Enjoy It While You Can

Over the past two years, rank-and-file Democratic voters learned a valuable lesson about putting their faith in princes.

They elected a relatively “progressive” President, at least compared to Clinton, and the largest Democratic Congressional majority in decades. The party of Wall Street was decisively beaten; the party of “the people, not the powerful” was back at the helm!

So what happened? An economic team of investment bankers and other Wall Street veterans. Gitmo’s still open, and anyway Obama fully intends to keep Baghram — Gitmo with even less oversight and accountability — open. Obama refuses to disavow extraordinary rendition, and claims the “right” to assassinate American citizens without due process of law. His most “progressive” accomplishment is a national version of Romneycare.

So much for the fabled “party of the ordinary working stiff.”

No doubt a lot of people who don’t know any better are as ecstatic about the outcome of Tuesday’s elections as Democrats were in 2008. I suggest you check your wallet.

The Democratic base have learned that theirs is the party that pays lip service to “ordinary working people,” and then goes to work serving Corporate America. You Tea Partiers are about to learn that you just elected a party that claims to stand for “free enterprise,” “small government” and “constitutional conservatism” — then goes to work serving Corporate America.

“Free enterprise?” No, what the Republicans are about is corporatism. They’re for tax credits and subsidies for their fossil fuels industry buddies, “intellectual property” protectionism, and hundreds of billions in corporate welfare — in the name of “defense” — for the high-tech and manufacturing sectors.

“Small government?” Their idea of “privatization” is selling off public assets to their corporate cronies for pennies on the dollar, often investing taxpayer money in upgrading those assets to make them worth taking off the government’s hands. Or contracting out taxpayer money to politically connected “private” firms that exist within a framework of special government protections and privileges. It’s the same old statism with an extra layer of parasites to feed.

And by the way: Anyone who claims they can deal with the deficit without touching Medicare, Social Security, Homeland Security, “Defense,” or the Bush tax cuts, simply by cutting “discretionary spending,” is either a con artist or as dumb as a box of rocks. Completely eliminate all discretionary spending, and there’d still be a deficit of hundreds of billions of dollars. Every Republican pol I’ve ever seen pressed for specifics on what they intend to cut to reduce the deficit either mentions fluff like earmarks and the Energy Department, or falls back on repeating talking points.

Constitutional conservatism? Seriously now, folks. These people worship executive power. They worship the police and military. Their patron saint is Nancy Grace, parodied in the person of Boston Legal’s “Gracie Jane,” whose motto is “they must be guilty, or they wouldn’t have had trouble with the police.” As Jeffrey Toobin said of that great constitutionalist Chief Justice Roberts, their alleged “constitutionalism” amounts to “a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society.” Roberts, in every major case, “has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff.” If that’s constitutionalism, I say bring back King George.

There are admittedly some libertarian (or at least libertarian-ish) strands in the Tea Party, people who really do take a critical view of the police state and national security state. Rand Paul made some occasional noises of that sort — until he got the nomination and saw he had a serious chance of winning. Then all those noises abruptly stopped and he got a lot chummier with Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment. Confronted with this change in political style by Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi, an elderly lady in Kentucky explained: “Well, maybe he got saved.”

There you go — he “got saved.” You can be sure a lot of Tea Pparty candidates, when they start rubbing shoulders with the Congressional Republican establishment, will “get saved.”

Seriously, if you’re pinning any serious hopes for achieving reform or justice through government, you’re in for as much grief as the Democrats have had this past two years. Like Nader said, we’ve got one corporate party with two heads.

It’s time to start making our own reforms, living our lives the way we want without waiting for permission from the government. We can build the society we want, cooperate and do business with one another through institutions of our own making, here and now, without having to persuade a majority of the public to vote on it first.

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