Market Populism vs. Grassroots Populism - Which Side Are You On?

by: David Sirota

Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 08:30

In two separate television clips yesterday, we saw the two most powerful political forces in America in their most pure form - and it's important to watch both clips back to back to see what I mean.

On one side, you have what Thomas Frank has called "Market Populism" - the portrayal of Wall Street's agenda as an impassioned mass-based populist movement. Check out this clip from CNBC, where the network's correspondent, Rick Santelli, is literally on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange surrounded by multimillionaire traders railing on the Obama administration for trying to help struggling homeowners, and berating people who are getting foreclosed on as "losers." Santelli is praised as a supposed "revolutionary" and the mob of financial elites around him is whooping and hollering, pretending to be a populist mob of regular Joes:

Now watch Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, Michigan, presenting the antithesis of Market Populism - let's call it Grassroots Populism. Bernero demands to know how anyone can be calling for wage/benefit cuts for workers at a time the government is taking workers' tax money and handing it to the very speculators that Santelli is whooping it up with:

After watching these two clips, the question is the same question that's always been at the heart of economic politics: Which side are you on? And the answer, if you look at the hard data, is that most Americans are Grassroots Populists: those who think Wall Street and the government are colluding to rip off taxpayers, and who think the crumbs of aid for so-called "losers" that Santelli is ragging on is way too small - not way too much.

David Sirota :: Market Populism vs. Grassroots Populism - Which Side Are You On?
The gap, of course, is in the portrayal. If you watch television or read op-ed pages, the Market Populists get most of the attention. Indeed, Market Populism is portrayed as the "centrist" mainstream sentiment in the United States. Just look at David Brooks' New York Times column this morning. He non-sarcastically insists that Santelli's comments were "lustily" representative of mass popular anger at "these injustices" - not the injustices on Wall Street, mind you, but the supposed injustices of people now losing their homes. Meanwhile, Grassroots Populism - ie. seething populist anger at Corporate America - is depicted as the ideology only of a tiny fringe. It's as if the media is a funhouse mirror on society - a bizzaro world where up is down, black is white, and free market fundamentalism is portrayed as a mass-based movement.

When the macroeconomy was doing well, the disconnect between the media narrative and what's going on in the real world certainly caused regular people to lose confidence in the media, but it didn't incite outrage.

Now, though, with the economy in meltdown, I'm convinced that part of why the public is so angry is because what they see on television and in their newspapers is so fundamentally at odds with how they are feeling and what they are dealing with. As Santelli shows, large swaths of the media and political Establishment actively and publicly denigrate the people who are most hard hit by the downturn. Indeed, in the multimedia presentation I gave during my book tour for The Uprising, I have a whole section on this very phenomenon, using Fred Barnes' literally laughing at the "lower class" as my example.

This divide between the Market Populism people are fed through the media and people's own Grassroots Populism is a major catalyst that has turned the last two elections into backlash moments. And as bailouts and handouts now become daily news, and the Market Populists get ever more outrageous, that backlash is intensifying. Channeling it into something positive is the challenge of our time.

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Nice synthesis, David (4.00 / 9)
putting these two clips together.  It makes your point and it's a good one.  I also appreciate your shout-out to Thomas Frank, whose "One Market Under God" made me a fan.  Memo to OpenLefters: Go read this book.  It's a bit dated, going back to the boom days, but I like it better than "What's the Matter with Kansas."

One minor quibble, and I don't know why I feel the need to do this, David, but I just read David Brooks piece in the Times and what struck me was that despite his equation of "Wall Street Populism" with "Populism", he ends comes out, somewhat surprisingly to me, on the side of bailouts rather than actually endorsing faux populism.  Brooks is still an asshole, but maybe a bit less of one than some others.  The Thomas Frank book cited above came out at around the same time as Brooks "Bobos in Paradise", which basically made Brooks, and covers approximately the same ground, in a much more honest way.  In an better world, Frank would be on the editorial page of the Times.

Who IS this Mayor of Lansing?  I never heard of this guy before.  He's quite an effective fire-breather.  We need some more like him.    

