Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quote Of The Day

Image credit: OWS/Tumblr

Alternet's Lynn Parramore, discussing Newt Gingrich's bona fides as a populist, in an article on the effect that Republican politics and the Occupy movements are having on each other:
The worst thing about Newt is what political economist Thomas Ferguson pointed out in a paper for the Institute for New Economic Thinking – namely that Newt was the key architect of the current pay-to-play system in Congress. More than anyone else, he is responsible for building the system in which members of Congress who bring in the most cash get the plum and powerful committee appointments. It was not always thus. Before Newt and his buddy Tom Delay saw the potential for pay-to-play, committee appointments came through seniority. But after Newt & Co. came to power, influence in Congress was nakedly up for sale. Today, both parties actually post prices for key positions, as Ferguson noted in the Financial Times.

Will the Mitt/Newt Slugfest Boost the Occupy Movement?
[links from original]

Not only has this system been a powerful source of corruption that now affects both parties, it has also been a hammer that party leaders can hold over the heads of dissenting members. It's a rare individual who can stand on his own and continue to win office without the support of his party, and the system virtually guarantees that those who don't play ball will be out on their ears.

I don't know if all this hypocritical, and largely fact-free, debating of populist economic concerns is likely to mean much to the Occupy movements. My own perception is that there are just as many people on the Right as on the Left who are looking for easy solutions, and aren't terribly interested in being told the ugly truth of things. It's far better to tell conservatives that it's the fault of immigrants, the Muslims, or the Mormons that we're in the state we're in. It's been far too easy to tell progressives that if we just find candidates who aren't "divisive", everything will be fine.

Still, Occupy movements are having an effect on the debates, and will continue to as long as they can find ways to get their message across. Changing the nature of the debate is a good first step. The next is to make sure it's at least somewhat honest.

If the recent Republican debates are any example, that's going to be a lot harder.

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