In 2012 Democratic Convention, Unity without Unions

Except for the 2004 Republican National Convention, I have never seen a national political convention where there was such unity of purpose, so much excitement, and such validation from media insiders as in this Democratic Convention. The left side of the aisle has been fully stomped on, getting crushed in nearly every significant electoral contest of 2011. While Elizabeth Warren made her big appearance last night, he’s down by 5 points in the polls in Massachusetts, failing to carry the Democratic establishment of the state (including the Mayor of Boston, Tom Menino, who has not endorsed her). The hulking labor bureaucracies, after their demolition in Wisconsin, are not in Charlotte in full force, having refused to fund the convention. And the embrace of the party for the education privatizers is on full force, with the film “Won’t Back Down” pretty much endorsed by the party.

Teachers are the heart and soul of the Democratic volunteering apparatus. Public education is a massive institution funded by taxes to deliver caregiving services. The transition of that revenue stream, roughly $500 billion a year, to private hands is well on its way, and it carries a bonus of destroying the power of a liberal faction in the Democratic Party and the electoral system. A variety of mechanisms are used to justify this shift, from school choice to parent triggers to the best line, “our failing public schools”. “Don’t Back Down”, which tells the story of a poor single mother who takes on an entrenched union bureaucracy and reclaims her kid’s school with the help of a dynamic teacher, is the latest narrative to justify the shift. What makes the playing of this film at the convention interesting, though, is that the teacher’s unions are not particularly upset. In fact, the President of the National Education Association, said he enjoyed the film.

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association (NEA), said that he has seen the film and wasn’t offended by it.

“They wrote a script. One of the villains is a union. But it didn’t offend me because that’s not my union. I have never seen any union like that. It’s a make-believe union that doesn’t care. My members care. We care. We are doing everything we can to turn around schools, to lead a profession, to make it a real profession,” Van Roekel said.

The union leader even said that he liked the movie.

“I didn’t really think I would like it but I did,” Van Roekel said. “It’s a great movie. It made me cry three times.”

Nothing illustrates the captured state of our politics better than a supposed union leader praising a film dedicated to destroying the power of working men and women. Now, of course, there are certainly problems with teachers unions, as there are with any set of large bureaucratic institutions. But eliminating the one opposition vehicle to the transfer of a half a trillion dollars of tax revenue each year to privatize educational corporations is simply about graft.

Going into the election, the Democratic Party is more unified than I’ve ever seen. Unity happened, though, not because the various factions in the party decided to put aside their differences and cooperate. It happened because there was an internal war in the party, and the neo-liberals did a clean sweep. They smashed everyone opposed to them, and cowed or coopted everyone else. The Republicans, who are the repository of a purer form of plutocracy, are just not necessary this electoral season. They aren’t really trying to win. After all, if your supposed opponents will implement your program, why not just let them?

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About Matt Stoller

From 2011-2012, Matt was a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters, focusing on the intersection of foreclosures, the financial system, and political corruption. In 2012, he starred in “Brand X with Russell Brand” on the FX network, and was a writer and consultant for the show. He has also produced for MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show. From 2009-2010, he worked as Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Alan Grayson. You can follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.

73 comments

  1. TC

    Yeah, we’ll see how the neo-liberal crowd holds up in the hyperinflationary blowout about work its magic on the American obesity problem. Empty stomachs necessarily means someone will be eaten. What better meal than the Emperors of Barbarity?

  2. TK421

    But–but–but Obama’s supporters tell me that his first term has been a tidal wave of progressive triumph! Go to Lawyers Guns and Money and you’ll read about how gunning down bin Laden in his home, passing Romneycare, and shovelling billions of dollars to big finance are triumphs of LIBERAL philosophy.

    I just don’t get it!

    1. Chris Rogers

      Hate to tell it to you old bean, but they are trumps of libel policy, neoliberal policy that is.

      Same thing happened with the Labour Party in the UK, it was captured by Middle Class neoliberals who espoused a ‘Third Way.’ and promised the earth to all those who voted for it.

      One major problem, New Labour under Tony Blair turned its back on the Trades Unions – that is the Institutions that had actually founded the party at the turn of the twentieth Century – and fully embraced the neoliberal pipe dream – its taken nearly 20 years for the party once again to start to embrace its core constituency, a constituency thrown to the dogs – you see, being poor is the Poor’s fault and not the neoliberal market economy that prefers off shoring jobs rather than creating meaningful employment, or creating the conditions whereby the poor can improve themselves.

      Since the advent of Cameron and Clegg and the UK coalitions governments obsession with austerity and privatisation, its suddenly dawned on quite a few persons that the system is rigged and never delivers what it promises – unless of course you are in the top 1%.

