the American intelligence establishment, one begins to see not simply a monopoly, but an intricate pattern of monopolies within monopolies.

      We have to choose from two fascists today: the debt queen and private equity leveraged buyout dude, Mitt Romney, or President Obama, and his war on whistle-blowers, Tuesday kill list sessions (with the “expected collateral damage” — how utterly obscene!), preemptive arrests on par with the Palmer Raids of yesteryear, and so on.

      I will be voting for Dr. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, if one woman should be in the White House, why not two — works for me! (That would be the Green Party for the uninformed out there.)

      And with that LIBOR global conspiracy, everyone should understand what’s going on by this time.

      My favorite book recently read:

      Battling Wall Street: The Kennedy presidency

      by Donald Gibson (a really phenomenal book, especially for anyone unfamiliar with the last real democratic administration)

        1. ambrit

          Dear mac;
          I’d rather give that famous ‘Last Gesture of Defiance’ than ‘thank my master’ for chastising me. When one gives up ones’ self respect, as in willfully voting for corruption, one has no answer when the grandkids ask you, “Were you in the insurgency grandad?”

          1. JamesW

            Exactly!

            We are presented with the two fascisti choices by Wall Street once again, and to vote for either one would be morally depraved.

            I realize the panty-wetters keep shouting:

            Supreme Court!

            Supreme Court!

            (Evidently, they never bother to check up on the records of the latest two corpocrat appointees, Sotomayor and Kagan?)

            But as lawless as things are today, such makes no sense when one could just as easily vote for the more intelligent and more moral choice.

            A Green is a democrat with testicles (or a brain and a spine, if female).

  5. craazyman

    Guys like Roboma get to bomb things and go to meetings with each other but that’s about it. They don’t have any real power.

    If we want the OWS beatings to stop and the pepper spray to stop and the financial cannibalism to stop, then President Springsteen needs to sing us a new song and put an end to it like Woodie Guthrie did or like they did in the 60s. I hate to put it all on the Boss, & I’m not really, but they know what I’m talking about.

    What’s up with all you 0.01% musicians? Either they’re half dead or they’re nothing but yada yada pump me like a love doll with a bad jungle beat. Nearly every song sounds like the wake-up ring on a smart phone alarm clock. These are songs that make you want to be unconscious.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      c, Isn’t “Boss” a shill for the .01%? Isn’t he one of the .99% Agency of the Reich? History shows the Reich from Era-to-Era is Wicked clever.

      1. rotter

        Is that really a fair or true comment? He didnt name himself “boss”..Im not huge fan of springsteen, Nebraska and the Pete Seeger tribute are about my total interest in his discography, but i have never heard him “shill for the .01%”..He is perhaps, aging and irrevlevant these days, (arent we all) but not malevolent i think.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          r, you don’t have to be “malevolent” to shill for the .01%. Lusting for fame and glory “in your time” qualifies. You can bet most “celebrities” are .01% shills, as members of the “entertainment” contingent of the .99% Agency for the Reich.

  6. Zephyr

    Orszag is your basic “technocrat” whose job is to find new ways of keeping the “rabble in line”– the rabble are seen as the main impediment to a thousand years of glory…or maybe two.

  7. mad as hell.

    America has been falling further and further to the right for the last couple of decades. While this country continues to drift to a state’s rights, government be damned attitude. There has been no strong, towering advocate for the 99% in this country. Rather it is becoming apparent that the Democratic party has morphed into the center of the republican party. Cash is King is now the dominant factor in the American two party system. Although money has always played a role in American politics. Never has it become so weaved into the American Democratic story.

    While in the past there were American figures to rally against the monied elite. Roosevelts, Bryan, King, Kennedys. There is no powerful figure on the American stage to counter attack the social, economic and political injustices that are being dumped on the middle class and poor of this country. Those that could have been powerful spokespersons for the downtrodden have found it much more comfortable to join ranks with the bankers, lobbyists and corporate elitists.

    It is inevitable that eventually someone will show up to take on the rich and powerful. However as cash rushes into the system, more and more politicians are accepting the money while shoring up the broken idea. It seems unlikely that a change for the better is going to take place.It will not be an American politician that rally the masses. They have become to beheld to money.

    However people will only be pushed and fooled for so long. Eventually that figure or figures will arrive. Through out history someone comes to the fore front and challenges the oppressors. The only question is when?

    1. Yves Smith

      It isn’t falling. The move to the right is the result of decades of PR efforts. See Alex Carey’s Taking the Risk Out of Democracy for the story through the 1940s, and the BBC Series the Century of the Self, of just the Powell memo (Aug 23, 1971) for the push that started in the 1970s.

      1. JamesW

        Thank you, Ms. Smith, I was just about to respond in a similar fashion. As someone mentioned by the late Mr. Carey once said:

        The invisible government tends to be concentrated in the hands of the few because of the expense of manipulating the social machinery which controls the opinions and habits of the masses.

        —Edward Bernays (the master of advertising, PR and government propaganda for the 1%)

        1. Synopticist

          All this is true enough, but the right in the US is massivelly helped out by the rejectionist, permenently oppositionist left. Far more so than in Europe.

          Time and agaiin, the right come swinging back with victories after what should be crushing defeats, because too many leftists think its cool not to vote.

          Here’s Mitt Romney, the most pro 0.1% candidate IMAGINABLE, and you guys seriously think its a choice about “who gets to beat you”.

          1. Andrew

            It is a choice of good cop or bad cop. Both choices are cops representing, capital and property rights over human rights.

            If a third party won’t work the left needs to get more involved with the Democrat party and reform from the inside.