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

Mayor Bernero (4.00 / 3)
Virg worked for the Tri-County Office on Aging (Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties)in the 1990s while serving on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners.  In 2000 he defeated then-Delhi Charter Township Trustee Stuart Goodrich to get elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, replacing term-limited Rep. Lingg Brewer.  In 2002 he defeated Brewer in the Democratic primary and former GOP Rep. Paul DeWeese (now a Dem!) in the general election for the Michigan State Senate.  In the process he swapped seats with term-limited Dianne Byrum, who went from the State Senate to the State House that year.  In 2003, after then-Lansing Mayor David Hollister was tapped by Governor Granholm to join her cabinet, Virg ran unsuccessfully to complete his term, losing by a few thousand votes to former city council president Tony Benavides.  In 2005, in the race for a full term, Bernero defeated Benavides by a few thousand votes.  He is expected to seek re-election this year; he is already being challenged by Lansing City Councilwoman Carol Wood.

Due to the collapse of Detroit city governance under ousted mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Bernero has taken the lead among Michigan's local elected officials in fighting for Michigan's auto industry and workers at the national level, despite the fact that Lansing is only the 5th or 6th largest city in population in the state.  Virg has appeared on national TV numerous times in the last few months to aggressively argue for us Michiganders.

[ Parent ]
OMuG (0.00 / 0)
One Market Under God is Frank's best book by far.  Brilliant stuff.  

What's the Matter With Kansas is bad pop political science, and I think Frank has acknowledged as such.  But OMuG is great sociology, psychology, and original thought.  Should be recommended reading for anyone who identifies as progressive, liberal, left, or a Democrat.

[ Parent ]
another Frank fan ... (0.00 / 0)
thanks for the support.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Atlantic (4.00 / 6)
The other day I was in a waiting room thumbing through a 2007 issue of the Atlantic and came across an article titled "Major Economists are Questioning Free Trade. What's Wrong With Them?"

When I read that title, I thought the question in the second part was meant as a bit of snark aimed at how monolithic free trade ideology had become. But, as I soon found out, the author meant no irony. The article basically blasted every mainstream centrist economist of the last 50 years who has questioned free trade dogma from Krugman on down as being "deeply disturbing" and "wrong" and offered no reasoning as to why these economists were wrong.

What was deeply disturbing was the article itself which was written in such a condescending manner and squelched dissent, it reminded me of those dark days of the early Bush years and lead up to Iraq, only the dark days never really went way did they?  

The Atlantic (4.00 / 5)
is the establishment vehicle par excellence. Some time after 9/11 -- I can't remember the actual issue -- they had a long article on torture, the gist of which was that serious people were now being forced by events to think that torture might be useful, and even justified, under certain extreme conditions. Inasmuch as we, their serious, rational readers, were now living in that bleak landscape of terror and chaos (the real world) long inhabited by others in distant lands, we should consider whether or not our moral aversion to torture was a luxury we could no longer afford.

It was one of the most disgusting things I've ever read anywhere, the more so because it was presented with all the Olympian ambivalence of an upper-class sociopath who will never, ever, have to face the consequences of his own prescriptions.

[ Parent ]
We had a referendum (4.00 / 12)
Yes, Santelli, we had a referendum last November.  A little thing called a national election.  You are the loser.  Calling people who are suffering "losers" while Wall Street steals trillions?  He needs some crash course rehabilitation.  Wall Street is down to  about half of its recent peak.  I guess that makes every stock holder in the country a loser, if not a "loser."

The only cheering thought, Santelli, is that the Dow traditionally loses vs. inflation when Republicans are in but booms under Democrats.  Too bad people like you prosper.

Funny thing .. (4.00 / 3)
I actually thought, before yesterday, that Santelli was the only sane regular on CNBC .... not anymore ... he's a joke like the rest of them

[ Parent ]
I wasn't too worried about the Santenelli thing at first... (4.00 / 6)
...after all, who's going to listen to a lecture by a wall street banker (yes, I know, technically, he's not wall street)... but, my wife told me that someone at work, who's not a right winger, was complaining about how "unfair" the housing bailout was.  She set him straight, but, it shows that the politics of racial/ethnic/worker against worker resentment is alive and well in the Repbulican party.  Some people thought that strategy died when Obama was elected, but, the Southern strategy will never die, I guess...