      Whilst under Ed Miliband Labour has moved slightly to the actual centre ground, it still has a heck of a way to move in a leftwards trajectory before I’d ever vote for it again.

      The Democrats under Obama and Polesi are worse than the UK’s Conservative government, they are neoliberal economic rightists – Republicans with a ‘smile’ if you like – but still a load of utter bastards who’d sell there grandmothers out of a nickel – as Obama has epitomised over the past four years.

      I suggest the US trades unions and other left-of-centre political unions form an alternative Party that represents the majority in your nation and not the wealth ultra elite who need no state assistance whatsoever, rather the reverse, they need prosecuting as traitors – Romney being the poster child for this group presently.

      God what a mess is all I can say!!!!

      1. kevinearick

        funneling the herd into the apple casino, while its proprietors cash out, but it will be labor, like always, that determines the direction to follow. walking uphill across genrational herds to install the elevator motor is not for the weak of heart.

        now that germany is neutered, the sh-show road show comes back home ….

        1. Cugel

          I’ve never seen such nonsense as blaming the Democratic party for “betraying” workers and the American people. Government is about the exercise of power. Government reflects existing power relationships.

          If the left unilaterally disarmed and unions got into bed with management, and the American people refuse to support their own children’s teachers then how is this the fault of the Democratic party?

          Why should party bureaucrats support what we refuse to support ourselves?

          Elections are always largely meaningless, and actual voting is almost always a choice between evils. OF COURSE!

          What actually matters is organizing the American people in support of their own rights.

          This does NOT mean we do not engage in electing the lesser evil. It’s certainly true that activists who hide their criticisms of Obama out of fear of the right wing do no service to anybody.

          But to pretend that there’s no difference between the parties is like saying there’s no difference between a senile Field Marshall and monarchist like Paul Von Hindenburg and Adolf Hitler. Things can always get worse.

          All that voting does is reflect the current state of affairs. It is NOT a means to move society to the left. That is the task of organizing and propagandizing for our beliefs.

          1. wjohnfaust

            It is true. There is no sense in blaming the Democratic Party for betraying anyone. The DP merely reflects the culture and the culture is increasingly dominated by the enormous concentrations of wealth. Such concentrated wealth, in turn, dominates every aspect of our lives — including our political landscape.

            This has been emerging ever since that watershed “non-decsion” in 1886 that corporations should be regarded as “persons”. Except for brief periods of sanity resulting from mindless overreach, wealth has consolidated its hold on foreign and domestic policies.

            This also means there really is little difference between the two major parties. They are fully controlled by the wealthly and have little to do with us other than to make sure we behave. Citizen’s United was just the icing on the cake. There will be no radical change from within the system. It will probably have to collapse of its own greed. One could even argue that voting Republican might just cause the system to crash sooner leaving more environmental resources for the rest of us to work with — hopefully sanely.

  3. Brett

    I think you are right. Not just on unions, but on civil liberties and military too. The Democrats who believe in aggressive foreign policy (their views sharply align with neo-cons) have made a clean sweep as well. Look at the Foreign Policy’s magazine’s ranking of the Top 50 most powerful Democrats on foreign policy. #1 is Tom Donilon, #2 is Leon Panetta, #4 Hillary Clinton — these are all extreme hawks.

    Link: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/03/the_fp_50?page=0,1

    Thus militarism is a defining characteristic of the Democratic party. They are now trying to out flank the Republicans on how much they can revere and praise the troops. “Osama bin Laden is dead, and GM is alive” — that motto of DNC2012 says it all. It is a sign of a collapsing empire when military accomplishments are your number 1 pride. Rather than talk up having one of the most equal societies in the world, or the best education, or best health care, etc. — the “liberal” party is talking up shooting an unarmed criminal in the head and dumping his body in the ocean (forget talking about whether he should have been captured and given a trial according to the rule of law — something that once was important in America).

    1. CB

      America can’t brag on “one of the most equal societies in the world, or the best education, or best health care…” It isn’t and doesn’t. We are late stage empire and the necessities of that condition are a black hole for resources.

    2. Patrick

      I agree, but the Right won’t be outdone when it comes to militarism. Hence Iran as boogeyman in Romney’s speech.

    3. Richard Kline

      The unions and democratic socialists should have gotten out of the Democratic Party a generation ago. Or twenty years. Or ten. But they’ve hung around wanting to be loved until now they’re being thrown under the bus. Another few election cycles and they’ll still be here to finally be thrown out of the party altogether by purges.