          2. Yves Smith

            You seem to miss the point which Stoller has made in other posts and numerous readers also state on a regular basis:

            The substantive differences between Obama and Romney on economic issues are nada. The only difference is optics. Obama promises to do something and walks it back to a Potemkin version helping anyone but the 1%/0.1%.

            Obama is out to “reform” Social Security and Medicare. The reason for the cynicism on this blog is that the Dems are more likely to act like Dems in opposition than with a second Obama term.

          3. DiamondJammies

            You seriously haven’t learned by now that voting is a complete and total charade? Srsly? Like, you really believe that J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs stuff envelopes in Obama’s pockets because they’re really all about the Hope and the Change? Just a bunch of sweetie pies fighting for fairness and the little guy?

            There are differences at the margins, sure. But is it really a coincidence that every single mainstream part in the advanced industrial world has the same neoliberal economic agenda or might it just possibly be the case that we’ve seen for about the last 40 plus years is a shared class project?

      2. DiamondJammies

        Disinformation campaigns have a long history in the U.S. Bernays made into a science. Malevolent in the extreme but as an explanation for the fate of the working class since the 70s it falls short. Neoliberalism was not simply some project to hoodwink the workers. The impetus was the real crisis of capitalism that emerged at the end of the 1960s and persisted until the early 1980s. That crisis was an organic crisis of profitablity — capital running up against the limits of particular accumulation regime (New Deal-era “embedded liberalism.”)

        Yves and others interested would do well to look at heterodox work showing the real material basis of neoliberalism in the declining profit rate. The PR campaign grounded in the real needs of capital. Certainly the results of neoliberal tactics in restoring the profit rate are mixed: by the late 1990s the first round of measures had been exhausted and required massive supplementation by new financial “instruments”/bubble wands. But for a while it worked. Today, not only are the traditional neoliberal tools mostly used up but even the bubble wands are broke.

        What is needed then for a new accumulation regime? Well…just a little bit of World War 3 would probably liquidate enough. And then the architects can later be hailed as heroes for rebuilding society out of the rubble. Of course, nuclear weapons complicate this scenerio a bit. Too risky or just what Doctor Faustus ordered?

  8. Emily Dickinson

    The proles so little have to do –
    A Vote — well-staged — distracts
    The mind from wasteful turnings toward
    Unbeautiful-ish facts.

  9. riverdaughter

    Bravo, Matt! You’ve come a long way. The ability to vote is a civil sacrament. Without it, you can’t control your own destiny.

    Now do you understand why the RBS hearing in Washington, DC on 5/31/2008 was so important to us? It wasn’t about Clinton anymore. It was about the party making one set of voters more equal than the others.

    There are two news events in the past decade that have scared me to the core. The first is the way we handled Jose Padilla. The second was the way the DNC disenfranchised 18000000 voters with half of the party cheering it on. If it had been Howard Dean instead of Hillary Clinton, you would have figured this out a lot sooner.

    1. Capo Regime

      Disenfranchise or grant the franchise to poodles if you want–it does not matter is the point. Voting does not matter.

      1. riverdaughter

        Well, let me go get my gun right now. Farewell cruel world!

        Talk about learned helplessness.

        I have to admit that it would have been better if we had figured this out 4 years ago but there’s no time like the present to start turning this ship around.

        1. Capo Regime

          Learned helplessness? I think you miss the point of the article–see the title of the article. The point is (again) is that voting is a pointless ritual. What voting for Obama will make things right? Oh wait–Romney is the way to go. The point and see reference to Spain and OWS, and references to strikes is that action beyond voting is required. Voting–now that is learned helplessness. Go vote for Jill Stein or whoever and lets see how that works out for you…..

          1. Riverdaughter

            I think YOU missed the point.
            There are two candidates out there spending more money than god on ads and rallies in the swing states. That means the election isn’t fixed yet, as far as they know. They’re acting like it still matters. And if it still matters to these candidates, then we still have a window of opportunity to influence them to do what we want.
            If Democrats were smart, they’d start putting pressure on the party before the convention.
            BTW, I don’t like the Greens. If Democrats give me a different choice, I’ll vote D. Otherwise, I’m going to probably vote for the most left party on the ballot or write a name in.
            But why settle when there is still time to get what you want?

          2. DiamondJammies

            “They’re acting like it still matters.”

            Of course they are. Whichever party wins the elections gets the most goodies.

            But as for power, real power, that’s determined by the balance of class forces. And, just to be clear, the two political parties represent only side in this equation. All those truely interested in representing the other side, the underdog, the 99%, will do their level best to hasten the delegimization of the parties of the 1% and their entire sham system.

        2. Ned Ludd

          Matt Stoller’s article is about the powerlessness that comes from the disappearance of labor actions in the United States:

          In 1952, one in three Americans were part of a strike of a thousand people or more. In 1970, with a much larger labor force, that number was still one in four. Most Americans had the experience of striking, of having power – it was common.

          Today, the ability to participate in the most basic form of democratic control over one’s life – the decision to contribute or withhold one’s labor – has basically ended. In 2009, only one in a thousand Americans participated in a large scale labor action.

          Matt’s not encouraging voting. He’s encouraging civil unrest.

          1. Greg T

            That’s how I read it too. There’s also a warning to those who would rather not address popular grievances.

          2. riverdaughter

            Yes, he is. But there is a reason why civil unrest is necessary and almost impossible in this country.

