Many of the commenters I admire most have been saying that the Left/Right dichotomy is inadequate to explain current dynamics and that Insider/Outsider along with Incrementalist/Radical are better descriptors. Glenn Greenwald notes this pitch perfect:
One finds [corporatism] in far more than just economic policy, and it’s about more than just letting corporations do what they want. It’s about affirmatively harnessing government power in order to benefit and strengthen those corporate interests and even merging government and the private sector. In the intelligence and surveillance realms, for instance, the line between government agencies and private corporations barely exists. Military policy is carried out almost as much by private contractors as by our state’s armed forces. Corporate executives and lobbyists can shuffle between the public and private sectors so seamlessly because the divisions have been so eroded. Our laws are written not by elected representatives but, literally, by the largest and richest corporations. At the level of the most concentrated power, large corporate interests and government actions are basically inseparable.
The health care bill is one of the most flagrant advancements of this corporatism yet, as it bizarrely forces millions of people to buy extremely inadequate products from the private health insurance industry — regardless of whether they want it or, worse, whether they can afford it (even with some subsidies). In other words, it uses the power of government, the force of law, to give the greatest gift imaginable to this industry — tens of millions of coerced customers, many of whom will be truly burdened by having to turn their money over to these corporations — and is thus a truly extreme advancement of this corporatist model. It’s undeniably true that the bill will also do some genuine good, as it will help many people who can’t get coverage now to get it (though it will also severely burden many people with compelled, uncontrolled premiums and will potentially weaken coverage for millions as well). If one judges the bill purely from the narrow perspective of coverage, a rational and reasonable (though by no means conclusive) case can be made in its favor. But if one finds this creeping corporatism to be a truly disturbing and nefarious trend, then the bill will seem far less benign.
As I’ve noted before, this growing opposition to corporatism — to the virtually absolute domination of our political process by large corporations — is one of the many issues that transcend the trite left/right drama endlessly used as a distraction. The anger among both the left and right towards the bank bailout, and towards lobbyist influence in general, illustrates that.
And he says exactly what I’ve been saying in private about what is the worst aspect of Obama and the Democrats thus far.
It’s true that the people who are angry enough to attend tea parties are being exploited and misled by GOP operatives and right-wing polemicists, but many of their grievences about how Washington is ignoring their interests are valid, and the Democratic Party has no answers for them because it’s dependent upon and supportive of that corporatist model. That’s why they turn to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh; what could a Democratic Party dependent upon corporate funding and subservient to its interests possibly have to say to populist anger?
In the last few weeks I am starting to notice a huge increase in the complaints and disappointment amongst my solidly liberal yet nonpartisan friends. For much of the year I’ve been arguing precisely as Greenwald and they couldn’t disagree with me on any stance but had an emotional attachment to Obama and faith that he would change things. That veil seems to have fallen off and I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama’s ratings plummet precipitously in the next few months.
For my own money I still have confidence that Obama is capable of bringing about leadership and long term guidance, but that the corporatist status quo is preventing that at every turn; it doesn’t help that the vast majority of Obama’s top advisors have long been major players in perpetuating and expanding this dynamic. That is the root of my opposition to the health care bill: even though it would help millions of people in the short term, it would expand the corporatist state, do nothing to cap long term costs and further degrade social cohesiveness.
Update: Balloon Juice’s DougJ …
As I see it, the two political reasons to oppose passage of the bill is that (a) by forcing people to buy crappy insurance, it will piss voters off and (b) passing this now puts off the possibility of more serious reform. I have no idea about (a), but I it seems to me that the bill going down in flames will put off the possibility of any reform for even longer.
If, at this point, the choice is between a crappy bill that will improve health care for millions of people (at too high a cost to them, yes, and without reining in insurance companies as much as it should) and a catastrophic political defeat for Democrats and for the cause of health care reform, I’m going to take the crappy bill.
Several of his commenters gently disagree…to put it mildly.