Cantor’s Loss a Triumph for Anti-Corporate Right-Wing Populism

By David Dayen, a lapsed blogger, now a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on Twitter @ddayen

The battle over why Eric Cantor became the first House Majority Leader to ever relinquish his seat in a primary campaign has been about a hundred times more intensive than the campaign itself. It was a sleepy local race with 12.8% turnout. Virginia has no partisan registration, so any of the district’s 504,895 registered voters could have participated; only 65,022 did.

Cantor’s loss probably had many fathers. It may be as simple as this: polls always show that voters hate Congress but love their Congressmember, and Cantor, who had a whole mess of new, more conservative voters in his district after the 2010 gerrymander, symbolized the former rather than the latter. To the engaged sliver of voters participating, Cantor was the city slicker (even the Jewish city slicker, some suggest) who strove for institutional power and lost touch with the people he represented. The fact that Cantor won the areas closest to D.C. and lost the ones furthest away fits that theory.

But there’s no question that conservative economics professor David Brat succeeded in channeling a strain of right-wing populism to target Cantor, and plausibly so, as a corporate stooge and progenitor of crony capitalism. Lee Fang at Republic Report did the most thorough work on this:

“All of the investment banks, up in New York and D.C., they should have gone to jail.”

That isn’t a quote from an Occupy Wall Street protester or Senator Elizabeth Warren. That’s a common campaign slogan repeated by Dave Brat, the Virginia college professor who scored one of the biggest political upsets in over a century by defeating Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary last night […]

Brat told Internet radio host Flint Engelman that the “number one plank” in his campaign is “free markets.” Brat went on to explain, “Eric Cantor and the Republican leadership do not know what a free market is at all, and the clearest evidence of that is the financial crisis … When I say free markets, I mean no favoritism to K Street lobbyists.” Banks like Goldman Sachs were not fined for their role in the financial crisis — rather, they were rewarded with bailouts, Brat has said.

Brat, who has identified with maverick GOP lawmakers like Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, spent much of the campaign slamming both parties for being in the pocket of “Wall Street crooks” and D.C. insiders. The folks who caused the financial crisis, Brat says, “went onto Obama’s rolodex, the Republican leadership, Eric’s rolodex.”

In particular, Brat took aim at Cantor’s work on the STOCK Act, which was prompted by a conservative economist who found major stock gains from members of Congress and staffers in industries where they had inside knowledge. Cantor openly watered down the STOCK Act before passage. If you’re trying to paint your opponent as a corporatist who looks out for himself and his buddies over his constituents, this would top the list.

The oft-repeated claim that Brat won by framing Cantor as somehow pro-immigration (which comes from a couple off-hand remarks and not any real actions) actually goes together with this. Brat made an economic argument on immigration about how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to import cheap labor to take away “your” jobs. This has a nativist element to it, and it was certainly used as a rallying cry by right-wing radio talk show hosts. But even when Brat says that immigration won the race for him, he says it in terms of Cantor “supporting the U.S. Chamber agenda.” The key ad on this showed Cantor in a picture with Facebook’s Marc Zuckerberg. It’s all coherent with the idea of Cantor as handing corporate America whatever they want.

And this picture of Cantor has a pretty solid basis, just as you could frame it for anyone in the Congressional leadership of either party. Over a million dollars in contributions came to Cantor this cycle from the FIRE sector (finance, insurance and real estate), and two of the top five contributors were Blackstone and Goldman Sachs. Lloyd Blankfein openly lamented Cantor’s loss. Lobbyists all over K Street are literally expecting to lose money in Cantor’s absence, because the source of their influence has been ousted. In fact, the only individual who’ll make money out of this is Cantor himself, once K Street comes running to throw millions at him to work at their lobby shop.

I hope we can agree that Brat’s campaign strategy of playing on the resentments of a handful of voters who aren’t getting by in this economy means nothing for the policies he’ll actually pursue. Given Brat’s ideological leanings, he will probably react to regulatory capture and Wall Street corruption by arguing that financial institutions need to be freed from burdensome government oversight and have the market discipline any untoward behavior.

But the success of the campaign strategy is notable, as John Judis and others have pointed out. Rightwing populism, which has been around for close to 200 years, operates like a funhouse-mirror inversion of what is today considered a progressive argument against corporate dominance of government. This historical argument has a lot of merit:

Richard Hofstadter famously wrote that both populism and early progressivism were heavily fueled by nativism and there is a lot of merit in what he says. Take, for instance, prohibition (one of William Jennigs Bryant’s Bryan’s major campaign issues). Most people assume that when it was enacted in 1920, it was the result of do-gooderism, stemming from the tireless work by progressives who saw drink as a scourge for the family, and women in particular. But the truth is that Prohibition was mostly supported by rural southerners and midwesterners who were persuaded that alcohol was the province of immigrants in the big cities who were polluting the culture with their foreign ways. And progressives did nothing to dispell that myth — indeed they perpetuated it. This was an issue, in its day, that was as important as gay marriage is today. The country divided itself into “wets” and “drys” and many a political alliance was made or broken by taking one side of the issue or another. Bryan, the populist Democrat, deftly exploited this issue to gain his rural coalition — and later became the poster boy for creationism, as well. (Not that he wasn’t a true believer, he was; but his views on evolution were influenced by his horror at the eugenics movement. He was a complicated guy.) And prohibition turned out to be one of the most costly and silly diversions in American history […]

Bashing immigrants and elites at the same time has a long pedigree and it is the most efficient way to bag some of those pick-up truck guys who are voting against their economic self-interest. There seems to be little evidence that bashing elites alone actually works. And that’s because what you are really doing is playing to their prejudices and validating their tribal instinct that the reason for their economic problems is really the same reason for the cultural problems they already believe they have — Aliens taking over Real America — whether liberals, immigrants, blacks, commies, Wall Street, whomever.

It’s positive that Wall Street couldn’t buy the Majority Leader’s seat for him (Brat was outspent as much as 25 to 1). And it’s positive, if predictable, that a message of being on the side of ordinary people over corporate muckety-mucks still can resonate. And a rump of right-wing populists in Congress offers the potential for trans-partisan support on discrete issues, like the NSA (which Brat has denounced). Perhaps a few Democrats could take note of the effectiveness of calling out corporate corruption among the leadership class.

But populism has many sides, and history has many examples of it being exploited to ends that its supporters may not endorse. So there’s ground to tread here, but one should tread wisely.

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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.


  1. Jim

    Maybe you’re giving the voters too little credit…the photo of Cantor and Zuckerberg, being perceived as a negative ad, is quite interesting, hilarious actually. Perhaps, voters aren’t just lashing out at immigrant labor, but also at the real source of the problem, cushy Washington and their catering to big business. That perhaps is the real story here, people on the left and right may be figuring it out, after all.

    As an aside, it’s clear that Silicon Valley has no PR credibility at this point. They are not trusted by the public-at-large, and are, I believe, seen to be as much of a problem in the death of tech privacy as the NSA.

    1. BillyBob

      What evidence do you have that the left is figuring out anything? Indeed, that it exists? If a populist left exists that has figured out the “real source of the problem, cushy Washington and their catering to big business” – which Hillary Clinton absolutely embodies – where are the populist lefties running for president in Iowa? Democrats who stand in the Iowa Caucuses didn’t care for HRC last time and I think they will care even less for her in 2016. But the entire Democratic Party is standing on sidelines waiting for her while the nation burns. The evidence of my eyes tells me that the Democrats are thrilled to become the K Street/Wall Street Money Party and let the Republicans become the populist party.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Great questions and insight.

        The death of the liberal class came quietly in the dark; smothered with a feather pillow in its sleep by thieves and killers. Few mourned. There was funeral dirge for America’s great working-middle class or the lost fraternity of its unions, no requiem for the millions of imperial war dead, no memorial for a kidnapped government and justice system, and stifled outcry (OWS) for the predations of a cruel kleptocracy.

        So it seems. But maybe it’s just in a coma or cowering in the catacombs. I think it will reemerge when the current regime collapses. Meanwhile, the confused tea party is at least heating and stirring the pot. It may be “a funhouse-mirror inversion of … a progressive argument against corporate dominance of government” but it’s a start. The remnant left should take heart from this.

  2. kimsarah

    I agree that there is ground to tread here, but one should tread wisely.
    As we see, there are dynamics in play here that put tea baggers and progressives on the same side — on certain positions like anti-Wall Street, anti-Washington establishment, anti-government fraud and waste, anti-war for war’s sake, and maintaining integrity of the Constitution.
    Individually, neither side has enough votes to win national elections against the entrenched wealthy Republicans and Democrats. But together, it could be a deadly force. Ralph Nader has written about this.
    The dilemma is, of course, how to put together tea baggers and progressives on these issues to bring about change, and what to do about issues where both are on opposite sides — .particularly social and environmental issues.
    Meanwhile, how long before Cantor gets a cushy lobbying job?

    1. Pwelder

      “The dilemma is, of course, how to put together tea baggers and progressives on these issues to bring about change…”

      For starters, it might help if progressives could resist the urge to refer to Andrew Jackson Republicans as “tea baggers”. Guess I’m dating myself here, but that seems rude. About at the same level as calling supporters of marriage equality “cocksuckers”.

      And kimsarah – like most of the NC commentariat – seems not to have a clue about this. For as long as that’s the case, K Street has nothing to worry about.

        1. diptherio

          Well, can we at least stick to “Tea Partiers”, rather than “Tea-baggers”? Coalition building starts with biting your tongue… ;-)

    2. Art Eclectic

      You can’t put the two sides together because of the vast difference in social policy positions. As much as they have common cause when it comes to anti-establishment sentiment, the differences on gay marriage, birth control, and abortion will keep any real alliance from forming.

      The Big Business – Social Conservative alliance worked for as long as it did because the business wing wasn’t heavily invested in the social conservative side, they were happy to mouth the “right answers” and then ignore those positions once the votes were counted. That alliance worked until it didn’t. Which gets back to the hypocrisy of the Tea Party, who support elimination of government interference in individual rights unless those rights happen to involve sex and reproduction.

      1. diptherio

        So, I’ve been putting some thought into the Skunk Party and here’s my latest brain-baby:

        The Skunk Party could be a third party that one can belong to while maintaining their membership in either of the two legacy parties. To become a member of the Skunk Party you would agree to fight Wall Street criminality, protect Social Security and Medicare, decrease Military Spending, and end Gov’t contracting abuses. The Skunk Party designation would be additional to the [R] or [D] that a candidate would appear as on the ballot.

        Then, taking a page from Brat’s playbook, we focus our attack on low-turnout primaries, and use the interwebs and social media to compensate for having a smaller “war chest.” Maybe the key to a successful third party is to make it a bi-partisan coalition, rather than a standard party. Maybe the Skunks could end up gaining significant footholds in both parties, which would be a notable improvement over the present situation, even if we still only get Ds and Rs to choose between.

