Michael Hudson: Is This the End of the Unreformable Democratic Party?

Yves here. Some readers have taken to comparing the Democratic Party to the Whigs, which collapsed in the mid 1850s. One of the reasons for the implosion, according to Wikipedia, is “The party failed to develop an effective platform on which to campaign.”

Voters are wising up on the Democratic Party failing to deliver on economic promises that they intended never to honor, and trying to distract from that with “Orange Man Still Bad!” and identity politics. It’s hard to attribute voter rejection of a Clinton hack to progressives, but the Democratic Party is skilled above all at denial.

And the irony is that in 2016, the Democrats were braying that the future was theirs, that one-time minority groups becoming the majority was sure to consign the Republicans to a permanent diminished state. Apparently they never heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Having shelter and food are far more important than identity, yet the Democrats haven’t retreated from “Let them eat wokeness” mode.

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is “and forgive them their debts”: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year

History has been rewritten daily this week almost immediately as it occurs. A Wall Street Journaleditorial on November 4 spun its view of what is at issue for the Democratic Party: “Voters warn Democrats to walk away from the Sanders-Pelosi agenda.” The Democrats’ own leadership quickly agreed with this take, playing the blame game against the Progressive Caucus for insisting on economic reforms that opinion polls have reported are precisely what voters say they want.

But these are not the policies that the party’s major donors want. What really is at issue is just whom the Democratic Party (and their duopoly partners the Republicans too, of course) support: corporate lobbyists and the Donor Class, or wage-earning voters seeking economic policies that benefit them as employees, consumers and debtors.

Can there really be doubt as to what is causing the apathy of voters to support the Clintonite Virginia candidate Terry McAuliffe? Was his loss really because voters opposed Sanders and the Congressional Progressive Caucus as radical extremists for supporting the policy platform that President Biden himself ran on and which got Democrats elected? Was it that Democrats are not sufficiently supporting their Wall Street and corporate donors and lobbyists, and that somehow voting for McAuliffe might empower Bernie Sanders, AOC and the Squad?

Democrats calling themselves “centrist” or “moderate” insist that the Progressives surrender to the Manchin-Sinema rewrite of the original version of the Build Back Better (BBB) act and make it into a grab-bag benefiting the Five Percent instead of the 95 Percent by replacing its most popular proposals with giveaways to the wealthy – as if this will win elections. Or at least, win campaign financing for the party.

One of the most popular proposals in the original BBB act was twelve weeks of paternity/maternity, sick and caregiving leave, child support and pre-schooling support. Such aid is provided by nearly every advanced nation for its for its citizens. But the Democrats assigned Senator Joe Manchin the task of opposing this as an anti-corporate move to subsidize employees getting paid without working. Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership obliged by removing it altogether, but then agreed to a rather stingy four-week support program. Even so, Joe Manchin will not commit himself to support the downsized BBB bill when it is sent over to the Senate, saying that he wants “to work with Republicans on paid leave in separate legislation.”[1]

In today’s U.S. political duopoly the role of the Democratic Party is to protect the Republicans from attacks from the left. What the Republicans and centrists want is the “hard” business infrastructure program, not its pro-labor elements. The Progressives rightly warn that their only opportunity to get the pro-voter BBB version approved by Congress is to tie it to Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill. Their fear is that Manchin will make good on his preference to wait a half year (meaning “never” in political time) before submitting the BBB that was downsized first from $6.5 billion to $3.5 billion, and now to a reported $1.8 billion.

Another popular element criticized as being too pro-labor to appeal to voters is dental and vision care for Medicare recipients, and payments for hearing aids and home health care. As medical and health insurance costs squeeze family budgets, most voters also back negotiating drug prices to stop the price gouging by the pharmaceutical companies. Governments throughout the world have long been doing this. But the “centrists” threatened to exclude it, and finally proposed some reduction in the most exorbitant monopoly prices by promising a give-back for their drug-company donors in the form of more patent protection (for research initially funded by the government itself). The aim is to prevent other drug companies from producing low-priced generic versions after the patents expire.

Student debt relief has been drastically cut back, along with plans two free years of community college. One after another, Biden’s campaign promises are being broken – with Biden himself disowning them and showing impatience at how long it is taking the Progressives to surrender to “reality”.

Already thrown overboard at the start of the Biden Administration his promise to raise the minimum wage. The Senate parliamentarian pretended that this could not be submitted as a “reconciliation” agenda, on the ground that it did not affect federal revenue. That was nonsense, of course. Raising the minimum wage would reduce federal subsidies to families below the poverty level – a subsidy that has long saved Walmart and other minimum-wage employers dollar for dollar by enabling them to pay less than the actual living wage, with food stamps and other transfer payments making up the gap.

Joe Manchin sheds crocodile tears over how the government will pay for pro-labor policies, but shows no concern about giveaways to the wealthy to the corporate interest or for military spending – or for tax cuts for the highest income brackets. It is as if only pro-voter policies add to the national debt.

Neoliberal Clintonite centrists vetoed Progressive proposals to pay for their program by passing one of the most popular taxes of all: the carried-interest tax loophole that frees financial speculators and money managers from having to pay income tax on their profit share and even management fees, lowering the rate to the capital-gains tax rate. The heavy hand of Wall Street campaign donors far outweighs what voters want – including reversing the Trump Administration’s income-tax cuts for the wealthiest classes.

While downsizing these early popular elements, Congress has increased its giveaway to the Donor Class in an attempt to win them over. Most egregious is cutting taxes for the wealthiest home owners, especially on the East Coast, by raising the income-tax deductibility of property taxes – the State and Local Tax (SALT) – from $10,000 to $72,500. As head of the Senate Budget Committee Chairman, Bernie Sanders sounded exasperated on election-day Tuesday when he explained that this $400 billion giveaway to the wealthiest 5 percent was so large, that “the top 1% would pay lower taxes after passage of the Build Back Better plan than they did after the Trump tax cut in 2017. This is beyond unacceptable.”

Sanders pointed out that “Democrats campaigned and won on an agenda that demands that the very wealthy finally pay their fair share, not one that gives them more tax breaks.”[2] But the Democratic leadership replied that without favoring the Donor Class, their campaign financing would shrink – a prospect that would lead Senate recipients of lobbying largesse to vote down the BBB.

The Democratic leadership argues that failure to raise subsidies and tax breaks for the economy’s wealthiest rentierlayer while cutting back support for wage-earners will threaten their electoral prospects – by reducing their fundraising appeal to the Donor Class.

The mainstream press chimes in with the view that pro-labor policies are so radical that they will frighten most middle-class voters as an attack on property and their own hopes to somehow join the ranks of the rich someday. President Biden is blaming Progressives for “blocking” the program by trying to preserve the policies that most voters actually want, and which he himself ran on in his presidential campaign a year ago.

But most voters are wage-earners, after all. And many need child support and other social welfare spending, and lower drug prices and other living costs. Voter polls in Virginia reported that economic issues were their most important concern, as they are in most of the United States.

The problem is that pro-labor social policies are not what the major lobbyists and campaign donors want for themselves and their clients. This that raises the obvious question: Did Democrats lose on Tuesday because their leadership was supporting opposing what their campaign contributors want instead of the Progressive agenda that most voters say want and what they voted for last November?

Is the U.S. political system a democracy, or oligarchy?

Put bluntly, is the Democratic Party an agent of democracy, or oligarchy? The past month’s Congressional debacle confirms Aristotle description of democracy. Many states have constitutions that are democratic in form, he wrote, but actually are oligarchies.

The reason, he explained, is that democracies tend to evolve into oligarchies as a result of the increasing concentration and polarization of wealth. That gives the leading families control of the political system. (In his schema, oligarchies aim at making themselves hereditary aristocracies.)

Translating the concentration of wealth into political control has been accelerating since the 1980s, and almost all increase in U.S. wealth and income in the year and a half since the Covid-19 outbreak struck in spring 2020 has accrued to the One Percent in the form of rising stock, bond and real estate prices. In the non-financial economy, prices charged by the oil, pharmaceutical and IT monopolies have led the rise, while housing prices have risen nearly 20 percent in the last twelve months. These sectors are the largest lobbyists and political campaign contributors.

The Democratic leadership policy is to back the candidates who are able to raise the most money. For most candidates the lion’s share come from these lobbyists and special interests, for whom their donations are a business investment. Only a minority of progressive candidates have been able to raise enough small sums from many individuals to become political players.

The situation is much like that of ancient Rome. Its constitution organized voting according to wealth cohorts, mainly measured by land ownership. The wealthiest Senatorial class, followed by the equite “Knights”, were assigned voting weight overshadowing that of the 99 Percent. In the United States, to be sure, all votes on election day are counted equally. The problem is how to be nominated in the first place and vie with rivals in the political primaries. In Rome, to succeed as a candidate running for office required heavy backing by the wealthy. (Crassus played this role, financing Caesar’s campaign, among others.) Leading politicians tended to be heavily in debt to their backers.

In the United States, the debt is not as crassly monetary. What is owed is political support. The job description for a politician is to deliver voter support to one’s campaign contributors. That is how oligarchies suppress democracy, today as in the Roman Republic.

Centrists and Moderates Support Existing Oligarchic Trends in Economic Polarization

Upon taking office, President Biden said that nothing would really change. This was the opposite of Barack Obama’s slogan of “hope and change,” but it was simply more honest. The Biden Administration not only has maintained Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy, it has increased them under the BBB’s SALT provision. Biden has extended offshore oil drilling rights, and policies benefiting the financial and corporate sectors.

This is called being a “centrist” or “moderate.” If the world is polarizing between the One Percent and the 99 Percent, between creditors and debtors, monopolists and consumers, where is the middle ground? The Chinese have a proverb: “He who comes to a fork in the road and tries to go two roads at once will get a broken hip joint.” Being a moderate means not interfering with the economic trends that are polarizing the U.S. economy between the rentierOne Percent at the top and the increasingly indebted 99 Percent.

That is the situation confronting today’s economy. Refusing to take steps to change the dynamics that are enriching the oligarchy means not reversing or even slowing the trends that are polarizing the economy. The Democratic Party leadership has opposed the influence of the Progressive Congressional Caucus from the beginning. This is oligarchy, not democracy. It is not even the largely empty formalities of political democracy, to say nothing of substantive economic democracy.

What really is democracy, after all? It is the ability of voters to legislate the policies that they want – and which presumably are in their economic and social interests. But the process is manipulated by the DNCC’s reliance on the Donor Class. Its political program is simply an advertising vehicle, with no “truth in advertising” regulation.

The question is, can it be reformed? Can democracy succeed without replacing the Democratic Party leadership with an altogether different political system from today’s Democratic-Republican duopoly with its common set of donors?

What I cannot understand is why the Progressive Caucus has not insisted on naming their own supporters to the DNCC.

The current Democratic impasse shows that no progress can be made without changing the institutional structure of American politics. It seems that the only way to do this is to make sure that the Democratic Party loses so irrevocably in 2022 and 2024 that it is dissolved enough to enable the Progressives to revive the near corpse.

The Democrats’ Identity Politics – Any Identity Except That of Wage Earners

The Democratic role is to protect the Republican party from challenges from the left. Its tactic has been to replace the traditional economic concerns of voters as wage earners, consumers, debtors and, in a rising proportion of cases, as renters faced with losing their homes if they fall into arrears as rents and housing prices are soaring.

Identity politics is a strategy to fragment the wage-earning majority of voters into separate ethnic, racial and gender identities. That distracts attention from their class consciousness whose interests do not match those of the Donor Class that has gained control of the Democrat-Republican duopoly. This explains the DNCC’s refusal to back progressive candidates.

Instead of appealing to wage earners, the Democratic leadership since the 1960s has aimed at getting voters to think of themselves as hyphenated Americans. Half a century ago it was Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Polish-Americans and so forth, with patronage along ethnic lines in the big cities.

Today the identity politics has broadened to aim at women – especially white suburban women (whose support they lost in Virginia), the Hispanic vote (which also faded this week), and support from black voters mobilized by House Majority Whip James Clyburn and what has been called the Black Misleadership Council (whose ethnic support finally is weakening as voters look at who their campaign contributors are). The Democrats’ calculation has been something like, “OK, we’ve written off the working class. But maybe we can get some voters to think of themselves as some other identity.” They’ve pandered to black voters with cultural applause, but not economic benefits. They’ve sought Hispanic support, but that is falling away as the Democrats hesitate to give economic support to low-income workers with families, whom they readily write off when offered enough Donor Class money from corporate lobbyists. The effect of cultural pandering to identity politics fails when voters see their economic condition as being the most important political issue.

Is America a Failed State?

For the moment (late Thursday evening), the BBB is still stymied as Congressional staff ponder over what has become a 2,135-page bill. Little trust is left regarding Manchin’s hint of support in the Senate. The fear is that the bipartisan $1 trillion business-friendly infrastructure bill will be passed, leaving the BBB’s social programs abandoned.

The failure to solve this problem seems to be a duplicitous ploy of President Biden and the Democrats’ quasi-Republican Clintonite core. Why not simply remove Manchin from his committee memberships, and stop federal subsidy of his West Virginia constituency? Instead, they have put him in charge of the environment bill, which he has disfigured on behalf of the lobbying money he receives from the oil and coal sectors.

It is difficult to see what may take its place of today’s political quandary. The United States does not have a European-style parliamentary system that permits new parties to run and be represented in government. If they did, the Democratic Party would probably go the way of European Social-Democratic parties and shrink to a merely marginal has-been.

But real political and economic democracy is blocked by the existing Constitution and the Senate filibuster requiring a 60 percent majority to pass laws, backstopped by a Supreme Court imposing 18th-century solutions to 21st-century finance capitalism and neo-rentiereconomies.


[1]Alexander Duehren, Natalie Andrews and Richard Rubin,” Paid Leave Is Back in House Bill,” Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2021.

[2]Jordain Carney, “Sanders: Proposed five-year SALT cap repeal ‘beyond unacceptable,’” The Hill, November 2, 2021. The most recent report, as of Nov. 4, is that Sanders agreed to the tax giveaway for home owners making under $400,000, which is now being put forth as the top of “middle-class” income. SeeSenators Sanders and Menendez Propose Eliminating SALT Cap for People Earning Under $400K.


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  1. Political Taste

    The Democratic Party will not go under because the oligarchs have taste. There is zero difference between Republicans and Democrats. They are like the difference between Pepsi and Coke. Only the colour. The oligarchs want to show their taste too. Some will therefore need a Democratic Party, others will need a Republican party. Both parties will deliver on the oligarchs wishes and whims though.

    1. John R Moffett

      It has become nothing but the Red Team vs. the Blue Team. They all serve the same wealthy masters. They have the same corporate-controlled agenda, and then use social issues to differentiate themselves to voters. The wealthy make sure each team has its own “news” sources, to keep them rooting for their team.

      If people want change, then working people on the Red and Blue teams need to gang up on the masters. Workers unite, left and right. As long as the wealthy can keep workers on each team at each other’s throats, nothing will change.


      1. TimH

        Exactly. And the article’s rhetorical question “Is the U.S. political system a democracy, or oligarchy?” is daft in itself, selling an untruth. The US is a representational demococracy, which is effectively an autocracy.

        1. juno mas

          The US is a representative democracy as opposed to a direct democracy. Those representatives get elected directly from voters from gerrymandered districts that are designed to NOT represent the population of voters. The House of Representatives is the result.

