The Results Are in: Massachusetts Chooses Tweedledum over Tweedledee!

I live almost a thousand miles from Massachusetts, but watched the special election for Senate there with interest. It’s not that I am convinced that the Democrats are better than the GOP. In fact, I actually believe that there is very little difference in the ultimate product either major party puts out there. No matter who wins, the result is more war, less money for most of us, and lots more money for the already wealthy. So, no, I don’t think there is a lot of difference between the two parties. However, there does seem to be some difference between their backers. Besides their traditional base among the monied classes, the GOP tends to attract socially reactionary religious fundamentalists and angry middle class people who are responding to a perceived loss of entitlement. I say perceived not because many of these folks haven’t lost their previously comfortable life, but because they honestly believed that they were entitled to it, when the fact is that version of the American Dream was never meant to last. Not to mention that for many of those folks it was built on debt encouraged by Madison Avenue and greedy banks.

At any rate, this voting populace tends to consider themselves the majority in the United States. I don’t have figures to prove whether or not this is true, but it is probably safe to say that they constitute a majority of those who consistently vote. Why? Probably because their vote actually means something to them, having been fundamental in electing a number of right wing politicians over the fast forty years. So, even if they do not constitute an actual majority, their voting practices have been crucial to the nation’s recent history.

Mainstream pundits write about the anger of the voter. They point to the over-hyped phenomenon of the Tea-Partiers as proof. Some left-oriented writers speculate about the possibility of organizing these Tea-Partiers, looking at them as somehow be crucial to the future. Here in North Carolina, these folks constitute a vocal element of the populace. They make lots of noise, hold signs with veiled (and not so veiled) references to Barack Obama’s skin tone and carry their guns. If they represent a potentially leftist upsurge, I’m not seeing it. What I see, instead, is an angry group of people whose understanding of the political system in the capitalist US fails to see the fundamental fact of that system: the government works for the corporations. Plain and simple. This is a fundamental economic base for fascism. This fact is underscored by the ever-expanding war budget in the United States and, most recently, by the mutation of the desire for universal health care into a government-enforced insurance system that funnels consumer money into the bank accounts of some of the largest financial institutions in the world–the insurance companies. Although Tea-Partiers do have it right when they oppose the current health care legislation, the fact is, they opposed any type of government involvement in health care. Their solution of completely private insurance is no solution at all. The fact that these are the two choices presented does makes my point. The government works for the corporations. No matter what happens–Obama’s health care bill or the Tea-Partiers status quo–the insurance companies win. Do the voters of Massachusetts honestly believe electing Scott Brown will change the way the system is run?

I am friends with a dozen or so folks who consider themselves part of this movement. Most of them are retired. Almost all of them are reasonably well off. They travel when they want and a couple of them own two homes. They all worked for what they have and were able to get where they are with that work and a little bit of luck. However, there are many more US residents who have worked just as hard that have not nearly as much to show for it. Their interests are not represented by the Tea-Partiers, the GOP, or the Democrats. Despite this, it’s hard to convince most people that this is the case. Almost everyone seems to think that one of these groups represents them. Even if it’s only the one that places itself opposite the one that doesn’t.

Is the tea-party movement as big as FoxNews would like us to believe? Is it capable of changing the face of Congress to reflect its anger and scapegoating? Is it a rising fascist movement? The answer to the first question seems to be a pretty firm no. The Tea Party rally held on November 12, 2009 in Washington, DC was originally reported to number between 500,000 and a million. Re-estimates by a number of partisan and non-partisan sources have reduced that number to 250,000 at most. While this is a substantial number, it is probably not enough to create any popular groundswell towards right wing populists taking over the Congress. The question as to whether it represents a rising fascist movement requires a more complex answer. Certain elements of this movement do share various racial and nativist prejudices with various neo-Nazi and other fascist movements. In fact, these latter groups make no bones about their attempts to attract attendees at these rallies to their organizations. However, like the fringe groups of the left that appear at antiwar and other protests organized by leftists, their appeal is quite limited. It seems safe to say that the largest beneficiary of the tea-party movement will be the GOP. Indeed, according to the Tea Party Patriot website, most Tea-Partiers have decided not to go the third party route, but will work to “revive” the GOP.

Very important is the role of the tea-party’s political, corporate and intellectual sponsors. FoxNews is foremost among these sponsors. If the antiwar movement had a media outlet with the reach of FoxNews hyping its cause, all of the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would be home by now. This media source provides what is essentially free advertising for those politicians and groups going after the angry voter that leans right. The Tea-Party’s corporate sponsors in the financial and insurance industry also help the Tea-Party organization function. Sure, there is a grassroots aspect to the movement, but it is the corporate money and FoxNews publicity that has made the movement most of what it is.