      Seriously, labor should split and run it’s own party. Forget about the Presidency for now and concentrate on getting a block in Congress and locally large enough that business doesn’t get done without them. Will that happen? No. Big Labor is too attached to it’s well-paid invitations to ‘the party.’ But rank and file are suffocating under that regime.

  4. Susan the other

    I understand why they nicknamed him Elvis. Last night Clinton brought the house down for 45 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it. I had to keep reminding myself that for all the high minded language, my concerns were never mentioned: No serious talk about getting out of the middle east; no talk at all about cleaning up the environment; the same old plan for jobs – let the market do it; no mention of the fact that the market doesn’t exist; no talk about trade agreements with other nations and what can be done about them; not a word about the Banksters and Fraudsters; no solution for education; etc.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Willie’s infamous wagging finger just doesn’t work on me as a hypnotic device. I only caught a snippet by accident, but I guess he’s still got it if he can hold people spellbound for almost an hour. I guess one had to be there.

      1. Carla

        Well, didn’t Hitler do the same thing?

        Americans need to desert the legacy parties IN DROVES, yet there is absolutely no sign that we will do so.

        I share all of Susan the Other’s concerns, but have another that trumps them: the destruction of the rule of law, presided over by THIS President, THIS Attorney General, and THIS Supreme Court. It is tragic what we, the American people, have permitted to happen to our country.

          1. Tom X

            I found the comparison amusing. Give the guy another ten years and he might rack up enough of a body count to enter the Historical Hall of Dictatorial Shame.

            Besides, in fairness, Carla was just referring to the mesmerization effect. Everyone likes their Hitler comparisons these days.

    2. RupanIII

      I saw his commercial endorsing Obama the other day. ‘The Republicans want to go back to deregulation, that’s what got us in this mess in the first place’ (paraphrase) lol this from the guy who said ‘The Glass-Steagall Act is no longer relevant.’

    3. JamesW

      I admit to still being shocked, although I should have realized by this time Americans are incorrigably retarded amnesiacs.

      It was Bill Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas turned that into a “right-to-work” state and killed collective bargaining.

      Later, as prez, Clinton would be responsible for offshoring an untold amount of jobs and driving American workers into long-term poverty (NAFTA, GATT, WTO, free trade agreements, etc., etc.).

      Then, after the presidency, Clinton would make over $100 million by working as a lobbyist for the jobs offshoring industry.

      “Teachers are the heart and soul of the Democratic volunteering apparatus.”

      And please, let us remember it was President Obama who went on TV nationwide to applaud the decision of that Chicago Schools superintendent who fired all those teachers at that Chicago high school (later reinstated by the court for wrongful termination!!!!).

      I could go on for many more pages, but you know where I’m heading.

      Last chance for Amerika: Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party.

      Think Obama is pro-women? Talk to those female whistleblowers he made life hell for; talk to those female Chicago school teachers ……

  5. ep3

    great post yves.

    i would reiterate that the republicans are more set on winning the congress than the presidency. that gives them the political cover to go along with the dirty work. just look at the tea party. they can say they have protested all this and that. but they haven’t said a word since the debt fight last year. so now they can continue to blame this person and that person, while voting to destroy many things.

  6. Jill

    I’ve tried to understand what is happening to the American public. Here are some conclusions.

    After 9/11 many people of every political persuasion supported war rather than insisting on a law enforcement response to a terrorist act. Many people supported the war of aggression against Iraq. People were terrified and a majority of our population acquiesced to the removal of our civil liberties. The press consistently acted as cheerleaders and failed to give honest coverage to all of the above.

    Now move forward starting about 2005. I noticed around that time that it became possible to get actual information from the press concerning the workings of the govt. Domestic spying, massive theft by war contractors, torture, the treatment of troops and civilians during the wars, information on financial fraud–it started to be available.

    By 2008, this information was widely available in the press and I believe this played a large part in changing people’s minds about war, the abrogation of our rights and the unprecedented attempt by citizens to stop the bailout of the financial industry. I also noticed that finding accurate information about Obama was quite difficult.

    Once Obama was safely in office the press shut down reporting the substance of anything. It has become increasingly difficult to find factual information about the actions of the govt. It therefore does not surprise me that many followers of Obama literally have no idea what he’s doing.

    It’s his followers who do know what he’s doing that I find particularly disturbing. I know these people. They used to work against Bush’s executive power grabs, they opposed wars, they abhorred torture. Now, they truly don’t give a crap. They know and they don’t care or even worse, they are very proud of his work. (Notice that when Clinton spoke of Obama as being outwardly cool, a huge roar came from the audience).