Hopefully, Obama's team will be made aware of this more quickly than with the stimulus, and respond accordingly.  It's very easy to inflame resentment when times are bad (i.e. crabs in a barrel), but the election has shown that people are receptive to the idea that we are all in this together, and your neighbor's problem becomes your problem as well.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

It is unfair (4.00 / 2)
But that's not the point. Life is unfair.

We're a compassionate country, that's why we're bailing people out, even though a lot of people who are underwater and behind in their mortgages are there because of their own bad decisions (while many others are there because of bad luck or predatory lending.)

During the bubble, I could have bought a house, but it only took basic math skills to see that a 950 sq. ft. 1 bedroom condo shouldn't cost $400k. So I've been renting, and now I'm helping to bail people out of their bad mortgages, even though they should have known better (and many of us DID know better.) But I don't mind, because I'm a compassionate person. I also see the bigger picture (a rising tide lifts all boats, and if helping people with their mortgages helps the economy, it'll be a windfall for me eventually too).

It's the same with health care. It's not "fair" that you have to pay for somebody else's health care. We do it because we're a wealthy country and it's our moral obligation to take care of the less fortunate.

All that said, in more specific terms, I tend to agree with Calculated Risk's analysis of the current mortgage plan in that it may reward some speculators who were trying to take advantage of the bubble and use excessive leverage to make a quick buck. Moral hazards are something you do want to think about if you want to avoid repeating history.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
This is so wrong on so many levels (4.00 / 3)
We're a compassionate country, that's why we're bailing people out, even though a lot of people who are underwater and behind in their mortgages are there because of their own bad decisions

we are not bailing people out because we are a compassionate country, we are bailing them out because if we don't what's left of the economy will disappear. What happened with housing is the banks fault. Banks decide who gets credit and how much, the fed (big private banks)decides interest rates, and banks have homes appraised. So stop with the right wing lines and do some historical research about mortgage lending. There was for many years a mathimatical model that the BANKS threw out the window to make a quick buck.

[ Parent ]
It takes two to tango (4.00 / 1)
I'm not sure you actually read my comment. You cut out my parenthetical about predatory lending, and you ignored the part where I pointed out that helping people with their mortgages helps the economy.

No doubt the banks fucked up. But a lot of people bought houses and took on debt they could never afford. A lot of other people were speculators and tried to take advantage of the bubble to make some easy money. Some of them got burned. It didn't take a genius to see the bubble though, and a lot of people chose not to participate.

A lot of people just got screwed. A lot of people got scammed. And we should help them. But let's not pretend that everyone on the debtor's side of the equation is an innocent. The flippers and speculators drove this problem and profited from the bubble just as the banks did.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
You sure seem to know a lot about the economy (4.00 / 1)
I know that some of the people who are foreclosing just got duped into mortgages with absurd terms. The government should offer them reasonable terms, but if they can't handle those, why not evict them? What right do they have to stay in a house they can't afford while I'm paying rent to a moronic landlord?

Oh, something about the economy collapsing? I don't think so. I say we trade: Let people who can't afford mortgages rent for a while, and I'll buy their house, now that prices are beginning to approach sane levels. Unlike the toxic assets of the banks, people actually want houses, and they'll pay for them.

But instead, we have a government that reimburses gambling debts - for CEO's and everyone else. As a non-gambler, I think that's fucked. That's not the kind of society that can sustain itself, and it's not the kind of society that I want to live in. There have to be consequences for gambling and losing, and rewards for living within your means. Right now, the reward system is exactly inverted.

[ Parent ]
You've epitimized the problem right here.. (4.00 / 8)
The selfish, "What about me?" that the "greed is good" philosphy spreads...

Here's what's in it for you... if bankruptcies and foreclosures go down, communities will be better off, schools will be better funded, people will have better credit to buy things and stimulate the economy, and if you're a homeowner, you're housing values will return to a level in which you can refinance.

The "what about me" folk aren't seeing the bigger picture...  It's easy to become resentful, but since we are all interconnected, like it or not, what affects your neighbor directly affects you.

So, bailing out your "unworthy" neighbor is still in your best interest.

