If anyone wonders why 24% of the population identify with the Tea Party movement, or what prompted Jane Hampsher of FireDogLake to note that Progressivism Is Dead, while expressing fury at being sold out to corporate oligarchs and government elite, look no further than Peggy Noonan’s WSJ piece, The Big Alienation, which aptly describes the growing sense of disenfranchisement felt by most conservatives, some progressives and many in between. It is as a good a definition as I’ve seen and Party identification seems to have little to do with it:
We are at a remarkable moment. We have an open, 2,000-mile border to our south, and the entity with the power to enforce the law and impose safety and order will not do it. Wall Street collapsed, taking Main Street’s money with it, and the government can’t really figure out what to do about it because the government itself was deeply implicated in the crash, and both political parties are full of people whose political careers have been made possible by Wall Street contributions. Meanwhile we pass huge laws, bills so comprehensive, omnibus and transformative that no one knows what’s in them and no one—literally, no one—knows how exactly they will be executed or interpreted. Citizens search for new laws online, pore over them at night, and come away knowing no more than they did before they typed “dot-gov.”
It is not that no one’s in control. Washington is full of people who insist they’re in control and who go to great lengths to display their power. It’s that no one takes responsibility and authority. Washington daily delivers to the people two stark and utterly conflicting messages: “We control everything” and “You’re on your own.”
All this contributes to a deep and growing alienation between the people of America and the government of America in Washington.
None of this happened overnight. It is, most recently, the result of two wars that were supposed to be cakewalks, Katrina, the crash, and the phenomenon of a federal government that seemed less and less competent attempting to do more and more by passing bigger and bigger laws.
Add to this states on the verge of bankruptcy, the looming debt crisis of the federal government, and the likelihood of ever-rising taxes. Shake it all together, and you have the makings of the big alienation. Alienation is often followed by full-blown antagonism, and antagonism by breakage.
Ms. Noonan also states:
The right never trusted the government, but now the middle doesn’t.
If Jane Hamsher is to be believed, many on the left aren’t thrilled either.
Of course, the White House is going to go after Social Security again. It’s the pot of gold at the end of Wall Street’s rainbow, and they desperately want that injection of cash which could keep their giant ponzi scheme from exploding. . . for a little while.
Lucky for them, Obama has successfully dismantled the opposition that kept George Bush from privatizing Social Security at Wall Street’s behest only a few years ago. Did anybody fail to get that message when majority whip Dick Durbin yesterday told “bleeding heart liberals” that they need to be willing to accept cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits for the economic well-being of the nation?
…Just as the choice groups sat on their hands for the Nelson amendment in the health care bill, just like the Sierra Club remains mute in the wake of an oil spill the size of Delaware, there will be nothing more than progressive window-dressing in opposition to cutting Social Security benefits this time around. Any of these groups utter so much as a whimper in response to Durbin’s very alarming statement yesterday? Nada. Zip. Zero.
The idea that the right is more “authoritarian” and top-down than the left is absurd.
Good point, Ms. Hamsher – I don’t much trust what’s coming out of either side.
Ms. Noonan then discusses the much criticized law that Arizona’s passed out of frustration to control its borders:
It is doing this because the federal government won’t, and because Arizonans have a crisis on their hands, areas on the border where criminal behavior flourishes, where there have been kidnappings, murders and gang violence. If the law is abusive, it will be determined quickly enough, in the courts…
But the larger point is that Arizona is moving forward because the government in Washington has completely abdicated its responsibility. For 10 years—at least—through two administrations, Washington deliberately did nothing to ease the crisis on the borders because politicians calculated that an air of mounting crisis would spur mounting support for what Washington thought was appropriate reform—i.e., reform that would help the Democratic and Republican parties.
The American president has the power to control America’s borders if he wants to, but George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not and do not want to, and for the same reason, and we all know what it is. The fastest-growing demographic in America is the Hispanic vote, and if either party cracks down on illegal immigration, it risks losing that vote for generations.
But while the Democrats worry about the prospects of the Democrats and the Republicans about the well-being of the Republicans, who worries about America?
No one. Which the American people have noticed, and which adds to the dangerous alienation—actually it’s at the heart of the alienation—of the age.
Both Hamsher and Noonan make clear that we don’t have much by way of allies in the persons of our government officials. It is apparent to anyone half awake that Democrats and Republicans, for the most part, capture an issue in furtherance of their careers and little else. There is a line in the movie “Syriana” –
“We want to give the appearance of doing our due diligence. But we don’t want to do our due diligence.”
Noonan uses the issue of government’s failure to secure the border to the same effect in her piece as Hamsher uses “the giant flaming ball of oil being pushed straight for the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi” that “[m]ight be the worst environmental event in decades” in hers – as examples of government ineffectiveness due as the result of succumbing to interest groups rather than doing what is best for the American people.
For those of us at NoQuarter long shouting in frustration for better leadership than what was being foisted upon us all, it is ironic that Noonan may be the first major pundit to make the following observation:
I asked a campaigner for Hillary Clinton recently where her sturdy, pantsuited supporters had gone. They didn’t seem part of the Obama brigades. “Some of them are at the tea party,” she said.
Though I don’t care for her “sturdy, pantsuit” snark –she notes correctly that we feel we have no place in this new world order of the Democratic party. Perrylogan, one of the commenters to Hamsher’s piece, makes clear why:
The progressive movement died during the primaries, when Obama’s supporters started calling their fellow Democrats racists.
In the universe of President Obama, the second “Great Uniter” in a row (George Bush II being the first), we are now more divided against ourselves than ever. It also looks as though many are feeling divided from the very people we have elected to protect our best interests.
Much of this is the result of the politics of demagoguery – served up to control the populace rather than to assist it, to divide us from each other, so we never take the time to notice we have far more in common than we realize.
All this jumble is to say that when two ladies from opposite sides of the aisle express this much anger and frustration, it is time for our politicians to wake up – lest we do figure out how to unite peacefully. Then those elitists Jane, Peggy and we all rage against might be ridden out of town on a rail.