    I have concluded that what these people objected to under Bush was not his actions, rather it was being out of power. Now, they are happy because they are linked with such a powerful killer. It gives them a sense of meaning and strength. They are a part of the “in” group. They love that feeling and there is no way they will give that up. Those are the followers who are truly fascist. Information on the abuses committed by Obama only affirms their false sense of power and they are juiced up on it.

    Neo-liberals have no compassion. It is why they are actually thrilled to be “with” Obama.

    1. JamesW

      Naaaah…it’s too much Sesame Street viewing as youngsters, and for the older bunch it’s too much TV viewing in general; they both activate the brain wave pattern most associated with apathy or the apathetic condition.

      Think I’m joking? Check into Peter G. Peterson’s background, lifetime familiar for David Rockefeller.

      Peterson was the original backer behind Seasame Street, his wife has been its producer and creator from the beginning.

  7. Jagger

    As the republican party moved farther and farther to the hard right, the democratic leadership has raced to keep just to the republican right. Surely some of those old middle of the road republicans will join the democratic party since they are now the republican party of Reagon. The problem is the old left no longer has a party to represent their ideals. Today, no ethical person of the left can support either party. Clearly things will have to get worse before they get better.

    1. Patrick

      Begs the question, why do Americans skew right in cadence with Conservatives and Republicans? Because I don’t think if Democrats suddenly lurched left the public would follow. Certainly the Republicans would not adjust their policies leftward to accommodate a leftward move by Democrats. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the Right’s narrative or their ability to tap working-class spite.

      1. F. Beard

        The Left is lame and insulting is why. Instead of giving the victims of banking justice, they give them social services that primarily benefit the middle class administrators of them.

      2. EricT

        Its the ability of the right to control the language and narrative through the media along with their no compromise method of negotiation. People on the left think everyone is reasonable, rational and concerned with the well being of the country and its future. The right not so much.

    2. kemo sabe

      Money moves the Republicans further to the right and the Democrats want the money too and they follow suit. Money talks and you know what walks!

  8. Doug Terpstra

    Another excellent post-mortem on the old Democratic Party by Matt Stoler. The Chicago-School NeoDemocrats have triumphed.

    Not knowing the real Dennis Van Roekel, he appears here as an iconic example of a thoroughly corrupt, co-opted union kleptocrat attempting to masquerade as a sensitive, impotent idiot, who’s ascended well beyond his level of incompetence. I feel your pain; “I cried three times.” Please!

    Margaret Kimberly at The Black Agenda Report echoes this post exactly, except she notes that the Neanderthal Republican Party is not at all unnecessary. On the contrary, it serves as an essential theatrical plot device:

    “If right wing Republican ideology didn’t exist, it would have to be invented. [as Obama did so brilliantly in 2010] The blatant racism, bizarre shrillness, and appeals to patriarchy and misogyny are easily condemned. Attacking the Republican Party isn’t at all difficult, it is in fact a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. It isn’t surprising that an African American camerawoman was taunted and humiliated by Republicans at their recent convention. The Republicans have been working for decades to make themselves the party of, by, and for white people.

    “Republican racism and right wing extremism mean that the Democrats get credit for doing nothing or even for acting like Republicans. Their convention is being held in Charlotte, North Carolina, a city without one unionized hotel, and little wonder, North Carolina is a right to work state with the lowest rate of union workers in the country. The absence of outrage over the choice of Charlotte as the convention venue is proof positive of the ideological bankruptcy of the Democratic Party and the cowardice of its supporters.”

    Of course, any mention of war is studiously avoided because Obama has become warmonger in chief: “The activists who opposed war during the Bush administration can’t seem to find their voices now. Instead they criticize Mitt Romney because he didn’t “mention” wars in his convention speech. It isn’t clear what these critics wanted to hear. Were they once again anti-war or had they already dropped those convictions once a Democrat became president?”

    As for the lesser-evilism worshipped at the DNC: “Obama is the more effective evil because he is enabled by Democrats who are either afraid of their own shadows or who are as bad as he is. They should know that making the case for their demands, indeed having demands at all, is the sure path to political victory. But they don’t want political victory. They just want someone who is part of their crowd to get the top job. Too many people in the Democratic base are effectively evil too.”

    http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/freedom-rider-democrats-show-their-true-colors

    1. Chris Stahnke

      Well put. But that is the situation we are in. A vote for the lower-brain enablers is a vote for the end of civilization. The Dems are the oligarchy party just as much but I think they seem to want civilization to exist even if under the guise of authoritarianism. But there is no alternative. Right now we have no rule of law, no Constitution except as kind of absurdist them park. It’s over–we live in a neo-feudal society and we must take cover where we can. Why and how it got that way is important to explore and I’m in the process of doing just that–but first we must accept that reality and tell the truth to our fellows who don’t want to believe it.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Repeating Ms. Kimberly’s critical conclusion,

        “Obama is the more effective evil because he is enabled by Democrats who are either afraid of their own shadows or who are as bad as he is . . . Too many people in the Democratic base are effectively evil too.” If you’re not part of the solution . . .

