The previous transient scapegoat was the Democrats. They were punished in yet another â€œwaveâ€ election â€” our third in a row â€” where voters threw Washingtonâ€™s bums out. But most of the public remains bummed out nonetheless. In late October, the NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found that only 31 percent of respondents believed that America was on the right track. When the survey asked the same question after the shellacking, the percent of optimists jumped to … 32. Regardless of party or politics, thereâ€™s a sense a broken country canâ€™t be fixed. Few have faith that even â€œwaveâ€ elections are game-changers anymore.
He’s not wrong that people are bummed out. But I think he’s wrong that Democrats are the previous transient scapegoats. Dems are the standard default scapegoat, seems to me.
I think Rich is wrong here, also:
… the big money that dominates our political system, regardless of whoâ€™s in power. Two years after the economic meltdown, most Americans now recognize that that money has inexorably institutionalized a caste system where everyone remains (at best) mired in economic stasis except the very wealthiest sliver.
He’s right that big money has inexorably institutionalized a caste system where everyone remains (at best) mired in economic stasis except the very wealthiest sliver. But I think he’s wrong that “most Americans now recognize” that. I’m not sure they do. Or, if they suspect something, too many don’t suspect the big money supporting their end of the political spectrum and pulling their strings; they just suspect the other side’s big money.
To answer the question in the post title — I do think progressives may have gotten too cynical. This is not to say there isn’t plenty to be cynical about, but that an overload of cynicism has turned us into defeatists. Our politicians are slaves to The Sytem like everyone else. Democrats always will betray our expectations. Nothing will ever change.
But the teabaggers, for all their outrage, aren’t cynical enough. They’re like backwoods rubes lining up to buy what the traveling snake oil salesman is selling. And at the moment they’re the useful tools helping the more pernicious malefactors of great wealth become even more inexorably institutionalized. Palin, Beck et al. are the 21st century version of Rome’s bread and circuses — although less bread, more circus.
The New York Times reports that Senator Dick Lugar has been bucking the Republican Party on some issues lately, and for this some “tea party” groups are planning a primary challenge when he runs for re-election in 2012. The teabaggers say they are independent of the Republican Party, but of course only a teabagger would be gullible enough to believe that.
Remember John Danforth, former Reublican senator from Missouri? Danforth said that if the GOP ditches Lugar, “we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”
Senator Lugar has been trying to get Republicans to put national security ahead of political games and support the START treaty. Ben Armbruster writes for Think Progress:
Lugar has been reluctant to criticize his colleaguesâ€™ obstruction. When asked last week if they were just playing politics, Lugar said, â€œI am not ascribing motivations to anybody.â€ But other Republicans donâ€™t seem to be holding back. Brent Scowcroft served as national security adviser to two Republican presidents and has been pleading with Congress to ratify New START. Profiling Lugarâ€™s awkward position vis-a-vis other Senate Republicans on this issue, Politico reports today that Scrowcroft isnâ€™t being as diplomatic as Lugar on the GOPâ€™s incentive for holding up START:
In an attempt to rally bipartisan support for the treaty, the White House has enlisted the kind of GOP foreign policy wise men that Lugar exemplifies â€“ among them former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker. But they have had no success with members of their own party, and it has left them scratching their heads over the source of the GOP opposition.
â€œItâ€™s not clear to me what it is,â€ said Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush who noted that this START treaty is not very different from previous ones negotiated and ratified under Republican presidents. â€œIâ€™ve got to think that itâ€™s the increasingly partisan nature and the desire for the president not to have a foreign policy victory.â€
Considering that the Republican Party is deliberately trying to destroy the economy, the health care system, and now national security just to win elections, maybe we can’t be cynical enough.