            I’ve marched with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan and I’ve seen the riot batallions. They didn’t spontaneously generate. They’re there because someone allowed them to be there. As far as I know, the DHS isn’t controlled by Republicans and the problem is not going to go away with either of these two candidates.

            We don’t have control because we don’t have the power to vote these idiots out of power, or at least, we don’t think that we do. But we haven’t tried everything yet and I would hate to have to get to the point of taking the route of the Spanish miners before we have exhausted all of the alternatives. Restoring the legitimacy of the election process would be my preference. And that means putting pressure on the Democrats to make a drastic change in their lineup. If you tell me that can’t be done, then Spanish miner strategies will almost certainly happen.

          3. enouf

            true dat!

            What gets me is; the white collar dolts didn’t stick up for the unions when the busters came with full-force through propaganda to break unions, with the goal of the eventual total annihilation of said unions (Remember, we need free markets! – drown the gov’t! – privatize, privatize, privatize! slave wages for laborers!) … because of, ya know, the gentrification of america and the me!, mine!, now! selfish mantra of foolish scumbaggery they all swallowed.

            They couldn’t see the larger picture which included heavy-hidden axes behind the scenes being forged in the upcoming years designed to offshore *their* jobs — all sold to the white collar idiots as the Glorious incoming IT Age (Information Tech) Age being the way of the future, …so don’t worry about your cushy jobs being lost you white collar workers – that’d *never* happen to *you*.. bwahahahaha

            Love

          4. enouf

            @riverdaughter said;

            .. I’ve marched with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan and I’ve seen the riot batallions. …

            It’s the protestors and occupiers who need the riot-gear as protection! — and all the protection it would afford them from the Thuggery of the State-backed Cartel! .. See how everything is backwards and upside-down? .. on purpose i might add.

            Love

          5. Mafer

            “Matt’s not encouraging voting. He’s encouraging civil unrest.”

            Matt is not advocating civil unrest. He just quoted Kennedy.

            In any case, even if a person advocates violation of the law, “it is not a justification for denying free speech where the advocacy falls short of incitement and there is nothing to indicate that the advocacy would be immediately acted on.”

            Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 47 S. Ct. 641, 71 L. Ed. 1095 (1927)

          6. K Ackermann

            riverdaughter, Obama was elected with a clear mandate for change. The country had his back, but he ran away from us.

            We will not become franchised through voting. That old meme about violence never solving anything is rediculous. History has proven countless times that violence is often the only way forward.

            We need to shut things down, and be willing to meet violence with the same. The Iraqi’s fought back. The Taliban fights back.

            You don’t think we are being taken over? The country is demonstrably going down the shitter and those doing the flushing give zero indications they are going to stop. Sometimes you got to take a Black and Decker drill to someone’s head.

          7. H. Alexander Ivey

            Advocating a strike is not advocating civil unrest. Don’t confuse the two – the elites always do. A strike is to set the price of my labour, civil unrest is to show my disagreement with the political system.

        3. Jessica

          Riverdaughter, why do you not like the Greens? This is a sincere question, not a challenge or snark.

        4. Jessica

          Riverdaughter, why do _you_ not like the Greens? This is a sincere question, not a challenge or snark.

  10. Tom

    Mandatory voting…..geez. If we had a viable third, fourth, fifth option other than the current duopoly political party system, then maybe that idea could work out. One thing that always bugged me about the idea that we have to vote because men died for our right to do so, is that even in totalitarian countries, the voting polls exist. So maybe the right to vote isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be. Perhaps us as citizens’ greatest obligation shouldn’t be voting per se, but rather to uphold the Rule of Law and insure due process…..just a thought

    1. enouf

      Need to start arresting (citizens arrests) Judges and Prosecuters … and Regulators and Politicians for abdicating their fiduciary responsibilities and for their high crimes and misdemeanors ..and for Treason for failure to uphold the Constitution, to which they swore!

      Love

      1. enouf

        I always got a sour taste in my mouth when i first heard about those wingnut States’ Rights! promoters — but, as i’m noticing, it appears only the individual 50 States have the possible strength and legitimate (in the Fed’s eyes) Authority to even begin to push back against the Xtrevilist Federal Monster Cartel. … Yes, States themselves are an abomination, but i think what needs to happen is a pushback to the Fed, from the States firstly – then hopefully, the State Counties can then pushback on the state ,… and so on ….eventually down to the local Town (or County) levels.

        Either way — Non- / Zero- Aggression principles must be employed, promoted, fostered, nurtured and maintained throughout all phases — as that should be the end goal.

        Someone above mentioned property rights as a possible oppressive force against human rights; I say (in the Natural Person sense) my body is my property (and your body is yours) , ergo Property Rights (Real, and Self/Natural) is a fundamental foundation to sound governance.

        Love

        1. DiamondJammies

          I’d say a big part of the problem is thinking about human beings within the framework of “property.” The last thing we want to do is reinforce that meme.

          1. enouf

            Too late;
            the “State” (and its private cartel financiers / cohorts – the 0.01%) already has that meme drilled home; i.e., Abortion, Drugs (illicit or otherwise), Condoms, Vaccines, GMOs, Public Water (forced fluoridation) … they already *own* your body (your natural biological property) and they can tell you what you can/cannot *put into* it, or *do* with it .. just wait until they get their hands on mass-DNA-profiling and manipulation, especially considering nanotech is already upon us.

            Love

  11. Capo Regime

    “The ability to vote is a civil sacrament. Without it, you can’t control your own destiny.” That my fellow reader is culturaly induced superstition and nothing more…..

  12. Chris Rogers

    I am totally in favour of making it mandatory to vote – as in Australia – as long as all the spoiled papers/ or a voting paper with ‘None Of the Above’ clearly visible to be ticked is also mandatory.