        Extending some strange Orwellian semblance of totalitarian “civilization” under Obama, the purportedly lesser evil, is morally repugnant to me. I’d take the naked wolf over the more deadly war criminal wearing sheepskin any day. There are indeed alternatives: Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson. Unless people denounce this inexorably rightward-shifting duopoly, the word “civilization” will eventually lose all meaning entirely.

  9. Eureka Springs

    Very good to hear labor is not funding the D convention.. I would love to hear those in big labor speak up about this turn of events and why. And what else we can expect from them… as neoliberal democrats clearly continue to knee-cap them at every turn.

    Any delegitimization at this point is a good thing.

    Labor, imo… needs to promote a tripling of the minimum wage for all… along with establishment of single payer or tri care as a human right and a modern workers bill of rights. It would help many both within organized labor and many beyond it. It’s the only way labor will regain the size of support needed.

  10. sierra7

    Rank and file “labor” is no longer represented in our national government policies. That’s because the major international labor leaders here in this great country (then) went to bed with the CIA, NSA, etc….in order to “….get a seat at the table of international unions in other countries that were to be formed after we demolished all their ‘communist’ ones.”
    Alas, the “big labor” leaders were left in the dust continuing to play ball with the internationalists and helping to eventurally begin to crush US labor (Reagan) and today we have the results.
    Most Americans are totally brain dead to labor history. They all believe that thier “success” comes from having the latest electronic device connected to various parts of their bodies, be it TV, phones, pads, etc……..
    The Dems have totally betrayed the “lower classes” of this society; the Repubs have just become brain dead in reality.
    We will pay dearly for our stupidity; there are some of us that can see the handwriting on the wall…..and “it ain’t pretty!”
    No discussion at both conventions about our murderous drone wars; all the hundreds of bases around the world sucking off the taxpayer teat; the dems shutting the door on any investigations on the 2008 banking/financial fraud; no draft; more privatizing warfare; pathetic, anemic job growth; continuing genufletion of the “press” to power; the militarization of our local police forces….an on and on and on….
    Both parties are now partial clones of each other (and have been for decades, just getting worse)…..there is no choice for the moral, historically aware individuals who really care about humanity but to resist…some way or other……
    Greed, greed, greed is the alter to sacrifice all the less well to do on that proverbial “cross of gold”!

    1. Chris Stahnke

      I think there is a major difference in culture and style between the two parties. Both, of course, cater to the various cliques within the oligarchy. I prefer the Democrats by a big margin because I find them more friendly culturally and less likely than the other party to put me in a Gulag. Let me be clear here: the old USA is gone–this is where we are. There is no Constitution or rule-of-law. We live in an emergent neo-feudal society where we need to align ourselves with someone who has power and will look after our interests at least minimally. We will never, to the degree we lack power, ever get more than crumbs. The left, gave up the fight a long time ago and went along with the the agendas of the post-9/11 coup when the all rules were suspended and the state decided to assert its right to torture and kill anyone it wants to without any justification. This is a central issue–it means the ideas of the Founders and the long arguments they had with each other are now irrelevant. We are no longer living in that state. This is an Empire now, as Carl Rove, the real genius of our time, said in the middle of the last decade.

      1. TK421

        You think the Democrats are less likely to lock you up indefinitely? Why is that, because Obama signed a law giving himself the power to do just that? Because Bradley Manning has been treated so fairly during his stay in prison? Because the Democrats fought for warrantless wiretapping?

        And aren’t the Democrats so culturally friendly, as they deport more Mexican immigrants in 4 years than George W. Bush deported in 8. As they bomb one Middle East country into rubble after another. As they ramp up the war on drugs, throwing thousands of black Americans into prison for victimless crimes. Look at how warmly the Obama administration has embraced gays and lesbians, by refusing to sign an executive order halting federal contractor discrimination against homosexuals, and spent most of its first term fighting to keep the Defense of Marriage act.

  11. dSquib

    The worst thing about third-wayers, worse than advocating for an arrangement combining the worst of private and public worlds and the best of neither, is that they refuse to acknowledge that they are in possession of an ideology. Tony Blair never accepted it, Barack Obama won’t.

