Saturday, January 01, 2011

Robert Reich on the Political Parties' Narratives

Robert Reich has the usual insightful take on the situation of the American economy, and American politics, in the latest issue of the American Prospect. Below are some highlights.
For three decades, an increasing share of the benefits of economic growth have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent. Thirty years ago, the top got 9 percent of total income. Now they take in almost a quarter.

[...] The vast middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going. (The rich spend less of their income.)

[...] As income and wealth have risen to the top, so has political power. Money is being used to bribe politicians and fill the airwaves with misleading ads that block us from hearing this story.

[...]This is the story Obama, Democrats, and progressives must tell. Stop talking policy. People don't think in terms of policies. Policies make sense only to the extent they illustrate a larger story. Obama's biggest failure has been an inability to connect the dots.

I disagree with Prof. Reich that Obama's biggest failure has been the inability to connect the dots. It is not that Obama has been incapable of connecting the dots, it's that he has not been willing to do so, for reasons that--I suspect--are much less excusable than inability. We are living through yet another smokescreen presidency, on the inevitable road to the destruction of the American middle-class. Obama is not a victim of his inability, he is an accomplice in for-profit spinelessness.

Also, in addition to the rise of income to the top that Reich highlights in his article, another thing that has risen at the same pace as the influence of money in politics is the influence of right-wing evangelicals on the American landscape. Instead of decrying the corrupt influence of money in politics, most evangelicals have been trained on the idea, which they are spreading uncritically, that government--not corrupting wealth--is the cause of most or all societal evils, that the current embodiment of the free market, free in name only, is essential to the prosperity of Americans, and that salvation lies in believing in a gospel that denies science, progress, and the need for social justice and that promotes and rewards the cult of the mavericky individual and uncritical submission to irrational ideas.

In any case, and in spite of some negligible flaws, you should read the whole article, Telling Tales, to educate yourself against Republican misinformation, which is a 24/7 business.

And while you are at it, read Reich's predictions on what 2011 has in store for us. The first concerns the political strategy of the Tea Party in 2011; the second one is about the outlook for the U.S. economy in 2011.

No comments:

Copyright 2004-2012