THE BLOG
11/24/2010 10:07 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

It's Not 1994 Again, It's 1934 Again

The political advisory machine is seriously off in the weeds after this last midterm and they don't seem to care. The network ratings are more important than the fate of nations, and that is the nexus of our political dilemma, failure of a competent press to ascertain and speak to the core conscience of America. Instead, the instant conventional wisdom from center rightists and rightists is that 2010 is a political pendulum swing in the perpetual left/right game. The game though, has consequences, and it's yet to be seen if it's perpetual. The glorious dead of millenniums of war might have not gone so willingly were it known to them it was a fixed impossibility to settle it all, once and for all if they would but give their life for that change.

The professional political opinion is that the administration and DNC should run to the center right as fast as their political agoraphobia will let them. But that's not even close to being what needs doing. Which party solves this country's problems is immaterial to the public. The political swing center doesn't give a damn whether we are socialist or fascist as long as they keep or get a job and have some sense that things will get better and not worse. Problems need to be solved or both parties will find themselves the winners that will be the next election's losers, at the expense of much time, treasure and life. So the precise formula for political success is the middle class pudding, no matter how long it takes to make it.

In order to make this country thrive again, we'll have to do better, be more iconoclastic, than to just register and vote and live with the calcified positions of Republican and Democrat. Parties are not leaders, they are oppressors and messengers in an established adversarial dance of feast and famine.

Clinton, after taking an electoral beating 1994 similar in numbers to Obama's in 2010, did cut and run to the center right and was re-elected. It was an important historic decision. But history is just history. History is made, happens, whether you try to do better or not.

Clinton's decisions were framed by two socioeconomic mega trends. First, was a Reagan led resurgence of the far right, enabled by exploitation of deeply steeped ancestral racism in the once incontrovertibly Democratic South. Second, independent of any association to political ideology, was the computing/internet economic boom. For Clinton it was a socioeconomic Disneyland kiddies' ride compared to Obama's first day.

Obama took over the Katrina hurricane multiple pile up train wreck of union busting free trade driven Reagan Trickle economic race to the bottom. Two anti-terror wars had been staged for political props to the GOP fear machine. Bush/Clinton banking deregulation had resulted in the practical sinking of the U.S. finance Titanic. Deliberate sabotage by drown the government in the bathtub tax cuts had exploded the deficit/debt. And it was capstoned by the most gravely adversarial Congress since the Congress of the Civil War was convened. One absolutely must ask if 2010 is more like FDR's 1934 and the Great Depression than Clinton's 1994 and mild H.G.W. Bush recession.

Michael J. Wilson, National Director of Americans for Democratic Action, writes an excellent pre-election (10/27/10) perspective on the historic framing of the two periods. He writes of 1934 as compared to 2010 and disqualifies 1994 as being of sufficient guidance. It seems political similarities between 1934 and 2010 are more striking to Mr. Wilson, and I'd agree.

Republicans fought tooth and nail for austerity as a solution in 1934 as they do in 2010. Mr. Wilson's political assessment seems to me to be that this 2007 Great Recession is a hundred year storm of policy failure brought about by the Republicans and the wealthy just as it was in 1929. The exact same Republican economic, regulation and tax policy that led to 1929 led to 2007. That Republican policy was responsible for both economic calamities is an absolutely verifiable historical fact.

Right now, today, business and banking interest are acting in exactly the same way they did in 1934. Business is hoarding cash. In 1934 business hoarded cash and didn't invest until after the clear as thunder economic breakout of post WWII, more than a decade later. Banks declined to lend even when the 1934 Federal reserve had opened the spigot of raw cash creation just as now. The banks feared deflation of collateral just as they do now. The public tightened its belt and the economy spiraled down as a dispirited Franklin Roosevelt contemplated the destruction of what he had already achieved in his first twenty months in office. It had not worked fast enough for a public that had no pot left in which to cook the chicken that was promised.

The only thing that separates the public of this Republican Great Recession from the public of the Great Depression is that we will be falling from a greater height. We were made better off than our great, and in many cases great great grandparents, by the social economic engineering of the New Deal. The pie that was the near exclusive property of the rich in 1929 was divided up by the New Deal to feed and clothe and educate a new order of world citizen, the American middle class. To the astonishment of the wider world, your parents and grand parents nation succeeded like no other citizen's nation in history. It gave the world's huddled masses hope and ambition for a better life and it did so on the economic and social theories of Progressives. Through Progressive thought, America became a richer place, for labor and for business both, in the understanding of systems and engineering of them. Post Great Depression America was the greatest entrepreneurial success of all time.

