Polls show spiking anxiety in America, mistrust and frustration. Headlines on Eurozone defaults declare the fears of an anxious world. Equity markets gyrate between fight for or flight from government economic interventions. Jobs and the economy worry us to a razor edge of anger and the splintering of political parties. Medical, education and commodity costs spiral ever higher while paychecks become fewer and smaller. Where is the trickle? Shouldn't we be getting some trickle by now?
Economics has become entirely political. It has always been political, because politics is about nothing much more than economics, who gets the money and when. All analytical rigor in economics is overshadowed by the more strident voices of vested agendas, even at a time when economists uniformly agree that economic policy of the Reagan era was an unmitigated disaster, even the Maestro, Greenspan. This is a condition under which we have struggled, more or less, for thirty years. It goes like this.
Maybe the rich aren't rich enough yet to actually trickle on us. Maybe we need to double down, make the rich richer by surrendering more pay and jobs to build their wealth ever higher. Maybe we should just acknowledge their power to tax, cut out the middleman that government has become.
We have spent thirty years waiting for supply side trickling to work. Maybe we just need to try harder, cut more taxes, write more no bid government contracts, privatize Social Security and Medicare, eliminate Medicaid, public schools, unemployment benefits, police and fire, Homeland Security. Government is obviously not the solution so who needs it?
The Tea Party movement is emblematic of a populace that is so deeply ignorant and frustrated that is has no inkling of what to do other than bitch. If Reaganesque public and economic policy does not work, and it obviously does not, then all is lost, for there are no alternatives that do not sound like the dreaded socialism. You are stuck people. You have no objective other than to destroy the government that is the only means of accomplishing what it is you actually need done, namely making you less afraid.
The Tea Party persons seem to want something, have no idea what it is they want, and do not trust any authority to do whatever it might be that they want done. No wonder they appear to be crazy. A crazy mob devolved around a half dozen microcosms of paranoid delusion with no bearing, principle or even coherent consequence. So not only have we wrecked the economy, we have propelled a deep and abiding stupidity to the forefront of American politics. It is a movement that cries out for a strongman/woman style of leadership that will coddle their pet terrors in order to achieve personal power without any particular idea of an objective to which that power will be applied. Perfect. Mussolini made the trains run on time.
Like the Bushes, and Reagan before them, harnessed the unfocused bigotry of the politicized evangelical movement, Tea Partygoers will be harnessed by the GOP. Lock step conformity will win the day because it is so much easier and comforting to the ignorant than is trying to understand complex things like why making a few people richer requires most of you to be poorer.
The disappointments and anger of Progressives is more focused than that of the Tea Party, by far, night and day. But saddled with the remnants of a generation of misguided government, nothing can be done fast enough, or even possibly at all, to allay accelerating anxiety about the future. Scott Brown is a reminder that the window of opportunity to make substantial corrections in government can close with any election cycle. The fierce urgency of now has never been more abundantly now.
It becomes obvious that the electoral advantage that demarcates the Progressive prospects for change is still a will o' the wisp instead of a steadfast march on to change. Change made under the ideology of a marginal majority will always be subject to political fortunes. A public conviction that government can do no good is a hard thing to overcome in two election cycles, even with the glaring, shout it from the roof tops, failures of the past thirty years of ineffective government by design.
And the GOP strategy of obstruction is near flawless. To illustrate that government is impotent is their goal and what better way to do that than to freeze its function at the time when the public needs government intervention the most. It's working. Left, right and center are furious, frightened and forlorn enough to have mustered blanket contempt for incumbents to office, fitting perfectly into the GOP tactic of a suicide attack on democracy.
The nuclear option for Progressives might yet be to publicly declare that the Republicans win, walk out of government, and let the public suffer the consequences until they crawl to Progressives on bleeding knees for an ounce of their participation. But callousness and utter disregard for suffering is the exclusive province of the GOP. Even the Tea Party idiots likely have more baseline humanity than do the executives of Wall Mart. As an archetypical Nazi SS officer might have observed from the exclusive perspective of having presided over a holocaust, Liberals are weak.
Independents are just disillusioned Republicans. And their disillusion grows with every tick of the political clock that marks one more day of economic uncertainty and xenophobic angst. They too want something done but do not trust government to do anything, thus defining them as Republicans without the courage of their convictions. Independents want society to be orderly and prosperous, taxes low and competence high, but seem to want some magic force, maybe the "invisible hand" to accomplish it. The "invisible hand" requires no taxes and imposes no troublesome laws, ideal. The problem with the "invisible hand" is that it is exactly what lead us to economic disaster precisely because it was invisible, not to mention about as reliable as an aboriginal rain dance.
One might be tempted to try and compromise, to find solutions that will make these disparate groups less unhappy by inches. Obama appears to be trying that. But in the attempt to make improvements in our condition by means on which all agree, he confronts the widest ideological division of our body politic that we have seen since the Civil War, and an opposition that is resolute in that they don't care how bad they make it for the American people, the worse the better.
Even if it were possible to combine the antithetical ideologies of these groups in a compromise government, the result in public policy would be so schizophrenic as to achieve nothing but further insanity. If Lincoln had compromised with the South, for a hypothetical, we might have had slavery made illegal but only from dusk to dawn. No one would have been happy.
In order to solve America's fevered political delirium, clear departures need be made. In order to subdue those in our political landscape who are unprincipled, the policy postures of those opposing change must be discredited, not only through dialogue, but through the certain generational successes that implementation of change will bring. The Republicans are so invested in a philosophy that is so magnificently wrong that to compromise with it is to limit the best in us by burdening us with the parasitic worst of us. This paraphrase of Aynn Rand is a conclusion with which she would now agree. Reagan and Greenspan proved her world view to be flawed on the largest stage in the most real way possible. The empiricist in her would have to agree. The villain is not socialism, it is greed and laziness, regardless of an economic system.
In other words, in order to win this fight for an America in which we can believe again, we must first win this fight. If not, America will continue to drill itself into the deep cold abyss of political paralysis where, by there own hand, no one will ever be happy again.