Yesterday I blogged about the shutdown and blamed the rich in what I readily concede was a half-baked argument. Heck, it wasn’t even half-baked. It was a countertopful of ingredients, and it was only one ingredient at that. Rich people. And yet I was right about the main thing. We’ll never understand American politics without mapping out financial motivations. As far as I can see there are only two fundamental political motivators. Money and pride. There, now there I’ve given you TWO ingredients.
Let’s look at pride for a minute, because I didn’t talk about it yesterday. Actually pride consists of many ingredients. Perceived status, religion, cultural traditions, and of course race. In America race is always boiling around under the surface, and is very mixed in with perceived status. And yes, race is a big motivator in the Tea Party head of steam, and steam is about all that is in their heads right now.
But that doesn’t explain why this frothing handful (and their safe districts thrown into the bargain) are able to hammerlock the whole US government. Boehner could short-circuit them today by bringing a clean bill to the floor and it would…….pass. And yes of course he’s worried that if he does that he would lose his speakership. And my question is who is letting this one guy Boehner get away with THAT cringey performance? Answer is: the rest of the Republican coalition, that’s who. And who are they? You got it! The rich. This coalition has been doing dutiful work for the rich. The rich can’t stand back now and pretend not to be involved. But they’re trying to, and the fawning media let them get away with it.
And this is my main point. I want the spotlight on the rich for awhile. They are the ones who have been benefitting from the last few decades of American politics and economics. And wow have they benefitted. Even if you don’t think they are individually responsible for the current government insanity, they are in a position to help solve it. Their dodge of “Hey, we’re just good at making money, don’t expect us to know about politics,” just doesn’t cut it. They got their tax rates down. Somehow they figured out how to make that happen. And they are pretty savvy about seeing to it that those rates don’t go back up, no matter what. We are now at that ‘what.’ Tax hikes on the rich are the fundamental bottleneck in the entire budget argument. It’s why we can’t have a ‘grand bargain’ or any other bargain. I’d like to put the rich front and center in this fight, because they are. I want them on the hook. I want people (and the media) to look at them and ask them how THEY are exercising their patriotic duty to the country, whose soldiers fight and die to protect their interests which have prospered so spectacularly. To whom much is given, from them much is expected. We’re waiting.