Saturday, September 05, 2009

Very Great Changes At The Last Possible Minute

About three years ago we began the very long process of renovating our house. Our contractor was a wonderful, big, fat, heffulump of a guy who was a stone Republican. A contrarian from way back who was still in a fury with his working class, Democratic, father. Women and their contractors have a special relationship--its a seduction, my mother says--and we talked and argued for hours every day on the work site. He was for Social Security Privatization, against Teacher's Unions, watched Glenn Beck "for fun." Well, three years of paying our liberal bills on time, and never backing down have passed. Yesterday he showed up to fix two boards on the front steps. And what to my wondering eyes did appear but a a wonderful, big, fat, heffelump of a guy who panted up the stairs and said "I want SINGLE PAYER. What the fuck is Obama doing? Its like he doesn't get it. I'm not anti capitalist BUT why should we pay all this money to insurance companies?" And as for Glenn Beck and the other guys he used to watch on his few late night free moments (he used to call it "spin and win")? He is enraged that they are "trying to get Obama killed."

The conversation was pretty much balm to my soul after I got shouted at by the pudgy white guy apparatchiks at the health care rally. But at the same time it was just jaw droppingly astonishing. It dramatized something that Kos and others have been arguing--there's simply no middle ground left. Sara Robinson over at Orcinius has a stunning blog post up about the way the Working Class has had the stuffing knocked out of it, and its eyes opened. She argues that the Working Class, on the ropes from years of Republican attacks, stagnant wages, union busting, etc....are ending up with no place to turn but back to rightist demagoguery if the Democrats muff this chance. I'd say, after talking to my contractor, that she has absolutely nailed it. He probably still calls himself an Independent but he's swung all the way over to the far left as far as his politics and his preferred policies are concerned. He's gone from hating Barney Frank to applauding him because he "speaks his mind." He's gone from worrying that Social Security should be privatized to insisting that we should "bust the caps" and put it on a better footing by skinning the very richest. Astonishingly, when he found out I was boycotting Whole Foods he knew exactly why I was doing it and told me his wife was doing the same thing. I don't understand why Obama and his staff don't get it--they are falling between two stools in their attempt to appeal to a mushy middle. People don't want a peacemaker, at this point. They either want him out, or they want vengeance, or they want help. If I were Obama and his team I'd pick a side, any side, but I'd prefer he'd "dance with the ones that brung him" and grasp that you can't please everyone so you might as well please your friends.


No comments: