The Associated Press reports that president Obama feels ‘liberated’ by losing the senate to the Republicans.
White House officials say Obama’s optimism reflects a president who feels liberated by even the limited prospects for striking deals with a Republican Congress and relieved about shedding the narrow Democratic majority that would have guaranteed Washington stayed locked in a stalemate.
Aides also have concluded that the political landscape leaves Obama with little ability to help Democrats regain Senate control in 2016, freeing the president to concentrate on finding areas of compromise with the GOP rather than on stacking his agenda with items his party can run on in the next election.
One might be excused for thinking that Obama is simply putting on a brave face after his party received a stinging defeat in the mid-term elections, and that he is trying to console his party’s supporters. But I think that his reaction is likely real and he does feel relief. Because what the Democratic party seems to hate the most is the pressure that its supporters put on it to carry out the promises it campaigns on, and having an excuse not to do so lifts that ‘burden’ from its shoulders.
To understand this, you need to accept my premise that what we have in the US is a one-party state with two factions. The one party can be called the Oligarchy Party (which is less cumbersome than the more descriptive War-Business-National Security Party) and its unifying goals are to benefit the wealthy, wage wars that serve their interests, and strengthen the national security state, thus further enriching the military-industrial-intelligence complex, and to monitor ordinary people, divide them tribally, and keep them in a state of perpetual fear and mutual distrust in order to discourage them from revolting.
The two factions of this party are called the Democrats and Republicans and they differ on some social issues such as contraception, abortion, and LGBT rights. The two factions also differ slightly on economic and business issues, with the Democrats trying to retain at least some semblance of caring for the working class, the poor, and the middle class by at least mouthing the right words about ‘fighting’ for them. The Democrats love to fight for the middle class or, more accurately, talk about fighting for them. What they hate to do is actually win victories for them.
This makes the Democratic party leadership, when it holds the reins of power, vulnerable to criticisms from the left for not doing enough for the poor and middle class and so it fears nothing more than having the power to carry out the promises it makes to its non-wealthy supporters. They are happiest when they can point to Republican opposition (which is real and has become pervasive to the point of being pathological) as the reason why they are unable to deliver. The two years from 2008 to 2010 were a real problem because the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House and they had no excuse for not acting quickly on their promises and so they must have been relieved when the mid-term elections in 2010 gave control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans and they could point to that for lack of action on their campaign promises.
The Republicans have less of a problem dealing with the divergence between their rhetoric and their actions because they have managed to convince even their non-wealthy supporters that they too will all be rich one day and thus they need to increase the benefits to the rich so that they can enjoy them when their day arrives. They have also managed to persuade them that their present plight is due to ‘those’ people (i.e., minorities, people of color, non-Christians, environmentalists, members of the LGBT community, etc.) sucking the country dry of its financial and moral resources. That has to be the greatest selling con job in history.
Now that Republicans have won control of both houses of Congress, Obama and the Democratic leadership can make deals with them to give further benefits to the rich in exchange for minor crumbs to the poor, and say that he had no choice. So the Oligarchy Party wins because they ‘got things done’ but we the people lose because what will get done benefits the few.
This process has started even faster than I expected. The Democrats had held off allowing a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline because of fierce opposition from environmental groups. Now that Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu is in a run-off election, it looks like the Democratic leadership is going to allow that to pass, ostensibly to help her re-election campaign. Whether it helps her win or not is immaterial. The important thing is that it allows the party to claim that they were forced to do something that they really did not want to do. This allows them to have it both ways: giving something to big business while pretending that they really did not want to.
Watch out for any similar talk of ‘reforms’ of taxes and social security and welfare and public education, where the Democrats will ‘grudgingly’ sacrifice the interests of the poor in order to ‘get things done’. And the corporate media will urge them to do so and praise these acts of ‘bipartisanship’.
Is my view very cynical? Of course it is. But I think it also explains the historical facts and behavior of the two parties.