It's long mystified me why the remnant "left" in this country is constitutionally unable to get in front of issues small and large and lead into that new day dawning that used to be so important.
Instead, the "left" constantly reacts to rightist garbage, desperately trying to hang on to the shreds and tatters of a status quo the rightists are only too happy to yank out of their hands.
This has been going on for years and years, decades now, and it is really bewildering.
It's not for lack of ideas. Why just the other day, the New America Foundation came out with a neat little proposal to double Social Security payments to help get the economy "moving" again. Well, there's an idea. Gee. The only problem with it is that the deficit scolds have long since been banging the gong about cutting Social Security to the point where doing so is all but inevitable.
The idea of increasing Social Security payments should have been broached the instant the economy turned sour. I think I did at the time suggest that low-end Social Security payments be doubled or tripled for just that economic purpose. Not only that, but I thought the eligibility age should be reduced to 55 so as to free up jobs for younger workers. I also suggested that because households were drowning in debt, instead of paying off the banks' gambling debts (the Fed just held out the promise of another round of payouts to the banks), payments -- large payments ($80,000 was a figure I remember mentioning) -- should be made directly to households to clear debt or for the purchase of particularly important goods and services (like green-fitting homes and such) in order to goose the economy.
Robert Reich has been advocating a "payroll tax holiday" for quite a while, and the other day he added a nuance: cancel payroll taxes on the first $20,000 of income, and pay for it with an additional payroll tax on those making more than $250,000. This is good.
But we are years into this Endless Recession, and the policies out of Washington have been like Hoover's policies dealing with the Depression. They really haven't helped any but the banks and the upper one percent. They've been devastating for the middle and working class, by design.
Why the so-called "left" isn't out in front of economic issues is bewildering. In fact, Democratic Party economic policy is as Hooverite as that of the White House, and commentators on the so-called "left" are at best ambivalent about what to do -- typified by Paul Krugman's fretting about this and that.
Why aren't self-styled progressives out in front of the war issues? Not just saying "no" but saying what would be the better policy.
We could go on and on.
In the United States what passes for the "left" is reactionary, depending on the rightists for issues to respond to. The "left" is desperately clinging to shreds of the status quo for dear life, rather than coming up with a vibrant new vision for the future.
As I pointed out earlier regarding the mosque issue, the appropriate position on it is "No," not because it is Muslim, but because it is religious -- and we don't need more religion, there or anywhere else. Religion and religious fervor is part of the problem. But putting it that way is getting in front of the issue, and that would be... rude.
Let's be clear: our government is rightist through and through. One party is insane, the other is its enabler. Neither has any interest in serving the People. The People are passive in the face of these facts in part because they see no sign at all that anyone able to lead is interested in leading toward correct solutions. Many apparently thought Obama would be the one and have been sorely disappointed. But surely they know that putting the bloodthirsty plunderers back in charge for another round of looting and disaster is not a good idea.
But that's the political alternative to the disappointment so many feel. Madmen or their enablers.
If we on the "left" could actually get out in front of issues, present a coherent framework for positive change and follow through, what a wonderful world this would be. But no.
Can't do that.