          The US Senate is even more un-representative since these Senators have only recently (1903) been elected officials. Senators represent geopgraphical areas (states) not number of voters and hence is a wholly undemocratic political body. These six year term un-representatives not only have the power to stymie/promote legislation of the House, but also advise and consent (stymie/promote) members of the Executive Branch (Presidential Cabinet) AND nominees to the Federal/Supreme Court (un-elected, lifetime Judges). There is not a more un-democratic, politically powerful body in the World than the US Senate.

          As Mr. Hudson points out, we are stuck in a structural, political quagmire. The US is not even close to being a democracy.

          1. TimH

            “not a more un-democratic, politically powerful body in the World than the US Senate”.

            Well, there’s Queen Liz II, aka Brenda. The one with the embarassing brother.

              1. Pat

                At that time yes they would. Females holding the same status in line of succession as males was only adopted in 2013. I believe Tim H is confusing her with her father. He became king when his older brother Edward VIII abdicated to be with the “woman he loves”. Her father George VI had two daughters, and the eldest became Elizabeth II.

                Brenda is a nickname given her in the 60’s by a satirical magazine Private Eye, think of it as Spy.

                1. ambrit

                  America could do with a version of ‘Private Eye’ today. I mean, the poor beleagered “Onion” is doing it’s best, but seems to very often just predict actual events by a few months.
                  When parody becomes indistinguishable from ‘reality,’ “who’ll scape whipping?”
                  I would welcome a modern version of “The Spectator” with Addison and Steele level commentary.

      2. jonboinAR

        I have to keep saying this. The wealthiest members of our society, including corporations, and maybe “oligarchs” from other countries, too, I don’t know, will continue to own our two effective parties and our elected representatives so long as they’re allowed to make large campaign contributions and lobby like crazy. It can be no other way. Expanding the real franchise to include us working schlubs must start with real campaign reform (Also, again, doing something to limit lobbying. What to be done, exactly, is beyond my ken).

        1. Carla

          Hi, Jon! Seems to me that until we wrest constitutional rights out of the clutches of corporations, people effectively won’t have any.

          Once again ;-) — I urge my compatriots on this site to support HJR-48, titled “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only” and declaring that “The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.”


          It now has 81 co-sponsors — make sure your Congress critter is one of them — and urge your U.S. Senators to introduce it!

    2. Monte McKenzie

      right on, tweedle dee & tweedle dom are to sides of same coin! Both are in the control of FF billioneers !
      revolution ! takeover by the 67% of citizens is the answer!
      America run by the 67% by all poles ever taken would make America flourish economically & stop international confrontation!
      Well Americans, do you want war war war or education food & decent living standards for all?

      1. Susan Mercurio

        Watch How to Start a Revolution DVD documentary and read From Dictatorship to Democracy the book.

    3. Questa Nota

      Coke tastes better to me than Pepsi. They are both bad for my teeth and waistline. I drink Coke rarely and Pepsi almost never. I can tell the taste difference between them.

      Republicans and Democrats are both bad for my life and I don’t want to consume any of either. They are both liars supported by misanthropes and misers. Neither party really cares about their constituents. They care about raising money to get re-elected. They run to become multi-millionaires. Where are the constituent yachts?

      In a Hudsonian twist, how about a Politician Jubilee? Evict all of them periodically, and limit campaign spending. That might stand at least a microscopic chance at reflecting Res Publica.

      1. Science Officer Smirnoff

        Tribunes representing Labor against Capital is one line of advance versus formal democratic process. But the continual pumping up of assets risks even aligning professors with capital gains-grabbing entities, eh?

        Another for a long time: killing off defined benefit pensions with the concurrent introduction and expansion of capital gains exemption limits on the sale of owner occupied residences. This grew the constituency of the capital protecting class.

    4. TimD

      We will see. The Centrist Democrats spend as much time fighting their progressive faction as they do fighting the Trumpistas. If the oligarchs can’t control the Trumpistas and the Centrists find themselves in the same spot, it will be time for a centrist coalition party who will get all the funding to paint progressives and regressive Trumpistas as to radical to trust.

    5. Bawb the Revelator

      I was age 6 on the day Emperor FDR died [do the math.] Truman barely knew we had a A-Bomb but dropped 2 on Japan to save face. Then he met Paranoid Stalin at Potsdam and told him the post-WWII Yalta treaty FDR signed was Null and Void. Stalin freaked and that’s roughly where we’ve been ever since. That’s “nuance-free” but so is every day life.

      Once the Progressive Caucus says “F##K YOU!” to Biden’s Build Back Better Program then tells Manchin, Sinema, the GOP and every other corporate shill: “YOU GET NOTHING until we get what we want!”
      they’ll get respect. Then American democracy barely gets saved again.

      1. Creigh Gordon

        Reason that doesn’t work is that what the corporatists basically want from the government is nothing, besides protection for private property rights. Certainly not anything that promotes the general welfare.

        1. Carla

          “what the corporatists basically want from the government is nothing”

          Oh, I disagree. The corporatists want all the money and power of government — including military power to protect their investments, all with the unassailable imprimatur of “democracy.” And they’ve got it. That’s our problem.

      2. Big River Bandido

        That first paragraph resembles actual events only in the way of a Far Side cartoon, but not as profound.

  2. vlade

    Manchin – ‘he wants “to work with Republicans”‘ – that should have been “Thanks and good bye” from Dems. Not that it will..

    Let’s face it – the US is a welfare state. Except the welfare is for corporates – not even for businesses, but very targeted for large corporates that can afford to “invest” into lobbying.

    What an irony, when a system designed to protect the citizen from the state got morphed to protecting the corporate from anything, and not protecting the citizen even from the state, never mind the corporate.

    1. Pate

      “What an irony, when a system designed to protect the citizen from the state got morphed to protecting the corporate from anything, and not protecting the citizen even from the state, never mind the corporate.”

      That was the sales pitch and is now the myth. The Framers (“the wise men”) designed a system (a structure of government, specifically a “republic” as distinguished from a “democracy”) that featured “barriers to power” (indirect and staggered elections, staggered terms, a bi-cameral legislature in which an unelected senate would check the “ people’s house” and an unelected, serve-for-life judicial branch – the “final arbiter” with the ultimate power of “ judicial review” – that would act as the “final bulwark against change” aka “more democracy” or “ democratic reform”) all designed to limit democracy (the participation of ordinary citizens).

      The system continues to protect the “citizen”from the state, that “citizen” being the immortal “super citizen” (rothkopf), created by a legal fiction that business corporations have personhood and are thusly protected from regulation by the state via misapplication of the 14th amendment by the court (whose main function is to protect property rather than, arguably flesh and blood persons) first in 1886 (Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific RRin which the court reporter and not the sitting justices subcutaneously established the precedent).

      And of course this “supercitizen” being a “person” is entitled to the right of “free speech” the definition of which according to the high court includes the funding of elections. And since it is unconstitutional to limit a “person’s” speech it is unconstitutional to limit how much money supercitizens can … well, you get the point.
      Bigness (big business monopoly) has captured “the state”. It is the state. The system was designed to ensure this outcome.

      1. Pate

        Adding that our unique two-party electoral system (other democracies enjoy multi-party electoral systems) is but another barrier to power. Two wings of the same bird of prey. As Chris Hedges might say, our democratic institutions are an edifice of deception and our “democracy” merely theater. His pal Sheldon Wolin identified our system of government as “inverted totalitarianism”. The closest we have come to a “government of, by and for the people” was the New Deal.

        1. vlade

          I’d agree with that, in fact, for a very long time I claimed that the term “democracy” is misused, as as far as ancient Greeks would be concerned, all current “democracies” are in fact oligarchies.

        2. eric

          The closest we have come to a “government of, by and for the people” was the New Deal.

          Not really, we just traded corporate overlordship for a government clique that manipulated the public into a war for global hegemony that set us on the path we’re on now. Plus FDR banned strikes during WW2 and we experienced major waves of labor unrest as a result of corporate-government collusion. Really the New Deal was to give the appearance of reform to save the existing system and centralize more authority in the executive branch, which helped foster the imperial presidency and military-industrial complex.

          1. Pate

            “Really the New Deal was to give the appearance of reform to save the existing system”

            Yes. I generally agree. It was necessary to “save the day” if you will. As was the case with progressive era reforms (or any “reforms” for that matter sans revolution), they often served bigness and the status quo (tamped down the competition)

            I remember a popular line that went “Roosevelt saved capitalism from itself” or some such. Kind of like the famous viet nam war quote “ we had to destroy the village to save it”.

            But again, I think the New Deal is the closest we have come. And we won’t have another shot without some kind of serious disruption or catastrophe IMO.

      2. vlade

        Corporation in a form of anything like we know them now didn’t exist in late 18th century.

        Yes, I know “companies” existed. But legally they were much closer to what we see as partnerships, because for one there was no limited liability concept (which is one of the keystones of the current corporate welfare), for which first explicit US law is in 1811.

        Therefore the founders could not really want to protect business corporations, no matter what you want to believe on it.

        1. Pate

          “Therefore the founders could not really want to protect business corporations, no matter what you want to believe on it.”

          I agree and apologize for the confusion. All of your analysis is spot on.

          The framers wanted to protect the status quo.

          Business corporations were not addressed by the framers and were not really important as a vehicle of wealth concentration (and political power) until post civil war industrialization.

          The court first began to give special status to corporations in Trustees of Dartmouth College v Woodward (1819)

    2. Kirtismayfield

      The people that designed this system wanted an oligarchic republic. They did not want representative democracy, as they were the landowners of the day Why are we surprised that a government designed by the very wealthy looks out for their interests?

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps the word for “upper-class welfare” is “richfare”.

      The US is a richfare state.

  3. zagonostra

    America is a failed State if by that you mean providing an economic environment where the majority is able to live a secure decent life, virtues are rewarded and fostered and one where the arts flourish. It’s a success if you mean that a small minority has been able to amass spectacular levels of wealth and power not seen since the Egyptian pharaohs.

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      My grandfather, may he rest in peace, a mathematician, author of an economics textbook back in the 50s, a president of a college, told me during the Reagan years (I was just a kid nodding my head as he spoke) that we were definitely headed to a more extreme economic bifurcation, and would end up much like what we would call ‘the third world’. Seems like that was a good call.

  4. thoughtful person

    “Joe Manchin sheds crocodile tears over how the government will pay for pro-labor policies, but shows no concern about giveaways to the wealthy to the corporate interest or for military spending – or for tax cuts for the highest income brackets. It is as if only pro-voter policies add to the national debt.”

    Have been thinking about this too. Of course problem is the politicians represent their donors. The 6 trillion for BBB over 10 years was not enough and is a small amount compared to military spending (at least 12 trillion) and many tax cuts since Reagan (must add up to many 10s of trillions).

  5. LawnDart

    Killing-off the democrat party sounds like a logical first-step, and it will leave the republicans as bag-holders for the mess.

    One party rule is not democracy, and so would dispell any notion or the illusion of USA being a democratic state, unless viable parties are allowed fill the void where once the democrats stood.

    It seems that voting red the next two cycles offers the best chance at ending the duopoly.

    Got any better ideas? What we have hasn’t worked for most citizens of this country for decades now, maybe support a “Bread and Butter” party?

    1. Lupana

      I can’t see ever voting Republican – I absolutely do not support their policies and how long can we count on having time to undo environmental degradation that only accelerates under their watch?
      I don’t know if it can be organized but I think a mass voter boycott of the next two elections would send the clearest message and might rid us of both parties and send a clear message to donors as well. Personally I’m looking at third parties in the future.

      1. Ben Oldfield

        In the last UK general election one third did not vote and this is never mentioned in the media.

        1. wilroncanada

          In Virginia last week, wasn’t it only about one-third who did vote? 66 percent voting would be a huge phenomenon in the US, and Canada too for that matter.

      2. Objective Ace

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Joe Biden opening up more and more federal areas to oil exploration and development? That would be one thing if he was attacking climate change in other areas (say supporting green energies) but that doesnt seem to be the case either.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If those who are disatisfied with Democrats boycott the elections while those who are pleased with Republicans vote ( which they will), then we will get monopoly Republican governance in any case.
        Which would at least leave Republicans holding the visible bag.

        Perhaps the disatisfied should focus on state and substate elections in states they can conquer and turn into something satisfactory.

        And also learn how to guide their own getting and spending behavior towards waging and winning an economic culture-war. How many tens of millions of daily-life motivated greenists would it take to change their getting and spending around to degrade and attrit the coaly roller economy zones, or perhaps exterminate them altogether?

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      like i said somewhere tuesday…election day…for the first time in my voting life, i drove right past the polling place…nothing to vote FOR…but lots to vote AGAINST.
      except that “voting against” means voting for the GOP candidate/policy(Texas’ most recent ballot had a bunch of idiotic and counterproductive amendments to the already totally unwieldy state constitution)
      I can’t bring myself to do that…and i’m tired of being the only person in the county to vote Green…so i instead Withdrew My Consent by not voting at all.
      i’ve voted in every election since i was 18(i’m 52)…and in the 25+ years i’ve been way out here, i’ve become well known to the county judge, clerk and various election workers as the guy who shows up first, right when the polls open.
      no longer.
      bring on the balkanisation and collapse of this neofeudalist corruption machine.
      burn it all down, and start over.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I usually enjoy your posts but I don’t get “not voting” = “burning it all down.” One is passive, and I don’t see any evidence that either party gives a sh1t it voter turnout falls toward zero (easier to target ads if one already knows the dozen people who are going to vote!), while the other is active. Also, if we burn down the government, is that somehow going to weaken corporate power? I don’t see how that works either.

        I’ve skipped my share of elections when there was nothing to vote for, so I’m not a voting fanatic. I’m mostly interested in the thought process by which not voting equals “withdrawing consent” which somehow becomes a step toward a better future. As best I can determine, both parties are completely at peace with us non-conformists not voting ever.

        1. Susan Mercurio

          Not Voting is primarily of interest because it shows the power elite that you will no longer play their game or continue to be a stooge who thinks that a vote gives you any power.
          When the entire country turns our backs on them, they will see that we’re serious.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          chalk it up to hair on fire and utter frustration with those folks(demparty)
          withdrawal of consent…see below.
          i don’t consider any of the people in power right now…corporate, government(at any level), or any other “power” legitimate.
          all have failed at that basic requirement.
          They broke the social contract a long time ago…they’re just trolling us, now.
          why should i continue to support any of their systems, including the voting ritual?
          i, instead, turn my back upon them.
          they are now as nothing to me.
          i want nothing whatever to do with them…or their machinery.
          I withdraw.
          i’ll take on no debt, and sign up for nothing.
          i’ll sever whatever dependencies i can and treat, as i have always done, this 20 acres as a sovereign state with a balance of trade problem.

          if that Idea infects the minds of a few million people, the Machine has a big problem.
          and make no mistake…the Machine is the Enemy…not your racist crosseyed white trash moron down the road.

          1. Janie

            I wonder how/where we could clone Edward Durr, who upset the president of the New Jersey senate with about $2,500.

      2. Pat

        I have missed one in my 25+ years. Everyone was either running unopposed or was a given, and I was working 16 hours a day at the time, no excuse but also no point to give up an extra hour of sleep. I almost missed this one and if there hadn’t been proposals on the ballot I would have. That meant write ins and undervotes made up the majority of my ballot.

        Ever increasingly in my lifetime the Democrats have become the party of “we aren’t as bad as the other guy”. They seem to have given up standing for anything except the same things as Republicans, privatization and big military. Whenever they do it seems to be an afterthought.
        And easily discarded when they do get into office. What had truly dismayed me is how both locally and nationally, Democrats seem to have no real empathy for and knowledge of the lives of the majority of the people they supposedly represent.