        1. Chris

          This put me on a similar but sillier tangent: there could be a Mullet coalition here, Tea Party in the front and Skunk business in the back.

  3. Working Class Nero

    The real question is why the right wing candidates have to make economic arguments against class war immigration. Republicans are supposed to be on the side of management and capital. Their whole job is to make labor cheaper. Which is why they have always supported mass immigration — but for obvious political reasons they prefer to do this behind the scenes. In 1969, Ralph Abernathy, Walter Mondale, and Cesar Chavez marched at the Mexican border against Big Ag bringing in cheap scab labor. But since then the alienist wing of the Democratic Party has taken over and become the public face of current campaign by the bourgeoisie against the native proles of flooding the country with low-skill immigration. Because just like Big Ag, the urban liberal elite want their cheap labor but the moral high ground as well. So they frame their cheap labor crusade as a jihad against racism – and in the process they enforce the fatwa that it is racist for native working class citizens to demand that their economic interests be placed above alien interests.

    Brat on immigration:

    With 50 million Americans in their working-years unemployed, the last thing we should do is provide amnesty or any form of work authorization to illegal immigrants.

    Pew’s report wrote: “In 1990, the U.S. had 19.8 million immigrants. That number rose to a record 40.7 million immigrants in 2012. Over this period, the number of immigrants in the U.S. increased more than five times as much as the U.S.-born population (106.1 percent versus 19.3 percent).”

    Yet, Eric Cantor believes that we need to import more low-wage foreign workers at the expense of lower wages and fewer jobs for Virginia families. Cantor also favors the Dream Act and Enlist Act principles.

    A vote for Eric Cantor is a vote for open borders and corporate handouts. I pledge to work for all the people of our district and will always oppose amnesty. I support legal immigration, but it needs to be done within the context of the rule of law.

    Contrast this with David Dayen’s analysis of the current economic situation:

    I hope we can agree that Brat’s campaign strategy of playing on the resentments of a handful of voters who aren’t getting by in this economy means nothing for the policies he’ll actually pursue.

    Really? A handful of voters? And they are resentful? Only the most extreme neoliberal apologist could look at the disaster wrought by alienist globalization policies in the US and say that only a handful of voters are impacted. Dayan seems to get it on other subjects; is this really what he meant or is his alienist ideology blinding him from the truth?

    In fact among average Americans who manage not to sucked into either partisan cult there is a pretty strong convergence of what ails America: off-shoring of well paid working class jobs, in-shoring of cheap and docile labor, an out-of-control imperial foreign policy more aligned to Israeli interests than to Americans, an omnipotent Wall Street with its tentacles everywhere manipulating outcomes the hurt average Americans; a cultural decline led by a dumbing-down of popular culture and public education; and an ever-widening gulf between the haves and have-nots. These ideas are as vanilla and middle of the road as they get. Despite a constant bombardment of alienist / neoliberal / neoconservative propaganda the average American “gets it”.

    But only in the bizzaro upside down world of the two-party system could any of these critiques be considered “radical”. But the dual oligarchic parties have managed to split things so nicely that much conventional wisdom is that the “extreme” right and left have to come together to defeat the “moderate” neoliberal / neoconservative legacy parties. But nothing could be further from the truth. What moderate Americans have to do is indeed join together and get beyond the extremely effective divide and rule tactics employed by imperialist, alienist, and globalist elite partisans of both parties and build a strong center based on common native citizen interest.

    The sad fact is that Brat is just a very small step in the right direction. What we can hope for is that an overreaction to his victory by the alienst legacy parties will open even more eyes to the truth.

    1. Carolinian

      Nero’s comment is spot on imo. The left is never going to get anywhere until they get over their urge to feel morally superior to working class people. Racism is a terrible thing–and I grew up around it–but I believe that at least some of it was the result of poor whites trying to keep down a competing group. Which is to say there was always an economic aspect to it.

      So yes, poor people do have a legitimate concern when it comes to immigration. It’s not just about being dumb or ignorant. The Democratic party of old would be paying a lot more attention to these bread and butter concerns. Minimum wage, for example, would be at the top of their agenda, not just something to be brought up half heartedly at election time.

      But instead we have Obama, an identity politics marketing concept with no discernible ideology whatsoever. Indeed he would probably agree–ideology being so 20th century after the “end of history.” Obama believes we can all compromise ourselves into nirvana but that’s never going to happen. Politics is about competing interests. At some point the left–the political left–is going to have to decide whose side they are on.

      1. Klassy

        Yes, thanks for your comment.
        You know, even if some of those anti immigrant sentiments are cultural, could liberal progressives at least attempt to understand them? It is not the wealthy and upper middle class that see wholesale changes in their neighborhoods. They may extol the virtues of our great multicultural stew, but for the most part they reside in areas with people that are just like them. And they have more control over change in their neighborhoods.
        I find the discussion of prohibition a little strange. The “do gooders” -progressive protestant reformers- found much distasteful in immigrant communities too.

    2. Tom Mink

      Frequently, the push for immigration reform from the Left focuses on eliminating the exploitation of immigrant labor. A large pool of workers made vulnerable by their shaky legal status does more to lower wages in many industries than even a full amnesty policy.

      The pressure by companies to raise the number of H1B visas or implement guest worker programs shows that the ideal situation from a corporate standpoint isn’t more immigration per se but compliant, dependent workers with few protections.

    3. Banger

      Thanks, Nero, for making the points I would have made but not as articulately as you–kudos to you, man. Since I talk to working class people often there is a lot of resentment against immigrants and it isn’t just nativism. Brat has connected the dots and if others do they will win elections. Illegal immigration IS a “plot” by the oligarchs to reduce labor costs and make working conditions worse. Since most of the left abandoned the working-class long ago (long story) where else are they going to go but to the right? Gradually people will grasp the obvious that we are ruled by a narrow band of oligarchs who use the federal and state governments to fleece taxpayers–there hasn’t been this corrupt an era in government since the pre-progressive era in the late 19th century except this time the scale is much higher. The marching orders for the left ought to be to join with the right in turning Washington upside down–sadly, this will cause a lot of pain but it is the only way to go.

      Having said that, the prognosis is still murky–let’s see how DP party candidates react.

      1. RanDomino

        It’s the “only way” if you simply expect politicians or activists or whoever to wipe your ass for you. “Who can we pay to do it?”- The American Way! No, no, let’s not take direct action or gradually sever ourselves economically from capitalism; that would be hard work, so fuck that. Let’s just give up.

    4. EoinW

      Bravo! A trio of excellent posts. Yes the Left does consider itself morally superior to Conservatives. Meanwhile the Right consider Liberals to believe in and stand for nothing. Generalized dribble from both sides. Not only does the 1% use such bickering to divide and conquer but, even online, you see intelligent commentators picking their side and bashing the other as much as they criticize the 1%. Usually they blame the other side for the ascendancy of the 1%(that Hayek piece being the perfect example). I can’t help but think the Keynesian/Austrian internet intelligentsia are busy positioning themselves for the fight over the crumbs to be had after the economic collapse.

      1. James Levy

        Given the history of racism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia (you know, lynching, gay bashing, open discrimination, shit like that) in this county, and who was dishing it out, Progressives have some claim to a moral high ground over rednecks. You aren’t mincing words, and I won’t either. And I don’t give a shit about their Baptist Bible-thumping culture, any more than Nero gives a shit about my Mahler-listening, Joyce-reading, Bergman-watching culture. OK, we know where we stand. You don’t like what I am and think I’m a stuck-up prick, and I don’t like you and think you’re an apologist for lower-class hatred of people and things different from themselves.

        That said, I’m not the one voting for these right-wing assholes who will bury them. I’m for an increased minimum wage, restrictions on new immigration, trust-busting, an end to corporate citizenship, free quality public education for all, and public funding of campaigns. I’m not standing up for Republicans or Democrats, while the white working class which you extol as the “real Americans” (and can you people just cut that bullshit out–you are no more “real” than anyone else born in this country) consistently and enthusiastically supports idiots like George W. Bush and the good old boy Southern Republicans.

        Thought I’d clear the air around here.

        1. Jim

          Thanks for this totally distracting reply, mischaracterizing and misquoting Nero’s original post. I can only assume that this comment was bought and paid for

          Sure, the right wing-type will bury them, but those are the wages of ignorance. First, people go to the right (hence the term “reactionary”), then find out the hard way and come back to left, at least those that survive. That’s the lesson of history.

          On the other side, the left is going to have to figure out that cheap labor is the road to nowhere. It’s not nativism or racism, it’s just a fact that is only real way forward. Punishing the poor and the working class, in deed or in rhetoric, for being ignorant or racist, is not only very Republican, it’s also very futile.

          1. Jim

            James Levy stated in 2014 the “My problem is that libertarians no matter how you dress them up are amoral, antihuman assholes.”

            Back in 1954 Richard Hofstadter in “The Age of Reform” stated that the populist revolt was generally an ill-tempered, nativist, anti-Semitic expression of popular boobery.

            It is now clear in 2014 that Hofstadter, in formulating his perspective on populism did not look closely at the movement itself. His analysis focused on the educated classes who he saw as responsible for constructing a romantic agrarian myth” on which farmers subsequently supposedly based their movement.

            Hofstadter’s portrait of populism as mythmaking was so compelling that few noticed that his interpretation of agrarian politics did not look into the internal structure of the actual agrarian movement.. There is hardly an American farmer in his analysis nor is there any mention that some two million people eventually fashioned a broad-based agenda challenging the then emerging industrial power relations.

            However Hofstadter’s view on American populism harmonized well with the then conventional wisdom of elite culture with its instinctive condescension toward potential reformers of any political stripe.

            The comments of Jame Levy on libertarians seem to accurately reflect the same type of vehement condescension toward potential reformers often found historically among the ruling classes he supposedly stands against. .

        2. Working Class Nero

          I prefer Waugh to Joyce, Mick Taylor to Mahler, and since I’m fluent in Swedish I get to enjoy Bergman without subtitles. In fact twenty years ago I was so disgusted with my sister renting Barney videos for my niece I went out and rented Bergman’s Jungfrukällan for her. I insisted it was so visually interesting that it didn’t matter that my niece couldn’t understand Swedish (or even read the subtitles, she was only four). And sure enough, to my sister’s amazement, my little niece sat there enthralled with the movie. There was a seriously uncomfortable moment during the rape scene when my niece asked what was going on. We turned it off a little later but she definitely enjoyed the time she watched it.

          When I look at a list of per capita income in the US based on religion I see that Baptists are near the bottom. I suppose I have gathered enough cultural accomplishments, despite my working class upbringing that I could comfortably sneer down at them from my high stoop. But my heart is not full of hate.

