Thursday, October 20, 2011

And The Next President Is? Willard Mitt Romney

Michael Brenner makes a plausible case for why Mitt Romney will be the next President (granted that Brenner does not like that prospect at all).
Mitt Romney is our next President in all likelihood. It will not be victory for his ideas (a pastiche of Wall Street, the Tea Party and the Pentagon) nor his personality (flat and uninspiring) nor his leadership (he is timid and painfully indecisive). Conviction, character and capability have little to do with who comes out on top in current American politics. Participants in these tedious marathons more closely resemble aspirants to celebrity in ‘dancing with the stars’ than dedicated office holders deliberating over the nation’s needs and future. Any search for coherence or probity will come up empty handed.

Still there are proximate causes that help explain why this outcome rather than any of the many other, no less improbable possibilities. Let’s look first at the contextual elements. Most Americans are poorer, more distressed, feel greater insecurity and fear what is around the corner than they have for generations. They are acutely anxious about their vulnerability to forces beyond their control or even comprehension – financial manipulation by the Wall Street barons, inept and uncaring governments at all levels, the anonymous specters of a globalized world – with existential dread of the Islamic terrorists thrown into the fearful mix. Then there is Barack Obama. For some, the Saviour revealed as false prophet; for others, the anti-Christ; for the vested interests – the sheep in wolf’s clothes who has served their cause as only a supposedly liberal Democrat could. For all, a faded star who can neither explain, guide nor reassure. Hence, the road to the White House is smoothed by the current occupant himself.

A second element has been the Tea Party phenomenon – an orchestrated movement that tapped always latent right-wing populism. Its influence on American politics has been far, far greater than its core support could generate....

Now, the air is rapidly coming out of the Tea Party balloon. Sarah Palin’s shooting star has landed in some remote Alaskan wilderness. Her copy cats in the Republican melee (Trump, Bachmann, Gingrich, Cain, Santorum, et al) are laugh lines in any honest history of this bizarre era. Rick Perry quickly exposed himself for the parochial Texas pol he is. Yet, the Tea Party’s two year run had served its purpose in the minds of the hard people and hard interests who own the Republican Party. It marshaled the free floating discontents of millions for the Party cause. It terrified Barack Obama into pre-emptive capitulation which added to the gifts that he already was bestowing on the financial moguls, big business, the industrial-military-intelligence complex, etc. It neutered the Democrats in Congress; and it muted the ‘progressives’ who dared not suggest that they had been betrayed by the White house so long as there was the specter of Sarah Palin’s finger on the button.

So the shock troops can stand down, the maverick Koch brothers can be properly rewarded, and the Republican establishment can rally around the conventional man in the grey flannel suit who frightens no one and who can be counted on to consolidate the gains, political and economic, made under Obama. He is the natural choice....

What kind of President will Mitt Romney be? We already know – a continuation of the Bush/Obama administrations. That includes economic policies geared to serve the wealthy and corporations, a downsizing of all social programs, further assault on Social Security and Medicare, pandering to the Pentagon, deeper attrition of civil liberties, and an unrelenting if foredoomed attempt to maintain American dominance in the world at all cost. All low-key, business as usual, and well-tailored.

Americans are abandoned and distained by the nation’s political class. Still, the sad truth is that they themselves have contributed much to their own A lazy, self-absorbed populace is now an indifferent, unknowing citizenry.
I'm not at all sure myself that this will happen. History takes many odd twists and turns before ending up where it want to go. But the trajectory seems believable, and the commentary on our current political actors and forces also seem right on target.

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