    Further, said election utilising the above can only be deemed legitimate and legal if more than two thirds of the electorate endorse the standing political groupings by posting a vote in their favour – if this threshold is not reached, further elections will be necessary until two-thirds actually vote for a political party/groupings.

    Obviously, if its mandatory to vote, its goes without saying that any Party gaining 5% of the actual votes passed get all its election funds reimbursed and that limits on spending are imposed and mandatory.

    Obviously, the elite believe the less fortunate are incapable of making a rational decision – or at least one not heavily influenced by the media and marketeers.

    Indeed, 7 days prior to any election, it should be illegal to spend money on political broadcasts or publish opinion polls – obviously, the news programmes should be forced/expected to highlight speeches and the party manifesto’s and offer a critical analysis of all participants.

    So, yes I favour mandatory voting if the necessary safeguards to uphold a ‘true’ democracy are also mandated.

    Obviously, as it stands, I could never vote for either the Democrats or the Republicans in the US – much like I cannot support any of the three major political groupings in the UK – I believe in real choice, and not a choice between two evils – which regrettably is where we stand in much of Europe and the US today.

    1. Campbeln

      I’m still undecided on mandatory voting (I’m an American that’s now also an Aussie), but you make some good points.

      One issue with the US having mandatory voting is that here in Oz, it’s done on Saturday, where as America votes on Tuesday.

      Tuesday may not have started out as a maneuver to disenfranchise (as if you’re near broke, can you take a any time off to vote?). Changing this would be yet another impediment to required voting in the US.

    2. Justicia

      I’m in favor of mandatory voting provided:

      1. you can vote by mail in advance
      2. you have the right to vote for ‘none of the above’ or leave your ballot blank
      3. the election is null if 2/3 of the electorate vote for ‘none of the above’ or do not mark their ballots affirmatively for a candidate

  13. Kenneth Alonso

    Spanish miners live off the state. There are four thousand miners; their regional governments, companies, and unions receive more than 650 million Euros to enable them to transition to an era without subsidies (European deadline of 2019).

  14. Johnny Clamboat

    Well said. By voting for the chosen republicrats, you’re basically casting a vote for Ike Turner. They can just recycle Eisenhower’s slogans:

    “I like Ike – he beats me out of love”
    “Peace and Prosperity through the Belt of Strength”

    The only moral thing to do is to refuse sanction of this system: do not vote. Voting is a violent act that forces coercion on your fellow citizens.

  15. particle61

    orszag the director of the hamilton project?
    or
    orszag the senior economic advisor of the clinton admin?
    or
    orszag the director of the CBO in the bush era?
    or
    orszag as obama’s chosen OMB head?
    or
    orszag of citigroup?

    the 15 year orczag story is fundamental to undestanding why the rich snicker as us plebes watch fully absorbed as billo&rush spar with maddow&shutlz over that which matters not ..

    as emma goldman said famously, “if voting changed anything, they would have outlawed it years ago”

    1. Flying Kiwi

      And as Churchill famously said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

      Unfortuately democracy is only as good as its voters.

      1. Charles LeSeau

        Right, if it were actually democracy. I think it’s becoming more and more clear that “representative democracy” should be given as the textbook example of an oxymoron.

  16. Hugh

    “But a prison is still a prison, even if it is the size of a country, and even if some of the cells are gilded. Is this really where American elites really want to live?”

    Yes, in fact, it is the plan. That is what kleptocracy is. It is not a little victimless looting. It is hard, cold, and murderous. Orszag is not just a technocratic airhead. Romney is not just an anal retentive corporate raider. Obama is not just a smooth talking social climber. They and our elites are quite simply our enemies. They mean to do us in. They may smile reassuringly and wear nice suits while they are doing it, but they mean it down to the core of their otherwise vacuous beings.

    1. Jumpjet

      Agreed. These purveyors of unchecked greed and power see the people at the bottom- or simply anyone who gets in their way- as unpeople, creatures, things.

      We should treat them the same way.

    2. Greg T

      Matt Stoller, I think, is trying to appeal to the .5 % who aren’t determined to imprison us all, Hugh. Is there a distinction? I think so…I hope so. Otherwise thing will get very messy, indeed.

  17. Capo Regime

    H.L Mencken once described democracy as “simply a battle of charlatans for the votes of idiots.” Writing in 1937 for the Baltimore Evening Sun…..

  18. Warren Celli

    People who vote are the problem. They validate and legitimize their own oppression and murderers. There will NO no change from within this Xtrevilist, corporate controlled, totally captured system.

    The sooner you get to election boycotts as a ‘vote of no confidence’ in this crooked government, and a Constitutional rewrite outside of the system, the better.

    No brains! No balls! No freedom!

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. Flying Kiwi

      No. When enough people vote for someone other than the big two and it becomes obvious that the system is not working, the demand for change becomes irrestistable.

      When a strong third presence or a number of alternatives takes 20% or more of the votes leaving with winner with 40%
      or less of the ‘popular vote’ any pretence to a ‘mandate to govern everyone’ for the winner becomes a clear fraud, forcing change.

      Of course minority or coalition governments have their own problems, as is clear from many European examples, but it does at least stop the ‘elected dictatorship’ problem.

      1. Capo Regime

        Coalition government not working so well in Italy is it? How is it working out for Spain? Curious how you think the two dominant parties will just allow a third party to appear on a ballot? Cast your mind to Ross Perot having to spend millions in 1992. Lets try reality rather than wishful thinking. I am sure that the 1% are so happy so many wankers still believe in voting the rascals out. Pathetic.