          What I do feel is a debt of gratitude that even as a working class kid, I grew up in a relatively egalitarian society where public schools were good enough, doctors lived a few blocks from mechanics, and if we put in some effort we could succeed, and most importantly, even if we didn’t put in that much effort, we still lived a comfortable and safe life.

          While the policies you mention seem quite reasonable, where your logic fails is for hating on Baptists for not voting Democratic. Really? Your argument rests on the fact that Democrats are better than Republicans so we have to hate the poor whites who ignorantly voted for Republicans. And yet there before your very eyes you have the evidence from the Carter years, from the Clinton years, and now from the Obama years that the Democrats are not one bit better than the Republicans; they are in fact two sides of the same oligarchic coin.

          I grew up with many white guys who would be considered racist. Especially when I went off to my elite college (thanks to the wisdom of the architects of the California public university system I was able to get in), I had to come back home for summers and breaks and worked construction. They would especially increase their use of the N-word just to try to get under my skin. And sure I looked down on them and was always happy to escape those jobs sites to get back to my leafy and enlightened university. But then after a few years of living in my hipster urban paradise, a funny thing happened, and I realized that I almost never saw a black person. But during this same time my working class suburb became integrated with a vengeance. I always wondered what would happen to my “racist” friends and their use of the N-word. After a while I visited a few work sites and I saw that in sharp contrast to my racially segregated (in the sense of only whites and Asians) bourgeois environment; my white working class friends had developed close friendships with black co-workers and neighbors and were even dating some sistaz. But surely they had stopped using the N-word? Not even, the white guys were comfortable enough around their black friends that they used it even more than ever, just as their black friends did back to them. It was an even stronger form of familiarity than using tu is in French. I realized for all my enlightened and superior hipsterness, I in no way felt comfortable enough around even a single black person to use the N-word.

          So I do sense your hate towards the working class goes deep. To me I see things more simply. The bottom 50-60% of the population need to work together to fight the top part. Nowadays it is even maybe the bottom 70-80%. I don’t care if they are Southern Baptist and listen to country music and speak in tongues. I’m not going to throw them under the oligarch’s bus even if they are culturally different than me. On the other hands the oligarch’s position depends on finding a supply of useful idiots to divide the working and middle classes through any means necessary. And that’s what I don’t want to be.

          1. EmilianoZ

            Hi Kevin,
            have you been europeanized enough to take an interest in the world cup? Belgium seems to have a great team this year (with plenty of Moslem looking players). They had another golden generation back in the 80ies with players like Michel Preud’homme or Enzo Scifo. Great soccer country.
            Why is it that we’ve been commenting here for such a long time now?

            1. Working Class Nero

              Of course I’m interested in football but my kids have final exams through next week so we cannot start paying attention until then. We are so post-national that we root for many teams — the kids are disappointed Sweden is not in it this year. Belgium seem to have a great team and hopes are high here.

              It has been a long time; I’ve been commenting here on and off since 2008. There is an interesting and eclectic group of thinkers involved and it’s always important to get feedback on ideas from informed people.

    5. Paul P

      The New Deal created 11 million jobs at a snap of the finger. So, unless the poplar demand is a guaranteed job for everyone, the government being an employer of last resort, our corporate masters will be able to divide immigrant workers against native born workers. The bank bailouts were a government job guarantee for the bankers. Workers should have a government job guarantee of their own.

    6. Doug Terpstra

      Well said, Nero, very perceptive. The in-sourcing, “on-shoring”, of cheap labor is the perverse complement to outsourcing, off-shoring of jobs. This is not marginal at all, but is the essence of economic fairness and healthy function. The in-sourcing also reaches upward into professional jobs as well — teaching, research, programming, nursing, architecture, and so on, not “only” landscapers, nannies, and fruitpickers. The race card is a shrewd, divisive diversion from the key injury of deliberate wage ratcheting (downward) using pure political leverage (yes, bribery, with an excellent ROI). Dayen shouldn’t fall for that DLC trick. Hey, whatever happened to the minimum wage, Barack? So many other priorities … Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Iraq, again.

    7. Andrew Gallagher

      While there have been historical examples in America of transpartisan cooperation and movement making, the results have been very short-lived, sadly. One side splinters and ascends, while the other is trammeled under. I hope that if there is a period of left/right populism (or something similar), that it can create some durable policy before coming decoupled.

  4. middle seaman

    There appears to exist a real danger of over reaction to Cantor’s loss. The district is quite rural and the vote percentage low. True, both parties are busy faking, GOP with Obamacare and Dem with praising an actually failed presidency,but that has become commonplace since Reagan.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    Anti-Corporate Right-Wing Populism?

    John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T bank and the current head of the Koch-founded Cato Institute, gave Brat’s college a $500,000 fellowship back in 2010 so he could teach Ayn Rand and libertarianism at Randolph Macon University.

    Hate radio talkers Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, who have relentlessly slammed Cantor and pushed Brat, both get money from the Kochs.
    I remember when the corporate press couldn’t get enough of the brand new grass roots “Tea Party movement.” Underneath…it was built by the Kochs.

    1. DolleyMadison

      What no one is saying is the Tea party did NOT support Brat and did not give him a dime. Even Freedomworks turned their back on him. Of course sucess has many baby daddys and I am sure the Tea Party will take credit…

  6. bob goodwin

    I know this website is a liberal magnet. I am amazed at how misunderstood the tea party is to this day. First and foremost the movement came out of revulsion to the bailouts. The tea party shares that with elements of the left. But the revulsion is stronger on the right. Corporatism is evil, and the primary difference between liberal anti-corporatists and conservative ones is which hand they blame from clapping. We (I am one too) blame the legislature. But are happy to imprison Wall street too. A bribe is a bribe.

    I would vote for Elizabeth Warren ahead of most of the republic leadership, on this issue alone

    1. Pepsi Girl

      The tea party is just the latest bit of fake populism used by corporatists to keep a firm hold on American politics. The democratic party asked for it by basically telling the white working class to fuck off in the 80s, and letting the neoliberal globalist sharks chomp them to pieces.

      The American people could do themselves a favor by supporting a real leftist alternative. Put the fear into the hearts of the neoliberal scumbags of the democratic party.

      Comandante Marcos of the Zapatistas advocates organizing alternative things outside normal politics, as a way to escape the fatal gravitational pull of the state. President Chavez in Venezuela funded this sort of thing as a way of achieving his progressive aims without having to fight through the super conservative judiciary and various public sector unions. But it seems like a temporary solution, in the end we have to confront the establishment if we ever hope to fix things.

      1. Ulysses

        “The democratic party asked for it by basically telling the white working class to fuck off in the 80s, and letting the neoliberal globalist sharks chomp them to pieces.”
        Bingo!! Most of my friends in the Teamsters and building trades, white and black, had their worst suspicions confirmed when the Ds decided to host their last convention at non-union hotels in a right-to-work state. They are outraged that some labor “leaders” still favor access to corrupt party hacks over promoting the interests of the rank and file. Most Americans are slowly but surely awakening to the fact that neither of the two Grotesque Old Parties cares about the interests of the 99%.

      2. Banger

        Since I followed the beginnings of the Tea Party very closely I can assure you most of it was grass-roots and genuine. The original leaders were libertarians who helped organize the opposition to what Congress was doing to hand over the keys to the Kingdom to Wall Street gangsters who basically put a gun to the head of the American government at the time and said “pay up or we flush the system.” The uprising came from the bottom and included a small fragment of the left that would later become Occupy.

        The mainstream media, the political class, the oligarchs, the intellectuals all opposed dealing with Wall Street the way it should have been dealt with, i.e., jail a few hundred of those vicious criminals and charge them with treason, fraud, extortion and so on. The corporate sector took note of this movement and moved to “lead” it in their direction by pumping huge amounts of money into a capaign of deception. This was easy because the average American, lacking a real education, were easily marched up and down the various hills by the usual suspects and defrauded into electing traitors to their own cause. The Democratic Party being perhaps even more corrupt than the Republican Party were happy to appear to be “reasonable” and therefore business as usual. It is possible that the fraud and corruption that characterizes the post-911 era will become common knowledge. The key to all this is to debunk the mainstream media narrative with its tempests-in-teapots and consistently false reporting about almost everything significant in our lives. We live in an era that demands revolution and deconstruction of current myths about who we are, where this historical moment came from and what is possible–fortunately we live in a paradise of possibilities–once Americans grasp this I think they will be able to throw off at least some of the conceptual shackles the mainstream media propaganda organs have laid on them.

        1. James Levy

          My problem is that libertarians, no matter how you try to dress them up, are amoral, anti-human assholes. They think the magic of the market will cure all ills, and when it doesn’t, it’s the fault not of the system of money and power but of the individuals who are destroyed or cast aside by that system. whose very destruction they see as a wonderful indicator that the system is working by punishing the lazy and the stupid (stupidity and laziness being measured not by what people are or do, but by what the marketplace does to them). In short, libertarianism is stupid and anti-ethical. You can put enough lipstick on that pig to get me to kiss it.

          1. James Levy

            Of course, in the last sentence I meant to write “can’t”, but I’m really annoyed this morning and not at my best.

          2. Banger

            Of course the more ideological libertarians go deep into it but most people who identify as libertarians aren’t 100% that way and are not immune to dialogue and they are most certainly not the way you describe them they are, like the rest of us, somewhat confused, looking for love, peace, joy and meaning, conflicted, selfish and giving. Maybe, because there’s an ideological stance towards selfishness as a virtue which is a question to debate with them rather debate about the virtue bad or good of market solutions. The science tells us that selfish behavior does not make us happy so, obviously unless you are a masochist (and my witnessing over the years tells me that masochism is very common at least to some degree), you can’t fall for the Ayn Rand philosophy.

        2. David Lentini

          Right on, Banger! I remember quite well when Fox and the rest of the MSM starting laying the astroturf over the original Tea Party by stressing the corporate-funded mouthpieces, who hijacked the movement by raging about all those “deadbeat” borrowers, the “poor, victimized bankers”, and the “sanctity” of banker compensation contracts. Sadly, the original and sincere TP’ers were road kill at that point.

        3. jd

          I can assure you that the Tea Party was a creation of Koch think tanks, most prominently his Freedom Works operation. Mark Ames was the first to air the story, but it has been elaborated by other venues since. Some of the discoveries were, thousands of Tea Party websites being listed and created before MSNBC’s Sanchez’s planned ‘rant’ about fictitious homeowners, by conflating bank bailouts with non-existent home bailouts, being ‘coddled’ for taking out a mortagage to ‘expand their bathroom’, etc.

