January 11, 2010

Health Care Reform as Radical Political Bellwether So they're going to pass some version of health care reform. Like any big legislative initiative, nobody really knows how it will interact with reality once it takes effect. Most political partisans seem pretty unimpressed with it; which is weird, since the final bill will be very impressive... politically speaking. I haven't seen this kind of belief in the power of government to make positive change in the lives of average Americans in my lifetime. In recent decades, Americans have voted for (and seemingly preferred) a government that has not only abdicated its charge to work in the interests of civic good, but has actively set about dismantling every institution of collective betterment. I wouldn't go so far as to declare the era of Laissez-faire governance over, but I do think that we're moving in the right direction for the first time in a long, long time. This is the real reason that the Republicans have united in opposition to the health care bill: it represents an ideological shift away from official neglect and towards participatory activism. The specifics of the bill never really mattered to those that opposed it. The "public option," abortion provisions, "death panels," Medicare buy-ins... all of these contentious provisions were resolved with deference to the preferred solutions of hardline conservatives, and they still opposed the bill unanimously. The truth is that they simply don't believe that the government can play a useful regulatory role... in anything. The defeat of congressional conservatives herein represents a defeat of that worldview; this may not be the next "New Deal," but it's a great deal more hopeful and progressive than anything we've seen make it's way through the legislative process since the days of LBJ. Contrary to the incessant whine from committed leftist ideologues, this really is the change we voted for. It's not fast, it's not pretty, it's not perfect, and it's far from being done... but if we keep at it we can, over time, become a more equitable and a more just country. Yes we can.
The Business Class & Community of Investors Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy Here's a pretty good breakdown of what the Republican party considers sacrosanct in American political life and what it considers a betrayal of our founding principles. Michael Steele: ...this is a President who believes fundamentally in an activist government, not an activist business class, not an activist community of investors and, and those who will create the wealth in an economy. He sees that being centered - coming out of the federal government, using the institutions and the apparati [sic] of, of federal government to achieve those ends. Steele, like most Republicans, would like the government to go Galt. What's astonishing here is that he seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that 5/6 of our citizens are employed in the retail and service industries; we're not CEOs or small business owners or entrepreneurs. We're mostly a country of low-level employees. We're the people that run the show, clean the floors, do the laundry and make the food. That such a hoard of proletariat scallywags could enfranchise themselves to the point of actually influencing the government to act in their interests as opposed the interests of a "business class" or a "community of investors" is an unthinkable monstrosity. What's germane about this view is that it deliberately recasts the most salient feature of American government as Capitalism rather than Democracy. Furthermore, it demands that the fulcrums of Capitalistic power throughout our country economy be given proportional representation in Congress as a function of that power. This is the New Republicanism. Recall the recent decision of Texas Board of Education to excise "democratic" from the curriculum and re-define America as a "constitutional republic." The Republican party is morphing into a hardcore constitutionalist haven. Gone are the divisive social issues, the influence of Christianist thought, conservative economic values and - most importantly - any trace of sympathy for democratic institutions.

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