Monday, March 1, 2010

What's Wrong With Being Partisan? The Democrats Need To Fight For Working People. This Is The Place. Now Is The Time.

We keep hearing that Barack Obama is committed to "bi-partisanship." He suggests that somehow Democrats and Republicans should walk hand in hand, agree on everything, without conflict.

Why? I don't agree with Republicans about anything. Nothing. And I don't want my representatives sucking up to Republicans in a pathetic effort to allow Obama to look like a nice guy. Maybe he is a nice guy. But that doesn't pay for health insurance for American working people.

E.J. Dionne, Jr. has a column in today's Washington Post explaining that there is good reason for partisanship. Democrats do not and should not agree with Republicans on many issues. When they do agree (i.e. Democrats fighting to raise the estate tax exemption to $5.0 million), they are working together on behalf of the rich, not doing anything to help the people.

What are the different interests in our society that politicians might represent? Theoretically there are two political parties that run everything: Democrat and Republican. Who do they represent? Who are they supposed to represent? In this country, we have working people, who make up about 90% of the population. There is a small group of upper class, or upper middle class, maybe 10% of the population.

Then there is the fictitious category called "businesses." Businesses don't get to vote. They are fictitious characters, like Donald Duck. "Sally's Candles" doesn't really exist like a person. It doesn't have a home, or friends, doesn't have the right to vote. Yet. Although the Gang of Four on the Supreme Court may try to give it to them. So basically, when we ask who the politicians are supposed to represent, we are talking about the people. We the people. The politicians are supposed to represent the people of this country. 90% of the people in this country are working people. But it doesn't seem like any of the politicians are representing them.

I want the Democrats to represent the working people, but they don't. Republicans also don't represent working people. Too often it seems that both the Democrats and the Republicans work together to represent the small category of rich people, and their businesses. Both rich people and their businesses exploit working people, harm them, steal from them, underpay them and overcharge for products they sell. Rich people and businesses harm the working people by polluting the environment and causing cancer, killing millions every year. So it seems to me that we've got working people on one side, representing the great majority of the people; then groups that exploit working people on the other side. Why don't the Democrats stand up for the working people?

By "working people," I mean people who work for a living most of their lives. Generally working part-time while in school, then working full-time from 18 or 21 (if they go to college) until shortly before they die. They don't have enough money to not work. They will never have enough money to not work.

Are there any businesses that treat their workers well? Of course. But the majority of businesses are unified in trying to crush working people, bringing in foreign workers by H1b visas or smuggling them across the borders, moving operations to third world countries where they can use slave labor. Many businesses now require a 60-hour week without overtime. All businesses are trying to eliminate health insurance, pensions, and the employers' share of social security, as well as get around all health and safety requirements. Their interests are to maximize their profit, which means take it out of the backs of the working people.

"Partisan" generally means associated with a political party. In modern American, "partisan" is seen as so last-year. But the word has great historical significance, and we should embrace it, not reject it. For example, in World War II the "Partisans" were the people who fought against the Fascists. The partisans were the resistance. You don't hear too much about the European resistance trying to find common cause with the fascists, or trying to get along. They fought against the people who were trying to destroy them and destroy their countries. Why should we be any different? I have no desire whatsoever to make nice with my enemies. And I have no doubt whatsoever that today's Republicans are mostly fascists.

Here's a poem for the French Resistance, by Leo Marx. It sounds like a declaration of the partisan's love of and commitment to his own country, to the people of his country.

The life that I have is all that I have
And the life that I have is yours.
The love that I have of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have,
Yet death will be but a pause,
For the peace of my years in the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

I suspect the only motive for Bi-Partisanship in D.C. is to (1) make sure both parties keep getting lots of bribes from the corporations, and (2) make sure neither party gets all the blame for anything that happens in D.C. Nobody wants to take responsibility. They want to keep the people dissatisfied with both parties, but not so dissatisfied that they might rise up and throw them all out of office. Which is what we should do.

Who gives the most money to the politicians in D.C.? Wall Street, the defense industry, big law firms (which might be laundering money for their clients). Insurance companies. The big corporations don't see any particular difference between the two parties. Politicians in both parties take bribes and sell their votes. Only the citizens are sold this story that one side or the other is the "good:" guys. Oh yeah.

Well if the Democrats are so good, why is it they don't do anything to help the working people? And if the Republicans are so good, why is it that they destroyed the economy and got us into two unnecessary wars, saw millions of our jobs sent overseas and millions of illegal immigrants smuggled in to take more jobs while they were in charge for 8 years? If one side or the other is so good, why is it that things stink for working people no matter which party is in charge?

I think we should reject the entire concept of bi-partisanship as long as the Republicans continue to embrace the politics of fascism. Not that the Democrats are much better. But as long as the Democrats claim to be on our side, we have the right to demand that they stand up for the working people.

Medicare for all would be a good place to start. Blue Cross /Anthem of California is going to raise premiums by 40% on May 1, certainly forcing millions more people to drop their health insurance. Of course this is in a state that is bankrupt, with the highest unemployment and foreclosures in the nation. Remember Paul Newman's great line in The Verdict when he was explaining why he got sober, why he was going to stand up for principles. He said "If not now, when?"

That's my question for the Democrats: "If Not Now, When?"

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