        1. enouf

          I apologize if i missed it – but have you offered an alternative solution?

          and ,..
          by not voting, you only allow a smaller and smaller number of dedicated psycho- socio-paths to claim authority — so even voting for None of the Above, or .. a Ross Perot (as i did, who garnered almost 19% of the popular vote), the problem is he won NO, as in Zippo State Delegates! <–there in lies one big crux of the problem

          Love

          1. ambrit

            Dear enouf;
            Too true. I voted for Perot myself and noticed the way the electoral college was rigged to exclude ‘minor’ candidates. I’m beginning to think it’s going to take something on the order of a ‘Bonus Army’ style march, or a general strike to start things moving in another direction. Considering the way the financial ‘Masters of the Universe’ have continued with “extend and pretend” way past any logical stopping point, what other than a major systemic shock is going to move them to change course.
            Perhaps they have reached the point of ‘detachment from reality’ where simply wiping them out in some fashion, economic, political or existential, is the optimal solution. I suspect that someone of influence within the .99% Enablers class has realized this due to all of the paramilitary preparations being made ahead of the upcoming election. (Just look at the ‘local’ police forces’ preparations for the Charlotte Convention. I wonder why we’re not hearing much about the Republican Convention?)

          2. Capo Regime

            Why vote–draw leaders by lots–the same way you are selected for Jury Duty. There–solution.

          3. enouf

            @ Capo Regime;

            A) You stole my idea! :-p

            B) Have you considered all the impracticalities that it might bring? (I have, atleast some)

            C) K-street (and much much more) would need to be entirely dismantled

            D) You seem to have entirely flipped from being pragmatic/realistic to being a theoretical utopian lover :-p

            There truly is something profoundly patriotic in the concept of a Citizen performing his/her Civic Duty, for the good of all — not just Career-seeking sociopathic kleptocrats.

            Love

  19. Middle Seaman

    Voting is only part of a democracy. The demand to make voting mandatory is sadly funny but otherwise insignificant. Solid media, government that takes care of people’s interests, progressive taxation and peaceful policies are also important to a democracy. We have none of the latter.

    Starting from Orzag or Emmauel or Summers is an attempt to define people as Satans so our discourse will sound and look attractive. It’s a sign of a rotten media (even if it’s a blog). Our problem does lie with individuals; we have veered far of the social democratic path that once defined Democrats.

  20. Jim

    In the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, through the creation of a powerful private corporate forms,(Big Capital) and the creation and evolution of powerful public bureaucratic forms (Big State), the American citizen tended to be more and more viewed at either a consumer or a client or both.

    By reducing citizens to consumers/ clients, this evolving structure of modern power also tended to de-activate the kind of responsible citizenship needed to prevent and then reverse our continuing financial, economic, political and cultural crisis.

    An endorsement of a 2nd New Deal as an alternative to the status quo, as proposed by some of the commentariat on Naked Capitalism, apparently seeks the implementation of particular policies (i.e. like more effective regulation and fiscal policy) within a socio-political framework which, surprisingly, they apparently still deem as fundamentally sound (i.e. for example Hugh, who seems to think that our supposedly historically evolved kleptocratic structure of power can simply be replaced at the top by “wise” experts—with the proper political outlook– and everything will be better).

    I would argue that this socio-political framework in 2012 is structurally disfunctional and must be radically modified, because without such modifications all proposed policy changes inevitably end up supporting the largely untouched and corrupt structure of contemporary power.

    It used to be that the Democratic party could appeal to a powerful public redistributive apparatus that would supposedly correct market-based social imbalances, with their prominent elites using the rhetoric of helping the underdog and the average citizen at the expense of powerful corporate interests.

    In turn, the Republican party has continued to call for the dismantling of the federal bureaucratic apparatus without simultaneously attempting to generate structures that would prevent the creation of problems (growing income and social inequality) almost as severe as those to be supposedly solved by public, federal bureaucratic dissolution.

    But we are now faced with a situation where the modern Liberal/Left(basically properly credentialed professional experts operating around and within Big State ) are using their cultural capital in alliance with the modern Right( the more traditional powerful private interests operating around and within Big Capital) to jointly marginalize at an accelerating pace– the average citizen.

    We don’t need a 2nd New Deal we need a dramatic restructuring of power based on direct democracy and local control– whose origins can be found in our colonial heritage– in order to put a stop to this accelerating process of marginalization–on an economic, financial, political and cultural level.

    1. Hugh

      Actually that is a mischaracterization of my position. I am against systems of privilege and large concentrations of wealth because those who enjoy them inevitably place themselves and their good above the rest of society.

      I simply recognize that a society as complex as ours needs people with a certain amount of expertise manage certain parts of it. I never said such people are wise or they should be viewed as such. I am inalterably opposed to any system of privilege built up around them. My view is if you want your car looked at, take it to a mechanic. But just because the mechanic fixes your car is no reason that he/she should be allowed to establish a hereditary system of privilege for him/herself.

      I think that it is important that we have an informed citizenry, that experts especially those in important positions should have a wide background beyond their area of expertise so that they avoid tunnel vision. And I believe that the public should have input into all areas and levels of government.

      As I said, just because I realize that some areas of government need a certain level of technical expertise to function does not mean I favor a technocracy. That would be to replace one set of elites with another. What I am saying is that we must as a society decide in fact what kind of a society we want and use our people resources to get us there. What we should not do is reward some so disproportionately that they become separated from the rest of us and insulated from caring about our needs, hopes, and dreams.