      3. Susan the other

        I think I know just how to do it. Kill them with kindness. The poor dears. Since at least the 70s corporations have been in trouble. They have lobbied and received subsidies just to survive. Why all this largesse? Their business plan doesn’t work. Why? Because old-fashioned capitalism based on earning enough profit to reinvest to continue as a going concern doesn’t work. Capitalism doesn’t work when it is spread too thin because profits are spread too thin and everything falls apart. And competition becomes too destructive. So public subsidies to the rescue. It’s like Yves noted yesterday that people value the things that they have even though they are not valuable at all – we Americans value free market capitalism even though it doesn’t even begin to work. Nutty, very nutty. And everybody is miserable – not just the99%. The corporations have gotta be sick of dressing up in monkey suits and ties and lobbying Congress for money, moar money. And Congress is so goddamn stupid they think they have to help the corporations because if the corporations fail then everything fails and… Congress will have to start actually governing and making decisions. Just heaven forbid. So here’s the Deal: We the People demand to clear the air with corporations. If they can’t make a sufficient profit to stay in business we are not gonna subsidize them any longer. (And of course they can’t and it isn’t even their fault.) We’ll just say: You corporations can’t really be “persons” if you are so desperately contracted to be slaves for profits that are unattainable… it’s absurd… but you are and you are wasting our money egregiously and spinning your wheels even as they are falling off. So we are not going to subsidize you any longer. You’ll have to give up on your private interests and join the rest of us in a more equitable world. Because anything else is no longer feasible.” They just need a little shove, that’s all.

        1. Susan Mercurio

          It’s going to take more than a little shove. Entrenched power doesn’t give up easily.
          Watch How to Start a Revolution DVD documentary and read From Dictatorship to Democracy the book. These resources teach you how to do it.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            ahem…may i also suggest “The War of the Flea”, as well.

            Fidel took Cuba with only 2-300 actual soldiers.
            and look at Subcommandante Marcos,lol…he’ll go on the wall of the Wilderness Bar, soon.

        2. lance ringquist

          back in the 1990’s i devised a system that would rid us of corporations, or at least really have a heavy boot on their throats.

          can’t remember it all, but here is some i remember,

          no limited liability.
          no corporation can own another corporation, or another company.
          board members can only sit on one board at a time, they cannot even advise from the side lines.
          they have to be licensed by government, and that process will include labor and civil society input.
          they have to make a profit within a certain time, and have to have their licenses reviewed every five years by government, labor, and civil society.
          corporations cannot use their stock as money.
          management can only make x amount over labor, that includes everything.
          might have been more, my local democrat party was not amused at all.
          and today of course corporations are not people.

      4. Susan Mercurio

        Watch How to Start a Revolution DVD documentary and read From Dictatorship to Democracy the book.

    3. Yeti

      I have been a supporter of the NOTA party…..none of the above. A spoiled ballot also is a vote for NOTA. Rather than not voting, spoiling your ballot shows you are willing to jump the hoops to vote. In Canada in the 90’s Chetien as prime minister reduced Union and corporate donations I believe and gave each party about $1.75/vote if over 5% of total votes were obtained. I would vote based on where my $1.75 would go. Then Harper went back to the old way in the 2000’s. I will be voting NOTA until things change. I was always the person to encourage people to vote since you can’t bitch if you don’t vote.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I am not sure what you mean by a spoiled ballot. I believe a ‘spoiled’ is simply not counted in many voting districts of the u.s. — although I am not sure how you could spoil a ballot when your in-person ballot is on a computer screen, as it is for many districts. Write-in votes are allowed in my state but I am not sure how they are counted or whether they are counted in any way. I believe my state, and many states, will count a ballot as long as there is at least one vote for some candidate on the ballot. I usually write-in names for other offices in the hope it prevents someone at the polling place from voting in any blanks I leave on my ballot. I like to believe my vote would show up counted as one of the under-count ballots.

        Just not voting does not register as a protest. The Media are very careful and deliberate about painting any qualified citizen who does not vote, with a very thick, full brush — as ‘apathetic’ and not worthy of further political consideration. Just not voting is treated as “just does not care”. Too bad the CIA cannot lean on our government just as they did on Pinochet’s Chile, to demand a way to vote ‘no’ for a NOTA vote.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        How about voting for one single thing on the ballot, and leaving everything else blank?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Problem — is it possible for someone at the polling place to fill in some of the blanks for you? I do not know. Voting is become an act of faith — of which I possess very little and what I have is withering.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If it is an opti-scan system, whereby the paper ballot itself goes into a locked box right after you have casted it, there is not opportunity for others to retro-mark your ballot until after the locked box full of paper ballots is opened for whatever reason.

            1. marym

              In addition to hand-marked optically scanned ballots, for ballots are marked with an electronic ballot marking device the system produces a voter-verifiable listing of the votes cast and presumably accurately captured in the scannable QR code that’s tabulated. Only an audit process (pre-vote testing, statistically valid partial hand recount, or full recount) can answer the “accurately” part of that, but that’s a different issue from someone else “marking” a ballot.

              46% of voters in 2020 used mail in ballots. States have control procedures for opening envelopes, transporting/storing ballots, and tabulating the votes that include multiple election workers in the room, poll watchers, chain of custody procedures, and CCTV. Numerous potential points of failure as in any manual or automated system, but these are controls which would mitigate against fraud.

    4. rob

      vote for the green party.

      at this point, it is just “throwing away your vote”, because there is really no chance of a win. at this point, the green party needs recognition of it’s existence. And, at this point in time, it isn’t the democratic party, or the republican party (which the libertarian party IS the republican party , as well).

      It has a progressive agenda, and it is an alternative to voting for the duopoly’s political dopplegangers.

      I thought twenty years ago that the Repubican nature of how this country was “designed” meant that the two parties were always going to be “the same”, as in for the same money on a single globe.There is only one world. really…. and the duopoly was baked in… and it still is.
      but having not voted for either party for the last several national elections, I don’t feel “dirty” anymore.
      It is like ending an addiction. After some distance ,and time , you can see how screwed up you really were. And you see all the rationalizations we all need to make every time we vote to just “do the vote”… regardless of not really liking the flavor.,and knowing there is a “coming down” on the other side…

      If everyone who didn’t like either party voted for the green party…we would win., and THEN be worth the world money people to co-opt them too…. but that would be after.. and we would have to invent the “earthling party”…. for that is what we all have in common…

      1. jonboinAR

        Great argument. I am one who believes there’s no such thing as “throwing away your vote.”

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I was more ready to vote Green before I watched a little of the Green convention. However nice their platform sounds I quickly started to seriously question whether the Greens could run the u.s. government. I will vote for a dead hero before I vote for what appears to me like an inept alternative.

        1. flora

          Yes, I agree, unfortunately. The headwaters of every politician’s career is in the local, state, and US lege their local and state’s vote. That’s where their votes are won or lost. The Greens seem like a loosely affiliate group of somewhat unfocused on state issues state parties,focusing on the presidential campaign instead of state campaigns. They’re trying to run before they’ve learned to walk, said walking done by making any serious challenge to pols at the state level. My 2 cents.

          1. flora

            shorter: In general, the headwaters of every politician’s career is in winning the local office holder votes and/or winning state level office holder votes before stepping up to the national elections level. (T was a one-off.)

        2. Acacia

          But as Rob explained above, the purpose of voting Green is to register opposition to the duopoly. There is negative chance that the Green party will win, ergo it simply doesn’t matter if they could run the US or not.

          If you don’t vote, the media and PTB can always say that either you are content with the status quo or that you simply don’t care and that means you consent to be governed by others.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        I met a few Greens once. I found them to be very nasty, very not-nice people. They and their party are one group of people I will never ever vote for. Never. Ever.

        And lets not forget how the Green Party deliberately ran the Republican McGaw against Wellstone for Senate in order to maliciously make Wellstone lose. ( In fact, he was “crashed” in a small airplane).

  6. Mikerw0

    So, what is new. The R’s have shrunk into a pure base that is focused on overturning Roe, de-taxing the elites and repealing every regulation that impairs wealth creation for their donors. The D’s profess to be pro middle class, pro voting rights etc., but instead enrich their donors.

    Last three D Presidents:
    – Clinton: NAFTA (guts manufacturing), ends the welfare state, ends Glass-Steagall (enrich Wall Street)
    – Obama, Mr. Hope and Change: bails out Wall Street not Main Street, ACA entrenches Pharma and health insurers but doesn’t deliver health care to the US affordably.
    – Biden: so far at least, inept at dealing with issues and communications.

    Why vote for the D’s? At least the R’s did what they said they would, and the packed the courts to protect what they’ve done.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>So, what is new.

      A lot really. Keep in mind that the American Revolution, the formation of the Republican Party, and the Russian Revolution were the results of the political leadership being clueless, arrogant, unwilling to change, or some combination of this.

      The Democratic Party is looking to collapse anytime from now to a decade from now with the trigger being unknown. However, Republican Party is looking to be on the same path because it is going beyond conservative; there is a large population of conservatives who want a conservative party, not an anti-logic, neo-fascist party.

      The American regime as a whole is looking support the ultra wealthy including the nomenklatura and to a lesser extent the apparatchiks to control the population by forestalling any reformist movements and their leadership by using the increasingly authoritarian and powerful police/intelligence state; the major political parties’ leadership each have different goals and social-political camouflage or façade with the Republican factions are fighting over going for Trump style neo-fascism or Christian Dominionist, ultra reactionary, pseudo-fundamentalist, neo-fascism while the Democrats appear to be going straight for some kind of Wokist, Identity Fundamentalism as their respective façades. Both will support neo-liberal economics and all-war-all-the-time policies as the ultimate ruling elite and donor class support them as they are very profitable for them.

      It looks like the remnants of the pre Trump, old guard GOP is allying themselves with the security and deep state under the control of the Democrats having lost the fight to control the Republican Party. I think the Democratic Party and its supporters are losing their fight to control the country via the federal government, and the “liberal” intelligentsia and glitterati, and will desperately ramp up the use of the security state.

      Just how the new GOP makes its possibly coup like, attempt to seize power will depend on just how fast the Democratic Party collapses and on how competent its leadership is in doing so. Just how one or both parties collapse will help to determine which of the left, conservative, and pseudo-conservative, but really alt-right fascist movements will replace them.

      I think, and really, I am just guessing here, that the Democratic faction will fall in the next four to six years. The longer they hold, the stronger and more organized the leftist and actual moderate-conservatives will be able to separate from their supposed parties, be organized, and be ready to take over, or more likely just replace them. If the Democrats last four to six years, they will be replaced. If they last eight years, we are looking at the Republican Party facing take over or replacement.

      Keep in mind that this timeline depends on the establishment (and I do not mean just the government, officially) not going all murder happy, perhaps even more than in the 1950s and 1960s. If anyone thinks the deaths of six prominent Ferguson protesters is not concerning, I would offer the deaths of Medgar Evers, John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcom X, Robert F. Kennedy, and Fred Hampton, just to start. The Supreme Court keeps strengthening Qualified Immunity to such that it is almost impossible to even charge federal and local law enforcement for murder. They already are willing to frame and threaten will decades long imprisonment promising leaders as they did in Occupy Wall street. I certainly do expect child porn to more commonly found on the devices of reformist leaders. Any annoying leaders, really. Perhaps from Jeff Epstein’s stash after he was suicided.

      These tactics will weaken the reformist leaders and their movements, but strengthen the revolutionaries and enable their success. Being unfairly heavy handed on the angry and frustrated will often backfire.

      By the way, both political parties, really factions of a single party now and not separate parties, are corrupted enough to be lost in their current will-to-power desires to become very willing to use use a coup to steal and hold power. The ideologies that they say they represent are mainly cover, and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the law, ideology, customs, even ideas and traditions that they represent be damned. Only feathering their nests and control needed for that matters.

  7. Ian Perkins

    I understand little of US political party financing, but would it make much difference to the Democratic Party leadership if they lose in 2022 and 2024? If donors keep funding them, why would they care whether they’re in or out of power?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It depends on how badly they lose. If they start looking marginal, there’s not governmental power in them worth buying.

      What the commenters above miss is the Republicans fight to win and are ruthless. They’d have no trouble with the notion of pounding the Democrats into a bloody pulp. By contrast, see the comments in yesterday’s Water Cooler from Dems like Pelosi and Biden saying they wanted a strong Republican party!

      1. vlade

        It is something we have discussed here for time again and again – it seems that right attracts people who want power no matter what, while left mostly attracts people who want to .. well, just about anything (although often it seems like their main goal is to be a perpetual opposition, so that they can complain), except to wield power, with a few notable exceptions.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          By definition, a neoliberal progressive party cannot support a fundamental challenge to elite governance or class politics because either is a challenge to (capitalist) meritocracy, which is the core pillar of neoliberalism, left or right. I would not call this “the left,” but increasingly people do so I am losing that battle.

          The key distinction between a neoliberal left and a class-based/universal left, more even than the actual policy programs, is the place of working class activists within it. The current Dem Party, including the organized labor part, includes virtually no actual working class activists of influence – all the influencers come out of the NGO “left,” which is completely neoliberal and “meritocratic.”

          I’ve said this over and over again: a working class person with right politics is guaranteed a position in the Republican party (Koch) infrastructure, because they are wise enough to understand the value of working-class activists and smart enough to understand that they might actually learn something from drawing on a wider pool of talent. The current Dem Party/NGO left hates working class activists, because they threaten the consensus and they increase competition for a limited number of paid jobs.

        2. Joe Well

          The Republicans are good at campaigning because they have to be, they would get wiped out in most places given how unpopular their positions are.

          The Democrats, as they often say, have the enormous advantage of having the more popular position on a large majority of issues. So they assume they should sweep Congress, the White House and most statehouses and governorships.

          But: 1) they sit on that advantage rather than fight hard and 2) most of them don’t really push for those positions while in office as Yves is saying, so there is massive voter boycotting by their base.

          And most “activists” in the US are just obsessed with being right rather than winning. They just preach at you even when you’ve already told you you agree. It was often infuriating having conversations with diehards during the Bernie campaign.

          1. Michael Ismoe

            The Democratic Party’s positions are always attractive. The fact that they never pass any of them is what excludes them from support.

      2. JBird4049

        >>>the Republicans fight to win and are ruthless.

        Which is why, aside from being feckless, backstabbing fools, I expect the Democratic Party to rot away because of the extreme conditions we have. However, just how much life support they can get depends on what kind of candidates the Republicans get for president as well as federal and local offices.

        If it is Donald Trump, or someone perceived as Yahoo fundies, that offends the delicate sensibilities of the Ruling Class, and the still important PMC, the Democrats get a break and I expect the Democratic Party to last another six to eight years.

        If the Republicans get someone like a Donald Pence, who has the good looks, smooth personality, political/social contacts, and good oratory, skillful with those American dog-whistles that are hard to attack, the Democrats die with in four years; the Ruling/Donor class and the PMC will accept and work with him.

    2. ambrit

      I would counter with the observation that the GOP had a real internal fight on it’s hands when the Tea Party faction began to act, for a while, like a true populist group. The Tea Party aimed at enlisting the support of the more right leaning people of America for a conservative social agenda. Then Donald Trump figured out that the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party could be used as a path to power. No matter the level of whinging that the “Professional Political Class-Republican Caucus” engages in, Trump displaced them and won on the National stage. He looks to be striding towards a comeback in 2024. (Don’t forget that the Democrat Party win in 2020 was not a repudiation of Trump per se, but a reaction to the chaos of the Pandemic. The party in power at the time was stuck with the ‘blame’ for the problem because it happened ‘on their watch.’)
      The Democrat Party “Progressive” wing could do much worse than to learn from how the Tea Party managed it’s successes.
      The first rule that this sideline observer noticed the Tea Party enacting politically was an absolute fearlessness as to outcomes in the short term. Manchin seems to have learned the lesson. He, like the Tea Party before him, is not afraid to “burn the whole thing down” if he doesn’t get his way.
      Until the so called Democrat Party Progressives learn not to think short term, and actually carry out their threats to scuttle the entire bill when they are finally, blatantly betrayed by the Party leadership, Joe Biden will be enshrined as a Prophet: “Nothing fundamentally will change.”