The republican "I got mine" attitude is our biggest obstacle going forward, 'cos even liberals get jealous.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
A simple answer, in two parts (4.00 / 8)

The government should offer them reasonable terms, but if they can't handle those, why not evict them?

1) We're all in this together. Assigning increments of blame, except at the extreme ends of the curve, is not a very useful endeavor at this point.

2) An injury to one is an injury to all; no man is an island, entire of itself. These aren't bumperstickers, but very profound truths. Why should I suffer just because others were fools? Luck isn't a virtue, spork, any more than beauty is.

[ Parent ]
On a personal level I wish another 4 million (0.00 / 0)
homes would go into foreclosure since I am waiting to buy until prices come down, but I know that if that happens we will be in such an economic tailspin that we may never come out of it. Entire cities and states would be going bankrupt and the depression would get worse for all of us.  

[ Parent ]
It's not just republicans (4.00 / 3)
it's with some democrats too. We need to be on the watch-out for it.  

[ Parent ]
Undying strategy (0.00 / 0)
I don't think that Santelli has anything to do with populism.  

Santelli is inciting people to kick people who are already down, to blame those at the bottom on the ladder for our problems.  This is a strategy that, unfortunately, seems to work again and again.  Berneno is expressing rage of the common man against the elites.

I have always found it perverse that conservatives will talk of class envy when Democrats criticize billionaires with jets, but will pit folks making $30,000 against people on welfare.  

It's a dynamic that works.  Maybe evolution makes us ill equiped to sustain anger against elites.  Maybe it is the dominance of elites on culture.  Maybe it's simple fear that makes people, in time of trouble, give those of higher a pass, in hopes they will save them, and kick those below them, to make sure they aren't a threat.

[ Parent ]
They've been at it for a while (4.00 / 4)
They're trying to make it about race. During times of economic upheaval, it's easy to make scapegoats of minorities and immigrants. That's why you see language like "real Americans" and why the right has been trying to pin the collapse of the economy on things like the CRA. A lot of it is dog-whistle type stuff, but it's easy to see what they're getting at.

That's one of the reasons why I'm a luke-warm on things like Buy America provisions; they promote xenophobic, right-wing frames.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

Do Buy America provisions "promote" xenophobic, right-wing frames? (4.00 / 1)
or are these frames there all along?

I think this is an important question to get right.  Because there is another side to that.  While it's hard NOT to be struck by the way these xenophobic, right-wing frames sprout like weeds whenever things go bad, on the other hand, democracy is still parcelled out on a national basis, not an international basis.  Bailout funds are parcelled out an a national, not an international basis.  It's impossible for progressives to justify the use of bailout funds to prop up corporations offshoring the work.  

Are you saying that the left is justified in staying on the sidelines of such battles until the populace as a whole eschews racist, xenophobic frames?  This can easily veer off into an attitude that views the labor-exploiting corporation as the real agent of change who will lead us to the true internationalist outlook as opposed to the nasty xenophobia of the real-world American working people.  (I know you aren't saying this, but it is a slippery slope, and others do explicitly say this).  It is a path that leads us only back into elitist ghettoes.

If the left doesn't champion this cause, the right takes advantage.  For too long the right has clubbed the left over the head with the "unpatriotic" label, even though their definition of patriotism has nothing whatsoever to say about the actual well being of the citizens of the country.  The hands-off-the-messy-proles attitude allows this to continue.  I think we have to engage with the people as they are, not as we wish them to be.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Well... (4.00 / 3)
It's a bit of a tightrope. It's not a long walk from "my company is outsourcing my job to Mexico" to "that Mexican is stealing my job".

The ultimate question, of course, is if it's actually good policy. It seems like it at first blush, but these sorts of things are always much more complicated than they seem. Economists at large seem to be opposed to these sorts of things, but they don't exactly have a great record lately. But even those who support them do so with qualifications. And speaking of qualifications, I certainly don't have the qualifications to answer the question.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
What trade policy is about (4.00 / 2)
I think the biggest problem we face in discussing trade policy is that trade agreements are not really about the interests of Americans (workers and bosses) vs. the interests of Mexicans and Canadians (workers and bosses).  Trade agreements are really about the interests of Bosses (Americans, Mexicans, and Canadians) vs. the interests of Workers (Americans, Mexicans, and Canadians).

