The Democratic party has long been perfecting the art of whipping up populist rhetoric to win elections and then finding ways to sell out its supporters to benefit the oligarchy. They methods have become so transparent that Glenn Greenwald has identified the six stages by which they do so.
- Declare loudly that touching Social Security and Medicare benefits are totally unacceptable.
- Some progressive pundits and anonymous administration officials start suggesting that making some changes to those programs will not really be all that bad and would actually benefits the programs in the long term.
- As a result of such comments, more progressives will begin to be resigned to some sort of deal, rationalizing that president Obama has no choice because of the impending (and largely artificial) disaster that has been given a suitably ominous name like the ‘fiscal cliff’ that will otherwise occur.
- Those who vigorously oppose these changes will be marginalized and excluded from discussions and lose access to the media, increasing the sense of inevitability of the deal.
- Once the sell-out deal has been agreed upon, those who still oppose it will be castigated as extremists who are only aiding the Republicans by being purists, the Democratic equivalent of the Tea Party..
- The final signing of the sell-out deal will be hailed as a grand act of bipartisan statesmanship.
So where are we now? We seem to have passed stage 2, with ‘liberal’ columnists like Jonathan Chait, Ezra Klein, and Kevin Drum arguing that the Democrats should make concessions on these two programs. While the changes they suggest seem to be modest, what they don’t seem to realize is that they are opening the door to much more harmful changes. What the oligarchy needs to get its foot in the door is acceptance of the idea that reducing benefits in any way is acceptable. Paul Krugman (one of the ‘extremists’), quoting Klein, is worried about signals from the White House that a bad deal is in the works.
I suspect that the gossip from anonymous sources that Klein is transmitting is the usual trial balloon put out by the administration to see how loud will be the howls of anger from their supporters before they go ahead with it.