          Astroturf and popular resonance can be the same thing. There is obviously a large, ignorant, vindictive minority that has been programmed by the establishment with certain manufactured ‘values’, twisted to fit today’s paradigm of power. (I know one myself, an abused government employee in a sexless Mid-West wasteland that finds right-wing/U.S. radio a safety valve for his anger.) Just becaause there was some popular resonance does not mean that the Tea Party was anything than a staged Koch front group.

    2. hemeantwell

      ” I am amazed at how misunderstood the tea party is to this day. First and foremost the movement came out of revulsion to the bailouts.”
      I agree to a point. But why is it that this side of the TP has gotten so little play? Is it because TP leadership, Koch-oriented, filters this out and rank and file TPers, having nowhere else to go, put up with it?

    3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      The Tea Party did not arise in “response to the bailouts.”

      It was in response to proposals to help underwater homeowners…not the banks.

      And that was what kicked off “Rick Santelli’s rant.”

      Sure, there was a small movement before the Kochs took it over. But that’s not how it got to be what it is now.

      There’s nothing anti-corporatist about the Kochs. They are anti-union, cynical assholes taking advantage of working people.

      1. Lambert Strether

        That’s because the Tea Party didn’t exist when the bailouts were happening. However, the Repubican right was vehemently opposed to TARP, which only passed with Democratic votes, and would never passed in the form it did had not the President-elect, Barack Obama, whipped for its passage with the Congressional Black Caucus.

  7. David Lentini

    I’ll pick up on several threads above here, instead of writing multiple replies.

    I agree with Bob Goodwin that many liberal-progressive types have fallen for caricatures of the Tea Party. I quit on the Republican Party over 20 years ago and largely left the Democrats over the past five years as well. Last year, when I started investigating the Common Core while on my local school board, I came to understand what many now are realizing, especially in the wake of last Sunday’s Washington Post interview with Bill Gates that led to Diane Ravitch’s demand for a Congressional investigation of Arne Duncan—Common Core is a corporatist take over of public education.

    When the Portland Press Herald bashed those who were opposed to the Common Core as Tea Party nutbags, I wrote a letter in response pointing out the “trans-partisan” nature of the opposition. My letter was noted by the leader of No Common Core Maine, who invited me to a group meeting. There, I met many TP’ers and Independents, and we discussed our views on CC. I was frank about my own political views, and I was quite impressed by how engaged and respectful everyone was towards me. I pointed out Ralph Nader’s work with Ron Paul as an example of how both Left and Right can work together, since both groups need to have a working democracy and both hate corporatism. I’ve also shared John Nichols’s latest article on Cantor’s defeat in The Nation.

    I like to call us “Green Tea”.

    I joined the group as a member of the Executive Committee, and I’ve been very pleased with the interactions and ideas—and openness—of my colleagues. We’ve been very effective in getting the state’s GOP to turn on CC, and we’re making inroads into more traditional Democratic groups as well. Sadly, the Democrat leadership has been very slow to accept our offer to talk.

    I think Jim and kimsrah have the right idea. I encourage everyone to read Ralph Nader’s latest book on this issue. We need to have a democracy before we can hash out what role government should play in our lives. Right now, that role is becoming more and more the corporatist shakedown artist and leg-breaker for Wall Street. Don’t get too heated over the Randian stuff. As nutty as she was, she very much detested the very politics and economics we now have. Let’s not let principle ruin some good political opportunities. As I’ve seen, the smarter TP’ers can work with us. Given the nature of the current Democratic leadership, we need that help, otherwise we’re just window dressing.

    1. Banger

      That was well put–I like the “Green Tea” name–worth thinking about.

      I have been calling for an alliance of left and right for a long time when I saw the DP’s stunning level of corruption close up to prove to me there was no possibility on that end for progressives to get anywhere and that most of the rhetoric was false–this was particularly true in the Obama campaign and to me, it was obvious.

      As I’ve discussed this in a number of fora and have largely met with a lot of hostility. Many on the left do not understand politics at all–they believe politics is about convincing your opponent that you are right. No it’s not. Politics, at best, is about dialogue and compromise with others and the amazing thing is that if you sit down with people who are on the other side of the fence you will find, usually, more agreement than disagreement. Why haven’t we done this? We, on the left, who pretend to be more broad-minded have, largely, lost the ability to have dialogue. You can see this on the internet where people insist on being right and that you are wrong–I’ve been discussing stuff since the mid-nineties and it’s always the same flame, flame, flame. This is less the case now that we have settled in our ghettos–this place, for example. Yet even here I’ve been hectored almost as much as on DKOS.

      The point here is that the way forward is to be less attached to our own opinions which are always incomplete–at best we are the the Blind Men and the Elephant. Without real dialogue we are dependent on outside sources to form our world-view, i.e., the mainstream media which is literally the propaganda organs for the oligarchs.

      1. David Lentini

        Thanks, Banger!

        I think E.J. Dionne did a good job of explaining the fracturing and political crippling of the Democrats in his book Why Americans Hate Politics. LBJ’s political disaster in Viet Nam and national civil unrest broke the party’s power structure, and the party’s convention process was replaced by a structure that favored the young, middle-class college educated. Both the war and the rioting left this group very morally self-righteous and intransigent.

        Through the ’70s, the politics of the party became increasingly single-issue oriented and balkanized, and the Southern Democrats began to slip away, with Cater straddling the fence if not leaning over to the right, and the youth of the early ’70s becoming more complacent; and the better organization and political self-awareness of the conservatives began to pay off. While the Democrats seemed to get hung up on pulling every little group into a coalition, the GOP followed Reagan’s “11th Commandment”—”Thou Shalt Not Criticize a Fellow Republican”. We saw the results in GOP election wins through the ’80s, until Bush pére dropped the ball in 1992.

        The inability of the Democrats—and really liberals in general—to synthesize a party philosophy allowed the Clintons to use the DNC to essentially create the modern DP, which is as corrupt and beholden to Wall Street as Grover Cleveland ever was. Obama is just the next iteration in this process.

        Several years ago, after getting thoroughly fed up with the DP, I started reading the foundational literature of the conservative movement that started in the late ’40s (just as Nader recommends now). While I did agree with much of what was written (Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative is pretty scary), I was impressed by the willingness of the writers and many in the GOP to seek, and accept a larger world view (weltschauuang). They did this by defining what they were about, what the wanted and rejected, and then stating this clearly.

        We on the left need to do this. We need to stop kow-towing to the god of “relativism” and “inclusiveness”, and be willing to say: “Here is where I stand. Join me if want.” We need to stop fretting over every little variation and every little subgroup of a subgroup. We need to start defining and articulating clearly who we are and what we want. Misunderstood and misused terms like “progressive”, “liberal”, “inclusive”, etc. only hinder the discussion we need to get ourselves organized.

        For me, a platform based on the political and economic realities of making a working democracy would be the place to start. Working from the basic definition, we would then define the political and economic requirements and boundaries needed to make that system work. I think most who call themselves “progressive” and “liberal” will find much there to agree with. But no matter what, they’ll have to accept some disappointments and compromises.

      2. EmilianoZ

        an alliance of left and right

        LOL! I think we’ve seen this movie before. Let’s consider the Iranian Revolution for instance. The Shah was universally loathed from left to right, from the communists to the fundamentalists. They banded together and got rid of the Shah. I think we all know what happened next. The fundamentalists got rid of all the other groups.

        You could also consider the French revolutions of 1789, 1830 and 1848. You could say they blended right (bourgeoisie) and left (working class). In all 3 cases, the bourgeoisie ended up crushing the left (militarily). All left/right revolutions end up the same way with those most willing to use violence crushing the other party.

        In the present situation, there is nothing remotely compatible between the aims of the right and the the aims of the left. What do Tea Party fundamentalists want? What is the ultimate libertarian wet dream? Complete corporate dominance, of course. Corporations being able to do whatever they want without gov’ment interference. Big Pharma selling quack medicine without FDA, fracking in your backyard because they can, the whole corporate 9 yards.

        Which part of this does the left want? Why would the left carry water for people who only have contempt for liberal ideals?

        The revolution is now more likely to come from the right than the left. When it happens, the best thing the left can do is cross the border north and beg Canada for political asylum.

        1. Banger

          Your historical examples don’t fit at least not for me. Having said that your question is good. What do we have in common. First, we need to try and find out rather than making fun of them and belittling their concerns–much of the right are traditionalists–are you sure all the values are so bad just because they are less than enthusiastic about gay marriage and abortion? Second, I think we have some very obvious things in common as others have noted as follows: good governance as in public officials not being bribed as they are routinely at this time, stronger democratic institutions (we differ from the Tea Party on what to do but the goals are similar); letting corporations who fail die a dignified death rather than propping them up; not writing laws specifically to limit competition in the marketplace as is the trend today in the federal and some state governments; many on the right want Constitutional rule which we do not have today, for example, a return to habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights and so on.

          You prefer, evidently the rule of corporate oligarchs that run the Democratic Party, fine–that’s what you’ll get. You will get no change from that direction if that’s what you want. The DP is unreformable contrary to what the true believers over at DKOS will tell you–money rules there with less than a handful of exceptions in the Senate and not much more in the House.

          1. James Levy

            He never said he liked the rule of corporate oligarchs–that’s just crap you are making up. He said that plenty of the people in the Tea Part hate blacks, Jews (cover words: Wall Street and Hollywood), want women “back in their place”, and hate foreigners and the culture of educated people in general. They LOVE capitalism, competition, Football, NASCAR, machismo, militarism, and hierarchies (all conservatism is in the end a defense of hierarchies and privileges). They have never given a shit about the civil rights of anyone but themselves. Their similarities with the Left are at best superficial. And I’d rather be ruled by neoliberal shits than the American Taliban. At least they will leave me to die in peace and not round up my friends so they can be “cured” of homosexuality and have my children taught creationist fantasies in a “Christian” America.

            1. Banger

              There’s an element of that, of course–we can call out lots of groups including blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Lutherans, Episcopalians (I have issues), Catholics, American Buddhists, the Yoga people, the gun nuts, ex-cons, martial artists, Gays, Lesbians, TS, TV, and omnisexuals, even left-wing (even radical) intellectuals and/or rabble-rousers. I can say something cutting concerning the individual and collective stupidity of many of those groups and I forgot, above all, the rulings elites who are those who step on us. And the are the ones who profit from divisions because they don’t want dialogue prefer distrust–they don’t want anyone to listen with compassion or want that word ever to crop up–they want a nation of strangers who are at each other’s throats so that everyone competes and blames themselves for not getting the gold ring–not realizing the game is rigged.