      1. Librarian Guy

        I think the “Progressives” see their role as merely carrying water for the corporatists, Manchin-Enema-Pelosi-Schumer faction. Jayapal and Bernie will both tell any of their remaining Koolaid drinkers (full disclosure, I donated to Bernie and “progressive Dems” in the 2016 & even ’20 election cycles) that the subsidies to business are “good” and pretend that some crumbs are being provided to ordinary people when clearly that didn’t happen. . . viz the discussion of voting above, I have moved to a new state but when I register here it will be as an Independent (not that I can ever imagine voting R, though I did vote for a “libertarian” R once against DiFi when I lived in California, given he at least pretended to support drug legalization and could hardly have been MORE reactionary than DiFi). I think the Dems have decided that “Suicide is Painless”, as the old song says, as long as they’re getting paid, which they clearly are. Whomever brought up the case of the Whigs is correct– the D party is an empty shell, it may be “alive” in the sense that viruses are. But it has no life and is actively anti-Life, as the Rs who they actively copy and support are.

        1. rob

          “suicide is painless”
          Now that is a slogan for the corporate democratic wing of the establishment bird…telling all their rubes…”vote for us…. cause suicide is painless”… nice.

  8. Dave

    One tires of hearing that the Democratic party is on the verge of death, when it never actually is. Also the fanciful notion that we might help this along by ensuring one crushing election.

    1. Chas

      Right on. I’ve been waiting 50 years for the Democratic party to die and now I expect it will take at least another 50. And civilization will be over by then. We’re trapped between a rock and a hard place. The only way out is revolution and starting one will be virtually impossible with all the high tech surveillance around. I guess if there ever is a revolution it will have to be the kind that start spontaneously, like the one in 1789.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        ” I’ve been waiting 50 years for the Democratic party to die and now I expect it will take at least another 50.”

        KInda reminds me of the challenge of harnessing nuclear fusion for power generation. When I was in college 60 years ago Dr. Ralph Lapp, a physicist and activist, came to our campus to speak on the issues of the day. He said fusion power was 30 years away. It still is 30 years away. At least?

    2. howseth

      Yeah, I don’t see how showing frustration with the Dems – by voting Republican – will help erase the Democratic Party – and bring about a party less controlled by the top corporate donors.
      We will still have the same 18th century minded Supreme Court as we have – and then will be adding more of these juicy young right wingers to the court.

      For sadistic punishment (and curiosity) I occasionally read a right wing blog – Like ‘Streetwise Professor’ who rants from a an intellectual perspective. Or, even watch a bit of Fox News – can’t take much, though – because I know millions are sucking this stuff down regularly.

      The Democrats could have gotten rid of the filibuster. They did not. I feel they don’t represent me – and certainly the Republicans don’t.

  9. Watt4Bob

    The entire American managerial culture is organized to insulate the donor class from the complaints of the working class.

    It’s very much like the way the franchise system insulates top dogs from the front line employees.

    Take McDonalds as an example.

    Ray Kroc ends up with thousands of restaurants and absolutely no need to interact with employees because his franchisees form a cushion, who, in turn are insulated from the demands of employees by the store managers.

    And first and foremost the demands that must be squelched, and must never reach the owners ears, are for better pay and improved working conditions.

    What is becoming clear is that the PMC as a whole has assumed the job of holding the line, so to speak, as job one.

    The very first concern of mangers, academic administrators, media ‘personalities, and politicians of every stripe, all the way down to school boards, is to explain to the working class that there are very good reasons that they cannot have the improvements they desire, and in fact their demands are unreasonable.

    This holding action on the part of the PMC has reached an absurd point because to operate, it requires ever-increasing levels of dishonesty.

    As we are now witnessing the democrats, are attempting to hide the fact that they told us, the working class, that they would provide us with tangible material benefits if we voted for them, but what they’ve done is give more tax breaks to the wealthy.

    The whole of their efforts are now focused on providing ever more ridiculous excuses for why that is.

    A friend once explained to me that a politician is a person who would attempt to steal a red-hot stove with their bare hands.

    The working class is no longer susceptible to the PMC’s hand-waving because of all the obviously blistered fingers.

    1. Carla

      “As we are now witnessing the democrats, are attempting to hide the fact that they told us, the working class, that they would provide us with tangible material benefits if we voted for them, but what they’ve done is give more tax breaks to the wealthy.” YEAH, but we’ve been witnessing this for at least three decades. And We, The People, have not yet roused ourselves to change it in any way.

      “The working class is no longer susceptible to the PMC’s hand-waving because of all the obviously blistered fingers.” Really? Sure hope you’re right.

      1. Watt4Bob

        The populist right has “woke” up to the fact that the PMC is the enemy.

        What the populist right hasn’t yet admitted to themselves is that the republican party is well represented in the PMC, and is also their enemy, and that includes Trump.

        The democratic base is still struggling with the issue, but I think they’re not far behind.

        This whole phony intra-party fight meant to obscure their callous indifference towards the plight of the working class is going to bite the dims in the back side I think.

  10. Tom Stone

    We have a failed political system and no mechanism for peaceful change.
    Change is coming,nonetheless,and from all indications, soon.
    And the number of heavy duty steel gates my friend is building .and installing indicates that the well to do in Sonoma County are seriously concerned, prices start at $10K and he is backlogged several months.

          1. ambrit

            Howdy from the Hill Folks! We hope you’re doing well and staying safe.
            You deal, professionally, with small businesses. Technically, you run a ‘small business.’ Who better to ask this question of. Any ‘omens’ yet about how the Pandemic is affecting business formation and deformation?
            Again, be safe.

            1. John Zelnicker

              ambrit – Fortunately my clients all seem to be doing well. At least the ones I’m in contact with. I have not heard from a couple of dozen individual clients since last year when I prepared their taxes. I hope they’re okay, I just haven’t had time to get in touch with them.

              My business clients seem to be holding up pretty well and one fellow just started two businesses to go along with his full-time job. I think he’s a glutton for punishment. Another recently started a big subcontract that is ultimately government funded. For me, this is my best year since I started on my own 10 years ago.

              Unfortunately a lot of folks around here are getting sick and mask-wearing is close to non-existent. I’m just waiting for some yahoo to challenge me on my mask and they’re going to get an earful.

              I hope you and Phyl are staying safe and healthy.

              1. ambrit

                Very glad to hear that you are holding body and soul together.
                We encounter the same “why are you reminding us that the Pandemic is not over” stares from random strangers “on the street” as well.
                I hate to sound heartless, but it will take another round of serious Pandemic damage to shake those people out of their induced comas. The real shame of it all is that much of the death and suffering could have been avoided, or at least diminished, by following well established public health protocols last year.
                We’re getting ready to build one of those DIY super box fan filters next week. (Winter is coming!) What surprised us is how expensive simple supplies are becoming.
                Be safe!

        1. polecat

          Well ambrit, all it would take is for an egglaid clutchworth of the most vapid ‘acid for blood’ blu-spewing Ken’s and Karen’s stubbing their um, heavily jointed ‘sticky ‘digits’, to do the trick … all on DNC Company orders ..

          1. ambrit

            Hmmm… Are you suggesting that the Weyland Yutani Corporation is even now doing their ‘God’s Work’ here? Where’s Homeworld Security when you need them? [And what exactly is being hidden in those White House sub-sub-basements?]

    1. TimH

      The front of my property has 3′ metal bar fence pierced by a walk-through hinged gate and large cantilever (sliding) gate for the driveway. Nothing locked, and 3′ is easily got over anyway.

      I don’t get parcel theft etc, which the neighborhood behind does for sure, and some of the deterrent is surely that to enter my property without a reason is very clearly trespassing.

      1. ambrit

        It also helps to have the discreet signs saying “Achtung! Minen!” placed next to that fence.
        Security. It’s all a state of mind.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Nothing so crass as that. Just clear a path and post a sign saying ‘For safety’s sake, please stay only on the path until you reach the house.’

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Could those steel gates be welded shut or superglued shut or some other way shut by “concerned citizens groups” to make sure that the people behind those gates can never get out? And can be forced to starve to death behind those gates? Perhaps fling dead rats full of plague and covid over the walls?

  11. Eclair

    Thank you, Michael Hudson, for articulating what so many of us have been feeling for the past … well, 15 years at least.

    My break with the Democrats came during the negotiations (hah!) for what became the ACA. Living in Denver at the time, I had thrown myself into campaigning for Obama, into turning Colorado ‘blue.’ That’s what I did for six months, every day. Then came the betrayal of the ACA. I haven’t voted for a Democrat (or Republican) since.

    For much of this time, political and economic analysis and ‘news’ have been a bleak wasteland of hypocrisy and double-speak, with the obvious exceptions of writers such as Glen Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Noam Chomsky, Thomas Frank, our esteemed hosts at NC and, or course, yourself.

    In the last five years, more voices have arisen. Podcasts, YouTube, Substack, all have become platforms for non-traditional writers and commenters, from Jimmy Dore, to Joe Rogan, to Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti, to Matt Stoller. They are saying, out loud, to an ever-increasing audience, what some of us have been muttering under our breath for a decade or more.

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      Why not simply remove Manchin from his committee memberships, and stop federal subsidy of his West Virginia constituency? Instead, they have put him in charge of the environment bill, which he has disfigured on behalf of the lobbying money he receives from the oil and coal sectors.

      Why is this getting so little attention in the left media? Stripping Sinema and Manchin of their committee assignments would have happened months ago if the Dem leadership cared about their voters.

      But, of course, they don’t. I left the Dems after Obama and I look forward to this corrupt party’s eventual total collapse.

      1. redleg

        They haven’t lost their committee assignments because what they’re doing is approved by the party. They are real Democrats!

        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          And the mainstream “left” media has to help maintain the illusion that Biden would do all this neat-o stuff, if it wasn’t for those meddling Senators. The podcasters and YouTubers, etc. are pointing out the ways the administration could reign them in.

    2. polecat

      You can dismiss ol’ Noam.. now that he’s gone full craycray, his mutterings replete with the utter shunning/banning of all those deplorable anit-vaxxers* (both left and right) .. and all that implies.

      *”Let’s Go Noam”

    1. The Rev Kev

      The only leverage left would be to insist that the bill that the voters want be voted on first and then the one that the donors want second. But I have no doubt that Pelosi will reverse that order and the progressives will fall into line. Sure they will cry and wail about in on social media but as the donor bill will pass and the voter’s bill will be sent into political oblivion, who will care? If it wasn’t so disgusting, it would be boring.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Would it make any difference if they didn’t fall in line? How would that speed the process of “bringing material benefits to ordinary people”? The Repubs obviously don’t care if there is no infrastructure bill, which means they are confident their donors don’t care either. (Anything the donors really want that is in the infrastructure bill I’m sure the Repubs will happily deliver for them x2 in 2023 with Biden’s full support.) I don’t care if it passes either, but I fail to see how the 5-10 “left progressives” in DC have any leverage period, and acting like they do seems misleading. Also, it should be noted that failing to deliver the infrastructure bill will only further drive all the construction unions to the Repubs, though I would guess they are mostly there right now anyway.

        1. ambrit

          It’s like the Frank Herbert quote out of Dune: “The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it.”
          Destroying the Democrat party is now a credible policy aim. Then pick up the pieces and reassemble along different lines. Never forget that the Republican Party is not monolithic. That organization has it’s own fault lines to worry about.

          1. polecat

            Yeah, but when will this worm finally get turned?

            It certainly does appear that the Blu form of D.C. Harkonnen wouldn’t know a hooked segment from the slippery, bloated hookers they themselves manifest in the capital of Gimme Prime!
            And besides .. any planetary ecologist (No, not Greta!) worth their water would call them out for the wornout Benies Geezzerits that they are ..

            1. polecat

              I’ve also heard weirding rumors that some assorted ‘spice crawler operators’ might slipwalk towards some sort of sit-out from the 8th to the 11th coming up.. thus making Let’s Go Branden pound drum sand before possibly facing great devourment.

              1. ambrit

                I fall back upon the ‘Litany Against Propaganda.’
                “I must not believe propaganda.”
                “Propaganda is the mind killer.”
                “Propaganda is the little-death that brings total mystification.”
                “I will face Propaganda.”
                “I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”
                “And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see it’s path.”
                “Where Propaganda has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          They would prevent the donors from getting the donor bill. If the path to benefits for ordinary people requires exterminating the Democratic Party first, then the focus should be on exterminating the Democratic Party first.

          If the DemProgs won’t prioritise exterminating the Democratic Party first, and then hoping to emerge from the wreckage as a stub of a new legitimate political party, then they will sink into the same tar pit that the Democrats will sink into anyway. And there will be no benefits for ordinary people anyway.

          Whereas exterminating the Democratic Party first at least offers the possible benefit of possibly getting benefits when there is no Democratic Party left to prevent people from getting benefits.

  12. voteforno6

    I think that people are overreacting to an off-year election. The Democrats could’ve won Virginia had they run a better candidate. I think that even McAufliffe could’ve won had he run a better campaign. Youngkin is the kind of person that a semi-competent campaign should be able to pound into the ground (I’d love to see how someone like John Fetterman from PA would run against Youngkin).

    For all the problems that the Democrats have, the Republicans are at least in just as bad shape. No matter how much they rig the process, the Democrats still seem to win some elections here and there. That tells me that voters aren’t exactly enamored with what the Republicans are offering either. Rather, this constant see-saw between the two parties is more of an indictment of the whole system, I think.

    I don’t think the Whigs in the 1850s are a very good analogy, at least right now. The political system then was in a serious crisis over slavery, and the Whigs were just a casualty of that. I don’t think we have any single crisis right now of that magnitude.

    Still, the Democrats may very well go down, but they’ll take the Republicans with them. Both parties are propping up the same system.

    1. ambrit

      Other commenters here might consider it quite a stretch, but I will assert that today’s ‘wage slaves’ are in a similar situation to the actual chattel slaves of the Days of Yore. Tied to a system that still gives pride of place to employment based social services, today’s “lower classes” are beholden to either the Employing Class or the Government, (via transfer payments such as Social Security.) Since the Government now runs as a virtual “wholly owned subsidiary” of the economic class, the difference between the two is miniscule.
      The extent of the present day “crisis” will be based on how bad life becomes for the “downtrodden masses” of America in the next few years. (Remember that the “downtroddeness” of a group is not to be measured in absolute terms, but in the perceived change in socio-economic status of the electorate.

      1. voteforno6

        Pro-slavery types back then made the same argument – that white laboring “wave slaves” in the North were no better off than slaves in the South. In fact, some argued, the slaves were better off, since they had their masters to look after them. The so-called “wave-slaves” didn’t agree. Chattel slavery was a brutal system, and in no way compares to what the laboring class is experiencing today. As bad as things are right now, workers can’t actually be forced to work, as we’re seeing with the Great Resignation.

