Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Enemy Of My Enemy — Can A Left-Right Populist Alliance Overthrow The Parties And The Wall Street Establishment?

The Parties are over broken
Robert Reich thinks it's possible. In a post titled "The Six Principles of the New Populism (and the Establishment’s Nightmare)" Reich asserts that there are at least six items on which the Tea Party and the increasingly disempowered progressive wing of the Democratic Party can agree, items which might serve as a basis for an active populism that would save America from its ongoing and apparently never-ending economic recession. (When can we stop being polite and call it a depression, which seems a more accurate name to me?)

The six items are big enough (break up the big banks; resurrect Glass-Steagall; end corporate welfare; rein in the NSA; put brakes on America's overseas interventions; stop corporate-crafted trade agreements), and Reich offers evidence of support for them from left-wing populists and right-wing populists.

I would love to see this work. What a concept... a popular takeover of an aging, failing democracy! But of course I have some cautionary words:
  • Left populists and right populists share no goals, only means. Any such alliance would be temporary at best, and the aftermath of the breakup may be difficult to say the least.
  • Right populists cannot be trusted. Will they follow through on their promises? only as far as those freely made promises further their goals, which are not the same goals... see above.
  • Establishment parties and related institutions have ways of getting what they want in the face of all sorts of adversity. One of the main ways they have is money. In this respect, there is less difference than you might think between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The Dems have done absolutely nothing to support their left-leaning progressives, and the Tea Party appears to be supported primarily by obscenely wealthy individuals whose goals overlap those of the membership only as far as they serve the interests of the wealthy supporters.
In other words, it's a great idea, but how can it be pulled off for an extended enough period to make any real dent in establishment institutions and ambitions?

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