    Moderation, to me, rather than its Washington interpretation as corporatism, is accepting the limits of your ideology. If you don’t accept you have an ideology there is nothing you see to moderate. That is the power and appeal of someone as fanatical as Michelle Rhee.

  12. Warren Celli

    Matt Stoller said;

    “Nothing illustrates the captured state of our politics better than a supposed union leader praising a film dedicated to destroying the power of working men and women.”

    Nothing illustrates the captured state of our politics better than a supposed champion of the people legitimizing and validating with his attention a system dedicated to destroying the power of working men and women.

    Yawn… the Xtrevilism epidemic continues… another opportunity for cure is lost…

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  13. Chris Stahnke

    We live in a post-rule-of-law and post-Constitutional society. What system we are actually living in I don’t know–somehow “neo-liberal” is just not descriptive. Hedges has been talking a lot about living in an inverted totalitarian state. I don’t think so–I think it’s just an old fashioned semi-authoritarian state run by varying cliques of oligarchs for their own benefit. If they have an ideology it is neo-feudalism which is where we are headed regardless of which “party” wins this or that election. I must say I prefer the Dems for cultural reasons–they actually try to make sense and use complete sentences and paragraphs when they make speeches. They are clearly the more literate and clearly affirm diversity. Politically they are not really much different form the Republicans–but style counts for a lot–it creates a better cultural temperature while the Rs want us all to live in the land of grunts. Me good, you bad, I kill!

  14. F. Beard

    The enemy is the bankers’ union, their counterfeiting cartel, and has been for centuries. It have cheated the entire population by making debt a painful necessity.

    So now we need, at least temporarily, a “Debtors’ and Savers’ Union” or such to lobby for restitution and monetary reform.

    As for labor unions, they were always doomed by increasing productivity paid for with their own stolen purchasing power.

  15. Yearning to Learn

    They aren’t really trying to win. After all, if your supposed opponents will implement your program, why not just let them?

    well said. I’ve long stated that Obama was the Trojan Horse President, delivering a neoliberal program to the masses that no Republican could ever do.

    The fiasco that was the Republican primary proves that he is the desired President for both parties. Only in a million years could the US field such horrific candidates. Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, Cain? You must be joking.

    it’s easy to know a flop when you see one.

    of course, if there was any question remaining, it was decimated when the king of all neoliberals, Bill Clinton, spoke last night.

    Although I do admit, it was masterful.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      To the point about the GOP not wanting to win, who are these non-clownish Republicans in the wings? They don’t exist. Newt seized control of the party recruitment activities and aggressively sought out dumber versions of himself, people he could theoretically control. Cain, Bachmann, Romney and so forth, they are the GOP.

    2. Tom X

      The problem with this interpretation is Mitt Romney. If the GOP wanted to lose with certainty, the base-drafted class clowns would’ve made it to the nomination. Romney is an expression of something far more sinister: he’s the choice of the elites tha run that party, just as Clinton,and now Obama, are the choice of the elites that run the Dems.

      And amazingly similar these three cats are. So the indicator is that you have elites running both parties that are largely in consensus about how the world should be, with some variation for cultural differences that aren’t generally expressed in policy.

      This is a true oligarchy in action.

    1. Waking Up

      Reading the comments from the link you posted reminds me of why I will no longer bother wasting time reading anything at Salon. It is just as disingenuous with Obama apologists as Kos.

  16. Hacksaw

    If progressives and conservatives can’t come together to stand against never ending war, plutocracy, corporate control of the government, and globalism then we are doomed as a country and as individuals. As a life long Republican and die hard conservative I would be more than willing to set my thinking on social issues aside and join with anyone who would do like wise to see the control of our government wrested away from the rich bastards, power mongers, and corrupt politicians.

    Those of us who love this country and love the hard working people of this country, who have always put their meger fortunes, futures, and lives on the line when they felt America was threatened, better learn to set aside our agendas, get along, and stand together against the real enemy, corporate control of corrupt officials. There is a window of opportunity, but it won’t be open forever.

    1. F. Beard

      We should all be able to unite against banking since it has cheated us all except for a tiny fraction.

    2. Tom X

      As a radical leftist, I appreciate and agree with your post. How to get there is far more problematic. The reality is that we can’t even get people who share a large porion of our ideology to stop constantly dancing with the devil because they’re afraid of the “other team”. And if we can’t reach them, and can’t them to trust us–who are mostly like them–it’ll probably be too hard to get any alliance along the lines you’re suggesting to pan out. Too easy to bust up by division.

      But thanks for posting this comment. Warms my heart that there are still old fashioned conservatives roaming the range out there.

