A great democracy has got to be progressive, or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy."

- Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

20 October 2013

Our Task: Make Business Progressive

By Hannah Miyamoto - HONOLULU

   Now that the government shutdown and threat of debt default is over until next year, the Big Business leaders that created the Tea Party movement victories in the 2010 and 2012 elections have decided to, at least in part, destroy their creation by defeating some of the 144 Republican members of Congress that voted against ending the shutdown and for defaulting on the debt. At the same time, the Tea Party movement is aiming at defeating Republicans that voted for the compromise bill, especially in states where they believe the Democratic Party is too weak and disorganized to defeat their more extreme candidate.

   Big Business has developed a curious strategy for neutralizing the Tea Party while still maintaining their control over Congress: Recruiting business leaders like them to run for Congress. National politics, it seems, has reached the stage in the 1941 Frank Capra classic, Meet John Doe where the wealthy would-be fascist D. B. Norton physically pushes aside the populist hero (played by Gary Cooper) that he created and tries to get the millions of members in the "John Doe Movement" to follow him, instead of the imaginary man he paid Cooper to impersonate. You can watch this now-public domain film yourself.

   It won't work. It won't work because the anger and resentment behind the Tea Party is real, and while a lot of what should have been directed at Big Business and Wall Street has been displaced onto the Democrats, President Obama, women, minorities, workers, and other Democratic coalition members, the Tea Party has a mind of its own and a leadership of its own. In essence, having indoctrinated Tea Party members for years into hating everything Obama supports, and insisting that the Federal Government is the source of their misery, no amount of money can buy enough media to now accept the federal government. The lady who famously wanted "Government to get out of Medicare" is real, and so are all the Tea Partiers who want to overthrow the Government, not just control it. The Tea Party may be ignorant about the facts, idiotic about the problems and clueless about solutions, but it knows what it knows.

  As 2014 rapidly approaches, we are facing a situation in which the Pro-Business Billionaires have unlimited money, few of the Republican voters and a stable of unattractive candidates, while the Tea Party movement has only the money of its pauperized supporters, over 100 skilled incumbents, and most of the Republican voters. Add in a Third Party movement pulling away Tea Party voters in November, and 2014 could be a 1936 realigning election flushing Congress with dozens of stirring Democrat freshmen. By 2016, the Tea Party may be like a dim, but hot dwarf star, rumbling and crumbling away, spewing off its energies into new right-wing extremism.
Do you remember the American Independent Party? They also used to dress up like 18th century Revolutionaries, but it was in the 1970s.

   However, the realignment that will really serve Big Business and Wall Street, by creating the economic stability that permits business leaders to make workable plans is when Big Business and Wall Street realize that pragmatic Progressives--surprise!--have the best plans for guaranteeing that most Americans experience the rising standard of living needed to support corporate profit margins and also maintain America's leadership in global innovation. "Co-opting" Progressivism will not achieve this goal, and will simply weaken the new Progressive movement, which also "knows what it knows." 
What we need instead is to find ways, like those of the two Roosevelt presidents, to incorporate the leaders of business and high finance into the new pragmatic Progressive coalition. We need to "Save Capitalism from Itself," and we have to do it NOW, before it destroys not only itself, but you and me as well.