Midterm Madness! Zombie Dems VS Zombie Repubs, Zombie Consensus Wins Again!
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Nov. 5, 2014
“Democratic zombie theatrics are quite a lot like Republican zombie theatrics.”
The day after the 2014 midterm elections it’s pretty clear that political control of the United States, its economy, its mass media and its politics are firmly in the hands of its wealthy, deeply entrenched elite of wealthy individuals and corporations. America’s elite are transpartisan, influenced very little or not at all by the needs, the wants, the desires of what Occupy used to call the 99% of the American people.
Even where Democrats won, it wasn’t good news for ordinary people. Pension-cutter Democrats, school privatization Democrats, mass incarceration Democrats, tax-the-poor and coddle-the-rich Democrats retained governorships in places like New York, Illinois, California and Colorado, not that the wise, just and efficient US electoral system offered much of a choice either way.
Democratic zombie theatrics are quite a lot like Republican zombie theatrics. Republican House leaders brought up and passed anti-Obamacare bills more than 40 times in the last 2 congresses, knowing full well these went no further than their own doors and press releases. Similarly while Barack Obama campaigned in 2007-2008 promising to raise the minimum wage, and swept into office with majorities in both houses of Congress, Democratic leaders in the US Senate waited till this summer, almost 4 years after they’d lost the majority, to pretend to bring it to the floor, where it predictably lost. So Republican zombies can pretend to campaign against Obamacare, and Democratic zombies can pretend to campaign for the minimum wage.
That’s an example of the system working. Under the good-cop-bad-cop rules of US partisan conduct, Democrats must pretend to be a party of minorities and the working people every couple years during election season. But the act is getting old, fooling fewer and fewer people.
Black voters turned out in substantial numbers yesterday, despite the fact that they’d been promised nothing and received a bit less than that. But their numbers were not as high as in presidential years. Latino voters did the same, despite the fact that they’d been explicitly promised a road to citizenship and received a massive wave of family and community-shattering deportations instead.
By not championing any breakthrough legislation or popular mobilizing initiative, the First Black President gave white Democratic candidates nothing in the way of coattails to ride on. So white Democratic candidates avoided him. By doing so, they not only didn’t help themselves any, they helped render the black political class’s shallow appeals to vote Democratic out of racial solidarity much less effective than they might have been.
“The last time Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives was when the American people imagined a Democrat congress would stop the Bush-Cheney wars in Iraq and perhaps impeach the president and vice president.”
There are polls saying that 60% of Americans believe that mitigating man-made climate change is a hugely pressing issue. But neither of the two parties is willing or able to take the public up on it. Republican zombies take the money and claim climate change is a myth, while Democrat zombies delay and do nothing with the executive and legislative power they do have. The Obama Administration is clearly running out the clock on deciding the Keystone Oil issue, maybe in hopes of not seeing all the oil money go to Republicans in 2016. Similarly the administration is running out the clock on rewriting enforcement language for the Clean Air Act, something it’s been doing almost six years now, at the same time that it hands out hundreds of licenses for deep water fracking in the Gulf of Mexico . What could go wrong?
Republicans didn’t make him do this. It’s a clear example of the zombie consensus in action. The zombie consensus is independent of the political will of the living, breathing 99%.
The last time Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives was when the American people imagined a Democrat congress would stop the Bush-Cheney wars in Iraq and perhaps impeach the president and vice president. But instead of beheading the Republican zombies, the Democrats joined them, enabling Bush and Cheney to complete their terms, but not their wars, which Democrat national security zombies like the Republican ones, now assure us will last a generation.
You will hear Democrats discussing this election complain about the ingenious array of schemes to make registering and casting a ballot more difficult for students, the elderly, the black, the brown, naturalized citizens and the poor. Such schemes probably cost their party several million votes. But those legal schemes to restrict the vote, to make it harder to register took the best part of 20 years to develop and deploy in dozens of states and many hundreds of counties and cities across the land.
On the issue of voting rights, Democrats, especially our black misleadership class, held the political and moral high ground from the seventies through the 90s and beyond. They’ve got plenty of lawyers and legal scholars and they’ve known perfectly well for decades that if the right to vote is NOT in the US Constitution any mayor, any county commissioner or state level elected official can pass laws or invent rules to block it. But no matter.
The black political class became careerist zombies themselves, deeply concerned with turning out a big black vote every election, but not interested at all in building the necessary mass movement it would take to amend the Constitution, protecting that vote in perpetuity. It wasn’t like the present black political class ever really believed that the vote was an instrument for deep social change anyway. If they had believed that, they would have tried to lock it down with a constitutional amendment. Instead they viewed the black vote as the means to an end — their own careers, and nothing more. So that’s all they got, and that’s all we have. Thus in their own way, the black political class too has joined the zombie consensus.
“under the rules of this capitalist system, the people are pretty much locked out, silenced, made irrelevant…”
For the last two years of Obama’s term in office, the zombie consensus will discourage him even further from addressing or rolling back mass incarceration, black unemployment, or the decline in black family wealth, the last two of which have not recovered from their drastic plunges in the last year of the Bush-Cheney regime and the first two years of his own. Obama may even try to “grand bargain” away social security again as he did in his first two years, and claim he is “resolving” gridlock. The minimum wage might be raised, but not by much and over several years, especially for restaurant workers, who still get less than $3 per hour. Obama won’t use his executive power to end mass deportations that will likely continue, or illegal surveillance or drone wars, or the vicious prosecution of reporters and leakers. Obama will not use his power over the Federal Elections Commission and the Internal Revenue Service to end or inhibit the open hijacking of electoral processes by large, often anonymous donors. A president is a powerful actor, and could have major impacts on any or all of these matters and more with a few speeches, firings, hirings and the strokes of some pens. But somebody or something has eaten his brain too.
The American people don’t particularly endorse any of this, and have never endorsed the closing and privatization of public education, a project upon which elected Republicans and Democrats pretty much agree. It’s the zombie consensus once again.
Ordinary people clearly don’t like it. The zombie president may be unpopular, but the zombie Congress is even less so. But under the rules of this capitalist system, the people are pretty much locked out, silenced, made irrelevant.
It’s time for some new rules.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site’s contact page or at email@example.com .