When the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United ruling January 21, 2010 that cleared the way for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of cash in political campaigns with very little transparency, it even prompted the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to mention it in his State of the Union address. It elicited the childish, “nuh uh” look and utterance from Justice Alito — that instead of sparking a debate about the decision, made the media pontificate about whether it was appropriate for the President to mention the ruling and whether Alito’s response was appropriate. To me it signaled that the President really does care about the influence money has in our politics.
Now I know the haters on the left and right will trot out the old, President Obama has gotten a lot of money from big business meme, but when you look at what they base it on, it’s people who work for big business who are giving to President Obama. And yes, some of the leaders of business as well. And in their criticism lies an assumption that everyone who works for a big business is conservative and/or Republican. And that those employees, being all conservative, must be giving to President or candidate Obama because he is conservative too or that they are buying influence with him. They opine that anyone with money must be conservative and therefore if they give to a Democrat, then Democrats must be just like Republicans. It’s quite a twisted line of reasoning when you break it down. It’s just one example of the simplistic logic that permeates our media and punditry.
I had a real world example in my family. My step father was a successful lawyer and businessman, yet he donated to and voted for Democrats all his life. He also was a philanthropist and gave a lot of his money to many different causes and was modest in how he spent money. I go back to a recent post where I derided the concept of generalizing, where it is so much easier for people to just lump everyone together and attack that lump, instead of deal with real people with varying opinions. The same holds true for those who want to vilify everyone who works on Wall Street or for an evil corporation.
The Democratic Party is clearly on the side of the 99%’ers and no amount of denial and blame shifting can change that. And yes, the Democratic Party has their share of elected representatives that act more like conservatives than liberals, but that fact shouldn’t diminish the hard working liberals in the party who are fighting for all of us in this country who don’t have lobbyists. When I hear or read people generalize and group all Democrats in with big business, they are ignoring reality and perpetuating false memes.
I had an exchange on Twitter the other day with a person who exemplifies much of that “head-in-the-sand” thinking. Here are a few of his tweets, with my responses.
Tweeter: The difference between a Democrat and Republican is the difference between a man and his mirrored reflection.
Extreme Liberal: How does the mirror reflect the repeal of DADT? Or health care for children? Or Lily Ledbetter? Or the Matthew Shepard law?
Extreme Liberal: Or who’s reflection is opposite Sotomayor or Kagan? Do you want a Republican picking the next nominee to the SUPREME COURT!
The Tweeter in question then sent a tweet that he has since deleted, probably had second thoughts about it, but he basically said that the issues I raised were “petty”, to which I replied…
Extreme Liberal: Tell my niece who now has health care that she is petty or over 60,000 LGBT people now serving openly in our military.
Extreme Liberal: And if you have any females in your family, are you willing to give up their rights to their own bodies? Supreme Court matters!
Tweeter: Bush might as well have been a Democrat, Obama a Republican for the similar aims and interests re: domestic/foreign policy.
Initially, the Occupy Wall Street movement was ignored by the corporate media. The networks and cable outfits figured that perhaps after a few days, the movement would simply go away. But it didn’t, and in fact, the movement gained more sympathy than scorn from various factions for different reasons.
It’s been almost humorous watching the media insist that OWS needs to “define” itself in order to “achieve” their (unstated) goals. They need to have a list of clear demands, news anchors on the six o’clock news bellowed. But once again, the corporate media misses the obvious mark. For one, “Occupy Wall Street” is a moniker that speaks for itself. No explanation is needed, if one reflects on the current turmoil that our nation is experiencing. In a Twitter-oriented society, it helps, not hinders, to label a movement with a general descriptive tag that is short and inclusive.
It is not a mystery that there is a general consensus that Wall Street’s gains have not alleviated the misery of those on Main Street. “The 99%”, which is a self-conferred name, has also provided a connective link to the general public. What could be so wrong about a movement that calls itself the overwhelming majority? After all, most folks know doggone well that they aren’t part of the 1%. So both the name of the movement as well as that of its participants have allowed a visceral kinship to ordinary Americans without even trying, something the media doesn’t quite yet comprehended. The OWS’s truth in labeling is its connective strength that could be key to its eventual success, however that success materializes.
Also, the recorded acts of police brutality perpetuated upon the young, peaceful protestors certainly helped foster public sympathy early in the movement’s plight. As YouTube provided visual footage of inexplicable police action against peaceful protestors, that pitiful sight allowed a large segment of the public to side with the defenseless. This has always been the case in prior successful movements. Americans who might have otherwise paid no attention realized that the young women being pepper sprayed could be their own daughter or granddaughter who showed up to protest their lack of finding a job after graduating from college. These events had an impact.
Here is the New York Times story about the success. I’m sure all the “nothing is good enough” crowd will pick it apart, both sides will whine and cry and their will be “poutrage” from some on the left. The Huffington Post, which I refuse to link to, has a blazing headline “REFORMED BUT NOT TRANSFORMED“. They wouldn’t want to actually give credit where credit is do now would they? I haven’t been tracking on it too much, so I can’t speak to the details but I’m sure that since it took 3 Republicans to pass it, it probably is watered down pretty good. But considering the way our dysfunctional democracy works, it’s better than nothin’!
BRING IN THE COTS…. I want to debate Wall Street reform all night, and party ev-er-y day.
by Steve Benen
I’ve always liked Chris Dodd when he feels strongly about something, he is excellent at getting to the heart of the matter without using vitriol. Enjoy this Republican smackdown from yesterday regarding the financial reform legislation that the Republican “Luntzies” are lying about.
It looks like his speech might have had some impact, the Republicans folded and are now talking about a bipartisan bill. They’ve had a moment of political sanity, I’m sure it won’t last.