Monday, January 27, 2014

The Wealthy In America: Perception And Reality

Josh Marshall, editor of TPM, undertakes to explain the vast chasm between the reality of the lives of wealthy Americans and their own perceptions of themselves as put upon, unjustly condemned, morally superior to people of lesser means, the standard-bearers of the American economy, etc. Marshall addresses the fact that, while President Obama has, in real life, done almost everything the 1% could possibly have hoped for... bailed out their corporations even as those corporations engaged in the most destructive, ineffective economic behavior, declined to prosecute or even investigate those whose actions either verged on or actually engaged in outright illegality in pursuit of ever greater profits... but Obama himself is remembered by Wall Street almost entirely for a half dozen purely political declarations aimed at recapturing his base in election years and scarcely followed up on in his terms of office that followed. Marshall's essays on the subject are to be found in posts titled The Brittle Grip, part 1 and part 2. These can be read independently; if you have time to read only one, read part 2.

Marshall is an interesting middle-of-the-road Democrat, a former blogger who actually succeeded in his ambition to turn his blog into a small but sustainable media "empire" of sorts. Back when he was a blogger and I was a rank-and-file Democrat, I corresponded with him for a year or two. It was simultaneously a rewarding and exasperating experience, much as I imagine those who actually engage Mr. Obama experience when they face him. Marshall understands politics probably as well as Obama, but both seem to have little deep comprehension of the left side of the American political spectrum. Marshall is at least interested in understanding the left as a phenomenon even if he has no desire to participate in it; Obama, on the other hand, seems to perceive the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party as a force to be coped with and manipulated into supporting his own political aims. It is the nature of political analysis versus political office-holding that distinguishes the behavior of the president from even the most supportive journalists, which under ordinary circumstances I believe would include Josh Marshall. But apparently Obama is interested only in the functional support, not in the alignment of philosophical/political positions with his own. This is certain to bring him grief to one degree or another. Marshall's posts on the nature of both the positions and the inevitable conflicts are worth your time to read.

I still find myself not even a tiny bit more aligned with President Obama's sociopolitical views than I was before he was elected to a second term (with my vote, I admit). As surely as Obama will never have the ideological support of the Tea Party no matter what he does or says, he will also never fully gain the ideological support of what the late great Paul Wellstone used to call "the democratic wing of the Democratic Party": Obama is simply too conservative to capture their spirit.
And I am not sure that wing of the Democratic Party can survive the utter neglect it is experiencing in this peculiar Democratic-but-not-democratic administration. As for us unabashed liberals, the good Dog help us all, because Mr. Obama never will.

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