Is there a possibility that some of the angry voters who voted for Republican Scott Brown would consider a progressive third party? Perhaps. More likely, however, is that these angry voters will merely vote for the party not in power, expressing their anger while ensuring more of the same. This is not so much the fault of the angry voters as it is the failure of the Left to organize a left opposition that does not include the Democrats. The only choice most voters see is Tweedledee and Tweedledum. So, the revolving door of rule by the wealthy continues.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground and Tripping Through the American Night, and the novels Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator's Tale. His third novel All the Sinners, Saints is a companion to the previous two and was published early in 2013. Read other articles by Ron.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 20th, 2010 at 11:08am #

    This is what greatness of america means: only like-minded people get elected.
    In this case, one like-minded p., tad right of franco, lost and the other, tad left of franco, one.
    No, they don’t agree on everything. Each can choose own underwear or overwear, food, women, etc..
    So nation of ‘laws’ and cheques and balances is inded ruled by ‘laws’. And the ‘laws’ say that some ‘laws’ [a constitution being a mere set of ‘laws’ compiled by slave owners] cannot ever change if it is up to old snake oil sellers or ‘lawmakers’.
    Now, please don’t get mad; get it all! That’s why bush, obama, clinton never ever get mad; they get all! Eat ur hearts out all of u outside looking in.

    Where is nader? Is he also for these immutable ‘laws’? Which cannot [ever?]change from inside the loop. But once [does he read DV?] he establishes a viable party, the loop is forever busted; i.e. if the loop permits it?

  2. Deadbeat said on January 21st, 2010 at 9:26pm #

    Where is nader? Is he also for these immutable ‘laws’? Which cannot [ever?]change from inside the loop. But once [does he read DV?] he establishes a viable party, the loop is forever busted; i.e. if the loop permits it?

    Nader tried to build up the Green Party and for several reasons was unable to do so. The late (great) Peter Camajo was even surprised by the undemocratic rules that governed the Green Party. Those rules is what permitted the influtration by Medea Benjamin and her cadres to split the Green in 2004 and cause the internal riff whereby Nader wanting to run a 50-state campaign was prevented to do so within the Green Party due to needless delays and footdragging. Now that the Green has been essentially neutered now there’s talk about a third party — typical M.O. of the pretentious left. The Left has its BEST chance in decades in 2004 to make a real electorial difference and summarily sabatoged itself giving way to the ridiculous “anybody but Bush — vote Democrat in close states” strategy supported by Howard Zinn and the Z-Mag contingency.

    The question is how can a real effort be constructed that won’t be betrayed. IMO only via a radical program that will scare the shit out of the phony left.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain said on January 22nd, 2010 at 3:27am #

    The much vaunted ‘American Way of Life’ was only extended to the rabble as a tactic to de-fuse revolutionary feelings during the seventy year war against Bolshevism.Once Gorbachev surrendered, eminently sensibly in order to avoid thermonuclear war launched by the demented Apocalypticists of the Reagan regime, the Masters felt no inclination to continue these social arrangements. So the years since 1989, the groundwork for which began as early as 1973 with the Pinochetist experiment in Chicago School social and class revenge and retribution, have seen a rapid increase in inequality, particularly in the benighted ‘Anglosphere’ but also throughout the rest of the world. Global inequality is unprecedented. Several hundred billionaires, many open Mafiosi,control more wealth than the bottom 50% of the earth’s population. In the US the vaunted US middle class has seen its median wages stagnate for thirty years, and at the moment a gigantic wave of pay-cuts and losses of hard-won conditions is being ruthlessly imposed, courtesy of the orgy of elite kleptomania known as the Global Financial Crisis. Household indebtedness is stratospheric,house prices continue to fall, health insurance is still a sadistic sham with ruin one hospitalisation away and social welfare was gutted by the oleaginous creep Clinton.
    So the social conditions inherent in market capitalism are spreading. Immiseration, anxiety and ruin for the plebs, accompanied by excesses of elite greed and ostentatious display. The favoured elite prescription to avert this toxic stew descending into revolt is fascism. It served them well in Germany, and Italy in the1920s and1930s, and throughout the poor world over the last sixty years, so it’s just the ticket for today. FoxNews is simply the Die Sturmer of the current age, replete with Goebbelses and Streichers of every imaginable sex, but one-dimensional ideology. Unfortunately, in the era of thermo-nuclear weapons, resurgence in China, restiveness in Japan and open revolt in the poor, majority, world, and rapidly advancing global ecological collapse, US fascism is simply a recipe for a complete debacle. But as the elite would rather destroy the world than lose their grip on it, and as many of them, and of the morally insane and moronic Rightwing mob that worships them, are Armageddonist religious psychopaths, they are probably actively pursuing this end, to please their bloodthirsty, and imaginary, God, who in reality, is nothing more than a psychic projection of their own twisted souls.

  4. Don Hawkins said on January 22nd, 2010 at 3:59am #

    But as the elite would rather destroy the world than lose their grip on it, and as many of them, and of the morally insane and moronic Rightwing mob that worships them, are Armageddonist religious psychopaths, they are probably actively pursuing this end, to please their bloodthirsty, and imaginary, God, who in reality, is nothing more than a psychic projection of their own twisted souls. Mulga

    But as the elite would rather destroy the world than lose their grip on it, and all done in the age of reason.

    We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

    Just on the off chance Einstein was on to something are we making any progress on that substantially new manner of thinking in the age of reason.