Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Using the Shock Doctrine for good

I'm off to the dentist again for the afternoon, so I give you Digby, who has the must read post this morning. It's so good I'm going to quote it extensively, but definitely read the whole thing and send it to every Democratic leader you can.
But if a new plan is to be presented by the Democrats, it means they are going to take ownership of the crisis and they'd better start thinking about passing it with a progressive argument. The Republicans are not going to be on board. I wrote after the debate that I wished Barack had made the point that all of his plans for investing in alternative energy, infrastructure and health care are not only the right thing to do, they are going to be necessary for revitalizing the economy. For several decades now we've been working under the false premise that the only thing the government can do to stimulate the economy in a time of recession is tax cuts. That's just not true. In fact, it is inadequate at times like these, as we are seeing. Action in the way of creating jobs and direct government activism is required.

7. A new version of the New Deal would create a Democratic majority for years to come. That's why the GOP has fought so hard for so long to dismantle the old New Deal. Democrats could emphasize that this is a temporary, emergency program - just as the Wall St. proposal allegedly is, but after the program's sunset there would be a strong new constituency supportive of extending this (and other progressive programs) and expanding the Democratic base of support.

8. McCain is trying to pose as a populist (and bank on Democrats floating a "compromise" bill he can oppose). Shifting the debate with an actual wholesale alternative puts him in a very difficult position, and at the very least prevents him from scoring cheap political points.

But the Democrats are failing to take advantage of the complexity of the situation and use simple politics to sell it. They should say that the economy is failing and we need massive government action to solve it. That's what Democrats do in a crisis like this. But they need to make the political message about the Democratic agenda for restoring the economy not about rescuing "the financial system" which nobody understands anyway.

Let's have the argument and let the American people decide. If the Democrats win it they will have a mandate for real progressive change in the middle of a crisis that demands it. If they play their cards right they'll end up neutering the failed conservative ideology for a generation, put in place some important and long neglected structural changes and mitigate the worst of this downturn at the same time. There's no reason that the Shock Doctrine can't be used for good.
This crisis is the opportunity to redefine the Democratic agenda that we've been waiting to see arrive for generations. Digby is right. The Democrats could use this turn of events to explain to the voters that it's not big government that is bad; it's that big government has been used for the wrong reasons, mainly to prop up the corporatocracy at the expense of the working class.

The Democratic party has an opportunity to lead here and offer a bottom up plan with no apologies for failing to bow to Republican demands for phony bi-partisanship. Paging Barack Obama. We don't need bi-partisanship. We need another FDR. We need a leader willing to boldly risk everything to really change the world.

[More posts daily at The Newshoggers and The Detroit News.]

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