              That’s why I say without some kind of alliance between people who are either libertarians, or traditionalists (or both), we are getting nowhere–you think I’m wrong? Tell me how you suggest that we get to the promised land. I’ve seen all kinds of approaches but the left in this country is, frankly, limited to no more than 20 percent, culturally (which is what counts when push comes to shove as it does in politics), at best and most of those are really centrists who are sentimental and/or compassionate. I know, poll after poll indicates Americans are more progressive, blah, blah but the analysis does not include the fact most people are able to hold completely contradictory ideas at the same time depending on how the question is asked and the setting particularly these days. The fact is that the “juice” of the left is very weak and it is obvious as we moved into this era. Over several decades, of course, this might change. As for now the political energy is chaotic and very interesting–we need to listen and make friends.

          2. reslez

            “Less than enthusiastic”? The Tea Party wants gays back in the closet like they were in the 50s, effectively banned from the workplace and civil life. It must be a lot easier to downplay their hatred when it’s not directed at you.

            Abortion? They want to ban basic birth control, for everyone. They want to frack the planet into extinction. The Tea Party is not a potential ally. They are closer to their libertarian cousins, who also hate women’s rights. (Ever read a libertarian fantasy that didn’t include women put in their place? Not me.) The Teaps can’t help themselves, they will impose their social values everywhere they can. You can’t negotiate with cancer.

            1. James Levy

              This is what gets under my skin in these discussions. If you are black, or gay. or a woman, electing mainstream Democrats over right-wing Republicans does make a difference, and Nero et al. simply will not acknowledge this because they think that the needs of those minorities are small potatoes compare to the “real” issues. But their oxen are not getting gored. Yet what really overwhelms me are impotence and despair.

        2. Working Class Nero

          You could make the same argument about the October Revolution. Sure at first it seemed the Bolshevik Leftists overthrew the Bourgeois February Revolution but just a few years later the Right Nationalist Stalin, with his policy of Socialism in One Country, won the day. Trotsky, the leader of the Leftists, fled to Mexico where he died at the hands of Stalin’s executioners which led to a temporary lull for the Left Communists and their Permanent Revolution.

          What’s interesting though is that Trotskyite remnants in the US got wise on the impotence of the Left and they ended up switching sides and have become the very powerful Neoconservatives on the Right. The finally got their Permanent Revolution, which is now called Neoliberalism in Every Country, and it is currently in full effect in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, and many other places around the world, but the outcome is still somewhat undecided. So in a strange, mirrors in the wilderness kind of way, the only way to fight the New Trotskyite’s universalism is through particularism which could also be called Nationalism in at least One Country.

      3. Paul Tioxon

        I have watched the reaction to Cantor’s loss and there are two simultaneous real reasons for Cantor’s loss that make sense under analysis. The one is the nuts and bolts of running for office. All politics are local. Cantor was not even in his home district for the election, and Chris Hayes asked the impertinent question last night, did anyone ask when he voted? If you remember the last big shot that was taken by surprise, it was Martha Coakley in Mass. who lost to Scott Brown for the US Senate. She was oblivious to even the simplest cues of paying attention to detail and she was not EVEN distracted by being in DC. There seems to also have been the talk radio network of support for him which some how does not show up in the professionally run polls by candidates campaign staffs. His polling showed absolutely no hint of losing. Are these polls rip offs and a waste of money by con artists dipping into the rivers of money flooding into electioneering? The only organized group who could be a countervailing election day operation to the established Republican Party operation would be The Libertarian Party, who seem to have a fellow traveler in Brat. No outside money, no outside big name support, aka Sarah Palin. This is an example of you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. But you can fool the establishment candidates on the local level more than you think.

        The operating causes, other than the nuts and bolts of electioneering, are issues that can motivate any given registered voter on any given election to come out and vote. And there is no reason to believe that a hatred of foreigners was one of them, rather, crony capitalism, or as Brat was articulating it, distortions of the market in the form of bailouts and government favoritism. Brat spoke of a conservative Creed: Free Markets. This is popularly known as pocketbook politics, or voting with your wallet. Populism with all its ancillary emotional nativist attitude is about being economically diminished by some outside cause, namely you, the voter are not lazy, outside forces put you out of work, lost your home, had you new car repoed, because you could not make the payments any more. But when big banks and big auto got a helping hand, you got served with foreclosure papers and evictions. Why did they make money appear out of no where for them, and not you?

        Cantor was shown to have spent more money on campaign steak house dining than Brat spent on his entire campaign. And an easy look up of donors produced Wall St heavy weights, Goldman Sachs, Black Stone etc etc. Brat made Cantor out to be a sellout to Wall St and schmoozing big shot living high on the hog. Meanwhile, the Northern VA suburbs touched on the district Cantor depended upon for votes, the same district that was home to many people he put out of work or were made to work without pay during the Cantor lead government shutdown. He got paid, they got furloughs and he wants their support to go back to Congress and do this some more? The resentment towards a Congress who live in fantasy land at the expense of the people without the insulation of political benefactors is present nationwide. Brat seems to be targeting these meat and potato issues, and with spending barely no money at all, less than $200k, he beat a powerful incumbent who spent over $5MILLION! Opinions were not influenced by ads or mailings. Polls show that immigration was not a critical issue for over 60% of the voters in the district. But crony capitalism, corruption and greedy bought politicians who only seem to help the rich to get richer, do nothing else, but alienate voters. And this from a recently gerrymandered district for extra conservative stronghold status.

        Crony capitalism is certainly a main stay of NC and other economists such as Bill Black and Jamie Galbraith, to name just 2. I saw Ralph Nader in 1979 at a national economic development conference for coops and one thing he said which I repeat to this day, to the shock of liberals, is that we should just buy back Congress. Now, with 300 million people, if we all gave $10 a piece, they would be in our pocket. Of course, the good liberals would never stoop to having to pay for democracy and the good conservatives would never spend a dime on tribute for liberty, blah blah blah. I just don’t want have to wake up one day to America turned into a Syrian civil war, because factionalism over how far we have to stoop is too distasteful to get control over our lives. If we wait long enough to allow things to get further out of control, there will be no safety net holding people back from making desperate decisions just to eat or stay warm for one night in the cold. Even I can vote for a republican if they can pass a law that actually protects me and my family from falling into the abyss of debt, low wages and rising costs for basic public services such as education and health care. I can definitely vote against democrats who are more interested in tax incentives for corporation to make more jobs in America, which they should be doing anyway. I can vote for anyone at all, if they rationalized the economy in my favor for a change.


        Pennsylvania Working Families helped win voter approval May 20 of a City Charter change requiring city subcontractors to pay their workers a “living wage” above the federal minimum. And last week, its canvassers turned in just under 40,000 petition signatures to put a nonbinding resolution on the November ballot demanding an end to state control of Philadelphia schools.

        The group, a coalition of labor unions and liberal activists, plans to advocate for progressive issues and eventually to recruit and boost candidates it considers “real” progressives in a city dominated by the Democrats.

        “Because we have a one-party system in Philadelphia, there is not always a force to push back against the powers-that-be on behalf of working families,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of the faith-based community group POWER ( Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) and pastor of Living Waters United Church of Christ in the Oxford Circle section.

        Nationally, Working Families has won recent victories on social-justice measures in New York, Connecticut, and Oregon. Its strategists believe the group is riding an updraft in U.S. politics, with concern over rising income inequality and a sense on the left that leading Democrats are in thrall to Wall Street and corporate interests.


      4. Ed S.

        they believe politics is about convincing your opponent that you are right.

        It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mouse.

      5. EmilianoZ

        Green Tea Party

        LOL! The Tea Party has the Koch bros to fund and organize them. What billionaire is gonna fund a party whose aim should be to end billionaires?

  8. ArkansasAngie

    Personally … I am thrilled.

    Leave no incumbent in office. Unelect them all.

    I hope we see more bums get thrown out … from both parties.

    1. Carolinian

      Newt Gingrich’s only good idea in his “Contract with America” was term limits. Naturally when he became Speaker it was the first thing he dropped.

      I’d also like to see some term limits for our national political reporters. Listening to David Broder drone on over the decades the thought bubble was: “how do we vote you out of office?” These journalistic bigfeet have a great deal of power and influence….never seem to leave.

      1. Carla

        We have term limits. They’re called elections. What we don’t have is free and fair elections. That’s the crux of the problem, IMO.

        Abolish corporate personhood rights and return Constitutional protections to human beings. Abolish the doctrine of money as protected speech. Publicly fund campaigns. I realize this is much more easily said than done, but it ain’t rocket science.

        1. Carolinian

          I’m being a little flip but perhaps term limits are the only way to get to the better version of reform you describe. Honestly I don’t know what the answer is.

  9. skippy

    As Zach Beauchamp points out, Brat thinks that most economists have smuggled a utilitarian ethic—maximizing the most good for the most people—into economic analysis, without debating whether there are other, better ethics.

    What would be a better ethic? Well, for Brat that’s simple enough: Christianity. He realizes that markets can fail, but he doesn’t think regulation is the answer. He thinks religion is. “If markets are bad, which they are, that means people are bad, which they are,” he says in a 2011 paper. The answer is to “preach the gospel and change hearts and souls,” so we can “make all of the people good”—which means “markets will be good” – Wonkblog

    David Brat’s work at Randolph-Macon College gives one more clue to who he is. Aside from chairing the economics department, he is director of the BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism program. In this program, underwritten by the bank BB&T’s charitable foundation and inaugurated in 2008, colleges teach a curriculum that promotes free-market economics, and notably, the ideas of Ayn Rand.

    The man behind the program, former BB&T chairman and CEO John Allison has described the curriculum as a way of helping save America from economic decline:

    Unless students (i.e., future leaders, teachers, professors, etc.) learn the principles that underlie a free society, the United States will continue to move toward statism and economic decline. The believers in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” must retake the universities, or America will ultimately become a second-tier country with a dark future. That is the context in which BB&T began its program “The Moral Foundations of Capitalism.”

    Allison added that he was frustrated intellectuals had “dismissed” free-market economic ideas. This is no casual cause for Allison; he is the president and CEO of the Cato Institute and also sat on the board of directors of the Ayn Rand Institute, a think tank that promotes the objectivist writer’s ideas. Allison adds in this article that Atlas Shrugged was usually included in the curriculum for the program.

    According to Allison, under the program universities received $50,000 to $200,000 per year over the course of 10 years of teaching the courses. – Vox

    Skippy… Victory over corporatist’s – [????] – The Tea Party is not anti Corporatist’s, its anti Government, Pro Randian Free Markets~

  10. Skeptic

    So, Brat is now a Player. He gets to sit at the table, play the Game and increase his holdings. Then, at some point, he cashes in his chips and a new Player takes over. What else is new? (Hey, ask the Irish, Greeks, Cypriots, Italians, etc.)

    As or Cantor, he will land on his enriched feet.

    1. JuneTown

      “”So, Brat is now a Player. He gets to sit at the table, play the Game and increase his holdings. “”
      Actually, he gets to run as a Republican for the 7th District seat in Congress.
      In an election.
      Against this guy.
      Could be REAL interesting.
      “Gerry-mandering”, or no gerry-mandering.