  21. JTFaraday

    “Rebellions have happened in America, though they have been mostly whitewashed out of our history books. In 1921, in West Virginia, over one million rounds of ammunition were fired during a coal strike called the Battle of Blair Mountain.”

    Well not completely whitewashed. Is this not how we get the term “redneck”?

  22. Alice X

    As it stands with me now, I will vote for Jerry White, Socialist Equality Party Candidate for President. Though there are several other acceptable non mainstream possibilities. Could any one of them win, not likely in how many years. But I will have clean conscience as I am ground into the mud.

    1. Andrew

      The more votes for third parties, the more they get noticed, the more credible they become.

      1. Capo Regime

        The solution is a third party? How many times has that worked? How will it work now? Three better than two? Why only three parties? Why not 124?

  23. Capo Regime

    Voting the religion of american idealists. The ones obsessed with the voting religion/supersition. You realize you are not choosing anything you are merely ratifying the choice somebody else made for you? You do understand that don’t you? Keep voting twits, we will choose who you vote for–regards, RNC, DNC, MSM.

  24. steelhead23

    OK Matt, you have a point – democracy in the U.S. is a joke. We had a president willing to torture the law so he could, with a straight face, torture prisoners while loudly proclaiming that America doesn’t torture. And our current president has eviscerated the Constitution by denying due process to Americans, killing them by remote control. Yeppers, democracy is in shambles. But dammit we aren’t going to fix it by shooting the police with homemade rockets and slingshots. We are going to change it through raising, not decrying our damaged democracy, voting not shooting.

    This fixing of our democracy is a bit of a dicey proposition. First, we have decades of post-Reagan hatred of government, supported by every right-wing mouthpiece in media. Many in blogs I follow suggest we stop voting, it only encourages them, gives them a legitimacy they don’t deserve, etc. ad infinitum. And what is it that has destroyed our democracy? The fascists. The Orzags of this world. Congress itself to a degree. Of course the Supreme Court. And the over half of the U.S. population that doesn’t vote.

    I consider your piece above to be dangerous. Not because it isn’t true, but because it furthers this gnawing distrust of the institutions of democracy. That’s the last thing we want. We need people to believe in democracy and believe in themselves. We need to get the damned money out of politics so the people’s voices can be heard. To do this we should extol the virtues of democracy, not lament its failures. Damned right the U.S. Supreme Court is fascist and the U.S. Congress is loaded with fascists (OK, corporatists, if you dislike the word). You know its true. But the root of this problem is money. Please spend more energy decrying the role of money in limiting the people’s voice. As you know, John McCain, a conservative in most folk’s book, joined with Russ Feingold to try to limit the amount of money in politics. And you know that it was the Roberts Court that destroyed that effort to make our democracy more democratic. Please spend more energy on identifying the enemies of democracy and a bit less on how it has failed. The alternatives to democracy are too terrible to contemplate.

  25. Hugh

    At this point a third party is putting the cart before the horse. What is needed first is a mass movement with a clearly defined program, a new deal, for all Americans. This movement must be able and willing to talk to every American regardless of region, education, and economic level.

    It must be an avalanche, a tsunami. Depending on the size of the city, if a 1,000 show up and are shut down by the police, then go back, reform, and the next time show up with 10,000. If the police and powers that be shut you down again or seek to kettle you, go back and the next time have everyone get all their friends and family involved, and come back with 100,000. And if that is not enough, a million. People will come if they feel there is something worth standing for. They will fight if they believe their contribution makes a difference.

    A movement like that can create a party out of its own members and see its agenda for a new deal fulfilled. And it is important to keep in mind that the party is just an expression of the movement, that the movement and its members are not done once a party is in place or even in office. They must keep the pressure on. This is not easy. Fatigue sets in. So it is important for both the party and movement to remain close to each other with good and open communication and movement between the two because each needs the other to be effective.

    1. different clue

      It takes a billion flakes of snow to make an avalanche. And who can say which flake was “the” billionth flake? Perhaps one, or another, or several of the Third Parties will be nucleating agents which precipate a drizzle of self-mental-improvement among some people, and then a rain of such among more people, and so on upward.

      People will do best-and-hardest that which they believe in most. For some that will be Third-Party advancing. For others that will be tactical voting for or against certain mainstream party personell, perhaps with a longer-range strategy in mind. For yet others it will be be civil society engagement and/or economic rebellion, economic underminement, and/or building survivalism.

      People can divide themselves up into a hundred theory groups and take action based on their theories and compare notes to see which cluster of actions seem to be validating which theory the most with which set of best results.

  26. dale pues

    Thank you for mentioning this: “…over the next decade [years] we can expect the food insecurity that sparked the Arab Spring to bite in America.”

    Empty plates will be the final straw. A man who goes to bed hungry wakes with a headache. Two days without food and he becomes irritable. Three days and he suffers fainting spells, chills, and even drowsiness. From four days on without food he becomes mean, irrational, murderous.

    I dare Congress to cut EBT and other government assist food programs.

    The price of a loaf in Egypt rose a single piaster. The straw that broke the camel’s back.

