Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Daily Strike-7/8/10-Depressing

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. To understand why I'm depressed about politics tonight, I bring you three things I read today (with appropriate credit due to The Big Picture).

1. The first is this poll summary from Democracy Corps, which does polling for Democratic causes. Quite simply, the numbers are awful. Yes, Democrats trail in the generic Congressional ballot. Yes, Republicans are actually less disliked than Democrats at this point. None of that is particularly surprising in this political climate. Some of the other numbers are just downright depressing. More people, by far, have favorable opinions of the NRA than just about any other political actor, including President Obama. "Big Corporations" is rated more favorably than the health care bill. And by a disturbingly large margin, people think that "cutting government spending and lowering taxes" is a better economic stimulus than "investments in new jobs."

This represents a massive failure in the war of ideas. He hasn't properly identified the perpetrators of this economic crisis: big corporations and finance. He hasn't explained why we need to make long-term investments to spur job growth. When he has said some good things, he then undermines himself by feeding into the conservative narrative (remember the discretionary spending freeze?) Without offering that vision consistently and coherently, people are stuck with the general impression that things are bad, and that liberals are in charge, so therefore liberal policies are bad.

2. This piece pretty much speaks for itself. Basically, the recession has increased poverty and homelessness significantly, and has caused millions of people to suffer. I link to this also to make the point that when Republicans and Ben Nelson don't vote to extend unemployment benefits, they're not just hurting a bunch of lazy people who can't get their asses to a job interview. They're ignoring an all-out crisis.

3. Finally, there's this article by the nation's Eric Alterman, which argues that a progressive Presidency is pretty much impossible. He argues that while Obama certainly has disappointed in many areas, the real barriers to progress are ridiculous institutional obstacles. He covers pretty much everything: the undemocratic Senate, the right-wing media, the corporate buy-out of our politicians, the mainstream consensus around bad economic policies etc. It's very sobering, but it's an important reminder how much we truly have to change in this country before we can finally tackle our worst problems. I'm afraid some of these barriers may be too difficult to overcome in the forseeable future.

Have I depressed you enough yet? At least you can go to the TV and find out where LeBron James will play next year! T-Minus 37 minutes!

OTHER TIDBITS: Before I go, I should mention that West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has inexplicably has arranged for the special election to replace Senator Robert Byrd to take place this November instead of 2012, as had been originally planned. Manchin clearly wants to run for the seat himself, and seems to think that running this year would be to his advantage. While Manchin is popular in the state, West Virginia is increasingly conservative, and this is a Republican year, so Manchin is anything but a shoo-in. It's possible that Manchin could potentially cost Democrats a majority in the Senate because of his selfish ambition. Let's hope not.

That's it for now. See you next Monday when Congress gets back into session.

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