      1. JTFaraday

        Well, maybe the insane clown posse will overshoot its wad and this nice university administrator will get the chance to get rich!, (I’m not going to call it though).

          1. JuneTown

            Fair enough.
            His dear Mom was a social worker, obviously considered a loser by Dave in his embracing Rand’s phuque-everybody- else philosophy.
            While we agree about the R+10 nature of the gerry-mandered District 7 today, it is none the less true that the vote was anti-establishment and somewhat against the do-nothings in Congress. Maybe Dems voted there, too.
            More of the Same, only worse, might not cut it this time around.
            The People are pissed off and tired of do-nothingism.
            And Trammell seems to be deeply personally planted in an all-in, let’s-save-this-country-by-fixing-it philosophy.
            Kind of like Brat’s Mom.
            I think it can and will be a most interesting political-economic-history debate and a very close outcome in the November election.
            That’s the extent of my call.
            From Hallwood, Virginia.

        1. JuneTown

          Dem. Warner won the District, and Obama lost by only 7 points (once).
          Looks like a lot of “independence” in residence.
          Which is what we need here.
          Dems say they will not fund Trammell.
          This is like the holy-grail for an independent candidate who is running only to save the country.
          No Dem money versus the Koch’s Billions.
          That’s my kind of fight.
          Votes count. Money does not.
          THAT is how we got here.

  11. DakotabornKansan

    “If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.” – Franklin Roosevelt

    Dwight Eisenhower viewed the early rise of the modern American right with alarm. He knew that extreme movements evolved from the psychological and social needs of their supporters. Free societies did not necessarily perpetuate freedom; many of their citizens felt more comfortable under a government with rigid order and guaranteed aspects of life. He also realized that authoritarianism could happen even in the United States. He did not believe that America was immunized against the seeds of extremism.

    Robert Biggs, a WW II veteran, wrote President Eisenhower a letter saying that he “felt from your recent speeches the feeling of hedging and a little uncertainty. We wait for someone to speak for us and back him completely if the statement is made in truth.” Eisenhower wrote Biggs:

    “I think it is undeniably true that the activities of our government have tended to become much more complex, impersonal and remote from the individual, with consequent loss in simplicity, direct human contact and clear guidance by higher authority I believe you to be urging. In good part this situation is inherent in life in the mid-twentieth century – in a highly developed economy and a highly complex society such as our own…

    “I doubt that citizens like yourself could ever, under our democratic system, be provided with the universal degree of certainty, the confidence in their understanding of our problems, and the clear guidance from higher authority that you believe needed. Such unity is not only logical but indeed indispensable in a successful military organization, but in a democracy debate is the breath of life. This is to me what Lincoln meant by government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

    “The mental stress and burden which this form of government imposes has been particularly well recognized in a little book about which I have spoken on several occasions. It is “The True Believer,” by Eric Hoffer; you might find it of interest. In it, he points out that dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads them to tend to support such systems – freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions.”

    Behaviors are again emerging in our nation’s political scene that violate the basic social contract of what this country is about, raising the ugly specter of mob rule. This is very worrisome. Eric Hoffer described these political busybodies, zealots for a cause, The True Believers, who filled the ranks of ideological movements that created the totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century. The political cowardliness of so many who know better is a sad commentary and equally alarming.

    The United States, which has a long history of xenophobia and antidemocratic movements that resemble fascism functionally, is not exempt from fascism. All that it takes is polarization and some catastrophic setbacks for fascist fringe groups to enter the mainstream.

    Robert Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, says fascism already exists “at the level of Stage One” within the U.S. “Since 9/11 civil liberties have been curtailed to popular acclaim in a patriotic war upon terrorists.” Islamophobia and ant-immigrant resentment have been a gold mine for the radical right.

    The symbols and language of American fascism will not be like those of the European fascists. As Orwell said, they would be just as familiar and reassuring to loyal Americans as were the symbols and language of German and Italian fascisms to many Germans and Italians. There will be no swastikas, no hint of fascism, in an American fascism. Its targets – the First Amendment, the separation of church and state, gun control, school curriculum, science, book censorship, just to name a few. “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag [stars and stripes or stars and bars] and carrying a cross.” – Sinclair Lewis

    A German said of pre-Hitlerian Germany that “The feeling of having come to the end of all things was one of the worst troubles we endured after the lost war.” A ruined middle class with many new poor were the main supporters of the Nazi and Fascist revolutions in Germany and Italy. Seeing themselves as victims of degrading and unjust unemployment, they were willing to listen to those who called for change.

    “Man would fain be great and sees that he is little; would fain be happy and sees that he is miserable; would fain be perfect and sees that he is full of imperfections; would fain be the object of the love and esteem of men, and sees that his faults merit only their aversion and contempt. The embarrassment wherein he finds himself produces in him the most unjust and criminal passions imaginable, for he conceives a mortal hatred against that truth which blames him and convinces him of his faults.” – Blaise Pascal, Pensees

    “And slime had they for mortar.” – Genesis II

    1. Banger

      Great quotes, thanks. While 9/11 has certainly been a boon for the right note that the left supported those measures and fell for the whole narrative as well. There was almost no critique of the event–everyone swallowed the official story without a thought without investigation. I’m not going to argue about what happened only that the event was used to destroy the Constitution (final blow was the NDAA and Obama initiative) and that the facts were never examined closely and any one who disagreed was shouted down by leftists as “conspiracy nuts.”

    2. Jim Haygood

      “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag [stars and stripes or stars and bars] and carrying a cross.” – Sinclair Lewis

      As in the U.S. flags on every telephone pole, which used to be put up on Memorial Day for the parade and then taken down. Now they stay up 365 days a year.

      Nothing wrong with honoring the national symbol. But massed, omnipresent flag displays are intended to glorify the imperial might of the state, not the process of democratic consultation.

    3. MikeNY

      Yes, excellent quotes. Pascal is sublime.

      Creeping (or galloping?) desperation makes people receptive to ‘radical’ political solutions. We’re seeing it in Europe, and we’re seeing it here.

    4. David Lentini

      Great post! I love the Eisenhower letter, and found a PDF of it to share with others. I also finally bought Hofer’s book and a couple of others too.

      Another excellent book is Fritz Stern’s The Culture of Despair which discusses three key 19th Century German (second-rate) philosophers who rose to prominence in the ’20s and whose ideas were bastardized by the Nazis in the ’30s. Chris Hedges often mentions the book, and uses it as providing an example of the sort of cultural malaise we see today and the hacks who are laying the groundwork for a new fascism.

    5. FederalismForever

      Lots of really solid analysis re the tea party here today. Am relieved that so many here at NC have not fallen for the mainstream Left’s caricature of the tea party.

      Speaking of Eisenhower, he is Colin Powell’s hero. I have often wondered how recent Republican history might have differed if Colin Powell had run for President in 1996. Powell’s stated views on most topics are usually more moderate and pragmatic than those of the right-wing lunatic fringe (ignoring, for the moment, his advocacy of the Iraq invasion before the UN), and he was extremely popular with the Republican base. It seems reasonable to conclude that Powell in the 1990s could have successfully exercised a moderating influence on the Gingrich coalition similar to Eisenhower’s moderating influence on the McCarthy/Bircher right in the 1950s.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Brat is reported to have opposed Obamacare too; whereas of late, the Vichy Republican leadership (including Cantor) has accepted a typical ‘mend not end’ compromise.

    Mercilessly bashing Obamacare (and the guy it’s named for) is a winning platform in 2014. Hit it again, harder!

    1. James Levy

      Obamacare sucks. Obama sucks. So what are we going to replace them with? People need medical care. The nation needs ethical leadership. Hitting at Obama the way you describe, and by people like Brat, is not going to get us critical things like medical care for all and ethical leadership, unless you are delusional enough to think that Ayn Rand represents humane ethics. Obama has to be hit with all the firepower that can be brought to bear, from an ethical Left perspective. We’ve got to show what an amoral creep he is, how is programs don’t help, and what will help the vast majority of Americans (single payer, retreat from Empire, an NSA and CIA that monitor actual threats and not everything under the sun, a revitalized 4th Amendment, the end of corporate personhood, the dismantling of the too-big-to-fail financial institutions, an increased minimum wage, a national jobs program, real progressive taxation).

    2. JTFaraday

      They’re not going to repeal Obamacare. They’re going to repeal the employer mandate in Obamacare.

      I’m already stocking the popcorn.

    3. JuneTown

      Again, Jim.
      Obama only lost this District by 7 points.
      And Warner won it handily.
      That sounds good, but a big disappointment, actually.

  13. timbers

    “Brat made an economic argument on immigration about how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to import cheap labor to take away “your” jobs. This has a nativist element to it, and it was certainly used as a rallying cry by right-wing radio talk show hosts. But even when Brat says that immigration won the race for him, he says it in terms of Cantor “supporting the U.S. Chamber agenda.” The key ad on this showed Cantor in a picture with Facebook’s Marc Zuckerberg. It’s all coherent with the idea of Cantor as handing corporate America whatever they want.”


    I live in the Boston area and (try) to work in financial services often times at State Street, doing contract work. The entire State Street IT Dept is staffed with Indians (at what half our wages?) with work visas, except 1 male white American manager. So many Indians are employed in Boston area, you see then in crowds on public transportation and entire apartment complexes are occupied by them. Additionally, State Street has offices in India for shift work there.

    Didn’t work visa numbers recently increase from 65,000 to 85,000 PLUS Obama wants to change rules allowing their spouses to work, too? That could be as much as another 85,000 or 170,000 total?

    That’s why even though I’m married to an immigrant, I cringe at Dems immigration “reform” which will surely contains huge corporate give-a-ways and allow many more cheap foreign workers in to undercut our wages even more. And, bet it won’t actually “reform” anything.

    1. John

      The Senate bill Ted Cruz, yes that Ted Cruz, offered his amendment which increased them to 320,000 PER YEAR.

  14. indio007

    Let’s face facts.
    Corporations having a stream of revenue given the force of law has gotten out of control.
    If you don’t pay your taxes , men with guns WILL come to your house and take your stuff under threat of death if you resist.
    Doing this so as to enforce a corporate profit center is immoral.

    Charter schools (as encapsulated by ALEC’s legislative agenda) is the poster child for this.

    People have had enough of being “lead” by useful idiots.

  15. Frank Stain

    I completely disagree with all the comments about how ‘anti-corporate’ the tea party is, and I think the fantasy of some right-left alliance here would benefit from the virtue of much clearer thinking. Dave Brat dispensed nasty and slimy Eric Cantor. Good. But before getting all excited at the prospect of having this enemy of your enemy as your best friend, you really should check out the economic program on his website.

