The barbarians are at the gates

Finally an unemployment extension bill has passed - no thanks to Senate Republicans. With the exception of the two senators from Maine who broke with their party, the rest stood firm in their opposition to a bill that is good for both the unemployed and the economy.

Since the election of Barack Obama, the Republican organizing principle has been to obstruct every political initiative of the president. In doing so, they hope to divide and frustrate the loose coalition that elected the president, turn off the average voter to electoral politics, rally their right-wing constituency with anti-government and racist rhetoric - and thus put themselves on a fast track back to political power. Don't let anyone tell you that elections don't matter!

As outrageous as this is, it isn't out of character. The GOP was always an amalgam of the most conservative sections of corporate capital and other like-minded elements in the body politic. Its modern variant, however, is dominated by the most reactionary and racist sections of that amalgam. And as we know only too well from experience, this grouping commands the loyalty of an organized grassroots constituency, controls a far-flung media apparatus that manufactures its worldview and mobilizes millions, and prefers authoritarian rule when in power.

In the unemployment extension standoff, this right-wing juggernaut went into action, evoking the specter of rising federal deficits, attacking the "tax and spend" Democrats, appealing to racist susceptibilities of white people, insisting on spending cuts, urging its constituents to raise hell, and employing the filibuster to trump majority rule.

No doubt we will witness more of this in the months ahead. For a party that tells lies as fast as McDonald's makes burgers, there are no moral restraints, only the overarching desire for power.

Now, it is true that rising government debt and budget deficits could become a problem in the long term, but only if the economy remains stagnant as it is now. Marxist and mainstream economists that I respect say that the immediate danger isn't rising deficits, but insufficient demand for goods and services and a potential deflationary trap - a general fall in prices that once started can easily snowball into a deep-going crisis, as spending and borrowing freeze up.

Moreover, they add, the crisis and the exploding increase in debt is largely (though not solely) the handiwork of the Republicans and their reckless policies over the last decade.

But listening to Republican leaders, you would never know that the origins and size of the debt crisis are traceable to their policies, especially during the Bush-Cheney years. Nor would you hear that a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the rich would reduce the deficit by $680 billion.

In their self-serving and falsely constructed narrative, mounting federal debt began with Obama and continues because of his policies - the latest being the White House decision to insist on the extension of unemployment benefits.

Like Paul Revere and Tom Paine, we must sound the alarm and appeal to the American people's common sense. The barbarians - aka the Republicans - are at the gates and we must rebuff them at the polls and in the streets.

Yes, many Democrats are a problem too, but not the main problem. To say that they are is to leave the world of concrete realities and dwell in the home of broad generalizations - the two parties are parties of capitalism. That's true, but to leave matters there is of little help (strategically and tactically) as to what is to be done on the level of concrete reality to move the chain of struggle forward.

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  • I semi-agree with what Mr. Mulligan has said...it seems like the right knows that they can cut Obama's initiatives in half if they just offer a little resistance, and he will complain about how unwilling they are to compromise but never be the one to drive a hard bargain.

    But it's not really of any consequence as it pertains to the struggle at hand. The ultra-right scourge has to be crushed and the Democratic Party is the only force on the political scene capable of doing it right now. This whole "tea party" thing could be a blessing in disguise if we strike while the iron is hot. Yes they are a dangerous sect that could become influential and drive a right-wing surge in American politics. But they're also splintering the conservative establishment and, honestly, making asses of themselves at every turn. We have the opportunity to exploit this and give the GOP directions to the dustbin where it can molder in solitude. Now is not the time to throw our hands in the air and bail on the Dems when they could be the most useful. We can worry about their shortcomings at the next stage of struggle (in my opinion).

    Posted by Jesse Jack, 07/27/2010 4:17am (4 years ago)

  • It's time to focus on defeating the Republicans. Good points here. There are too many progressive victories in the past 18 months that would have been impossible without Obama and Dems sweeping into power. We can't go back to Bush.

    Posted by Smarter-than-a-teabagger, 07/26/2010 10:13pm (4 years ago)

  • Why aren't the Democrats hammering away at the Republicans for their role in precipitating the present economic mess?

    The Republicans must not be allowed to frame the debate. They are guilty of policies which directly led the nation into the economic morass it is in now.

    Never let the electorate forget who is responsible.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 07/26/2010 3:50pm (4 years ago)

  • THE MASS. REPUBLICAN SENATOR VOTED WITH THE DEMOCRATES THEREFORE IT WAS THREE NOT TWO AS YOU WRITE

    WRONG INFORMATION IS BAD.

    Posted by j. h, 07/26/2010 3:19pm (4 years ago)

  • Straight to the point Sam. This is information that must be widely read. I'll send it to my list.

    wage peace
    gabe

    Posted by Gabriel Falsetta, 07/23/2010 6:10pm (4 years ago)

  • Not only would the repeal of the Bush tax cuts reduce the deficit by $680 billion, but reducing military spending would make another $300 billion available for health care and jobs.

    We must be in the forefront to reduce military spending and the devastating role of U.S. imperialism. Let's revive the Peace Council.

    Posted by David Bell, 07/23/2010 4:27pm (4 years ago)

  • The descripton of the two parties doesn't seem very helpful. Even if the Republicans are the main danger, the Obama administration has dissapointed its progressive supporters on such issues as the Public Option and Afghanistan and has often acted like a third Bush Administration. How can the Left defeat the Tea Party people, if the Obama Administration acts so cravenly by throwing its people to the wolves at the slightest sign of opposition from the right?

    Posted by Sean Mulligan, 07/23/2010 1:14pm (4 years ago)

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