        1. ambrit

          I think that you are not thinking this all the way through. I use as my “poster child” for dystopian labour relations the Edicts of Diocletian (ca. 300 AD.)
          See: https://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/rome4/section2/
          This emperor regularized the State and formally established hereditary castes, assuring that the sons of tradesmen had to take up their father’s trade. It devolved into the physical branding of some workers with sigils denoting their caste and function. From this, I can readily see the modern day conspiracy theories of “The Mark of the Beast” and suchlike taking on an actuality of an electronic nature.
          My basic epiphany years ago was to realize that History is not a ‘one way street.’ History can go backwards as well as forwards.
          Anyway. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
          Stay safe in this early Year of the Plague.

        2. Val

          Of course the slaves are forced to work. For digital freedom tokens. That they happen to be the most distractible, docile and gullible slaves in human history doesn’t change that fact. Narcotic myths (brave, free) and propaganda continuously at saturation also help sustain this weird excuse for a society.

      2. tegnost

        I’m sorry to say that I think the downtrodden masses can continue to be ground down with divide and conquer combined with lax immigration policies to increase the competition these people face reducing their options. The denoument will be the leaders not being nearly as smart as they think they are, mistaking greed for intelligence, who will lead us into an impossible to deal with unforeseen crisis that can’t be papered over, and no one left who trusts them enough to care what they think. We know what they think. More for them. It’s already happening with people quitting jobs due to the mandates.The 10% is going to start looking like 10% at that point and it will be too late, probably for all of us. Voting for either party is voting against ones best interests. Seattle has voted centrist dem in this last election and I’m certain to be harangued that progressives lost. Defund the police meets suburban dems who hate homeless people and can’t see their own role in creating the problem. Like bankruptcy, it happens slowly, then all at once…

      3. redleg

        Don’t forget that workers are glued to jobs due to employment based medical and dental insurance.

        1. ambrit

          I see that issue as now one of decreasing effectiveness. Fewer and fewer people now have those benefits, even when employed. The “access” may be there, but the ability to use that access is limited by constantly decreasing levels of disposable income. Eventually, the ‘lower’ rungs of the Employed Cohorts begin to fall away as the cost benefit calculation falls below ‘break even’ and enters ‘negative teritory’ for those “fallen away” ones.
          What is most corrosive to the Body Politic is the brazeness of the kleptocrats today.
          Here I apply the Alchemist’s Creed: “As Above, So Below.” Since the ‘average’ worker cannot emulate their proximate managerial class in the peculations and grifts that infest that body of persons, they will make do with the “lower class” analogues, generally labeled as “criminal activities,” known to the masses as Crime. Society thus falls further into the Abyss.

    2. genezip

      Yeah, agreed. The VA gubernatorial elections have no ostensible correlation to the popularity of the president – both Bushes had extraordinarily high approval ratings November of their first term and Virginia elected Dem governors both times. Honestly, if McAuliffe won it would have been a miraculous breaking of a consistent trend. Trying to draw out specific conclusions based one or two bills in Congress seems foolhardy when drastic shifts in state and local elections after a presidential election are now apparently unavoidable. There is certainly some important stuff happening with voter demographics – the results for the Dems in rural areas are sub-abysmal – but if the ’94 and ’10 landslides didn’t kill off the Dems, I’m not quite sure why the current situation is something unique.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        New Jersey is MUCH more significant than VA. The Democrats are very rattled by that.

        And the Democrats put out their best names to rally VA voters…Obama, both Biden, and Harris. If anything that backfired.

        And Biden’s poll numbers are lower than any President at this time of their Presidency except Trump….who had the MSM pounding on him 24/7 for Russiagate and other sins, whether real or not.

        You are really ignoring obvious signs if you think the Dems are not on their way to a 2022 wipeout.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Take a closer look at some of the results in New Jersey, a blue state. The Governor’s race there is an interesting case but then look at the loss by the New Jersey Senate president Democrat Steve Sweeney. “Sweeney, a political infighter who hadn’t lost an election in 20 years — and most of those he won by lopsided margins. Four years ago, the state’s major teachers union spent $5 million trying to unseat Sweeney. He won by 9,000 votes. This time, Sweeney’s opponent spent $10,000 on a campaign and has won by 2,000 votes.” [https://www.njspotlightnews.org/2021/11/nj-senate-president-steve-sweeney-edward-durr-stunning-election-defeat-reverberations-south-jersey-power-swing-george-norcross] “Durr, a truck driver, spent just $2,300 on his race, according to the latest campaign finance filings.” [https://www.cbsnews.com/news/edward-durr-new-jersey-senate-steve-sweeney] Whether he spent $10K or $2300, either figure hardly represents a substantial campaign war-chest.

  13. flora

    I’m thinking about the various states’ late 19th c individual – what we now call populist parties that rose to bring state level govt action against predatory finance in railroads, banking, Wall St. Many states saw a rise in a state level party that won elections to state Legislatures and even the Governor’s office. The Kansas Peoples Party and the Minnesota Farm Labor Party, for examples. Some parties elected state reps to the US Congress. Their force didn’t eliminate the GOP or the Dems, but it did swing both parties to try and win over their voters by passing legislation those voters wanted. Think Teddy Roosevelt and trust busting, the rise of ‘good government’ laws in many states and later at the federal level. Restrictions on railroad price profiteering.

    I think the focus on starting at the top with a presidential party challenge to the current duopoly is too easy for the duopoly to quash. I hoped the Greens might succeed more at the state levels, but they’ve succumbed to the lure of presidential politics before building a strong electoral base in the state legislatures. My 2 cents.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Especially for those regionloads of people prepared to develop a Separate Survival Society in preparation for a multitude of Velvet Divorces.

  14. diptherio

    I’ve been reading Tom Ferguson’s The Golden Rule, and one of the major points is that you only change a political party by changing who its major investors are. Bernie showed that this is possible, at least for Presidential runs, by funding himself with small donors, but I see essentially no one talking about this now. Parties will act in accord with the interests of their largest funders. In order to change how the Democrat party operates, it is necessary to change who the block of major investors consists of. Everyone complains about corporate campaign finance (and suggests non-starter “solutions” like having politicians pass bills that will cut them off from their major source of funding) but essentially no one is talking about how to displace that investor group with one composed of the populace at large. Until we can figure that out, everything else is just pissing in the wind, imnsho.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Tim Kaine defended the McAuliffe campaign and said he had plans on his website. Besides the whiny nature we come to expect from Timmy, the official Youngkin campaign at least over the last month wasn’t really dissimilar from Kaine’s own run for Governor. Kaine linked himself to the word education. Shrub was non existent.

      Terry Mac’s campaign was largely the exact opposite of the Kaine campaign, but that was heavily influenced by the 50 State strategy. I think they switched to coasting on demographic swings while not offending corporate donors. Dominion was giving Terry money. They weren’t opening campaign offices in the blue islands of the red sea across the state. That’s what they did when they won when they werenot supposed to. I don’t think I saw anyone registering voters this cycle in the usual spots.

      Kaine had offices and organizers all over in 2005. When there were a few special elections in the aftermath, the campaign spun on a dime and won those races. All the work was done during the long campaign.

      A great deal of it is just laziness.

      1. drsteve0

        Laziness sure, coupled with the most sneering smug complacency imaginable. McAuliffe thought he had this one in the bag, because of course he did. He’s a ‘winner’ after all. The result is hilarious.

    2. jonboinAR

      I said the same thing above (have been saying so for ages), but in less cogent detail and precision. Thanks!

  15. Judith

    Margaret Kimberley:


    Election day is treated with great fanfare in this country. Citizens are propagandized into voting for the sake of voting and are shamed if they don’t. Black people who question the value of the process are under particular pressure. “People died so that you could vote,” and other exhortations cheapen the memory of the liberation movement which sought to guarantee human rights for Black people. While casting a ballot is seen as a quasi-religious duty, the development of mass movements that are the foundation of all important political change is actively discouraged. The result are electoral victories for politicians that often spell defeat for the voters who are propagandized to put them in office.

  16. jackman

    When you think of the amount of physical and emotional energy that both the Democrats and Republicans generate amongst their base to achieve an outcome that always benefits the wealthy and diminishes our own, with each side imagining we’re in an existential battle against evil, and distracted by the intensity of our effort from ever sitting back and acknowledging that we actually have zero control over our fate, you have to kind of sit back and marvel at the genius of the whole design.

  17. The Rev Kev

    If we are going to be honest, we have to admit that this is not just an American problem but one that is common to western democracies such as Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, etc. where you have elites that have control over the political mechanisms and are then free to offer up the dregs of those countries to be the nominal leaders. How else would you explain the heads of state of the western world to be people like Biden, Boris, Morrison, Trudeau, Macron, etc. I’ve seen better heads on glasses of beer. So why is this a problem of representative democracy? The answer is in that term “representative” which says it all as it is suppose to mean representative of the people – but it is not. That Princeton study a few years ago confirmed that the US operates as an oligarchy and even ex-President Carter has said so several times over the years. And this is a problem common to all democracies. Obviously there is a dire need for reform but the oligarchs in each country will fight it with all the resources of the state behind them. I would imagine that as a partial solution, that a lot of power would have to be pushed further down the chain so that people have a chance at getting more control. But for the US, I am reminded of a pretty seditious, radical text that was written a coupla hundred years ago which the present political parties would be violently opposed to-

    ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.’

    1. Eclair

      RE: ” …. the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it (the Government) …” due to ” …. a long train of abuses and usurpations …”

      As the document states, ” …. mankind are more disposed to suffer ..” than to abolish “the forms to which they are accustomed.”

      It does help to make that decision if the rewards of Revolution are perceived to be substantial. In the case of the infant USA, the aristocratic settler class had the riches of the entire Continent west of the Hudson River in their sights.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If the people are allowed to ‘alter’ the present setup, then there is hope. But if there is a crackdown so that all changes become impossible, then all bets are off. The present demand by s***libs and the establishment for censorship does not portend well. If the elites want things to stay the same, then they are going to have to change.

        1. JBird4049

          That there will be crackdowns is a given. There have been brutal ones in the past, there is growing one now, and who knows just how brutal this one is going to be?

      2. Expat2uruguay

        What if we got rid of Elections, and selected our Representatives in the way that we select our juries? From a pool of qualified volunteers, Congress members would be selected in a random fashion. No elections, no campaigns, no political parties. I know it sounds crazy, but what training and knowledge is really required to represent the interests of the people? Congress people aren’t specialist in any particular knowledge. They have congressional staff and staff of different agencies to gather all the information, analyze it, and present it to the congressional jury-persons who would then make choices on what the law woulf be. In an Ideal world, wouldn’t we select people based on their character? I think a random system would give a far better results then the current one, and be far more representative to boot.

        Most likely a system like this has been tried before, but I don’t know what the name of it would be so I can’t really research it. It would be nice to see it done at a more local level, like a city council. The representatives would serve only one term and they would elect their president. The president would serve in terms that are staggered from the Congress jury-persons.

        Anyway, it’s just that idea, a starting point, that sets up the incentives in an entirely different manner. Representatives would be randomly selected from regular people. They would serve 3, 4 or 5-year terms and then they’re done. I think they would be more motivated to do good things, because doing good things can be its own reward. Prestige, heroism, kindness, thoughtfulness, cleverness, and logic Sean by individual members could be celebrated. The problem is that the current system selects for Psychopathy and Corruption. Of course the system I described could also be corrupted by bribery of the representatives once they’re selected. At which point they could be removed by impeachment, or perhaps a judicial process, or maybe a committee of selected members from the previous Congress. And once they’re removed they could be replaced with a new randomly selected jury-person.

        Humbly submitted by an outside-the-box thinker, what have we got to lose?

        1. norm de plume

          ‘Most likely a system like this has been tried before, but I don’t know what the name of it would be’

          It’s called sortition and the Athenians employed it in their fledgling democracy for all public posts bar the leading generals.

          I can’t see it getting off the ground nowadays. The real problem for us is the existence of the parties, which no longer represent people but ‘interests’ inimical to the interests of the people. They are institutional avenues for the exercise of power by great wealth, as only the key leadership positions need to be nobbled or intimidated or bribed or blackmailed into submission; the most basic element of party membership – adherence to the party line – ensures the poultry in the lower ranks of the henhouse all cluck in unison as directed, on pain of dismissal. Like the med sci folks now who doubt or even oppose the vax as saviour story but keep their heads down and their mouths shut.

          We need to think hard about how we implement government by actors elected by us on the strength of our concurrence with their personal agenda, without the prophylactic of party membership to stymie the realisation of such goals.

          1. norm de plume

            Very interesting, thank you. You may have had John Keane as a lecturer too? He’s also done some interesting work on the origin and nature of democracy. I used to work there but never met either man, only hearing of their work later.

            Burnheim’s attitude goes right back to Aristotle, who said ‘It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot; and as oligarchic when they are filled by election’ and he covers a lot of ground in his objections to voting (though not, at least in this summary, addressing the dangers of stolen elections and the scope for corruption afforded by new technology).

            I am with him right up to Chapter 4, where he loses me a bit with the proposals for ‘trustee bodies’. This is an admirable attempt to grapple with the central problem of modern representative democracy – the distance between the original, small-scale practice of direct voting on issues by citizens, and the apparatus of representation which has, as the often geographically dispersed communities involved grew past the ‘Dunbar limit’ into the thousands and the millions, evolved into the concept of parties of like interests providing a political voice for those interests, and the employment of bureaucracies to manage policy implementation.

            At that level, the voices of individual people and even whole communities can be ignored, forgotten or even silenced as impersonal decisions are made, ostensibly for the large entities of which those communities are only a minor part, but increasingly for only the most powerful and connected elements of the polity – so that we end up with what we have: the pig of neoliberal oligarchy tarted up with the lipstick of ‘democracy’.

            The nub of the problem lies in the very fact of representation via party, which affords a fast lane to power and control for elites. We need to think about how to get back to direct control of issues by citizens. Burnheim’s approach is radical, too radical IMO to be thinkable even in the fairly long term. It carries too strong a whiff of ‘worker’s control of the means of production’ for most, I would think.

            Whereas the architecture of electoral democracy, if parties were disbanded tomorrow, could still function with each member voted in by their electorate as an independent and so would provide some fundamental continuity through the change. Trying on the other hand to remove all that in favour of ‘trustee boards’ strikes me as impractical and potentially dangerous – but then I haven’t read the book.

            How a parliament of independently elected reps could effectively create governing structures is I guess a matter for another discussion but it would have to involve secret ballots amongst themselves to choose leaders and ministers for this and that portfolio.

            It’s all fairly messy, I admit. The preferred option is still Philosopher King (or Queen, or non-gendered royal-type person..)

    2. Mel

      In another recent interview, Michael Hudson spells out the measures that the U.S. will take to support the Financial Empire:
      “But the way you explained developed countries, you’re not going to have a military invasion of Europe, all you have to do is assassinate the leaders like they did in Greece, kill the communists they did in Italy, and finance pro-Americans and the labor parties and social democratic parties and make them essentially arms of the State Department.
      That’s not a very nice way of putting it, but it can control European politics so that it can really exploit them financially. …”

  18. KLG

    Edit: “Their fear is that Manchin will make good on his preference to wait a half year (meaning “never” in political time) before submitting the BBB that was downsized first from $6.5 trillion to $3.5 trillion, and now to a reported $1.8 trillion.”

    This is going out to my incorrigible PMC peeps, who still suffer from long (terminal?) TDS.