    Deficits without End, Debt over $17 Trillion and Unfunded Entitlement Liabilities are over $125 Trillion.
    Dave Brat understands that an economy cannot thrive with such a crushing national debt, and will oppose the efforts of status quo politicians like Eric Cantor to continue to spend money we do not have.

    Many young people are now beginning to understand the “inter generational” theft that is occurring. We charge the tab, and they will pay the bill. Unlike Eric Cantor, Dave Brat will fight for the younger generation.
    Our debt rises, Obamacare remains the law of the land, businesses are still afraid to hire, and families are still struggling to make ends meet. Jobs are scarce and, if we continue on the same path, the future is bleak.
    As our congressman, Dave Brat will end the reckless spending and fight every day to get rid of Obamacare. He will work to end the economic uncertainty caused by the lack of leadership in Washington and seek to restore confidence in our dollar, our marketplace, and our national credit.

    So please tell me. I’d love to hear how this progressive-tea alliance gets off the ground with THAT. Do progressives now believe that the problem with the Ryan budget was that it was not austere enough? Because that’s what Dave Brat believes. I think it is complete delusional fantasy to think you can ally with people who voted for that. They voted for Brat because Cantor did not oppose Obamacare enough. Because he did not call for enough tax cuts and budget gutting of public services. This is worse. Not better.

    1. David Lentini

      No one is calling this guy “our BFF”. But both he and we understand that none of these questions can even be addressed without breaking the stranglehold the wealthy and corporations have on our democracy. We can work together on that and debate the rest later. RIght now, we can’t even have a real debate, so long as the current powers stay on top.

      Stop looking for wholesale conversion and take help where you can get it. You can work alongside those who aren’t your BFFs without getting cooties.

      1. Frank Stain

        But both he and we understand that none of these questions can even be addressed without breaking the stranglehold the wealthy and corporations have on our democracy.

        That is delusion. How on earth can the people who voted for Dave Brat care about ‘breaking the stranglehold of wealthy and corporations’ when they voted to suffocate even further whatever public power currently holds them in check? How on earth is MORE tax cuts going to stick it to the wealthy? How is repealing obamacare going to help us? Dave Brat simply does NOT believe that the wealthy have a stranglehold on our democracy. He believes the problem is too much government spending, too much regulation, too high taxes.
        For heaven’s sake. This is a crypto-fascist agenda. The very idea of ‘working alongside’ that is total and utter madness.

        1. David Lentini

          “How on earth can the people who voted for Dave Brat care about ‘breaking the stranglehold of wealthy and corporations’ when they voted to suffocate even further whatever public power currently holds them in check?”

          Because what has kept them in power are the subsidies and bailouts (QE, tax breaks etc.) that the so-called Republican and Democrat “moderates” keep dishing out. That’s been the great game for the 1%—Play-off the Tea Party as raging nutbags against the “sane” Democrats to get the Democrat votes; and play off the “out-of-control liberals” against the Republicans. Guys like Brat and many in the TP are finally calling bullshit on that game; we need to as well. The key is both the TP and have to break the corporate stranglehold in Washington to have the debate that we have needed for decades now. Sure, Brat has an agenda; and so so we. But we need to work together on the things we agree on to get our agendas into play.

          1. JuneTown

            Well, this IS interesting.
            IF there is any wild-ass notion out there that progressives or populists should embrace Dave Brat as “acceptable” for ANY of his ideas, that is dead wrong, and that wild-assed notion must be put to an prompt end.
            What Dave Brat has done is to give us a fair fight.
            Thanks, Dave for the history.
            The Dems have decided to not fund Jack Trammell’s campaign.
            So, it gets even more fair.
            Time for some populist crowd-funding of an election campaign.
            Brat is an Anarcho-capitalist, religious extremist.
            He will do NOTHING for either Virginia or the Fighting Seventh.
            That is basically his promise.
            I say this is right now the best thing that has happened to American politics in a generation, if not more.
            Another Virginian working for Jack.

    2. Banger

      Simple reason will gets me there but it starts with some assumptions that I hold and that perhaps you don’t agree with. First, I don’t believe the federal government is a net benefit to the American people at this point in history. My own preference is for strong democratic institutions within the Constitutional system focused on what we call social democracy, i.e., a federal government that acts to benefit the health of the country as a whole. Of course, no government does that, corruption is always part of the system and sometimes a little corruption is a good thing. But today the corruption is not just a necessary evil it has become, increasingly, the main feature of the federal government and, clearly, this government no longer has the interest of the people as a whole at heart other than in empty rhetoric.

      Let’s review what has happened. The Constitution is no longer in force because we are, by decree of the USG “at war”–this war will last forever as defined by the government. Because we are at war we no longer have habeas corpus, no longer have rule-of-law or the Bill of Rights because the USG can classify us, without trial, as enemy combatants or whatever and kill us, torture us, seize our property or perform any act it deems appropriate to our persons, our families. Now, because of the effectiveness of propaganda there is no reason to take people away in the middle of the night as far as we know. Similarly, the federal government refused to convict the massive crimes (the most massive crimes in U.S. history) that were clearly and obviously committed before and after the financial crisis of 2008 thereby creating a class of people who were not only immune from prosecution but immune from the economic consequences of their actions. And we can go on and on–and I can go into exquisite detail on what I saw as a government contractor going on in the day-to-day operation of the USG.

      When there was the fake “debate” going on about the new health care bill in 09 a charter boat captain I hung around with drinking expresso asked me if I trusted the government to run health-care–I had to stop and think and had to say “no” based on what I knew. Can the government run a system? Obviously yes, governments all over the world do. Look at the trillions of dollars wasted on the stupid and senseless wars we’ve fought recently–look at the billions spent “training” soldiers in Iraq who run when a gun is fired just like the S. Vietnamese army ran. The Iraq war was a spectacular and obvious scam–every hustler in DC was there to syphon off money–the war was fought to make money not actually accomplish a normal objective–that’s how corrupt the system is.

      The Tea Party radicals want to wreck the system and they are right. The left, once an opposition movement, is more interested in laughing at the silly hayseeds and chumps on Comedy Central shows that make fun of the slow disaster that is the U.S. today. Hahahahaha, very funny–meanwhile the left stays home and watches Netflix or whatever and the ignorant masses who try to direct the rage toward all the wrong targets at least have the right idea–they know something is wrong and they feel it in their guts. The left could have marshalled that rage but it chose not to because they, basically, felt that the average person didn’t smell good–didn’t have the right opinion about gay marriage or feminism or religion and so on. This prejudice on the part of the left GUARANTEES that it will, as a force, not be very influential.

      We can stop this drift into feudalism/authoritarianism that we see only if we can ally with populist forces who need the perspective and fact-based reasoning (form some of us at any rate) that is more a feature of the left than the right. We don’t have to agree on all these cultural issues in order to agree on the need for good governance and that we live in a society that needs some form of elementary unity aside from the culture of money and materialism. There is an untapped resource that the left, for cultural reasons, has refused to tap with this absurd insistence on political correctness. Talk to people who share the Tea Party sentiments–these people are, by and large, not monsters they are just people who, often, were brought up in a traditional culture and watch Fox News because it doesn’t reject them like Comedy Central, NPR, or MSNBC does for maintaining traditional values that aren’t, btw, all bad.

      1. Frank Stain

        Bangor, so much of what you say here resonates, and I wholeheartedly agree corruption is systemic and it’s a long time since we had anything like governing in the usual sense. And yes, the left has abandoned working class people, left them to fester. I can agree that tea partiers are no different (certainly no less intelligent) than their grandparents who fought for unions, job security and good wages.
        But nonetheless, they are being funneled into a version of right wing populism that is purely reactionary and resentment-fueled. And the policies they are voting for are WORSE than policies supported even by unsavory people like Eric Cantor. In your post, you spend a lot of time imagining what they were thinking and what they are really trying to accomplish. Well, perhaps you really do understand them at a profound level. However, I would prefer to think that they are intelligent enough to understand what they are voting for. And what they are voting for, as always, is the reactionary defense of racial, sexual, and economic hierarchy.
        It’s sad to see so many on the life buying into their b.s. about immigration.

        1. David Lentini

          Frank, I work with these folks every day to stop the corporate take over of our schools that Obama—the guy who was supposed to be the Great Hope of the Democrats. What you write is just not true. Sure, there are people who call themselves Tea Partiers who fit your description. But the vast majority I’ve met are every bit as intelligent and respectful as the majority who write here. And I’ve met many raging, angry Democrats and progressives who are every bit as irrational as resentment-fueled as your TP’ers.

          You’re buying into a caricature.

        2. Banger

          I’ve actually spent a lot of time talking to people who favor Tea Party ideas and many their ideas and values I find disgusting. But the important part is to listen to them. Why? First, by listening you validate another person and they quickly become less defensive and less alienated from not just you but life itself and you find their harsh views moderating. Many racists, for example, have changed their minds about black people when they both meet under emergency situations and pull together. Experience is what changes negative attitudes and when we accept others, warts and all, we will have a stronger likelihood of being heard.

          Our problems do not stem from people individually but from a highly toxic culture that values the impersonal values of materialism and selfishness. One has to start with some kind of moral stance and, it turns out, that most people share very similar moral values they are just easily flim-flammed by con artists that run our media and our PR firms.

          1. Frank Stain

            Okay, I understand the message that it’s important to listen to them. But I think it’s somewhat contradictory for you to be saying we have to take them seriously, they are raising intelligent critiques of our political culture, etc. Fine.
            But when I say ‘Okay, how about we take seriously what they actually voted for? Surely they are intelligent enough to understand they are voting for economic suicide?’
            But then you say, ‘no, forget about that. Their hearts are in the right place. That’s all we need to know’. I don’t buy it. Either you treat them as intelligent adults making responsible choices or you don’t. If you are willing to grant them intelligence and discernment, then you have to judge them according to the political choices they actually make.

            1. Banger

              I have no problem with what you say except for one word “judge.” That’s the problem. When we judge others we put them into a cage in our minds–this feels bad to me–the last thing I want in my mind is a whole lot of cages—I have enough of them. I was taught from wise people that compassion is a requirement for clarity of mind and the heart. Yes, we make people responsible; yes, we assert our point of view respectfully not because they are “right” or even a little bit right but because we honor the human spirit–we bow to compassion as a practice even if we aren’t feeling it completely.

              Put it another way, I can categorize my wife’s ex-husband but that does me no good–in fact it makes it hard to establish a good rapport with him. I’ve met people who have savage ideas who spend time in and out of prison but by listening to them I can see them relax just a little–that’s what I’m saying. So what if some farmer growing cotton thinks black people are lazy? Compassion tells me he needs to believe that for his sense of self-esteem. Do I further destroy his self-esteem and make him hostile–is that advantageous–he’ll just put me in cage in his own mind. I get no satisfaction form being right–but I assert what I believe or feel vigorously and am willing to tell others that I don’t agree with them but I avoid cages–though I am more guilty of it than I care to admit sometimes.

