Thursday, February 17, 2011


No, really, it's true:

But obviously they mean two completely opposite things by this -- Moore, presumably observing that polls showing U.S. approval of the Cairo protesters, is hoping for public solidarity with the Wisconsin public sector workers, while Ryan is dog-whistling to his base, which thinks Cairo is the beginning of the leftist/sharia commie caliphate. And the advocacy media are spinning this, too, in opposite directions: I learned about Moore's tweet from an appalled Fox Nation (which is portraying the Wisconsinites as a dangerous, hate-filled group of thugs), while I learned about Ryan from a presumably disapproving Talking Points Memo:

... Mika Brzezinski asked Ryan what he made of the protests and [Governor Scott] Walker's "stand."

... "He's asking that they contribute about 12% for their health care premiums, which is about half of the private sector average, and about 5.6% to their pensions. It's not asking a lot, it's still about half of what private sector pensions do and health care packages do. So he's basically saying, I want you public workers to pay half of what our private sector counterparts are, and he's getting, you know, riots. It's like Cairo has moved to Madison these days. It's just, all of this demonstration. It's fine, people should be able to express their way, but we've got to get this deficit and debt under control in Madison, if we want to have a good business climate and job creation in Wisconsin."

Who's going to win this?

As usual I assume it's going to be the right. The number of Americans who are going to feel class solidarity with the Wisconsin protesters is inevitably going to be tiny (do non-wealthy Americans ever feel class solidarity anymore?), while the number of enraged right-wingers will continue to be large.


Yeah, I know that these workers are about to be screwed out of benefits they got written into legally enforceable contracts -- benefits they negotiated, in some cases, in lieu of salary increases. Yeah, I know that Chris Christie is crowing about shafting public sector workers in a similar way in New Jersey. Yeah, I know that John Boehner is shrugging off the fact that the House GOP budget could cost the U.S. economy a million jobs.

I still don't expect ordinary Americans to feel any sense of solidarity.

We have a fatalistic belief that no one who's rich or powerful will ever have to pay for what's happened to our economy, and it's quite possible that many of us have such a highly developed Stockholm syndrome that we don't even want them to pay. At this point we feel trapped, and the best we can say is, as it were, "Do it to Julia!" -- we've accepted that someone must suffer, and that that someone won't be rich, and we just want to hear that it's going to be somebody else.

Chris Christie, in his big speech yesterday:

I was elected with 49% of the vote, in a three way race in November of 2009. The first Republican elected to statewide office in 12 years in New Jersey, but not with a majority. 49% of the vote and when I started to say we were going to cut k-12 education funding by more than a billion dollars, we're going to cut municipal aid by more than half a billion dollars, we're going to cut every program that we can find in government and balance without raising taxes. I had everybody telling me, Governor you can't do it. Your approval ratings will go in the toilet. People love these programs... And what's happened? After 13 months of fighting and arguing and pushing and impatience, my approval rating's at 54%. No disaster, in fact, more popular today than the day I was elected and that's in a state that is as Democratic as any state in America for a Republican governor.

Do people "love these programs"? Maybe -- but as long as they think some of the budget cuts hurt people who aren't like them (i.e., public sector workers), and the rest of the budget cuts are somehow magically limited to cuts of "waste," they'll just tell themselves that it's a just world and everything won't be so bad and nothing really bad will happen to them.

The key is turning the victims of the cuts into "not us!" Thus the focus on government workers -- most people aren't government workers. This approach has limits, of course -- right-wingers can't figure out what to do with Social Security and Medicare, because it's really hard to cut those and say you're only cutting it for "them," since people think of those as programs for "all of us." It's easy, however, to attack the new health care law, because too many people naively assume they'll never need it.

I don't know if there'll ever be class solidarity among the non-rich in America -- but the right can pretty much have its way with us until there is.

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