The question shouldn't be, "How do we help Americans?" but, "How do we help workers?"  The things in NAFTA that hurt American workers -- basically, the elimination of public control of corporate behavior -- hurt Mexican workers and Canadian workers, too.  And they help American and Mexican and Canadian Capital equally, as well.

Unfortunately, right-wing ideology is so deeply ingrained in our society that it's very, very hard to discuss or even acknowledge class conflicts and interests in that way.  And our country is xenophobic enough to make it very easy for our elites to reframe the issue in nationalist/ethnic terms, and keep people from seeing the class interests at stake.

[ Parent ]
It's not zero-sum (0.00 / 0)
Just to spill out some of my thoughts on the subject (and I'm gonna get off-topic here). It's not a zero-sum game, but it's too easy to think of that way and talk about that way. Something that's good for the workers doesn't have to be bad for the bosses, and vice versa. Creating a job in Mexico doesn't necessarily take away a job in this country, and if somebody loses their job here, it hurts the economy there too.

I think people on both sides of the political spectrum can fall into the zero-sum thinking too easily. On the right, you have people who are intensely anti-union, thinking that every bit of power lost by corporations hurts growth. They don't see how higher wages and better benefits improve productivity and more money in the pockets of the workers gives them more money to spend, etc. At the same time, there is a kernel of truth to the "make the pie higher" argument. If the working class improves their lot, it doesn't have to be at the expense of the people who are better off (e.g. during the Clinton era, pretty much everybody did pretty well).

Things are way out of balance right now though. The people at the top are so heavily favored that it actually hurts them. It's like a bugs bunny cartoon where they threw a baseball so hard that it went around the world then hit them in the back of the head.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Straw man (4.00 / 1)
Creating a job in Mexico doesn't necessarily take away a job in this country,

Unless it's been moved from this country to Mexico.

It seems that your default assumpution is that anyone concerned about American jobs is basing that concern on a xenophobic desire to hurt foreigners?  Nobody's objecting to Mexicans having jobs.  But people do object to having their jobs carted away.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
That's not quite my point (0.00 / 0)
I said "doesn't necessarily". Creating a job in Mexico doesn't have to cost a job here. Unfortunately, the way some of our "free" trade agreements are arranged, that is exactly what happens a lot of the time.

And I'm certainly not saying that people with those concerns are xenophobes that want to hurt foreigners; just the opposite - they're people who are worried about their own job. But like I said elsewhere in the thread, "my company is sending my job to Mexico" can easily turn into "that Mexican is taking my job".

I was also mostly speaking in generalities and thinking out-loud (hence the disclaimer in my first sentence).

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
why can't you (0.00 / 0)
leave "my company is sending my job to Mexico" without mentioning "that Mexican is taking my job"?  

You still appear obsessed with scratching the former to find the racist within.  This is highly annoying.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
You're misreading me. (0.00 / 0)
Either you're trying to read something in to what I'm writing that's not there, or I'm not expressing myself clearly. I'll assume the connection problem is on my end.

"Hello, is this thing on? ...tap...tap...tap... Can you hear me now?"

The point I'm trying to make is that economic hardship can and often is used to stoke and spread xenophobia. Just because somebody's concerned about their job being outsourced doesn't make them a racist. But during hard times, people in vulnerable economic situations can more easily become victims of propaganda. People will look for someone to blame, and there are parties that will profit from redirecting that anger - hate-mongers who use it as a recruiting opportunity and economic elites who want to deflect blame from themselves.

During virtually every significant economic down-turn in history, there been waves of anti-immigrant sentiment. It's a pattern that repeats itself over and over again and we have to be careful not to give ammunition to those sorts of movements.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
too narrow (0.00 / 0)
to continue the thread here.


sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
This is about power (4.00 / 2)
NAFTA regulates who's in charge of major social decisions, from environmental to workplace rules.  It takes power away from our elected representatives (who are already too beholden to corporate interests) and gives that power to corporations, by privileging their interests over any others that might motivate regulation.

And when it comes to power, it is a zero-sum game.

[ Parent ]
race/class (4.00 / 2)
That's something that often makes me feel a bit queasy about "populist" rhetoric: it very often seems to implicitly be appealing to whites, especially midwestern whites (Regular Joes, Joe Sixpack, Joe the Plumber). The nexus of economic and racial interests is an area where liberal populism can slide into conservative populism rather easily.

