Friday, October 29, 2010

The New Normal

The Conventional Wisdom likely to be borne out after the election on Tuesday is that Republicans will make substantial gains in Congress, the Senate, statehouses across the land and governorships. Indeed, they may make unprecedented gains. Historic gains.

No one expects the Democrats to maintain a majority in the House, though the Senate is likely to stay nominally Democratic for the time being. Right now it is a toss up whether Harry Reid will hold on to his Senate seat in Nevada or lose it to TeaBagger favorite Sharon Angle. Odds are shifting toward Angle. If Harry loses his seat, the Senate Majority (or Minority, depending on outcome) Leadership would fall to someone else, and who that might be is somewhat murky at this time. Whoever it might be, one can be sure it won't be anyone more "Progressive" than Harry Reid. In other words, not "Progressive" at all.

Gridlock and worse it predicted by those In The Know, a repeat of the post-1995 Clinton era in which Government ground to a halt several times while the Republican Congress and the nominally Democratic White House contended with one another for supremacy.

And there was the little matter of the Impeachment over some stains on a Blue Dress.

Many in the chattering classes are looking forward to a return to that situation for it enhances their own glory, or at least they think it does, and a wide range of new right-wing blood can be injected into the punditocracy.

Yes, this is all about normalizing a further lurch to the right in our governing class.

The New Normal.

In this New Normal, Republicans who are actually not in charge of the Government will be in effective control of it. In other words, Democrats will be in charge, but their orders and commands will come from Republicans -- who in turn will be operating from the strictly reactionary corporate playbook.

The White House, which has been nearly passive or actively yielding in the face of Republican resistance to its largely corporate favoring programs, will certainly be inclined to continue on the same path, with the added bonus of being able to blame the Rs for policies the White House itself favors.

The domestic economic situation will get worse for the vast majority of Americans, and it will get wildly better for the handful at the very top. And this will be normalized into the "Recovery" that has been so very elusive. Reducing the standard of living of the masses has obviously been part of the economic policy of the White House and Congress throughout the Endless Recession. We can anticipate that the reduction in living standards that's been under way for years will only accelerate under the New Normal of a nominally Democratic government -- controlled by Republicans.

But it will be very comfortable for some. The trick -- and the opportunity -- will be in finding some comfort for the masses, millions of whom have already been pushed into poverty, millions more soon to join them.

Will Americans learn to accept their New Normal poverty? From appearances, most of those facing or experiencing hardship already have. Millions upon millions have already been forced out of their jobs and their homes, and despite their discomfort, they really aren't making much of a stink about it, nor are they even threatening to. That fact alone has emboldened the Ruling Class into believing that they can get away with pretty much anything. And so far, given the remarkable success of the TeaBagging operation of the Ruling Class, they appear to be right.

The New Normal will mean an ever greater expansion of Ruling Class interest and authority and a further diminution of Peoples' interests and authority. "Government" will get smaller by handing an ever greater amount of its operations and authority to private corporations unaccountable to the public. With less and less authority, the Government will have less and less to do with the People for whom it is ostensibly established and become far more openly in thrall to the corporate interests it actually serves.

The New Normal will mean that the People will go along with this fundamental change in what the Government is and how it operates, and they will do so on a very simple basis:


Tens of millions of Americans are idle due to the Endless Recession and the utter failure -- no, I call it Languid Indifference -- of the White House and Congress, with the connivance of the corporate class, to get them back to work. This situation has been a matter of policy, not accident, and it has been pretty obvious that the policy has been implemented in order to reduce the wages and benefits of those who manage to stay employed and to ensure that people returning to the workforce and new workers do so at significantly reduced levels of compensation.

The failure to raise employment levels during the last two years (even at reduced compensation) is an albatross around the necks of the Democrats ostensibly in charge, and it is the principal reason why so many of them are going to lose in Tuesday's election.

The Republicans have been promising "Jobs" throughout the election season (Democrats for the most part don't even mention "Jobs") and they will likely deliver. In their characteristic way.

We can assume the elimination of wage and hour laws, the crushing and elimination of unions, and the "relaxation" of health and safety regulations. Of course, this will all be agreed to by the White House -- "reluctantly" -- in order to "Get America Moving Again."

Basic employment standards in this country will be reduced and normalized to global standards, and sure enough, unemployment will begin to fall. I would not be surprised if unemployment is halved in the next two years, provided that the Newly Normalized reductions in employment standards are implemented. If they are resisted, the screws will continue to be put on the masses.

Of course all social programs are in dire jeopardy, but those that enhance the income and status of the Ruling Class will not be going away. Social Security and Medicare will continue, in the New Normal, but on the unstated premise that their function is to enhance the wealth and privilege of the wealthy and privileged classes. Workers -- those who have work -- will see their benefits reduced, but they will not be eliminated. Accessing and utilizing benefits will become more difficult, for some, impossible. But the benefits will still be there.

The People will have less and less say -- eventually none -- in the course of the Nation's future. As it is, elections are in no way referenda on that course. One does not get a vote on the Programs being implemented; one's vote is limited to an advisory on how harshly and how quickly those Programs are to be implemented. But even the advisory role will be extinguished in time, and elections will have as much effect on the Ruling Classes in this country as elections had under the Roman Empire.

Because, of course, the New Normal involves the "progress" of our Nation's governance from that of a faltering Republic with Imperial pretensions to that of a nascent and growing Empire with a Republican history.

The path is set. It would happen regardless of which Party is in ostensible control of the Government. Both Parties are in essential agreement on the course of our future, and it is an Imperial course without question.

The wild card in this New Normal is that the financing for this Empire is coming from the Chinese. Their model is highly admired among America's Ruling Class, and we're likely to see more and more of it adopted in this country. But the overseas adventurism that is incrementally expanding the American Imperial Project is happening under the gaze of Our Chinese Financiers and -- could be -- Overlords.

They can stop it at any time. But for the time being, they seem quite content with American Imperialism as the New Normal.

I wonder how long that will last.

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