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Hullabaloo


Thursday, November 06, 2014

 
Angry people are angry. They have a right to be. And they're going to get angrier.

by David Atkins

Digby and Markos have said it before: this was yet another wave election. The latest in a long string since 2006. It needs to be said again.

Turnout keeps declining in midterm elections as people lose faith in the political process. And the people who do vote, consistently vote for someone to change something. It's entirely likely that people will be fed up with Republicans fighting one another and putting terrible bills on the President's desk and vote again for change in the other direction in 2016--particularly with a larger, more progressive electorate. Not a given, of course, but likely.

And why not? The country is broken, and everyone who isn't already wealthy knows it. Wages are stagnant; millennials are a lost generation with high student loan debt and unaffordable housing; the rich just keep getting richer; entire industries are disappearing, work hours are getting longer with lower pay, and life is generally less stable than it used to be. And it seems like absolutely nothing is going to change any of that, no matter who gets into office.

If you're liberal you're inclined to blame the plutocrats for that, and you would be right. If you're of a more conservative bent, you'll probably blame immigrants or government regulation or godlessness. And then there's a very confused sliver of the electorate that blames all of the above and bounces back and forth between which side they want to punish more, exacerbating the now familiar midterm and presidential turnout seesaw.

As things get worse, the hostility of Americans toward each other and the political process itself is only going to increase. Conservatives don't want to live near liberals or let their children marry them. Liberals feel the same way, as well they should. It's getting to the point culturally where you can almost just look at a random person on the street and guess their political ideology simply by demography and the way they dress and carry themselves, and sense the palpable discomfort as members of the opposite team pass each other on the street.

Compromise isn't going to fix any of this. People say they want compromise because in their personal lives compromise is how normal people solve problems. But compromise isn't the goal--it's a means to an end. What people want is problems to get solved. If stuffed shirt Democrats aren't fixing things, maybe the nice smiling folksy pro-business lady will get in there and do something. Obviously Obama isn't getting anything done.

That's what's going on. It isn't as if the Republican brand or Republican policies somehow got more popular. They didn't. And the next time around people will probably be saying "well, let's try putting a woman in office and some agreeable politicians and see." But they'll flip again when things don't change. Demography will ultimately doom the current incarnation of the Republican Party, but not before something snaps.

Eventually this will reach a breaking point. It has to. It'll break when some sufficiently large crisis occurs, and one side is fully prepared to use that seething rage for constructive outcomes.

The party that is more ready for that moment will be the one that makes real policy changes. Until then, we'll just keep surfing waves, watching each side crow that Americans have finally "woken up" and "put the adults back in charge" every two years while not a whole lot actually gets done for anybody but the rich.


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