In perhaps the best mainstream report during the election season, the typically firmly D.C.-based Steve Inskeep went knocking on doors in Colorado and came across a woman, Ili Bennett, who told him she’s felt some excitement from both Elizabeth Warren — and in the past, the Tea Party.
Said Inskeep: “I think you’ve hit on something insightful here. And I want you to help me with this a little bit because the Tea Party, those are some very conservative people — Elizabeth Warren, very liberal person. But they both represent deep unhappiness with the way things are. And it sounds like they both struck a chord with you. Am I right?”
He was and it’s not one woman in Colorado of course. Politico headline today states: “Exit polls 2014: Voters hate everyone.” It might seem that way to the insiders at Politico, but actually it’s that voters mostly just hate the establishment of both political parties, which to Politico might seem like “everyone”. And this isn’t new. From 2010: “CNN Poll: Majority angry at both political parties.”
The problem is that people feel they have virtually no where to go and can’t translate that anger to action. There is a de-facto anti-establishment, populist majority. But the entire structure of politics, media and elections is designed to keep them divided and prevent such populists from the left or right or wherever from coalescing politically. Third parties coming from either the left (Green, Socialist) or the right (Constitution, Libertarian) are automatically dismissed by the vast majority as potential spoilers. (I’ve set up VotePact.org to solve exactly this problem.)
Some sectors of the media have lauded the Republican establishment’s stepping into the primary process and preventing Tea Party candidates from getting nominations in so-called “swing states.” Those looking for salvation in presidential elections from the likes of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or their Republican mirror images will have to bear in mind the obstacle in the primaries is “electability” (as defined by the establishment) and it’s a virtual certainty that candidates who seems serious about delivering real change will be denied any nomination. Rather, such candidates will likely mostly function as a way of keeping voters on the establishment party reservation, endorsing the ultimate nominee.
As for midterm elections, part of the equation is lower and lower voter turnout — the “leadership” of the parties is in effect firing and further marginalizing the public and their alleged bases.
The establishment will attempt to produce their own version of “bipartisanship” — pro-establishment bipartisanship that is. The mantra of “change” is being used to peddle the never ending use of the Reversible Straitjacket of the Democratic and Republican establishments. This manifests itself as “seesaw politics” and what I’ve called the “guillotine pendulum“, helping ensure the continuity of what some call the Deep State.
The major corporate media frequently focus on marginal differences between the two major parties, but the areas of agreement between them are sizable in terms of economic, trade, civil liberties, foreign policy and other issues. On these and other critical issues, the establishments of the duopoly are frequently aligned together against their alleged bases, explaining why the public “hates everyone”. Crazy public. Politicians of both parties talk about helping the little guy and then do the bidding of corporate interests.
Now, the political narrative is that Washington is dysfunctional and “can’t agree on anything”. The the general public is clearly being prepared to embrace whatever pro-corporate monstrosity President Obama and presumptive Senate Majority Leader McConnell agree on.
So, predictably, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting: “American businesses are hoping the dust will settle from Tuesday’s GOP takeover of Congress with new attention on corporate taxes, immigration, trade and energy, top priorities that have eluded breakthroughs in recent years. A post-election landscape that includes a more sharply divided government is likely to lead to continued frustration over some items on businesses’ wish list. At the same time, a reshaped political landscape could lead Congress and the White House to seek legislative breakthroughs on some economic issues before the 2016 election season heats up.”
So, the big business agenda on taxes and corporate trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership could well be advanced by establishment Republicans in Congress working with the Obama administration. This could well extend to other issues such as civil liberties, more war, etc.
The anti-establishment forces either still in the Democratic Party or that have given up on the electoral process all together should join with those deluding themselves into looking for the Republican Party for some salvation. They should work to building new institutions that adopt their best beliefs.
And this must go beyond voters. There should be candidates running for Democratic and Republican nominations who — once the establishment ensures their defeat the the primaries — are willing, jointly perhaps, to bolt and not back the party’s establishment nominees.
The day after election day is the most important. Now is the time to reach out across the partisan divide and find populists on the other side to work with. You have nothing to lose but your perpetual chains.
Sam Husseini founded VotePact.org which encourages voters to pair up with their political “mirror image” and vote for their preferred candidates rather than the “lesser evil” offered by the establishment.