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Pale Blue Dot

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Member since: 2002
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On the "insane scenario" that everyone's talking about.

I'm of course talking about Jamelle Bouie's piece from The American Prospect: http://prospect.org/article/insane-scenario-unfolding-our-eyes. The essence of the piece is that the Republicans have obstructed all or most of President Obama's economic ideas, and are now set to reap the rewards of a failing economy caused by that obstruction.

This piece has been comforting to many because it is almost completely correct (more on why I say "almost" later). However, to call it an "insane" or "ludicrous" scenario is in and of itself insane and ludicrous. Anyone who is surprised has to be shocked by two things:

1. The Republicans would deliberately hurt the country for their own political and ideological aims;

2. Voters would ignore facts and blame the people in power for their economic troubles.

I don't think anyone on this site is honestly surprised about #1, so let's move on to #2.

Look at every single presidential election of the past 100 years. In fact, look at any truly Democratic election anywhere in the world over the same time period. If we are in an economic downturn when the election happens, the incumbent party loses. Every time.
There is nothing magic or surprising about this. When people are hurting economically they need someone to blame, and they have neither the time nor the inclination to try to understand the facts behind the downturn. If fact, one of the reasons why the economy may collapse now has to do with the elections in Greece: the Greek people, who are going through a major economic downturn, appear to be ready to throw out the right-wing, pro-austerity politicians in charge and vote in a left-wing government that is likely to default on Greek debt obligations and leave the Eurozone. Incumbents don't win in a severe economic downturn - never have, never will.

The Republicans, always savvy politicians even though they're bat-shit crazy, know this. Hence item #1 above.

This is what's had me terrified since Obama took office and hired his economic team. He talked about "hope and change" yet brought none to his economic advisers. The people he consults with daily are part of the same group of people that got us into this mess in the first place. The policies Geithner, Bernanke and the rest put into place weren't long-term solutions that addressed the systemic problems that caused the crisis; they were band-aids, designed to keep us limping along until (hopefully) the next election.

The problems in our economy run extremely deep, and there was never any easy solution. Any real solution to the problem is going to cause a lot of pain to a lot of people. We cannot, as a society, continue to go into debt forever. No society that's done that, throughout all of history, has lasted very long. The president needed to be extremely honest with us about this from the day he took office. Instead he tried to pretend that there could be a painless fix, one in which he had the luxury (for instance) to compromise with the Republicans on tax cuts for the very rich. He never had that luxury.

Now, ironically, our best chance to avoid a descent into total fascism may be the Greek elections. If the right-wing party wins, they will continue the austerity measures the Eurozone has put into place, the markets will rally, and the inevitable may be stalled long enough for our own economy to appear to pick up steam just long enough to keep Obama in office. It will be terrible for the Greeks and only give everyone a few more months, but that may be the best we can hope for.

The saying goes that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results. If so, we are the ones who are truly insane.
Posted by Pale Blue Dot | Sun Jun 3, 2012, 08:01 PM (9 replies)
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