  17. Lambert Strether

    Supporting Matt on the Rs not playing to win, I agree. People who remember 2004 will know that Rove had Kerry fully swiftboated and slimed at this point in the campaign. For all the birther nonsense, it’s never broken out of the conservative fever swamps. And just because Romney has $100 million doesn’t mean the consultants will do anything more than send their kids to very good schools.

    I’d add that I see the Ds as point-shaving also, but using a different method. For all the very real concerns with Rs writing exclusionary voting laws, this only blew up as a national issue very late in the game, after most of the laws had aleady been passed — that is, after the horse had already left the barn.

    Where the Rs are point shaving by not taking the low road as only they can, the Ds are point shaving by keeping the Rs in the game. (The D failure to abolish the filibuster un 2009 is another example of point-shaving.)

    So it really is like World Wrestling Foundation: All the parties are players, including the references, and both “opponents” are fully in on the joke, even if they use different styles and holds in the ring.

    1. F. Beard

      Do you think Mittens is a unwitting tool? A Mormon who thinks he can win a Presidential election and waste his own money on it? And if he wins and makes the Depression worse then small loss cause after all he’s just a Mormon?

      1. BertS

        Much as I fear an unlikely Romney win, I am a little curious what it would be like to have First Ladies in the White House.

        It does have all those extra rooms.

  18. Duane Campbell

    First, thank you for the post. There is much important information here. As a 40 year veteran of unions, union leadership, and an education activist, I disagree a little. Second, i agree with your analysis of neo liberal school reform. There is more on that here. https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg/
    Although I am a teacher advocate, and a teacher union advocate, I think you over state the case on the teachers’ unions in the D.P. They are important. Your criticism of their absence is appropriate.
    But, what is your evidence that the new film is essentially the position of the D.P.? It is clearly the position of Democrats for Educational Reform and most of the Obama admin. That is not new. Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento ( husband of Michelle Rhee) is the chair of the Obama admin. committee of Mayors for eduction. That is a significant problem. The reaction of the NEA president may be to make the film less explosive. Remember how the media promoted “Waiting for Superman”? the criticism may well have sold thousands more tickets.
    Where I disagree. I was not at the convention. However, judging from the coverage, each of the major union presidents spoke and made good presentations. Richard Trumka, Mary Kay Henry, the pres. of the UAW.
    Yes, labor has major criticism of picking Charlotte, a non union city. But, organized labor has a major investment in the defeat of the Republicans.
    I am well aware of, and informed on the left criticism of labor leadership.
    see a blog I work with, http://www.talkingunion.wordpress.com
    At the same time, I prefer to work within the real world. These are the unions we have and the leaders we have. If critics want to denounce them- ok. But, first go out and organize a union. Armchair, ultra left criticism is cheap talk.
    Dime con quien andas, y diré quien eres.

  19. Greg T

    Elizabeth Warren is being hung out to dry. The party leadership told her to run for Senate to get her out of Tim Geithner’s hair, with the foreknowledge they would offer her minimal support in the attempt. She may yet win, but the fact that the heavy hitters in the Massachusetts Democratic Party are withholding support tells you how she’s viewed by the party elites.

    Yves is looking more and more correct on Warren’s choice. She should have declined the Senate run and hung around CFPB as long as possible.

  20. Valissa

    Personally, I am not a fan of “unity” as that implies conformism, authoritarianism and monotheism. I believe in pluralism and the right of all individuals to have their own idiosyncratic forms of political reasoning and belief (similar to freedom of/from religion). Also I’m not a fan of the earnestness and self-righteousness that accompany strong partisanship and ideology, esp. the notion that someone who has a different opinion and viewpoint is automatically “stupid” or “uniformed” or whatever.

    As a somewhat newly anti-partisan and anti-ideological thinker trying to find new ways to look at and think about the current political duopoly and what the parties represent without using the standard L-R paradigm language, I was musing about the 2 conventions and came up with the following personal insights*.

    The most interest part of the Republican convention – Clint Eastwood’s speech.

    The most interesting part of the Democratic convention – Michelle Obama’s dress.

    Tracy Reese: Michelle Obama’s DNC dress will hit shelves http://thelook.today.com/_news/2012/09/06/13703094-tracy-reese-michelle-obamas-dnc-dress-will-hit-shelves?lite

    This quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth speaks to me of both conventions and politicians

    Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time,
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    *NOTE: Disclaimer – since I no longer watch political conventions, as I find them as boring, predictable and annoying as televangelism and megachurches, my methodology is to read lots of news headlines and let my unconscious roam until something pops up that I find interesting/amusing.*

  21. John Yard

    Even while I enjoyed Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC it is hard to realize that much of the prosperity he alluded to followed from the Internet bubble that he so industriously fostered. Many of today’s problems – runaway speculation ,
    NAFTA, downsizing of the working class – were fostered by his own administration.

