Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where Does the Blame Lie?

Les Leopold has an interesting perspective of who to blame for the the loss in Massachusetts. He says that the initial blame might fall on Obama but that progressives need some introspection in order to see that they didn't do enough.

The Obama administration bears much of the responsibility for the debacle in Massachusetts. It didn't go hard enough against Wall Street, and it didn't recognize the depth and breadth of the jobs crisis -- and the connection between the two.

But don't stop there. Much of the failure also rests with the progressive community which is clueless about how to respond to our new billionaire bailout society.

Over the past thirty years we've gone from a quasi-social democratic/capitalist economy to a full-fledged billionaire bailout society whose primary purpose is to maintain the wealth and prominence of a tiny handful of elites, even if it means raiding the national treasury to protect, restore and enhance its riches. [...]

When it all came crashing down, we still didn't realize, until too late, that that we had entered a new billionaire bailout society. The crash should have produced immediate investigations and drastic reforms. The big bankers were on their knees groveling for funds. That was the time to address "too big to fail" by breaking them up so they never again could crash the entire system.

It didn't happen. It's still not happening.

Instead, we bailed them out without asking for anything significant in return. [...]

To drive home the reality of what a billionaire bailout society really means, the biggest banks, (which are still major beneficiaries of billions of dollars of public largess even after they payback TARP) are declaring near record profits and bonuses again while nearly 30 million people are without jobs or forced into part-time work. And to rub it in, the banks are using their new found wealth to lobby against any and all reforms that might stand in their way. (Isn't it nice to see the stock market rally as Obama's reform agenda is further wounded?)

What did progressives do? What are they doing now?

Not nearly enough. We put our faith in Obama and now are moaning about how he failed to take on Wall Street and the insurance giants. We concentrated on shaping the health care bill, but did little to shape the outrage against Wall Street and the anxiety about job loss.

The moment was missed. The American public truly became outraged at the Wall Street rip offs, but progressives failed to mobilize on Main Street. Instead the terrain was abdicated to the Tea Party, a loose collection of right wing populists who stirred up a potent brew of anti-Obama, anti-government resentments and anti-Wall Street anger.

In a matter of months the Tea Party has gained more popular appeal than either of the two parties. Unbelievably, it is becoming the party of Main Street. [...]

Where is all that new progressive Internet organizing that was supposed reshape American politics? Where is that virtual mass movement that supposedly got Obama elected? Did we expect to tweet our way into reforming Wall Street? [...]

Unfortunately, the crisis also is revealing how tied progressive are to the Democratic establishment, and how meek our protests seem, just when our nation most needs our loudest voices and most spirited reforms.
Another example of a lost moment. Progressives waited for Obama. The wait is over. It is time to mobilize and set a new course.

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