It would be interesting to see what the racial composition is of the districts that are represented in the new Populist caucus.

[ Parent ]
Populism (0.00 / 0)
Exactly.  Populism is not liberal or progressive, nor is it conservative.  It overlaps both.  There are both racist and non-racist reasons to be against free trade, for example.  Think Lou Dobbs.

Right now we seriously need a populist uprising against the modern day robber barons.  That is simply the reality of our day, as well documented at this site.  But that doesn't change the fact that there is very much a dark side to populism.

[ Parent ]
One big fact correction though David... (0.00 / 0)
The guys on the floor, the pits if you will, are specialists.  They merely execute the trades called in by the multi-millioniares in the skyscrapers at Goldmans Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, etc.

Very few, if any, of these guys are multi-millionaires.  They make good salaries, live in nice towns, drive nice cars but by and large they are blue collar workers running around on their feet all day (or standing in front of trading screens) who got into a good financial gig through a family or neighborhood connection.

I'm not defending these guys.  But there is a big difference between them and the bond traders and deriviatives boys sitting on high floors in NY, Chicago, SF, London, Hong Kong, Singapore etc.

And if you think about it...this is more brilliant media manipulation (or propaganda if you will) by Fox.  Fox is highlighting the tiny slice of blue collar life in the financial services sector in its defense of market populism.  

UH (4.00 / 2)
The guys on the floor were on CNBC, not Fox.  Fox had the mayor of Lansing.

Not to defend Fox, but we do ourselves a disservice by pretending that the problem begins and ends with Fox.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
You're right my bad...thanks! (0.00 / 0)
Very bad subconscious error on my part and on a fact checking correction myself!  Didn't double check my own writing. ugh!  

[ Parent ]
If I could rate this diary, I would rate it as high I possibly could (4.00 / 7)
The juxtaposition of the two clips and the cogent analysis sums up the cross roads we are at and shows why there really isn't any 'middle gorund' or 'bipartisan' way forward

What side the government, through politics and policies, comes down on, sets the course for generations as we have seen.

We Need More Politicians Like the Mayor of Lansing... (4.00 / 5)
I have never heard an elected official be this blunt about the economic class disparities in the USA.  Pete Stark and Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders speak in the same vein but the clips I have seen from them are all less blunt.  

I couldn't agree more... (0.00 / 0)
...I really liked how blunt the mayor was when he spoke.  I think people are getting sick and tired of these Wall Street, Washington DC talking heads, who talk like they are from some other world, that has nothing to do with the way most people feel and live.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

[ Parent ]
I am so tired... (4.00 / 2)
of having to bail everybody out to be 'progressive' or even liberal. It's like there is this mindset that if you're for not spending on anything or anyone, you're a Republican. Well, I'm not...and it's this all or nothing thinking that gets people turned off by the progressive/liberal agenda. I don't have to support every bailout based on the progressive leaders take that it falls under the Progressive umbrella. I can think for myself. And don't give me that compassion crap! People were losing their homes long before this recession and no one said a word. So is it the number that makes this compassion come out? Because I thought the housing plan was to 'save' the economy. I suppose if you can't scare us into supporting this, you can say we don't care.

The real quesiton is... (4.00 / 7)
...are you part of the problem or part of the solution.

We can sit and do nothing, which will make you feel morally superior as your neighbors homes go into foreclosure, destroying your neighborhood, your schools, and your own property values...

Or, we can do something to prevent that... Since progressives feel that communities are worth protecting, we offer solutions even for those who are "unworthy".  Limiting solutions to "worthy" people won't solve the problem.  It might make you feel better about yourself, but the rest of your neighborhood will still rot away in foreclosure.

This is the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives--we care about the whole of America.  Conservatives only care about those who they deem are "worthy".  

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
What's your plan? (0.00 / 0)
Can you propose any progressive alternatives?

Say you're getting ready to go up in a hot air balloon, and it has a few pinhole leaks in it.  No problem; it will fill up with hot air faster than the hot air leaks out.

Then you discover a torn seam. You have a gaping hole in your balloon.  You'd better do something about that.