  27. HollywoodTroy

    Two things. First, the example about the coalminers strike must be kept in the context of the de jure apartheid system in the USA at the time. In my opinion, we must understand the past to understand the present, and leaving out the fact that the labor movement was a movement for Euro-Americans (whites) only can not be underemphasized. Yes, these workers were brutally oppressed, but so were the African-Americans who were not only oppressed, but systematically ostracized from participation in most areas of economic activity by the rule of law. Only when corporate profiteers needed to break the all-white union, were Africans or others brought into the labor market. Furthermore, this is replete in the history of the labor movement in the USA from the Farmers Alliance to the AFL-CIO. The violent history of the labor struggle was based on trying to maintain white-skinned privilege for male workers in symbiotic economic relationship between the Euro-American populace and the Euro-American ruling class. You might argue that “now it’s different, we’re post racial”, but I would caution you that at the time of the miners strike to which the author referred, it was only 56 years after the end of the US Civil War, and by understanding the context of that battle, we can see that this fundamental United States socio-economic dynamic was on the minds of the laborers and labor organizations at that time. To further contextualize my point, this year (2012) is only 51 years since JFK was elected, and people are still alive who not only voted for him, but he (JFK) serves as a cultural milestone for analyzing present day events, which brings me top my second point.

    When JFK made his statement about peaceful and violent protest to the South Americans, he did it at the height of the civil rights movement when African-Americans had just won a so-called judicial decision in their favor, but as Malcolm X said, “It is a victory with no victory. It’s a victory you can talk about but it’s not a victory that you can show me. You can’t show me one gain, one practical gain that has been made in the past 10 years or in the past 100 years.” He and others criticized JFK for failure to enforce the Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Ed., and Malcolm X was pointing out the hypocrisy of a system that lectured others for legislative failures while ignoring its own. These two examples illustrate the fact that without proper knowledge of our history, we can not understand the present day situation to a degree which will make any “rebellion” successful. This is why OWS has stalled. People have one idea about what the USA is which is in stark contradiction to the reality, so people are trying to realize the illusion, or make the illusory concept of the USA real, without comprehending how the society is actually constructed, for whom it is built, and how the institutional culture supports this as a raison d’être

    1. JTFaraday

      “These two examples illustrate the fact that without proper knowledge of our history, we can not understand the present day situation to a degree which will make any “rebellion” successful. This is why OWS has stalled.

      People have one idea about what the USA is which is in stark contradiction to the reality, so people are trying to realize the illusion, or make the illusory concept of the USA real, without comprehending how the society is actually constructed, for whom it is built, and how the institutional culture supports this as a raison d’être.”

      I agree that it is unlikely that a few encampments in the park will promote the kind of change a lot people want to see. It would seem that Stoller agrees and that’s why he wrote this post.

      I also think you make a good point about the distance between the illusory concept of the US and the US as it has really been, and the unlikelihood of suddenly willing the illusion into being.

      On the other hand, while you suggest knowledge of actual history improves the chances for creating change, it is not transparent from your little finger wagging lesson about American apartheid what it is you think people should attempt to do instead?

      It’s okay if you don’t know what to do. I’ve been on the receiving end of years and years of finger wagging history lessons and I don’t know either.

  28. different clue

    Yves Smith,

    You wrote up above, in part, that:
    “Obama is out to “reform” Social Security and Medicare. The reason for the cynicism on this blog is that the Dems are more likely to act like Dems in opposition than with a second Obama term.”

    I assume that you really believed that when you wrote it and that you really believe it right now this very minute even as you are reading my comment. So let me say that I believe it too.

    Now . . . is that a reason for cynicism? Or is it an incentive for short-term tactical action guided by longer term strategic thinking? If I believe that the Democrats are MORE likely to protect Social Security and Medicare IF they are in oppoSITion THAN if they have Obama for aNOTHer term, then I believe that whether Obama or Romney becomes President really DOES make a substantive difference in SS/Medicare’s survival chances over the next four years. And I really do believe that.

    And IF I understood what you wrote, and IF you really believe what you wrote, then dare I suspect that you ALso think that SS/Medicare’s survival chances really ARE materially different over the next 4 years dePENding on WHICH mainstreamer candidate becomes President? And if so, do you believe that SS/Medicare stands a better survival chance over the next 4 years under a President Romney THAN under a President Obama?

    I believe that SS/Medicare really DOES stand a BETTer survival chance over the next 4 years under a President Romney THAN under a President Obama. . for exactly the reason you cite. THAT is WHY I AM going to vote FOR Romney as being the most eFFECtive way I know to vote aGAINST Obama . . . to save my SS/Medicare future benefits for which I have spent 34 or so years pay my taxes for.
    If we deFEAT and reMOVE President Obama we stand a chance of holding off the upper class’s Catfood Conspiracy for 4 more years which buys time for the nonrich majority to understand who their retirements’ enemies are and how to begin organizing more effectively against those enemies within and without the political system.

    I have worked too hard and continue to work too hard for my retirement survival benefits than to let the enemy take them without even fighting about it. And since I think that it does matter who becomes President for exactly the reason you say (see your own cutpasted quote above), I can’t afford the luxury of trendoid groovy-cool ironic cynicism and being above doing something so uncool as voting. The electoral battlefield is still one battlefield among many, and every non-suppressed non-miscounted or non-uncounted vote is still a bullet on the field of electoral combat.

    So I will be voting for Romney, thank you very much. And I will be voting for Dingell and Stabenow too. And if all three of those worthy persons win their elections, I will call or write to Dingell and Stabenow and tell them that I voted for Romney, and also I voted for Dingell and Stabenow . . . and that I expect Dingell and Stabenow to lock Romney’s grid and preserve their Democratic Party brand-image value by obstructing Romney’s aggression against SS/Medicare.

    Since I am not high-salariedly affluent like I suspect Matt Stoller is and I don’t have the independent pensions and so forth which I feel confident he has, I don’t have his luxury of being above making tactical choices in pursuit of a strategic survivalist vision. I have to try and survivalise down here in the working class, and that includes defending my SS/Medicare safe harbor by tactical action after tactical action after tactical action.

