Tag Archives: polarization

Lessons from the TPP: no political polarization for interests of the 1%!

Summary:  As Congress debates the TPP and USA Freedom Act, it’s become fashionable to complain about political polarization and gridlock. Yet we see in these debates how both parties often cooperate to advance the interests of the 1% and the Deep State. Congress and our Presidents take a thousand steps, seemingly unrelated, adding up to the construction of a great work — a New America.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

Project New America

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities {that} essentially makes the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act a non-binding international standard. It requires no change to U.S. law.” The final vote was 61-38 vote (short of the required 2/3 majority); all 38 no votes were Republicans. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) explains their opposition:

“I do oppose the CRPD because I think it does impinge upon our sovereignty … Unelected bureaucratic bodies would implement the treaty and pass so-called recommendations that would be forced upon the United Nations and the U.S. … This would especially affect those parents who home-school their children. … The unelected foreign bureaucrats, not parents, would decide what is in the best interests of the disabled child, even in the home. … I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society.”

Imhofe’s objections apply equally well to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). But unlike rights for the disabled, the Senator Imhofe and his Republican colleagues in the Senate overcame their principles when necessary to further the interests of the 1% and approve fast-tracking the TPP. (In a telling sideshow, 10 Democrats were not satisfied with this gift to US megacorps, and demanded a pony too — assurance of GOP support for renewal of the megacorp-friendly Export-Import Bank).

Here we see the true nature of US politics today.  The Republicans and Democrats disagree about social issues; this is the  core of our so-called “political polarization”. But the 1% don’t care about most social issues. It’s more important that both parties support the policies that the 1% cares about (to different degrees depending on the issue).

This bifurcation of issues is the elephant in the room that political scientists too often ignore.

This partnership of the 1% and both parties has run America for many years. Dramatic, even fierce, public debate is followed by agreement to do the will of the 1%. Hillary and other Democrats supported Bush’s wars. The GOP supports Obama’s negotiations for the TPP.  The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 with a bipartisan majority. The Senate passed the Patriot Act extensions with a bipartisan majority.

Occasionally one party or other postures in opposition to key legislation (for public display), so long as it passes. That’s true bipartisanship, of the kind I expect to gain approval for the USA Freedom Act.

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The votes were counted and one wing of our one ruling party won. Rejoice!

Summary:  Our political pundits focus on the “election as horse race” to conceal the relatively small policy differences between the two parties, and so sooth a somnolent public who might become restive if they understood the nature of the New America being constructed on the ruins of the Second Republic.  Here are some articles to help us see more clearly. Second in a series.  Also see the posters at the end of the post!

It looks simple, small, harmless.

Contents

  1. Some useful articles describing our one-party system
  2. An important lesson, but we are blind and can’t see it
  3. America can be seen more clearly from abroad
  4. Posts in this series about the results of Campaign 2012
  5. Seeing our situation in pictures instead of words

(1)  Useful articles describing our one-party system

This list will be updated. These are the useful articles as of 9am EST.  As described in the previous post, most of the discussion is either about political horse races (past and future), or rants (often quite delusional) about the glories of our side and the evils of the others.  Descriptions of our actual condition create cognitive dissonance, and (worse) scare the sheep.

The Democratic Party won the election by moving decisively to the right, co-opting many of the GOP’s policies (especially those most loved by the 1%).  Obama retained his liberal gloss by advocating social reforms of little interest to the 1%. Romney failed to counter this with a move to the center (after his win in the primaries), instead attempting to ignore Obama’s actual policies and portray him as Lenin. This failed, allowing Obama to build on his strength on the Left (nowhere else to go) and capture a winning margin in the center.  QED.

Please mention in the comments any articles you find useful.

  1. America’s Increasingly Tribal Electorate“, Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard, 1 November 2012 — “A political scientist explains the disconnect between our moderate policy views and our intense hatred for the other side.”
  2. How the Republican party sabotaged itself: the real story of the 2012 election“, Michael Cohen, Guardian, 5 November 2012 — “As America’s demographic facts shifted in favour of Democrats, the GOP chose instead to paint itself into an ideological corner”
  3. How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File“, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 7 November 2012
  4. Obama and progressives: what will liberals do with their big election victory?“, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, 7 November 2012 — “With fights over social security, Medicare, ongoing war, and other key progressive priorities looming, what will they do with their new power?”
  5. Maps of the 2012 US presidential election results — Worth a look; they say a lot.

(2)  The most important lesson, but we are blind and cannot see it

American politics go tribal“, Pacific Standard, 1 November 2012 — “A political scientist explains the disconnect between our moderate policy views and our intense hatred for the other side.” Excerpt:

Political scientist Lilliana Mason’s analysis is more subtle, and more disturbing. Her research suggests that, in terms of our attitudes towards issues, we are no more polarized than we were decades ago. But our emotions, and the behaviors they drive, have largely uncoupled from our actual analysis of the issues. Essentially, the Stony Brook University scholar argues, our identities have become increasingly intertwined with our political affiliation. As a result, we feel ever more certain that our party is right and the other is wrong—even in cases where their positions aren’t far apart.

Our attitude towards the opposing party has become, basically, tribal: We detest them simply because they’re the other side.

“The American public can hold remarkably moderate and constant issue positions, while nonetheless becoming progressively more biased, active and angry when it comes to politics,” she argues. “Even as we agree on most issues, we are becoming increasingly uncivil in our approach to politics.”

This touches one of the major themes of the FM website, as described in Polarization and hot rhetoric conceal two similar political parties. Will we ever notice?, October 2010. This reviews the political science data about changing political views (little polarization), and draws what might be the most important conclusion about our political condition today…

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The good news: America’s politics are neither polarized nor dysfunctional. That’s also the bad news.

Summary:  How sad that we so underestimate our leaders, confusing their skillful political engineering with folly.  Of course their successful manipulation of us allows them to laugh at our scorn.  This is the next in a series; at the end are links to previous chapters.

Many Americans rage at the dysfunctional polarization of our politics.  How can our representatives agree upon necessary policy reforms when the two parties have such different positions and refuse to compromise.  Our imbalance between government revenue and expenditures will bankrupt us if not closed.  Our health care policy will bankrupt us if not changed.  This is the consensus viewpoint, and totally wrong.

In 2007 and 2008 we saw a similar polarization in foreign and homeland security policies.  Widespread domestic surveillance, torture, rendition, illegal foreign wars, kangaroo courts for foreigners imprisoned on flimsy evidence.  These were necessary to protect the homeland — or the acts of a second Hitler.  This led to the fiercely contested presidential election.  The Democratic Party’s anti-Nazi platform won, but once in office their candidate continued and expanded Bush Jr’s policies (eg, see this Glenn Greenwald article about conservatives and liberals applauding Obama’s foreign and national security policies).

The apparent polarization was a farce, played by our ruling elites on a gullible American public.  We accept it, conditioned to fear by years of scary propaganda and FBI-manufactured terrorist conspiracies — expert information operations directed at us.

Now the same dynamics repeat.  Scary stories (mostly fake) about the nearly bankrupt Federal government incite panic and prepare us for what is to come.  No matter who wins in the 2012 elections, in 2013 our representatives will raise taxes, cut expenditures (including Social Security and Medicare), start rebuilding our infrastructure, and begin the long process of reforming health care.  It will be another Morning in America.

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