It does not follow that because you don't fix every little pinhole in your balloon you don't need to fix a gaping hole.

I think I'll ride in someone else's balloon.

[ Parent ]
What? (4.00 / 3)
Liberals oppose bailing out the billionaires who created the crisis. Liberals support bailing out working people who are paying the price for this crisis.

Where is this "liberal support for all bailouts" you are talking about? Overgeneralize much?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Maybe I'm a bad liberal (0.00 / 0)
but I've never operated on the basis that "compassion" guides economic policy.  I want people to be treated equally, and for the middle class to be strengthened.  I care whether people are suffering, but there are far worse fates than losing a home to foreclosure.

The question for me is what the effect of stopping or slowing foreclosures will be: as to this "bailout," will it stop the slide in home values or have a stabilizing effect of financial markets?  If it does, then the "bailout" is money well spent, because the increase in home values and wealth will cost economy less than the cost of continued decline.

And my answer is that I haven't examined the plan in enough detail to know the answer to that question, and at this point, I don't support or oppose the plan.  But opposing it because it helps losers is inane.

[ Parent ]
A political grid (4.00 / 2)
Imagine a grid, 2 rows x 2 columns

Across the top you have Technocratic Elitism
Across the bottom Populism

Down the left side you have Progressivism
Down the right side Conservatism

This makes 4 squares:

Populist/Grassroots Progressivism
Technocratic Progressivism

Populist Conservatism
Elite/Market Libertarian Conservatism

If you made a fifth square right in the center, call that Pragmatism

The 'Market Populism' you mention seems to be a Republican 'centrist' synthesis, sitting in the center of the conservative swath of the grid, which combines the emotional stance of Populist Conservatism with the ideology of Elite/Market Libertarian Conservatism

Obama's attempt at a grand 'centrist' synthesis, is essentially using the energy of Grassroots Progressivism coupled with the ideas of Technocratic Progressivism, honoring of the values and conservative sentiment of small town America which might be otherwise harnessed by Populist Conservatism, and including to the degree currently possible and practical, reasonable ideas from Elite/Market Libertarian Conservatism

This center box on offer involves political and policy pragmatism
It serves as the basis for the Dem coalition, and the sort of governmental philosophy being promoted as a good fit for this time in our history
It hopes to gain enough support from the right so that it can be experienced as a national unity government of sorts

The tension in DC seems to involve the ongoing discernment and emergence of this new pragmatic center, jousted with by the Repub 'Market Populist' alternative, which in not having to actually govern, is freer to set up strong contrasts of ideas and feelings

Although we are not a parliamentary system with a prime minister, perhaps the flavor of the system is moving in that direction
To lead you need to assemble a coalition of solid supporters, but also offer a vision that plausibly includes most of the political themes represented in the system

Extending it (4.00 / 1)
To play with this a bit further, you can see the grid as an expression of abstract principles of different kinds
Values Populism
Ideals Populism (ideals being meta-values or principles which guarantee the proper discernment of value)
Ideas and Ideologies Elitism
Meta-Ideas Elitism (meta-ideas being principles which allow for the proper resolution of the ideas space; problem-solving, insight, innovation and creativity oriented principles)

The center is then about an integrated balancing of these principles

If you imagine the center as having an upper tier and lower tier, then the upper is intuited, inspirational themes, and the lower is hands on pragmatism, that which works
The center tier of the center, the center of the various polarities is just balance or the integrating sense of center itself


So as a nation we're essentially in the midst of bringing forth a consciously co-created, integrated presidency and administration; and therefore it will probably be an ongoing work in progress
Hopefully all can feel ourselves a part of it in some positive way

[ Parent ]
Similar representations (4.00 / 1)
Usually I see libertarian versus something like populism.  But I think you are correct that technocratic elitism may make a better label then libertarian.  Perhaps this explains why libertarians seem like elitists.  Only elites in power really like the idea of libertarianism.

[ Parent ]
A third axis? (4.00 / 1)
You can be a liberal populist, or conservative populist or libertarian populist, or centrist elitist, etc.

So in addition to the economic axis and social axis, populist vs. elitist would be a third axis (rhetorical axis?).