Progressive economic and labor policy rescued the U.S. economy, leveraged by the vast government investments and total employment program of WWII. It was not Laissez Faire business caprice that repaired and propelled the American economy into global leadership. Laissez Faire has no collective goals by definition. Business does not lead or create societies, it exploits them for profit. FDR saved capitalism and the nation by making it less cruel, thus avoiding a Second Amendment, Bonnie and Clyde, counter solution for smash and grab rule by capitalists.

The worst tendencies of unbridled capitalism were brought to heel by government by and for the people. Monopolies were eviscerated, Wall Street was regulated, usurious lending was kicked to the curb. Defense of the nation was expanded to include defense of the nation against the interminable internal threat of inventive greed. America was re-invented beginning in 1934 by leaders who examined the forces at work and the consequences of letting them run to a logical conclusion. Legions of the poor were lifted up and Communism was thus subdued. The aged factory workers, of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", who had worked 6 days a week since they were 10 years old, were pensioned in an act of collective mercy that no Republican has ever forgiven. Social Security, the SEC and FDIC and WPA and NLRB lifted Americans out of institutionalized miseries from which no living adult American has since suffered. We were powerless slaves and the New Deal lifted us from it, and if you don't remember it, it's because you weren't yet born when it happened. A little socialism saved the world from either choice of total communism and total capitalism, as economists like Marx presaged.

So 2010 is not as hard as was 1934. In 1934 they had to invent modern government, things we have come to take for granted in government. 2010 is clearly more important a juncture than was 1994. 1994 was just a waypoint on a continuing Reaganite march to undo the great achievements of Progressive entrepreneurial government of 1934.

2010 as an indicator of what the public wants is recorded. It was not an indictment of one party over the other as the post election polls show with bell ringing clarity. The public wants their government to fix the economy and do not have a clue as to which party is better equipped to do so. 2010 was a grope in the dark by a public that distrusts government, a state of the electorate that the wealthy and GOP have spent billions to engender. The politics of hate and distrust has produced hate and distrust. Now what do you do with the putty you have made of the voting population? Can we sink any further into disdain and alienation short of anarchy? This GOP stupidity enhancement strategy has run its course and the Tea Party loons, Angle, Buck, Miller, O'Donnel and Palin are its pitiful product.

Unfortunately because of the ruin of the electorate at the hands of the rich and Fox/Newscorp, people have come now to loathe miracles and adore their own damnation. Cynicism rules the land, and so a progressive entrepreneurial renaissance of this young century is destined to take as long or longer to achieve than did the renaissance that was the New Deal. We should be smarter having dealt with a capitalist Laissez Faire catastrophe just 80 years ago, but we're, apparently, not. We are laboring over the same questions for which now there are 8 decades of proof as to the answers. We are laboring over them because of the vast investment of the recalcitrant rich in forcing us to labor over them. It is a waste of our time and their resources because the ultimate answers will be the same. A democratic socialism is the best philosophy of government no matter its articles of constitution.

In 1934, the GOP and sponsors were still invested mostly in the future of this country. Even if they were profoundly wrong about how to deal with the problems of the Great Depression, they still had money invested here. Now, it is abundantly clear that they don't care anymore. The wealthy are going off shore to invest and money is abandoning the country that engineered, by it's Progressive government's entrepreneurship, business' greatest successes in the history of the world. The only purpose they now find in America is to rob it by means of corrupted subsidies and re-selling into it's declining markets. Fine.

Now is the time to invent a government that will deal with a business community that is hostile or indifferent to the existence of the nation. Now is the time to create new controls to adapt to challenges from within that are greater than any phantom of Fox Newscorp threat from without. This is not a time to accommodate, as Clinton did in 1994, a slide towards an end of America that was on a foreseeable track even then. 1994 was the exact and precise example of what not to do in the face of a business community and Republican party that is hell bent on turning America into a post Mao China for profit.

1994 was Clinton kicking the political can down the road. The rich, through union busting and outsourcing to cheap labor markets, are on track to return the world to the Dark Ages, and even they know it. They just can't seem to help their children and grand children as much as they help themselves. So we are as close to ending America, the America of which we and the world were once so proud, as we have ever been philosophically. Out of the self verifying swindle of right wing mantra, the U.S.A. will disintegrate over the last can of Chinese made cat food.

We do not need yet another acquiescence to the Yin and Yang of a political world in which the election interests of GOP or Democrats have the sole editorial control over the writing of our future. 1994 is not needed even as a touchstone. Our future will not deviate from its course until our political minds follow the compass of creating a new renaissance of egalitarian morality like was the Progressive resolve of FDR in 1934. Our best public policy minds are capable of this, they write of it here on Huffington Post every damned day.

This is a time to invent a new government to deal with the inevitable disasters of a government that is now by and for greed. It is time to erect and weld in place law that breaks the teeth of legislation for hire. It's a time to throw out the bums that should have been thrown out, the last of the Republicans. The public appetite is whetted for change, and the public is getting less particular about the solution by the hour.