Time of Hope?

As the odds shorten on an Obama victory, the undoubted enthusiasm for Obama is tempered by doubts that a new Democratic Administration, even backed up by strong majorities in both houses of Congress, will really change that much.

However, there’s a case for a much more optimistic view. Given a supermajority in the Senate, or even a win that’s near enough, with some RINO support to override Republican filibusters, some widely respected analysts are predicting marvellous things from Obama including:

* Medicare for all
* Serious financial reregulation
* Union rights
* Ending tax cuts for the rich
* A green ‘revolution’
* Voting rights for all, including DC

In the light of the lame record of the last congress, and of the Democratic Congresses in the 90s, this might seem unlikely. But an article I’ve just read points to a string of quite radical measures passed by the House in the last Congress and blocked only by the filibuster. Furthermore, as the writer observes the conversion of Southern Democrats into Republicans since the 90s means that most Democrats will hold the line on issues like health care.

All in all, it’s given me more cause for optimism than anything I’ve read for a while.

The catch is, of course, that it’s an editorial in the Wall Street Journal aimed at scaring Republican readers into going to the polls. But, for all that, the analysis seems plausible enough in the light of the complete ideological collapse we’ve observed in the past few weeks. If Bush and Paulson can nationalize the banks[1], surely single-payer health care and voting rights aren’t beyond an Obama Administration.

fn1. I know, I know, it isn’t really nationalisation, let alone socialism. But the injection of public equity capital is close enough that Paulson fought it to the bitter end, and everyone on his side recognised it as a massive defeat for their ideas.

28 thoughts on “Time of Hope?

  1. Obama comes accross to me as a canny centrist populist politician. Pretty much Bill Clinton without the sleaze. Undoubtedly he will swing the US polity to the Left. But he will also remember that the US polity has a fairly large mass of (temporarily submerged) Right-wing ballast. CLinton discovered this to his dismay in 1994.

    On universal health care I remain skeptical of Obama’s messianic pretentions. I go with Krugman who compared Obama unfavourably with Clinton on this issue:

    If you combine the economic analysis with these political realities, here’s what I think it says: If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance — nobody knows how big — that we’ll get universal health care in the next administration. If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won’t happen.

    Also, on financial regulation my gut feeling is that Obama will go soft on the Big End of Town. The financial industry supports the DEMs with alot of money and kudos. A WaPo article shows that Obama got a large hunk of money from the very same guys who are responsible for the US’s kleptocratic financial regime:

    Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama ran ahead of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) on their home turf in the first quarter, raising cash from the biggest investment banks on Wall Street.

    The figures reflect giving from the employees of Bear Stearns, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, as well as Goldman and UBS. Goldman employees gave about 50 percent more to presidential hopefuls than the next-highest set of givers, at Citigroup.

    I dont see a canny political tightrope walker like Obama rocking that boat too much.

    On cap-and-trade I was pleasantly surprised to see that Obama is more or less in lock step with Stern, going by this WaPo report:

    Obama’s plan calls for a cap and trade system for reducing greenhouse gases that aims to slash carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050, the target many scientists say is necessary to slow warming, and one that has also been endorsed by Clinton and John Edwards. Under his plan, the government would establish an overall limit for carbon emissions, auction off emissions permits among companies and industries to stay within that limit, and allow companies to buy and sell permits based on which of them produce more or fewer emissions as time goes on.

    This probably counts as “green revolution” in US terms. SO if he makes real progress towards it in his first term I will be the first to gladly say “I was wrong”.

  2. # 27 jquiggin Says: November 2nd, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    #24 Obviously, I should have put the irony alerts on.

    Not so fast with the faux-idealism. The political signs for the Left are auspicious. Just not as auspicious as the WSJ or the Obama-tronic drones think they are.

    I have expected a DEM presidential landslide since 2007, as soon as it became obvious that the bubble was on the eve of busting. Heck the 2006 congressional elections were in landslide territory in any case.

    And lets not forget that the 2000 elections were pretty successful for the USA Left. They got 50%+ of the vote.

    Since the end of the Cold War the REPs have ridden on the back of their perceived validity in Class War, Culture War and Civilizational Clash. None of that is working for them now.

    The Right is now considered the Bad Guys after the kleptocratic tendencies of the Masters of the Universe have been exposed. Much of the heat has gone out of the Culture War, given that so many problem people are behind bars. And the Civilizational Clash has pretty much exhausted itself, at least politically.

    I am guessing that the USA polity is on the verge of returning to its default trend perhaps pre-Reagan/pre-Gingrich. This will not make it a clone of a standard USE state. Thats not possible with 30% minority population.

    But it will shift the USA back to a more rational and moderate political development trend. Sort of Canada with Coloured People.

    That means its probable that the Left will engineer a successful move of the USA polity to the Clintonian Centre. And the Bush Rightists (including fearful WSJ editorialists) will be more or less consigned to the DoH.

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