Some of the points in that three-dimensional would be:

Populist libertarian: "Get yer hands off my guns!"

Elitist libertarian: "Get yer hands off my multinational conglomerate!"

Populist conservative: "Criminalize the gays and the abortionists and the brown people!"

Extreme authoritarian populist: Hitler

Centrist elitist: David Broder


Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
cable news wisdom (4.00 / 4)
robber barons are teh awesome

Thanks for posting the Fox News clip (4.00 / 2)
I hadn't seen it.  What a fat, patronizing fuck.

It's so surreal that the people who dictate the terms of our national discourse literally spend all day inside a tiny, windowless room.

The wrong (4.00 / 4)
tiny, windowless room, if you ask me.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
More idiocracy on Hardball (4.00 / 2)
Mike Barnicle, filling in for Chris Matthews, had Rick Santelli on the show last night to talk about his rant.  And the most abysmally assinine moment was when Barnicle asked Santelli if the housing plan would help people like him and Santelli said "no, it won't help you."  Uh, Santelli? You know why?  Because Barnicle's an effing MILLIONAIRE!  

Good post, David. (4.00 / 1)
After watching these two clips, the question is the same question that's always been at the heart of economic politics: Which side are you on?

So, true.

That's why I like you work.  There's no doubt you're on the side of working people.  

@fwiffo, continued (0.00 / 0)
I'll take your word for it that I have misunderstood you.

But it does get wearying hearing about "racism and xenophobia" of the "nativists" every time the jobs outsourcing issue comes up.

Yes, I KNOW it is a continuing problem.  But why must every discussion of job loss get diverted into this channel?

My point is whether or not some outsourced workers exhibit racism and xenophobia, their grievance is real, legitimate, and unworthy of condescension.

To look at it another way, did you happen to see the interchange between Michael Dyson and Pat Buchanan on Hardball last night, discussing the recent remarks of Eric Holder?  Pat Buchanan is incapable of discussing racism without feeling compelled to bring up the problem of "the black family".  I feel that there are too many progressives who can't discuss American job loss without feeling compelled to bring up the racism and xenophobia of the workers.  If I have mistakenly placed you in that group, I'm sorry.  

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

OK (4.00 / 1)
I think we are talking past each-other a bit. I don't think American workers are racist or xenophobic as a rule (certainly not as much as you would see a generation ago). And I don't disagree that it's an annoying subject. I'd be happy as a clam if it were possible to untangle the two. It's hard with people like Lou Dobbs talking about outsourcing and a border fence in the same breath.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Perhaps it's because I'm in an industry that's been decimated by offshoring (0.00 / 0)
but as a progressive AND an IT guy, I have been FORCED to learn to disentangle Lou Dobbs from the debate.  Dobbs is IN the debate, but Dobbs doesn't OWN the debate.  Dobbs is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about what they're doing to IT, and also RACIST TO THE BONE, which I can't stand.  

You see, I don't have the luxury of playing the game, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."  Sometimes things are right even if a racist like Lou Dobbs is saying them, and saying so doesn't make one a racist.  Sometimes, cognitive dissonance is unavoidable.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Who is Lou Dobbs racist against? (0.00 / 0)
Who is Lou Dobbs racist against?

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

[ Parent ]
the great santelli (0.00 / 0)
must think he is the reincarnation of the great santini, screaming is a poor substitute for actual performance but if rush and o'reilly can make a career out of it why not santelli.

I posted a response to Digby's attack on populism (0.00 / 0)
Digby is one of my favorite people on the internet, and I hope she changes her mind. I agree with her 95+ percent of the time. I was really saddened to see her accept the idea that populism=racism, and her willingness to let Mudcat Saunders represent populism within the Democratic Party.

Digby's attack.

I reposted by response to Digby on a diary here:

My response.

I also made a number of other comments on the thread, noting for example that radicals have been purged from the Democratic Party along with populists, and that one influential branch of the party wants to keep the horrible "Democratic base" (minorities and labor) at arm's length.

Exclamation (0.00 / 0)
They let that on Fox News?

My surprise bolsters David's point because you would not think that Fox wants people to know that left-wing populism exists.  

Darkness has a hunger that's insatiable, and lightness has a call that's hard to hear.  


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