    There is a real ambiguity to the current democratic party .
    They do want to protect New Deal legacy programs, but have
    absolutely no new economic ideas , other than than crossing their fingers, and hoping time comes to their rescue.

    1. dandelion

      I think the economic policy is pretty clear: hide via theater the deflationary shock doctine policies they are cramming down the throats of the middle class and the poor until they have sufficiently stripped the middle of their assets.

      Once that’s accomplished: re-inflate. So that the 1% can collect greater and greater rents.

      It’s an old old story, enacted in Europe over and over again. That whipsawing of working people between inflation and deflation is exactly how England pulverizd the working class after WWI.

      1. F. Beard

        Yet few people are willing to totally destroy government backing for the inflation/deflation machine, the banking system.

  22. kevinearick

    they sold out and they didn’t expect to be flushed when the time came?

    sadly, many do not bother to learn their own history.

    who, demographically, takes on capital at the end of the sh-show iteration, every time; who does capital pay the middle class to prosecute, with ever longer arms, every time. capital is not running for the exits with the money and leaving the middle class holding the bag by accident.

    our brother laborers cut their own throat every time, to participate in civil marriage. you’ll have that nonsense, from time to time.

    marriage cannot stand if it is not united within. everything else, from education on is but a symptom.

  23. Valissa

    True confession… when I first saw the NC headlines this morning I thought what it said was…

    In 2012 Democratic Convention, Unity without Unicorns

  24. mmckinl

    More Kudos to Matt Stoller … He’s been on the cutting edge of analytic journalism for some time now … Matt’s pieces have been masterful at unmasking the “powers that Be” from both sides of the aisle.

  25. Rob

    I still don’t see the point of the term”neo-liberalism”.It is a useless classification.It would imply a meaning.an actual ideology.an actual “way”,of thinking and acting…..but really,these idiots think and act just like all the rest…..just like always…Hell,I don’t even like the term liberal and conservative,anymore……only “conservatives”(assholes) use the term “liberal”,and that is just to imply a slur…and any liberal worth his salt wouldn’t want to be confused with what supports the democratic party….these terms generalize too much,and are mostly inaccurate.

    A couple of tidbits from here in NC…
    Duke energy put up a 10 million dollar line of credit to hold the convention here…This was before/during the hearings decisions on being able to merge with progress energy…..now they are the largest electric power producer.duke energy was one of those with enron who perpetrated the 2000 electric price fixing/market manipulation/production shutdowns scandal…they just got the ok to build two more nuclear power plants,in part from progress energy plans.when obama got in office he gaurenteed 58 billion in fed grants to power industry for new nukes.Too bad they were caught with backup systems failing at two of their power plants in NC…don’t worry,no slaps on the wrist for them….Charlotte is actually a banking
    center….bank of America is near by to get scripts cleared…….

    The republican party is the extreme right…the democratic party is just to the left of that….the moderate right..everyone else doesn’t count….that fits in in NC,after all this is the bible belt….the churches are where the real perversion stems from….the people in this country who allow a myth to compete with other myths to discern the meaning of life from…..a easy pickings for the two party trap..

    What needs to be harped on is the continuity of gov’t.the republicans and the democrats are all establishment(fortune500,old money ,foundations,think tanks,academia,media)No matter which one is in office.corporate benefits must be maximized,civil rights must be minimized,free trade must advance,tax burdens must be shifted to the middle class,the other party is to blame for everything they do,And they both are the criminals in office.everything Obama is doing that is in-American,bush did…so did Clinton,so did bush,so did Reagan,carter had his moments too….and well Nixon and Johnson and Kennedy and Eisenhower and Truman and Roosevelt. They all did what the others did before them.there was NEVER any good old days…..

  26. Hugh

    Teachers and unions would be better served if they broke with the Democratic party, but they won’t do it. As with most institutions, their leaderships suffer from elite capture. That is they serve their fellow elites and pay lip service to their memberships.

    Campaign support is pretty fungible. So it doesn’t really matter if they didn’t fund the conventions. What is important is that they continue to support the Democrats.

  27. MrTortoise

    I think for me Matt Stoller’s post and Chris Stankhe’s comment put it well. That’s no to say the other comments taught me nothing.

    I saw that the movie “Atlas Shrugged: II” is coming to the big screen this October. It features an “evil” corporation, some sort of “martial law” govt. and is said to be based on the novel (presumably “Atlas Shrugged”) by Ayn Rand.

    For me, it’s time to batten down the hatches.

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