    1. Mafer

      The best scenario for the preservation of the welfare state would be a Democratic Congress and a Republican President. However, the Democratic Party represents the ideology of the more timid and cautious wealthy. When most of the wealthy agree on something, it´s called “bipartisan” and will get pushed through regardless of the party correlation of forces.

      1. different clue

        That’s certainly true under a 2nd Obama Term. We already know that Obama wants to be the so-called “Democrat” who pulls a Nixon-goes-to-China against SS and medicare. And we know that his so-called “Democratic” co-conspirators in the Senate will conspire with him to get it done.

        But I myself don’t yet know that the so-called “Democratic” senators would be equally willing to give that victory to a Republican-branded President Romney.
        Since I have spent so much time and hard work paying into SS/Medicare already with so much more time and hard work yet to spend; I cannot afford the luxury of a posturing purity “look at me!” gesture of too-cool-for-school cynical
        defiance. I am voting for Romney and Dingell-Stabenow downticket to see if the Ds will lock Romney’s grid on SS/Medicare.

      2. enouf

        “The best scenario for the preservation of the [Corporate] welfare state would be …”

        there – fixed it for ya

        this “welfare state” meme needs to be *only* inextricably tied to the Corporate Plutocracy of the Kleptocrats who suckle off the teat of the taxpayers and the nation’s natural resources with impunity.

        Robama / Obomney — the best Welfare Queen money can buy

        Love

        p.s. We all need to not lose sight of all the Congressional seats up for grabs too, not to mention all the States’ ones.

    2. JTFaraday

      “Since I am not high-salariedly affluent like I suspect Matt Stoller is and I don’t have the independent pensions and so forth which I feel confident he has”

      I doubt Stoller is rich, and he definitely doesn’t have a traditional defined benefit pension. The only thing Stoller has that you don’t is cultural capital (some of which he does burn away on the funeral pyre of our general hopelessness, to his credit) and time.

      1. different clue

        I bet he makes more than the $34,000 per year that I make and I bet he is more hirable at whatever higher salary he commands at whatever think tank he cares to go to . . . than I am at the wage I command at whatever hospital or retail pharmacy I might be able to hustle up a new job at.

        I face genuine personal survival pressures in my old age and he does not. He therefor has no moral or intellectual standing to tell me all about how my election choice will make no difference anyway to my social security survival.
        By the way, as long as he refuses to say what his actual choice(s) is(are) going to be this election, and why he has made/is making those actual choices; he has nothing to say about how anyone else might go through the choice-making process.

        There is a growing movement to try to torture and terrorise the Democratic Party into deleting Obama from the ticket in 2012. ( A lot of that movement would like Senator SecState Clinton to get that spot, but they might settle for any genuine non-Shitobamacrat). Since Matt Stoller can probably influence a number of people to take a specific action or inaction on something, what specific action is Matt Stoller going to get himself and his influence-ees to take or not take on the goal of stripping Obama off the DemTicket for 2012? Or is Matt Stoller above making such particular choices/nonchoices about such particular actions/nonactions? That’s part of what I mean by shit or get off the pot.

        But of course I can’t make Stoller do anything about any of that. He is enough rungs above me on the social class career ladder that he can just look down on me and laugh . . if he even bothers to look down at all.

  29. different clue

    And speaking of Matt Stoller, when does it become time for him to shit or get off the pot? When does he honestly declare what he is going to do this election? When does he tell us whether he is voting or boycotting . . . so that we can know what walk he is really walking . . . and for whom?

  30. enouf

    Just to add – about the Miners in Spain;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxeaNdncMN0

    It’s in spanish with english subtitles – someone posted this in another area i hang out – you’ll notice it was posted 2 days earlier than the one posted by matt. It’s more of just raw footage, than of testimonials.

    Love

  31. michael kranish

    I agree with much of Matt Stoller article. But I don’t think one in three workers were involved in strikes in 1952.
    Unionization rates were about thirty three per cent in that era. I don’t think almost every union worker went on strike in 1952. We were at war in Korea and it was also the high point of the Red Scare. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1948 also helped to kill labor militancy.

  32. Jerry

    I’m voting. For Romney.

    Its a vote to being the system down. I feel like the government/.01%/corporations/elites/whatever are basically dealers, and the rest of the country is made up of junkies. Gotta hit bottom, then hopefully we can get a national moment of clarity and bring the elite down (for a little while, at least).

    I just wish the republicans had nominated someone a bit more unhinged. Gingrich or sanatorium would have been better.

    Obama’s death by a thousand cuts. Romney, should he actually win, will accelerate that a bit. I’m afraid of the chaos and uncertainty in the lives of my family and I, but the sooner we hit bottom, the sooner we can start recovering as a nation,

    The Greeks are almost there. Spain is on its way. Hopefully, the rest of us will figure it out and follow.

  33. Kadewi

    If voting is so useless why are the Republicans so assiduously trying to suppress it, especially among people of color. The problem is ill-informed voters who who vote for people who don’t/won’t work for the general public’s interests. We have seen the enemy and it is us. There is nothing wrong with voting. And, yes, there is every possibility of violence (we’re armed to the teeth thanks to all the Second Amendment aficianados) in the U.S. as the country continues to sink into Third World status, a status that has been underway for the last 30 years as the difference in salary between the worker on the floor and the executive suite became a chasm– all done in plain sight while we cosseted outselves with myths about the supremacy of independence.

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