The following two sentences capsulize politics universal, why the world was nearly plunged into a nuclear nightmare vis-à-vis the Cold War, and why American political seasons are so polarized in recent years. (1) To earn a living wage, labor must constantly struggle with management to attain sustainability. (2) To make profit in competitive markets, management must constantly struggle with labor to tamp down wages and benefits – whereby “human resources” are placed on the same table with raw materials.
On surface, both objectives seem benignly principled. However, the tactics and clandestine methods selected to weaponize the two competing forces make for a toxic atmosphere and destructive politics. Americans not well-informed politically hate the system for that reason. The devices used (i.e., negative ads, fabricated rhetoric, denigrating sparring) turn off the voter.
Labor (the 99%) recruits the Democratic Party as its representative.
Management (the 1%) recruits the Republican Party as its representative.
Several decades ago the Republican Party decided to use dirty tricks to fight: Hence, Watergate, Southern Strategy, election fraud, hacking, voter suppression, Katherine Harris, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, FOX, right radio, union-busting, undisclosed corporate contributions, etc. At the same time, key Democratic leaders arbitrarily decided to counter by taking the political “high road” – small campaign contributions, “truth-telling,” and “civil” rhetoric. (Which side wins: The cheater or the intellectual nerd?)
The Number One political story for our time is not the labor-management struggle that’s been going on for centuries. It’s the tactics employed by one of the contenders, the Republican Party. Anecdotal to RNC tricks is Democratic capitulation. Mr. “High-Road” decides to fight fair just after the other guy kicks him in the nuts.
The word “compromise” is a virtue to Democrats, but a vice to Republicans.
Most pundits have a tendency to make a false equivalency of the two warring parties. However, there is one equivalency that rings true: A simple disconnect. Both factions cannot see. While one uses despicable tricks, the other is oblivious to the fact below-the-belt tactics work if not countered with equal energy. When Kerry was swiftboated in 2004, he argued the attack didn’t dignify a response – that it was merely an act of desperation. He lost.
Like Anthony Weiner elaborated, “Democrats shouldn’t bring library books to a knife fight.” Unilateral disarmament in an arms race is insane. Thus, Democrats are as nuts as Republicans – but in a far different fashion. One side is blasting the shit out of the other, while the “other” tries to negotiate politely with the shit-thrower. The over-used Hitler-Chamberlain analogy comes to mind.
Because of this situation, unions, although discrete in downplaying discontent during election season for obvious reasons, are quite annoyed with their representative: the Democratic Party in general and Barack Obama in particular. Workers realize the floor has been knocked out from under them as a “bargaining chip” to appease the other side. And for what benefit? Nothing gained, much lost. Labor is completely perplexed why Obama gives away so much while getting nothing in return. He’s union’s chief negotiator that seemingly sold them out by relying on the false theory the other side would reciprocate.
Now that the 2012 election cycle has arrived, Obama again courts labor in hope they’ll forget the past three-years’ concessions. Sure, there’ve been crumbs and morsels along the way, much better than had McCain-Palin won. But labor’s expectations have been dashed. Now the only hope is that a second term will bring out the “progressive Obama” that campaigned 2007-08. It’s infinitely harder to be energized by hope once it’s been broken.
Blindness on the Republican side stems from the embrace of unbridled capitalism. It’s proven throughout history: A pure profit-motive leads to financial ruin. No rules for the rich; many for the poor. The double standard not only crashes economies but seeds revolutions. History is obviously not their forte.
Rightwing extremism, as manifested today, has led to polarization. But not much can be done about it if the left continues its passive ways. There may be outbreaks of “Occupiers,” etc., but the struggle still favors the right if the left’s nature remains stubbornly inert.