A really weird assumption

Writing for the New York Times, Charles Blow points to a likely Republican resurgence in 2010. Midterm elections usually result in setbacks for the faction in the White House, but as Blow puts it, President Obama’s “agenda has been hamstrung by a perfect storm of politics: the Republicans’ surprisingly effective obstructionist strategy, a Democratic caucus riddled with conservative sympathizers and a president encircled by crises and crippled by caution.” Blow also points to a low priority assigned to job creation.

Partly because I’m unemployed myself, and partly because a decent job is a human right, I’m inclined to place a rather high priority on job creation. But as Paul Krugman explains, the United States doesn’t “really have a jobs policy: we have a G.D.P. policy. The theory is that by stimulating overall spending we can make G.D.P. grow faster, and this will induce companies to stop firing and resume hiring.”

The Economic Policy Institute states flatly, “the private sector is unable to create jobs in the numbers the United States needs to obtain a robust, full economic recovery.” And Obama is, at best, just barely beginning to figure that out.

I’m old enough to remember presidential candidate Walter Mondale asking his opponent, Gary Hart, “Where’s the Beef?” Robert Ellman asked the same question of Barack Obama nearly three years ago. My guess is that a lot of people will be asking that question of the Democrats next year.

It won’t just be the jobs picture that means that Obama will likely be unable to count on the help he found getting himself elected in 2008. Progressive discontent arises from a broad range of issues. But the jobs picture just about guarantees that the working class will overwhelmingly vote Republican.

This, for me, is an astonishing turnaround. I still think right wing strategy is not an electoral strategy but a coup strategy. Republican Senator Jim DeMint has been quoted saying, “I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs.”

Given his understanding of “freedom,” that is, for wealthy whites to exploit everyone else, and for blacks to stay in “their place,” and his understanding of limited government being to protect the rich and no one else, that’s a pretty scary set of beliefs, but at least he has them. By contrast, it’s hard to argue that Obama stands for anything. The Democratic faction clearly doesn’t stand for the people who voted for it. And therefore, by any rational electoral reasoning, it no longer deserves their votes.

The trouble with this logic lies in a Republican-Democrat dichotomy. If Democrats aren’t doing the job–and clearly they aren’t–it is assumed that Republicans, who particularly since Ronald Reagan have been the faction of deregulation that created the current financial crisis, who particularly since Ronald Reagan have done everything they can to widen the gap between rich and poor, will. That’s a really weird assumption.

Unfortunately, it is the one I think will prevail next year.

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