  19. outside observer

    Not a fully formed thought, but what about a ‘Write-in’ party a la Byron Brown’s tactics? Not necessarily any defined ideology, aside from opposition to status quo and small individual donor funding only. Funding will go towards ample self-inking stamps to fill with the name of the party’s candidates, selected via ranked choice voting, hand marked paper ballots hand counted in public. What’s your party affiliation? Independent write-in.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      in Texas, at least, write ins are heavily restricted…hafta pass muster with the sec of state’s esoteric rules/flaming hoops.
      it’s not really a “write in”, at all.
      that loophole/end run is closed off.
      same with Initiative and Referendum…such a high bar, that little can pass official muster…and even then, the Texas Guv and Lege can just hurry up and outlaw whatever the I&R ends up passing(like antifracking measures, masks, and local minwage…for some recent Texas examples)
      it ain’t “Our” country, it’s theirs…we just stays here.

      to fix anything, it’s gonna take either a large and coherent and comprehensive general strike(which i’m all for)…or armed rebellion(which i don’t advocate(waves to fbi))
      neither is currently even possible because of the wild success of 50 years of Mindfuck that have us beating each other up over bathrooms and brown people and sports teams….and the general ontological crises, where my Fundy neighbor and i see 2 very different countries when we look out the same window.

      1. redleg

        I’m ready for Texas to secede. Please leave already and become the Republic of Gilead shining example of a libertarian paradise.

        1. ambrit

          You seem to have missed the fact that America today is already a neo-libertarian paradise. Otherwise, what would you call a political system that allows the wealthy to “get away” with almost anything they can afford to have “fixed” for them by pliant politicos? Democracy?
          Texas is not alone in it’s successful conservative political policies. Look at the government of the State of New York. Who says that Tammany Hall is dead? Californis has CALPeRS, and the State Government does nothing. The list is well nigh endless.
          Stay safe.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          when Texas secedes…I secede from Texas.
          it’s what i want anyway,lol.
          the states are as much a part of this moribund paradigm as anything else…let us do watersheds, instead!
          and subsidiarity(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidiarity)
          and break it down to workable polities(see:amendment the first), under some new federalism that is actually a federation, instead of this mess we have, now.

          and: note to whomever next attempts a coup: if you promise to unmake the nukes, you have my support.

  20. Watt4Bob

    I wrote the following in the spring of 2009, I thought we were on the verge of understanding our plight;

    It’s all only make believe.

    It’s as if we’ve all signed an agreement to ignore reality. We’re ignoring the ever growing pile of evidence that points to the fact that our current economic troubles were not an unforeseeable bump in the road, but the inevitable result of decades of corruption on the part of our country’s elites.

    We’ve been making believe that all of our problems are simply the result of the last eight years of republican rule and that redecorating the White House was going to ‘fix’ it.

    The trouble is, our problems did not develop in just the last eight years, in reality they’ve been festering for at least the last thirty years and they are rooted in the almost total corruption of our financial elites and their almost complete ownership of our political class.

    About half of us have been making believe that all we had to do was elect a democrat and pretty soon, everything would return to “normal”. The trouble with that is, what most of us, even those of us who think of ourselves as progressives would prefer to think that normal means those prosperous Clinton years, when we didn’t seem to have a care in the world and even those of us at the bottom of the economic pyramid were doing ok.

    The trouble with that belief is that the prosperity of the Clinton years was for the most part an illusion that masked the fact that what we were enjoying was the up side of a bubble economy that inevitably would, and did, fail.

    The other half of us, the one’s that don’t believe a democrat in the White House will fix everything, have an equally illusory belief that more tax-cuts and even less regulatory oversight is necessary if we are to get our economy moving again and return to “normal”.

    The trouble is, none of us understands that the “normal” that we’ve come to accept, and that we’re longing to return to, is not normal at all.

    In reality, the radical deregulation of our financial markets that has occurred at the behest of business leaders over the last thirty or so years has led to an increasingly dynamic cycle of boom and bust in our economy that we’ve pretty much decided to accept as “normal” even though it is anything but normal when compared to the fifty years of slow-growing, but widely-enjoyed prosperity that followed the imposition of much needed regulation on our economic markets in reaction to the collapse that was the Great Depression.

    In reality, the ever-increasing reduction of taxes for the very rich has meant an ever-increasing burden for everyone else.

    In the face of our confusions and frustrations, it would appear we’ve chosen to live in a world of make believe.

    The republican politicians are making believe that the policies they’ve worked for so tirelessly for the last thirty years are not the obvious cause of our economy’s collapse and the looming extinction of our middle-class.

    The republican voters are making believe they weren’t misled by politicians in the pockets of business interests, who preached fiscal responsibility and individual accountability while practicing piracy and depraved indifference.

    The democratic politicians, including our president are making believe that frustrated with years of loosing up-hill battles with well-funded republicans, they didn’t abandon the interests of their historic constituencies, and sell-out to the same business interests who owned their republican opponents.

    Finally, democratic voters exhilarated by their recent election victories, are making believe that our new president is not surrounded by, and in the control of, the same crooks that destroyed our economy, and are right now engaged in looting our treasury in a brazen show of unprecedented impunity.

    We must stop making believe.

    The people who are robbing us will not stop robbing us until we stop making believe that we are not being robbed, and our new president is not going to help us with this until we explain to him that we’ve stopped making believe, and we want him to stop making believe too.

    So, here we are, 12 years later, still edging slowly towards understanding our plight, but much more rapidly approaching the edge.

    Covid has nothing on the democrats ability, and will to mutate.

    And so many of us are still making believe.

    1. Rolf

      Great comment. The fact that your text from 2009 applies with little emendment to our current predicament more than a decade later illustrates how little has changed, except to worsen and stand in even starker relief.

      My sincere thanks to Yves, Professor Hudson, and the NC commentariat.

  21. Tom Stone

    I see “Both” political parties losing legitimacy and no way to replace either one due to structural issues.
    The “Mandate of Heaven” is another way of describing the consent of the governed and it has been to a great extent been withdrawn.
    This leaves the rulers with coercion as their only avenue to maintain control, the 1033 program, the surveillance state and vaccine mandates are all examples of this.
    Which kinda sorta works in a fairly simple society, when a society reaches the kind of complexity that now exists it depends on the active cooperation of the populace to deliver even the simplest of political goods such as food,shelter and basic health care.
    It’s coming apart, slowly at first and then all at once.

    1. tegnost

      This leaves the rulers with coercion as their only avenue to maintain control
      Don’t forget the patriot act and it’s evil twin the ACA

  22. PMC Hammer

    I live in a bright blue bubble and the narrative that it’s the “extreme left” and pushback from that left that are preventing getting things like M4A, lower prescription drug costs, student debt forgiveness and so on done isn’t getting traction, even among the blinkered liberal PMC rank-and-file I am among. I think the hippy punching is actually losing some of its appeal at this point. The DNC dog food is so off now, even the PMC dogs are noticing it.

  23. Jackman

    It’s weird, but I think the Democratic Party’s prospects are more dismal today than any time I can remember. I think they have literally nothing to run on. Their complete renunciation of the working class, economic progressive wing of the party for a full embrace of the identitarian progressive sect has fully sunk any chance to generating any broad-based enthusiasm. Identitarian ideas are simply making the Dems target practice for the GOP. There’s no escape, because the ‘social justice movement’ as they like to describe themselves are completely saturated with ideas that the vast majority of Americans find ridiculous, if not repellent, and the harsh policing of language and thoughts is an endless source of red meat for the culture wars. Short of an excruciating root canal of identitarian ideas–and the Dems if anything are doubling down rather than carving out–I can only see a future of GOP domination with the Dems consigned to the role of the permanent moral outrage party, uselessly screaming from the rooftops of what are certain to be some horrific GOP initiatives. It will be ugly.

    1. polecat

      No. He’s only human, like everyone else. Once you start upon pedestal-like deification of men, human affairs go south in a hurry.

  24. Brooklin Bridge

    It’s an endless game of chicken. Every time there seems to be enough people with enough to loose that they are actually relieved to be lied to. The alternative must be something like walking off a cliff with a blind fold on.

    It’s impossible to be sure, but it looks like it will just continue on as is until total collapse.

  25. Daniel Raphael

    Two things to remember about the Democratic Party: it isn’t democratic and it isn’t a party. It is a clearinghouse for corporate cash. There are no members who vote on policies, etc. This is a common confusion in many people’s minds; unlike political parties in Europe, where there are actual members, meetings of same, and votes by them, the Dems are about all cash all the time. Simples.

  26. Carolinian

    What really is democracy, after all?

    In America it has always been the last resort ability of the public to say “enough already.” FDR’s ’32 landslide would be an example of democracy as safety valve. Our democracy certainly is not very “participatory” except in the sports contest sense. For some reason there are lots of books lately coming out on the Revolutionary period and clearly this safety valve function rather than true democracy was what those founding aristocrats had in mind. They thought a true democracy would have the proles soaking the rich and inflating the money supply with paper to get themselves out of debt. Their rationale therefore was that a creditor class was needed to make the economy run but with a House of Representatives to keep those aristocrats in check.

    Now our House of Representatives is also full of aristocrats with wine caves and stock portfolios. The safety valve is tied down.

    Maybe or maybe not it’s gonna blow but undoubtedly this is the reason the elites are freaked out by “let’s go Brandon.”

  27. myOwnWorst

    Having shelter and food are far more important than identity, yet the Democrats haven’t retreated from “Let them eat wokeness” mode.

    Yves, I really appreciate your way with words and calling it like it is.

  28. Left in Wisconsin

    I completely agree that the current Democratic Party is hopeless. I still think, given the institutional context, that taking over the party is more likely to succeed than starting a new left party, but in either event to make progress the left has to focus on party/program building for the long haul rather than being sucked into the personality politics of today, with which most “progressive” politicians seem completely comfortable. A handful of leftists in DC is not going to accomplish anything, regardless of the support or condemnation they get from us. On this, Joe Manchin is entirely correct.

    But, and I say this having contributed my share of antipathy to woke politics, the (forthcoming) left cannot succeed if it sticks with Hudson’s woke vs class binary… it (we) need to reclaim woke from them, not accept their neoliberal interpretation of it.

    As sh1tty as things are, for very many for black, brown, female, gay, trans, non-binary, etc people, life in the U.S. now is better than it has ever been (because in the past it was so awful), and ALL of the improvement has come over the opposition of Republicans, so I don’t understand people who insist that there is no difference between the parties. But, the key distinction between neoliberal woke politics and (left) democratic politics is that for us, as with most ordinary people, the long-term objective is to make personal (ascriptive) distinctions LESS salient, not more, and thus drives a different kind of politics/policy (the kind of policies that Hudson promotes in the piece).

    I would argue that the biggest problem we have now is that our politics is all about managing decline, and managing decline (absent left politics) is always an ugly battle between the have-littles and the have-nothings. So the left really only has two options: a) all-out class war where the objective is to expropriate a large share of the wealth of elites which can be spread among the have-littles and have-nots, which will be a very long ugly process with lots of casualties on all sides (hey, this is how real change happens), or b) some new politics that is able to envision a convincing future in which we can escape the politics of decline, which will also be a long process because such a politics has yet to be articulated. Either strategy requires an explicit break with the neoliberal Dem Party and the NGO-paid “left.”

    Meanwhile, expect the country and the world to get worse before it gets better.

    1. MT_Wild

      I’d like to know what metrics you are using.

      I think you might be mistaking “idpol tokens” for concrete material benefits. Having had a black president and black VP does not make up for not owning a home or having a job. Black homeownership is at a 50 year low, and educational prospects, health outcomes, etc., are absymal. Those trends are going in the same direction for the white working class, and they know it.

      When you’re poor you don’t care about pronouns. You want to be able to feed and protect your children, and maybe even take care of your parents. If along the way, you can come up with a way that you don’t die on your feet behind the Walmart till that would be great too.

      It amazes me how many people can’t grasp this. The working class of all colors is approaching the point where they’re like an animal in a trap. But instead of chewing their paw off, they’re going to burn it all down.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I explicitly said “very many” because I recognize that on many economic indicators many other people in those categories may not be experiencing life as better than ever. But the notion that anti-discrimination laws/rights, expanded now to include LGBTQ+++, or abortion rights are “idpol tokens” is exactly the political view I take issue with.

        Again with the “burn it all down.” An amorphous, unpolitical uprising is going to burn down corporate power? C’mon, man.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          you take away corporate power by not buying their shit.
          this would have been much easier 30 years ago…not so easy, today.
          when you need a credit card and a smart phone to do almost anything, and are forever being told to plug in more…it’s hard for most people i know, even in this very rural place, to grasp what it would take to unplug from that machine.
          you need dollars to pay the property tax, at the very least.

          as with most fringe things…including Q, i might add…there’s a kernal of truth to what those pesky “Sovereign Citizens” have been on about.
          we are not “Free”…because we need to make $…ergo we must plug in to the matrix and play the game.
          but you can’t plug in just a little bit…it has to be all the way.
          hence, my focus on autarky, and undoing/avoiding as many dependencies as possible.
          make no mistake…it’s hard as hell even to do it to the extent i’ve managed…and even i am beholden and subject to the Machine for a great many things.
          i can see…depending on another windfall or two…a clear path towards having property tax as my only cash expense. but there’s no way to tell how much that last bill will go up in near future…ya hafta fight with those people every year, and if some idiot millionaire buys the place next door for 5 times what i consider it worth, my “valuation” skyrockets…and the tax man doesn’t take green beans and yard eggs.
          but it IS within our power to not give our money to walmart…or to ATT…or to give our inner lives to faceborg…or to at the very least LIMIT what we give these monsters.
          learn to be immune to advertising, to plus selling and to product placement…and to all the other Bernaysian psyops.
          unplug from it all as much as you can, because all that relies, utterly, on our participation.
          “Dropping Out is a Revolutionary Act”

            1. polecat

              Bin doin that since ’bout 2009, when I finally was aroused enough to yank that coppertop umbilicus from the back of my skull ..

              ‘Here .. have a pill .. no! not THAT new pHARMA one .. the REAL red pill!’

    2. Jackman

      Indeed. The epic tragedy of contemporary woke politics is that it’s managed to turn a winning hand–the sympathy of a majority of Americans to the horrid treatment of historically marginalized and stigmatized groups–into a losing one by its own precious, puritanical zeal.
      But at the same time, it doesn’t feel accidental. There’s something clockwork about the way capitalism manages to subvert any movements that threaten wealth, and just as what might be called the Bernie critique against concentrated money began to have purchase, the identitarian wave broke the banks and solidified their hold on liberal institutions.

  29. Cetra Ess

    Where this is probably leading, since corporations matter more than people and “we the people” are effectively out of the equation, is conglomeration as each of the big corporations gets larger and more powerful, especially the triad (facebook, google, amazon). And since corporations are themselves miniature command economies, I would guess that eventually the “free market” will be eliminated (if it ever existed), to be replaced with a top-down Soviet/Stalinist style centralized command economy albeit without the bottom up shop floor contributions to economic decisionmaking.

    And then can it be said to be capitalist at all? These two parties are not only undermining pretense of democracy but also the free market.

    1. Acacia

      Michael Hudson has argued elsewhere that the US already has a planned economy. It’s just Wall Street, not Washington, that’s planning it.

  30. David

    It’s not unusual for political parties in some countries to spend long years in opposition with little or no hope of taking power, but to survive nonetheless. The best example I can think of is the United Party in South Africa, which lost power in 1948 and never regained it, splitting in the late 1970s, when bits of it allied with bits of other bits. But it survived because it was the natural voting home of the (minority) English-speaking whites, who also tended to be relatively more liberal on apartheid. It was less a candidate for government than the expression of the aspirations of a minority who were shut out of meaningful participation in government and the public services, but dominated business. In a rather different way, Communist Parties in some western nations existed for decades with no hope of ever being elected to government their own.