              1. Banger

                I forgot to say that I learned from violent people that when you put people in cages its easy to hurt them or even kill them. So if you really think someone is very bad and the courts won’t convict–then the logic would be to exterminate them. That is the lesson for me of the Jews during the Holocaust which fascinated me as an adolescent and put a permanent question mark over my head.

      2. David Lentini

        “The Tea Party radicals want to wreck the system and they are right. The left, once an opposition movement, is more interested in laughing at the silly hayseeds and chumps on Comedy Central shows that make fun of the slow disaster that is the U.S. today. ”

        That’s been a major part of the game for over a decade now. Using college-level humor to keep the smug liberals and progressives feeling superior while anesthetizing them to our creeping inverted totalitarianism has been very effective. I think that success reflects a lack of real political awareness and understanding among the liberals and progressives; they are suckers for the caricatures on Stewart and Colbert. Meanwhile, Obama keeps moving the 1% agenda forward.

  16. Robert

    “…Cantor was the city slicker (even the Jewish city slicker, some suggest)…”

    Now every Jewish member of the U.S. Congress is either Bernie Sanders or a Democrat.

  17. EmilianoZ

    As predicted months ago, incumbent Rs are being punished for caving in during the gov’ment shutdown dispute. With more Tea Party fundamentalists in Congress, the next one’s gonna bruise. Oh man, when is it scheduled?

  18. McMike

    Right/left alliance? Nonsense. (First, we should of course caveat the danger of reading so much into a single election.)

    That said, the tea party moment is but one of a long line of right wing narrow-issue populist movements that is fomented by the establishment right through cynical propaganda, which then, predictably, gets a little out of line and must be reigned in. This particular one having a little more blowback perhaps than the GOP had intended. But will of course get herded back onto the reservation soon enough.

    This is just a bad case of the Timothy McVeigh effect, collateral damage in the tried and true conservative tactic of tickling the prefrontal rage impulse of its base.

    There is simply no way the rabid right will break bread with the left. The hatred by the right for the left is deeper than any other of their hatreds, a full and perfect trump.

    The tea party, um, critique is a classic example of establishment co-opting of discontent. Capture the rage, allow it a slight bit of head space, then redirect it.

    The main complaint underlying everything else for the tea party with establishment GOP is not that they help banks, it is that they are still TOO LIBERAL. That’s the blowback on the GOP – they have labelled everything left of Attila the Hun as socialist, and the tea partiers took it to heart. The GOP did its propaganda job a little too well, and now needs to hit reset – which they have also done countless times, as former memes are shoved into the memory hole and replaced by new memes, without irony or memory.

    1. DakotabornKansan

      Yes. Tea Party/Progressive alliance??? I will believe that when I believe that there are unicorns.

      Digby writes, “I think it’s probably a good idea for progressives to be very clear-eyed about the “populist” message from this upset. Yes, Brat ran against the moneyed elites. And that’s an encouraging sign for potential reform. But it’s a mistake to discount the other side of that coin: Nativism. Brat’s campaign is the perfect picture of the traditional right wing populist strain in America: you can’t have one without the other.

      She quotes Jack Balkin:

      “History teaches us that populism has recurring pathologies; it is especially important to recognize and counteract them. These dangers are particularly obvious to academics and other intellectual elites: They include fascism, nativism, anti-intellectualism, persecution of unpopular minorities, exaltation of the mediocre, and romantic exaggeration of the wisdom and virtue of the masses.”

      Charlie Pierce, “The Unicorn Hunt,” on “the rosy speculation that Brat’s victory somehow can be the transitional event that brings together anti-corporate, Elizabeth Warren liberals and the allegedly anti-bailout populist wing of the Tea Party right.”

      1. McMike

        I can actually imagine the dialog at the summit meeting:

        Progressive: banks should not be bailed out!

        Tea Partier: yeah! There should be no bailouts!

        Prog [talking simultaneously as TP]: we should nationalize the banks, reinstitute glass-steagal, strengthen the SEC, write-down underwater loans, and include consumer representatives on the Fed Board to create a public-private partnership paradise.

        TP [talking simultaneously as Prog]: we should eliminate all regulation, close the Fed discount window, streamline the foreclosure process, and abolish the FDIC and SEC to create a libertarian paradise.

        Prog & TP [in unison]: awkward…

        1. JuneTown

          semi-prog: “we should nationalize the banks…”
          prog. we should nationalize the money system, and let banks be free to do banking.
          TPer – Autrian: OK if we put the money on the gold standard.
          prog: OK if the government controls the gold supply (it BEING the money supply)
          TPer – Austrian. no friggin way you’re getting my gold.
          prog: Ok then, let’s nationalize the money system and end the banking cartel, put banks on full-reserve, eliminate a lot of regulation, maybe even the FDIC, and just have the guv create and issue the money ….like the Constitution says.
          TPer – Austrian. : Shoot.

  19. Kurt Sperry

    Open primary dynamics have the rather strange result of often allowing the voter the only primary vote that actually carries any weight. Open primaries also don’t request or require that one officially affiliate oneself with a party to vote, which is I think a very good thing. If crossover voting can put heterodox non-insider candidates–even candidates the party insiders loathe– into positions to potentially win elections it weakens the control mechanisms that money can use to influence politics. Corruption requires strong, even harsh, party discipline to enforce and the corruption of politics by money is the single biggest threat to American democracy. Obviously–but perhaps not–I would welcome the conservatives to likewise cross over in open primary states to do the same, to vote for heterodox non-insider lefties for the exact same reasons.

    If the figure flying around of the election spending disparity of 40-1 is anywhere close to true, that is actually for me the single most significant fact of this primary. Far more than whatever partisan or ideological spinning can be done off it. If people outspent 40-1 can now win elections, what does really mean? I think it means more people may finally be developing a resistance to mega million dollar media blitzes and mainstream media political orthodoxy, things that are boilerplate for the consent manufacturing machine.

    If this starts any sort of trend look for a bipartisan push to close existing open primaries. But the 40-1 thing still bodes ill for all political insiders.

    1. flora

      re: open primaries. Agreed. Kansas didn’t start it’s legislative turn to the far right until after the state GOP changed from open to closed primaries. The last election cycle big money went into defeating the remaining GOP moderates in their primaries.

  20. Globus Pallidus XI

    Pity that there aren’t any left wing populists. There used to be!

    Why is it that the conservatives are having a battle inside the Republican party between corporate shills and populist grass roots, but the liberals are 100% corporate shill and STILL support Obama?

    One is reminded that FDR supported a tight immigration law, which was maintained until about 1970 and US wages did great. The law was loosed starting around 1970, the demographic impact on the US labor market didn’t really start until around 1980 and that’s when US wages suddenly divorced from productivity.

    If you are not for immigration restrictions you are anti-labor. It’s that simple.

    1. John Yard

      Absolutely correct. The 1960’s saw a momentous shift from a old ‘left’ which was majoritarian , and sought a modernist ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ to the new ‘left’ which was minoritarian , and sought a post-modernist coalition of the marginal.
      The verdict of at least recent history is that the new left marginalized itself. A recent example is ‘gay marriage’. As this is achieved , gays who marry or who aspire to marriage will leave the coalition of the marginal to join the country club, budding Republicans all. There is zero solidarity with other marginal groups. The same can be said for blacks, Hispanics , women… the rest of the long list.
      … Whereas majoritarian coalitions did not and will not collapse with the partial attainment of their goals. I remain highly skeptical of a left whose defeats are self-inflicted. That’s why the right has been energized by the financial crisis – there is no ‘left’ any more.

  21. Jonathan

    Rather, Cantor’s loss is a loss for the Israel Lobby. Stupid liberals see everything through their ideological glasses. If it’s liberal it’s good. Useful idiots.
    However, you can be sure the Lobby won’t take this lying down. They play very dirty. They are very dirty.

    1. JuneTown

      Yeah, but they lack a lapdog in the Congress right now, like you said, a big loss for the lobby.
      No Lieberman. No Cantor.
      Maybe time to restore relations with Iran……before they attack AlQuaeda again.
      Like they did after 9/11 .

  22. casino implosion

    “Pick up truck guys voting against their economic self interest”, eh? Right, they should have been voting for the Democratic Party of Rubin, Summers, Geithner, Clinton, NAFTA, the Wall Street bailouts and the west coast “disruptive” tech boom. No one owning a gun or a pickup truck could possibly have any understanding of these matters or any desire to at least exert some kind of choice over who is fucking them, if they have to be fucked.

  23. skippy

    For all the verbiage and historical perspectives the libertarian – tea party movement can be boiled down to simply being an ***anti democratic ideology*** which then gives the flip side to that coin ***Fascism***.

    Skippy… its largely a condition resulting from monetizing the mind from an individuals perspective.

    1. Banger

      Over-simplistic and too categorical and leaves no room for dialogue therefore no room for progress no room for growth and expansion. They’re bad we’re good–well maybe but is anyone 100% good? Not even close. The left has proven itself to be ineffectual and, at the moment, moribund so more of the same then?

      1. skippy

        Banger with all due respect, after much reading and personal experience with high and low order libertarian thinkers, that’s where the conversation ultimately devolves too.

        Your invoking of “They’re” ***Good – Bad*** is a subjective projection, as I never engaged in any emotive delineation in my comment. The same applies to your inclusion of the Left, hard to be effectual and not moribund when you don’t exist in the first place. The so called left or labour was crushed long ago, what remnants remained became so intellectualized, that only mental aficionados partook of its palate in rarefied strata.

        The objective point still remains “its largely a condition resulting from monetizing the mind from an individuals perspective”. To this point I would offer the larger meta studies on animal behavior, the overwhelming evidence of democratic organization and the psychological ramifications of ego centrism, were soaking in it.

        skippy…. yet at the end of it all…. one only needs to follow the money.

  24. Synopticist

    This has been a really interesting discussion, and mirrors many thought I’ve been having about marrying the UK/European left with the anti-EU right.

    I’ve always been instinctively opposed to any alliance of the left with libertarians. I’m still not convinced, but things have got worse than I’d ever anticipated, so perhaps this is becoming neccessary.
    There some comments about failed historic left-right alliances, like in Iran during the shahs fall. So we need a plan. Kill the oligarchs, and THEN the hard right.

  25. Andrew

    While there have been historical examples in America of transpartisan cooperation and movement making, the results have been very short-lived, sadly. One side splinters and ascends, while the other is trammeled under. I hope that if there is a period of left/right populism (or something similar), that it can create some durable policy before coming decoupled.

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