    But a lot depends on the system of government. In a fractured system, like France, or a PR-based system, like Germany and the Netherlands, parties come and go. In two-party systems, like those in the US and the UK, parties often wind up being nothing more than the alternative to each other, rather like unsatisfactory brands of soap powder. When party A annoys you, you vote for party B, only to change back again a few years later, or just not vote. Relatively small shifts of this type, in a two-party system, can give the impression of far more change and diversity than is actually the case.

  31. 430MLK

    The Whig analogy hits close, in part because I live in the home city of Big Whigger Henry Clay, still much revered by my city’s connected urbane progressive class. I am a novice reader of Whiggery, so please add or correct to these, but I do tend to view Whigs in the light of our modern Democrat party–both are organized around advocating for the wealthier, generally urban, more sophisticated set of the national status-quo amidst widespread national tension. Build (the 1800s) back better, as it were.

    Some things that distinguished the Whig party: (1) it was mostly an “anti-Andrew Jackson” party, formed by people and groups who felt steamrolled by a popular populist U.S. president who broke early established norms that had been set by the mono-party “era of good feeling,” which was ushered in by the intellectual slave-owner Thomas Jefferson after the political purge of the Hamilton-led federalists. Whigs were Democrat-Republicans offended by fellow Democrat-Republican Jackson and what they saw as his corruption, and this (rather than any ideological center) is mainly what united them. A hatred of Jackson’s style and his uncouth shaking up of tacit agreements among the nation’s leadership set. (Proto-Whigs like Henry Clay also used the U.S. House of Representatives–the Corrupt Bargain–to help keep Jackson from winning the the presidency in 1828.)

    (2) Whigs were a coalition, George Rawlings Poage writes in 1936, of “the wealthy and conservative” professional class–bankers, lawyers (like Clay), and what I think of as the Eastern seaboard mercantile class. Echoing today’s calls regarding climate change, their work was generally to keep a slavery status-quo–hence Clay’s nickname, the Great Compromiser. (A better description comes from David and Jeanne Heidler’s Henry Clay: The Essential American, which describes the often drunk and vindictive Clay as “an idealogue of the center.”) In the South, Whigs worked to put a moral face on slavery. (Such a bad institution, Clay-the-slave-owner avowed. The country should devote some vague amount of its internal improvement money to buying out in the distant future and deporting all black people to Africa.) This allowed the Whigs, along with northern-bankers making money off the slave trade, to cultivate an aesthetic political distance from what was becoming a party of southern Democrats hardened to the extension of slavery and a northern base of what we might now call “blue collar” (white) workers. (This, to me, fits modern Democrats to a “T” with respect to engaging the issue of climate change, where for decades now, it’s been good enough for Dems to proclaim themselves some degree of better than their Republican mates.)

    (3) In addition to selling “slavery-light” as a way to manage the status-quo, Whigs were also directly connected to the nascent Bank of the United States, which Jackson the frontier-Tennessean-plantation owner opposed on the grounds that eastern financiers were limiting access to specie in the West. (Henry Clay was actually on the pay-roll of the Bank of the United States between, and I think during, his time in the House and Senate. He also had loans issued from then-Bank Pres Nicholas Biddle.) If I recall, during the Bank of the US fights of the 1830s, Clay and Biddle were surprised that the national sentiment was against its banks (and for Jackson’s solution of state-banks).

    (4) On the other great question of the day, parceling out land newly seized in the American West (Whigs and Democrats were both pro-Indian removal), Whigs seemed generally in favor of national over state management of the awarding of land grants, a stance that tended to benefit (from what I understand) large institutional investors able to purchase ridiculously large tracts, of the sort that had settled Ohio and attempted to settle Kentucky.

    Interestingly, the Whigs were doomed mainly for being Jackson-Democrat-lite. Even in Kentucky, home to Clay, Whigs continually lost political ground to Jacksonian Democrats, which voting Kentuckians views (rightly) as more sufficiently pro-slavery. The Whig’s ultimate demise was in part brought about by a rebellion within the Jacksonian Democrat coalition by the likes of northern Locofocos and barn-burners (2 Democrat factions of the time) who asserted their working class white rights to call for the end of slavery based on their economic concerns. (This was a big sticking point in the 1848 election, when the Wilmot Proviso was going to ban slavery north of a certain latitude line. The idea being that in allowing a territory to legalize slavery, white workers would not be able to compete as craftsmen and other types of labor.) It was only after some of these anti-slavery Jacksonian Democrats split from their party that a few Whig coalitions joined.

    Back to the modern-whig connection: I wonder if the implosion of the Democrat party will come about when low-income Republicans (Bubba, but also new possibly-Republican demographics like Jose el fontanero) rebel and make a demand for something like universal healthcare or onshoring/autarky, thereby offering a pathway for Modern Whigs like our university-trained professoriate/lawyer class or urban creative progressive Etsyists to shift into a new party that united (like slavery did) different political interests toward a common, long-held, universally desired change. Like the Jacksonian Democrats of yore, uncouth Republicans are way more open to actually shaking national political foundations for change. When that demographic switches (and Trump was an uncouth step in that direction, I think), our Modern Whigs will fracture, some moving to the Republicans, others moving to whatever that new party becomes.

    1. Lambert Strether

      The Whig analogy works only if there is (1) a burning national issue equivalent to abolition* and (2) a new institutional force to move that issue forward, equivalent to the Republican Party of 1854. I don’t see either in the offing, sadly. Nobody would be happier than I would be if there were.

      NOTE * One would think that democidal elites minding the capitalist store would be such an issue, but so far as I can tell, no. Ironically enough, the p3do Lizard People of the Q imagination are the closest approximation, certainly morally, and there’s nothing actionable there.

      1. 430MLK

        Agreed, though the 1848 Free Soil party precipitated the 1852 Republicans as a force. Free Soilers took from the worker’s rights Dems and the conscious/religious Whigs. They lost, but the whigs cratered and next came the Republicans (as I understand it…away from my books while typing on a phone in a car.)

        My vote for animating issues is either universal healthcare or some form of global warming/new regionalism along the lines that Amfortas detailed below. In 1852, Van Buren ran as the Free Soil candidate, even though 4 years earlier he was the Democratic President, Jackson’s handpicked man. Whig defectors to the Free Soilers had to accept a presidential candidate who was their sworn enemy. But enough did, and -real- opposition to slavery formally became a legitimate thing that was next taken up by Republicans. (I should stipulate again that I’m away from library and perhaps fudging some important particulars.)

        1. JBird4049

          Thanks for these comments. I really, really need to bone up on this period and start reading the books I already have on it. May I ask if you have any book suggestions?

          1. 430MLK

            None off the top of my head. Part of this comes from my own provincial selections, which tend to be KY-Clay oriented and give short shift to northeastern whigs, and most Clay books I’ve read are hagiographies that require a little reading between the lines.

            I did come across an old book on the 1848 Free Soil election (I wrote 1852 for Van Buren above, but the Free Soil election was 1848) that I picked up cheap, but like a lot of books written in that 1930s/40s era, it was written in a very detailed style that was hard to pick up if not familiar with the players in the era, and I’m away from my home library and can’t recall the author. It looks like Eric Foner has a book out on Free Soilers that I should get and might recommend unseen. (Foner’s reconstruction book was great.) Swamp Yankee, who I think had some knowledge of northern Barnburners, locofocos, and Lunkers (all Dem coalitions in NY state at the time, I believe) may know some readings to suggest, too, if he happens to be reading through day old comments.

            I love their slogan: Free soil. Free labor. Free men. With some slight changes, it might still make for a good slogan.

      2. ckimball

        COP26 Coalition seems like a happening. It feels like the people in the UK
        have thrown over the traces and have begun to visualize a response to the
        destruction of the environment. Their organizing feels inclusive and exhuberant.
        They seem to have left out “the elites” entirely. It made me happy to stumble into
        their declaration COP26 Coalition Broadcasting Live from Glasgow.
        It begins Nov 6 If this energy builds it will leave them all behind in their boring bubble.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      ” I wonder if the implosion of the Democrat party will come about when low-income Republicans (Bubba, but also new possibly-Republican demographics like Jose el fontanero) rebel and make a demand for something like universal healthcare or onshoring/autarky, thereby offering a pathway for Modern Whigs like our university-trained professoriate/lawyer class or urban creative progressive Etsyists to shift into a new party that united (like slavery did) different political interests toward a common, long-held, universally desired change. ”

      indeed, people like Douthat(my favorite living conservative) are on it:

      new deal, but with wannabe evang-torquemadas…and rolling back the same old abortion/gay/free love stuff that makes them feel icky.
      i’ll not let them control me and mine on that latter list…but on the new new deal, sure…i’ll talk even to people who are afraid of sex.
      even rubio and hawley have been making those kinds of noises for a while, now.
      and look at niskasen center(sp-2), american compass, and a number of others.
      I am literally surrounded by ordinary people who would jump at that…and even fight tooth and nail for a whole lot of Bernie Stuff in the process.
      that’s who hangs out in the feedstore…as well as who works there…if we(meaning i, in that case) can only keep them focused…instead of chasing after pork rinds tossed into the yard by the Bosses.

      if ya take care of the precariousness…the red and tooth and claw dog eat dog existence…all the racism, sexism, homophobia and all the rest of the demons the woke wail about can be dealt with.
      patiently and firmly.
      but the one must follow the other, lest we experience almost exactly what’s happening right now, where the sky is green for some, blue for some others, and pink for them people over yonder.

      i get along with my cowboy church roping party as religious celebration neighbor…we respect each other….even though he’s definitely a Right Wing Thumper…and i’m a frelling agnostic mystic druid guy with socialist tendencies.
      he’s the boss at an oil services company…making pipe parts for all those weird pipe-art things in the Permian. he asked his guys to vote on what their week would be like…5 days, 8-4…4 days,8-6?
      and a bunch of other things.
      he doesn’t even know that he’s promoting democracy in his workplace…but it doesn’t matter what he calls it…nor that he got there from bible study.
      it’s still a commonality between us…and i can work with that.
      this is how you do it.
      so when yer in your version of my proverbial(and very real) Feed Store…approach folks where they’re at, apply socrates(ask questions) to determine the commonalities you share with them, and ignore(barring naked girls in their basement or whatever) their wierdnesses.
      for now.

  32. Mike Lieber

    Real systemic change requires a constitutional convention. Prospects for that happening, however, are very dim as long as the propaganda machine of the entrenched elite works to frighten everyone that a convention would lead to disintegration of society. Well, that appears to be the direction we’re headed anyway.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      the Right has been working on this for a while, now…while dems knelt in kente cloth and otherwise remained prostrate when it really mattered:

      and namby pamby against….as well as you have never even heard of it!:

      1. marym

        The Right never tells us (at least that I’ve ever found) how delegates would be allocated, and then selected/elected. There’s no law specifying this.

        1. flora

          The Koch brothers machine has been working toward a Constitutional Convention for some time. They have their their model legislations written and ready to go.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            and meanwhile…who is this “left”?
            even Douthat talks about some monolithic Left that is entirely Woke…
            all of them lard bernie right in with that d’angelo woman.
            and with biden pelosi and steny frelling hoyer…like it’s all the same thing.
            I, for one, am not them.
            so even the more rational and thoughtful parts of the Right will lump me in with kamala harris…while the team blue people will call me a strasserite.
            i have no political home.
            (libertarian socialist…and/or new dealer with a rugged streak.–“i am large. i contain multitudes”)

          2. marym

            They probably also have a plan for delegate selection. I’ve never found it, just some references in opinion pieces to 1 per state, which would not be the least bit representative of the population. I’ve seen a model amendment to have senators chosen by state legislatures, so it doesn’t seem likely they’d want the peons participating in choosing the delegates to vote on such an amendment.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              yet the rhetoric all around it is all about “our government”,”our country”etc.
              just another grift.
              and to think…i used to believe Mencius Moldbug was fringe….

              turns out he’s the Sauron to my Gandalf.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Kochonservatives and the Smart ALECs have your new constitution all written and ready to go, as soon as they can get a Constitutional Convention called.

      And the Kochstitution is the Constitution you are going to get, if you get a new Constitution.

  33. Eureka Springs

    It’s not “Democratic” party. It’s the Democrat (DNC) corporation.

    Even without the bribe based structure/response. The rest of the structure is entirely anti-democratic at its very core. Which makes sense since the constitution is as well.

  34. HH

    At some point the inequality will be insufferable, and a worse version of Trump will take power, probably backed by the military. We will then have a decade or two of Praetorian guard-selected “Presidents” and a token Congress. The people will tolerate this if they are given enough crumbs from the table. More futile wars will be waged and dissent will be crushed. Eventually, the economy will become unsustainable and the plutocrat dictatorship will be overthrown. Then the cycle will resume.

    1. Soredemos

      I think it more likely that the US simply shatters into a hundred different pieces.

      Also, your scenario might have happened in another time, but now we have the existential threat of climate change bearing down on all of us.

  35. lyman alpha blob

    The “Sanders-Pelosi” agenda?!?!? As if the two wanted anywhere near the same things. Is there anyone who still believes this kind of tripe? You’d think you’re average WS Journal reader would be politically savvy enough to realize that notion is BS and the two are not exactly BFFs.

    1. Anthony Stegman

      Sanders does a lot of yapping, but he almost always gets in line with Pelosi, so yes, there is a Sanders-Pelosi agenda. If Sanders doesn’t like the social spending bill why won’t he stop it the way Manchin has? I don’t recall Sanders stopping any bill he supposedly didn’t like. Remember, he endorsed Hilary Clinton in 2016. What more do you need to know about Sanders?

      1. Soredemos

        IIRC the 2016 endorsement was part of the devil’s bargain he made with the Democrats to allow him to run as one of them. He was obligated to endorse whoever won the primary.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          and honest enough to follow through on that promise.

          not a bad look, in my book.
          integrity being so otherwise lacking in our political class.

  36. Cafefilos

    I volunteered twice for the Sanders campaign and I’m convinced that Democratic party is impervious to reform. The Republicans are open to change, for example, Trump and the Tea Party. I say we should abandon the D’s and recruit left candidates to run in R primaries. If successful, the D party dies and the R’s schism. We would end up with 2 parties again.

    1. Carla

      @Cafefilos: I would not say the Republican party is open to change; I would say they are open to Koch money, which is what fueled the Tea Party. If the Democrats could take Koch money without anyone finding out, they certainly would — and very probably have.

      As long as the two parties are working for the same kinds of money power, and not for us, who needs them?

  37. MT_Wild

    Recent abortion data from 2017 (Guttmacher Institute, no idea of their lean) shows an abortion rate in the U.S. of 13.5 per 1000 women aged 15-44, that’s 1.35%. Very emotional issue, but so are food, housing, and economic prospects. And everybody needs those.

    Gallup 2021 shows 5.6% of the U.S. population identify as lbgt+. Again, lots of non-lbgt people care about the issue, but where does this show up on Maslow’s hierarchy for people who aren’t economically secure. My guess is pretty low.

    There does not need to be any grand uprising to bring down a house of cards. You just need enough people to give up on the shared vision of what this country is about and for them to opt out for it to become unstable. Any and all groups can choose to do this in their own way independently for their own reasons. And if some of them decide to actively try to take it out it only helps speed up the process.

    At that point it does not take much external force (pandemic, drought, hyper-inflation, color revolution, etc.) for it to collapse.



    1. JBird4049

      IIRC, Augustus repeated said, with growing exasperation, that he had restored the Republic. It wasn’t that he believed his own baloney, but that he wanted the public to believe that because the structure was still there, so was the Roman Republic, and not to pay attention to his holding all the powerful governmental positions at the same time.

      Of course, he was helped by most of the old ruling families had been exterminated or were being headed by surviving, cautious, non-entities with the rest of the Mediterranean also be exhausted by the constant warfare of the last several generations.

      However, Augustus’ subversion not only happened after a century of armed riots, wars, civil wars, coups, and invasions, it was followed by a century of good governance, peace, and a booming economy that benefited everyone at all levels of society.

      An American version of a reverse electorialism from democracy to oligarchy and/or dictatorship is not only probable, it is probably already happening, or the active process of trying already begun by political establishment; the strong expectation of living in a functioning democracy that serves the American people still exist. My own parents had it. I sorta, kinda remember it. And a functioning democracy, however limited, with a functioning government however limited or even poor as well, has been an American thing for four centuries, if you count the British colonies.

      We haven’t had the century plus of bloodshed, yet. We have had decades of corrupt governance, war, and a dying economy with bonus increasing oppression following decades of prosperity and increasing good governance. Augustus’ propaganda was accepted because people wanted to accept it. I do not see a growing number of Americans being will to accept the lies anymore. Janus is losing his effectiveness. Time for the true demagogues seeking office, prestige, and power to go onstage. Somebody like Trump, only with actual intelligence, skill, and drive. An Alcibiades or… ?

  38. Science Officer Smirnoff

    It probably just the current decline into illiteracy, but maybe it’s the final phase takeover by woke-grammar, so to speak:

    The average woman tries at least 3 types of birth control in their lifetime
    NY Magazine

    1. ambrit

      Oh my! It reminds me of the old Proto-feminist song: “I Am Woman, Hear Us Roar!”
      And from this auspicious beginning came Cougars.

      1. Science Officer Smirnoff

        Thank you for the giggle.

        Hairs a-split
        Hers a-split

        On the other hand there is this escape (not possible with the headline I cited):
        Picture a group of women chanting that “song”. The implied subject of “Hear Us Roar” has slipped from each singer to the choir itself. (The Collective)

        1. ambrit

          However, the former ideal of “solidarity” being based strictly on gender quickly degenerated into political posturing. The Feminists became Politicas. Then began the wars to determine just who ‘spoke’ for that Collective.

  39. JustAnotherVolunteer

    In software development there is the notion of a “breaking change” – a sometimes minor adjustment in under-lying code that ripples through an entire code base often with dire consequences.

    I wonder if we’ll look back on Citizens United as that breaking change in the nominally democratic two party system? The drive for more and more dark money to fund larger and larger campaigns has driven a consolidation of our political actors into one set of self interested and mostly interchangeable parties acting in the interests of their owners. Often the owners have playable assets on both sides the the aisle.

    I left the D party at the federal level with the Clinton reset and have been slowly detaching at the state and local level as well. I’m an independent at this point and I make regular use of the write-in in order to declare my discontent.

    The biggest sets of potential voters these days seem to belong to either the independent category or “none of the above”.

  40. Brooklin Bridge

    Michael’s title with “Unreformable” Democrats is spot on. They are beyond any sort of hope of ever doing anything positive for anyone other than themselves and by extention, big money. That said, I have no idea how to get rid of them any more than I know how to get rid of Covid 2 infection which is by far the lessor of the two viruses.

    I think they will overcome any and all attempts to vaccinate or remediate, sign of the cross, stake in the heart, whatever to end the contagion until they succeed in killing off the host, which will in turn result in their demise but at an admittedly dear price.

    1. ptb

      Re: demise — Nah, national Dem. leadership will simply adopt as much of the Republican agenda as it takes to win back the love of the sponsors. That’s the beauty of the good-cop / bad-cop hustle that is the 2 party system. The bad cop can always make themselves more scary (that part is trivial), thereby maintaining a reason for the mark stay with the good cop, without the good cop ever delivering anything. The sponsors benefit up until there is nothing left to extract.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        The Democratic Party seems to be in trouble, but I agree with you that it faces no danger of withering away. Its role in the Kabuki drama is too necessary. Every hero needs a villain — the show must go on. The losses the Democrats sustained in the last election may indicate a major shift in the political climate similar to the voter shift Kevin Phillips described in his early book “The Emerging Republican Majority”. However the severity of Democratic losses may affect a few careers.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          As far as my gut feeling about the meaning of the Democrats losses –I stay in my little apartment, cheating the Corona virus … so far. What very little I have heard in my local community echoes the much better grounded view of the world IM Doc commented about at today’s Water Cooler
          [ https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/11/200pm-water-cooler-11-5-2021.html#comment-3630076 ]

          Based on little evidence, and my intuition and feelings, there does seem to be a new desperation and anger in the people I talk with, qualitatively different than in the past. I cannot guess what these bad winds portend.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The first step is admitting to ourselves what their secret agenda and secret metric of success really is.

      Their secret agenda is to prevent any trace of a New Deal Politics from ever emerging ever ever again. A part of that secret agenda is to make sure that the Free Trade Occupation Regime remains in total power forever and forever.

      Their secret mission is to prevent any viable party from emerging to restore any New Deal and any Protectionism. They exist to be the Roach Motel of change-for-the-better politics and people and movements. Their secret metric of success is how totally effective a Roach Motel they really are.

      But a Roach Motel stops working once all the roaches realize it is a Roach Motel. As long as the roaches think it is a Big Tent, we will keep going in.

      So we need to get all the roaches to view the Democratic Party as a Plague Hut in old Africa. In old Africa, if someone had a bad disease, they were forbidden to come out of their hut. Food and water would be placed just outside the door of the hut as long as the infected hut-dwellers could come out and take it inside. If the food and water remained un-taken in for a preset period ( 3 days I think), the hut was locked from the outside and burned down.

      We have to figure out how to get all of us progressive roaches to leave the Big Tent, and get all the Bubonic Plague DemoRats to go inside the Big Tent and stay inside it. Then we have to lock it from the outside and burn it down with all the Plague DemoRats locked up inside it.

      Coming to view the problem in those terms is the first step towards taking the second step, which is to figure out how to get all the progressives to leave the Big Plague Hut and keep all the DemoRats inside the Big Plague Hut so we can set fire to the Big Plague Hut and burn all the Plague DemoRats inside it to
      death in one big effective Bonfire of the Plague DemoRat Party.

      And then start building separate strictly state-level and smaller legitimate political parties with a powerful intelligence-counter intelligence division to exclude every surviving Clintonite or Obamazoid or Clyburnian which tries to infiltrate and infect whatever new strictly state-level and smaller parties are created.

  41. Michael Hudson

    Well, it’s now 5:30 PM Friday. I’ve never used the phrase “Hoisted by their own petard,” but here it’s appropriate. The infrastructure bill was just blocked by the “moderate” Democrats (now called “conservative”), who said that they needed to know the cost so that it wouldn’t lead to a budget deficit.
    So the “party of the Donor Class” (which they euphemism as “party of the underdogs”) is now having to confront the fact that the DNC has pushed conservative candidates in every primary against the “left,” meaning pro-labor, pro-consumer, pro-environment candidate.
    The outright hatred of candidates who support the policies that most voters want will really kill the Democrats for the foreseeable future.
    But their strategy suggests what the Progressive caucus should do from now on to save itself. When any National Defense bill comes up, they should emulate the “conservative” tactic and insist on reviewing the budget to see that it won’t increase the national debt. I understand that something like $6 trillion (could this really be the number) is unaccounted for by the Pentagon. Insist on seeing it. Stretch the inquiry out until the bill is killed.
    This will work until the Republicans gain control. And unlike the Democrats, they’re now the MMT party: They can cut taxes, raise military spending and do whatever they want without concern for the budget deficit, because they’ll say “We can simply print the money. We don’t have to borrow. If you don’t believe us, ask Stephanie Kelton.”
    By that time, the Democrats will be long gone, of course.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “No man has hired us
        With pocketed hands
        And lowered faces
        We stand about in open places
        And shiver in unlit rooms.
        Only the wind moves
        Over empty fields, untilled
        Where the plough rests, at an angle
        To the furrow. In this land
        There shall be one cigarette to two men,
        To two women one half pint of bitter
        Ale. In this land
        No man has hired us.
        Our life is unwelcome, our death
        Unmentioned in ” The Times”. ”

        not unlike, say, James McMurtry:

        right back where we were in 1100AD, with the special people lording over.
        i say eat the special people(the rich).
        i’ve a nice bed of coals right over there, and can whip up a sauce for basting in a minute.

      2. norm de plume

        Thank you ATH for reminding me of this poem, which I hadn’t read for perhaps 30 years. This certainly grabbed me:

        All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
        All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
        But nearness to death no nearer to God .
        Where is the Life we have lost in living?
        Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
        Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

  42. Peerke

    What if the 90% had their own lobbying firm or PAC or whatever is legal and most appropriate to counter the oligarchic monies? It could be crowd funded in such a way that each donated according to their means and then participated in a poll of a menu of policies of benefit to working people – the organisation would then write draft bills and buy sponsorship and support in Congress for these policies and voting monitored etc. All you need is 100 million people to donate a small amount and select policies and of course some sort of internet platform and non profit organization. Too naive maybe?

  43. lance ringquist

    first off thank you Yves and mr. Hudson,

    its only a matter of time till biden gets on t.v. hawking the TPP free trade agreement like nafta billy clinton and empty suit hollowman obama used to do.

  44. Bawb the Revelator

    I was age 6 on the day Emperor FDR died [do the math.] Truman barely knew we had an A-Bomb but dropped 2 on Japan to save face. Then he met Paranoid Stalin at Potsdam and told him the post-WWII Yalta treaty FDR signed was Null and Void. Stalin freaked and that’s roughly where we’ve been ever since. That’s slightly “nuance-free” but so is every day life.

    Once the Progressive Caucus says “F##K YOU!” to Biden’s Build Back Better Program then tells Manchin, Sinema, the GOP and every other corporate shill: “YOU GET NOTHING until we get what we want!”
    they’ll get respect. Then American democracy barely gets saved again.

  45. Noone from Nowheresville

    I think we’re worrying about the wrong game. The game is called money. A fictional societal accounting construct used to create and control “access” to global wealth with the US dollar as the global reserve currency and US legal system as highly effective tools of said wealth.

    Money laundering, tax evasion, tax cuts, leverage, “shareholder value,” monopoly rents… They all serve the interest of the game and the wealth owners. Regressive taxes, outsized health insurance and medical services bills, student debt, unaffordable housing costs / homelessness, pollution, food insecurity, etc. also serve the interest of the game and the wealth owners.

    Rather than thinking of lobbyists as “owning” legislature members, I think of lobbyists as paying tribute in order to receive “access” to a bigger piece of global wealth (land, mineral rights, agricultural sources, technology, monopoly rents, etc.) still up for grabs. If lobbyists and their “clients” can acquire by fair means or foul global wealth and funnel it into even fewer hands, then it serves wealth owners.

    The more consolidation there is now, the easier it is to pick up those pieces once The Jackpot can no longer be turned back, especially if the global legal system can be used to ensure wealth owners’ rights over local populations.

    Democrats… Republicans… It’s become kayfabe and farce, especially as more and more of the world is subject to enclosures. i.e., moving people off the land and into cities. Heck, even China does it.

    How many members of Congress and the Senate are already members of the US donor class (US top 10%)? global top 10%? How many who currently serve have helped create policies to create the billionaire class and their minions in the US and other places around the world?

    Other than throwing the masses a few dried & brittle bones now and again, how would the Democrats or the Republicans helping the US bottom 90% serve to secure and control the remaining global wealth into fewer and fewer hands?

    We might need sand trout and a kid named Leto.

    Sorry in advance, this is a hit and run post. Offline life takes priority right now.

  46. Mike Lieber

    Tinkering around the fringes is what Hudson refers to euphemistically as “managing decline.” We can be frightened at the prospect of constitutional reform – certainly it is nothing to be approached recklessly – but correcting 150 years or more of anachronistic and erroneous legislation, Supreme Court decisions, and executive usurpation and decrees is unlikely in our de facto oligarchy. A constitutional convention is long overdue and is the peaceful solution to systemic dysfunction envisioned by the founders. Our national government is no longer acting in the best interests of most of us – by many measures, acting antithetically to them -and is saddling future generations with intractable problems. The alternative is terminal decline and with many unpleasant consequences for humanity.

    1. Buckeye

      I am sorry, but NO to Constitutional Convention. It is a Conservative/corporate/Fascist/Koch brothers idea that has one purpose only: to utterly destroy the rights of citizens, unions, and minorities. And to enshrine corporate tyranny and destroy any democratic institutions that empower the public.

      A Constitutional Convention is the eternal enslavement of the American people that would be undone only through civil war.

  47. Sound of the Suburbs

    Progressives need to feel they are progressing.
    How can we keep them busy, but ineffective?

    Inequality exists on two axes:
    Y-axis – top to bottom
    X-axis – Across genders, races, etc …..
    The traditional Left work on the Y-axis and would be a problem when you want to increase Y-axis inequality.
    The Liberal Left work on the X-axis.
    You can increase Y-axis inequality while the liberal Left are busy on the X-axis.

    The Liberal Left are stuck on X-axis issues; while most of today’s big problems are on the Y-axis.
    This is why they are struggling.

    If the Democrats did move into looking at Y-axis inequality they would immediately lose all their campaign contributions.
    They are stuck.

    1. polecat

      ‘need to feel they are progressing’ ..until they’re faced with the abrupt horror .. of churning headfirst into the downward pull of an active acreation wedge of political doom.

      They’re slip-striking .. badly! .. towards a timely ‘subduction’!

  48. Sound of the Suburbs

    The populists rise when the status quo is failing.
    The electorate are just looking for someone who might get things working again.

    Obama offered “Hope and Change”.
    Let’s vote for him.
    He didn’t fix anything.

    Who is promising to fix things now?
    Trump; Hillary is trying to pretend everything is OK, but it isn’t.

    Trump didn’t deliver the goods either.
    Who else is there?

    Biden isn’t delivering the goods either
    Who else is there?

    The search continues for someone who can fix things.
    Just saying what you think they want to hear isn’t enough.

    An effective politician.
    Does anyone know where to find one?

    1. lance ringquist

      TARIFFS are a hedge against inflation, and promote high wages and investment inside america.

      PROTECTIONISM includes capital controls.

      there cannot be any real reform under free trade. free trade is a safety valve for the rich to elude article one, section eight, and article six of the constitution.

      as long as free trade reigns supreme, which is fascism, we will sink ever lower till W.W.III.

      there will then be reform, although what shape of the reform will be anyone’s guess, and will we live to see it, or through it.

  49. sharonsj

    So Democrats are afraid of losing campaign financing? GOP Trucker Ed Durr spent less than $10,000 (I’ve seen reports that say he spent $2000) and unseated one of the most powerful Dems in the state senate (who spent around half a million dollars). People are so desperate for actual change that they are willing to vote for anyone who is not a politician. The Democrats haven’t learned a damn thing or, if they have, they don’t seem to care. I wish there was a way to eliminate both parties because this means The Donald may be president again.

  50. George Phillies

    Readers interested in the collapse of the Whig Party would do well to read David Potter’s “The Impending Crisis 1845-1860” or the first three volumes of Rhodes’ History of the United States. The Whigs and the Democratic Party — the Democracy — each had a northern and a southern wing. in the 1840s, to balance between their wings, neither party could be too firm in their position on slavery. Then the northern Democratic party started to fray, its southern wing became dominant, the Free-Soil, American, and finally Republican parties emerged in the north, and the Whigs were squoonched in the middle.

    With respect to “Raising the minimum wage” and revenue, there is a direct effect, namely all that income is taxable. Every penny of the increase contributes to Social Security revenue. The teenage children earning money in a three or four income family? That income is actually taxed and sends money to the Treasury.

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