It’s times like this that I wish I had voted for Hillary Clinton.

13 02 2011

I spent most of my day today whipping through Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas? for the third or fourth time. The last time that I assigned it to a class, I vowed that I would never do so again because it’s just too political. However, Frank seems to be the counterpoint to a lot of the new literature on the conservative moment, so he fits well in my graduate class where we’re reading a bunch of these books. Another mitigating factor is that Frank’s thesis, that conservatism has sucked economics out of social class, now seems like a relic from another era now that the Great Recession has made economic concerns impossible to avoid.

In other ways though, none of which I picked up on when I last read the book three or four years ago, Frank’s work is more timely than ever. Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle obviously would have been very much at home fighting the moderate Republicans who had controlled that state’s Republican politics during the 1990s. Unlike those two examples though, a lot of far right candidates have been elected in Kansas and elsewhere.

More importantly, Frank doesn’t pull any punches when considering the role of the Democrats in the rise of the new cultural conservatism. This passage near the end of the book (pp. 248-49) actually gave me chills:

“Maybe Kansas, instead of being a laughingstock, is actually in the vanguard. Maybe what has happened there points the way in which all our public policy debates are heading. Maybe someday soon the political choices of Americans everywhere will be whittled down to the two factions of the Republican Party. Whether the Mods still call themselves “republicans” then or have switched to being Democrats won’t really matter: both groups will be what Kansas call “fiscal conservatives,” which is to say “friends of business,” and issues that motivated our parents’ Democratic Party will be permanently off the table.”

The same day I read that had to be the same day I saw the headline, “Obama Budget To Focus On Spending Cuts.” Another subset of this same story from my primary area of interest that I saw today was “Graduate Students May Face Higher Debt Under Obama’s Budget Plan.” How so?:

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew said that interest on graduate school loans will begin building up while students are still in school. Currently, interest does not begin compiling until after students graduate.

I happen to think there really should be fewer graduate students in the world. However, I’d like to think that can be done by convincing them not to enroll in the first place rather than by making graduate school debt more expensive. And, of course, a change in student loan provisions like this will affect lots of programs outside the humanities that aren’t facing a crisis of too many graduates chasing too few positions that pay a living wage.

Would Hillary Clinton as President have stemmed the drift of the Democratic Party into becoming the second Republican Party? I don’t know, but heck it would have to have been better than this.

The thing that kills me though is that despite everything President Obama has done to destroy the ideals of the Democratic Party that Franklin Roosevelt created, I know I’m going to end up voting for him again anyways because he deserves some credit for health care reform and because his opponent in 2012 is almost guaranteed to be certifiably insane.

Where is William Jennings Bryan when you really need him?


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14 02 2011
Your Thomas Frank question. | History 501 (America 1945-Present)

[…] totally left wing thoughts after reading that book for the third or fourth time you can find them at my personal blog. Please note that they have nothing to do with the above question. This entry was posted in […]

14 02 2011
Jess

Education has been a huge focus for Mrs. Clinton ever since her early years after college, and again in AR as first Lady. Yeah, she would never have allowed this to happen. Obama was all talk, and even I, who did NOT vote for him in the primaries because he seemed a bit hollow when it came to the meat and bones of education and healthcare, seemed more like just speeches to me, and even the speeches if you listened closely, said very little.

I wish to goodness people would remember these times when it comes to their primaries in 2012…..but they won’t. Campaign time will come around, Obama will have all new slogans and speeches, over 100million dollars to convince everyone what happened never happened, and what didn’t happen, did, and everyone will vote for him once again. And if that is the case, why on earth would he have any interest in appeasing the left.

14 02 2011
Historiann

You didz not caucus for Miz Clinton?

I don’t know if I completely agree that she was going to stand astride the tracks and yell “stop” to the forces of globalization and income inequality, but perhaps like Jess I don’t think she’d be as much of a callow nightmare.

Why reward bad behavior with your vote, Jonathan? The awesome thing about voting by mail is that it’s so easy to write in a candidate. . .

14 02 2011
Jonathan Rees

Historiann:

It was the war. If she just said “I’m sorry I supported the war in Iraq,” I would have been right there with her.

On your behalf, I hereby promise to seriously consider voting Green, Social Worker or any other third party if the Republicans nominate someone who is not certifiably insane, but I think we all know that isn’t going to happen. I still want to minimize the amount of bad in the world rather than let the perfect be the enemy of the sane.

14 02 2011
Jess

Jon, you have 2 votes. The primary, in which you can easily vote for anyone else, and then the general, and depending on your state, most likely can vote for anyone else, there’s only about 10 states that your vote really counts in. I live in NY, I can vote for whomever i darn well please because there can be NO consequences. So unless you live in a swing state…

Besides, if all he had was the war, and really, that is ALL he had was his anti-war rap, then clearly now he’s no good for anything. But don’t hold your breathe for liberals to hold him accountable, their pockets will be closed maybe for the primary, but 2008 will repeat itself in 2012 with nothing more than a new spin, their pockets will be his for the asking, they’ll knock on doors and race to the polls to vote for him.

The reason Obama can swing as far to the right as he wants is because it certainly doesn’t offend his sensibilities, and since he can count on the ‘lesser of 2 evils’ voting from the left, he has no need to give a s–t about a Pell grant or anything else. Your political stances are no more than an irritant to him while he courts the right from now until the early Dem primary. Only personal conviction would keep him from throwing all democratic principles under the bus, and unfortunately…lol.

14 02 2011
Historiann

Fair enough. But as Jess notes, it’s not like he’s some kind of Peace President now (nor was he or anyone else likely to be, in my estimation.) I don’t think Clinton would be all that much more progressive (if at all more progressive) than Obama were she in charge now, but I do still believe that she would have been a much tougher opponent and stronger negotiator against both Republicans and dissident Dems. This might be a complete projection on my part, but my sense as to why people loathe her is that they recognize that she’s effective and they fear her. Wall Street and a lot of so-called “moderates” cottoned onto Obama because they knew he could be rolled.

Moreover, Clinton doesn’t give a $hit what Fred Hiatt and David Brooks think or write about her–she lived through the worst of political calumny against her in the 1990s, and she almost won the damn primary in ’08. I thought that would have been an asset to her presidency.

15 02 2011
Jonathan Rees

Jess:

I live in Colorado, about as swingy a swing state as there is these days.

Historiann:

I promise I’ll see just how insane the opposing nominee is before I make my final decision, but I’m not holding out much hope. I feel lucky I have the luxury of having survived the previous eight years of Republican misrule mostly intact. Others won’t be that lucky the next time around.

I don’t want to be even partly responsible for allowing those people entirely turn back the entire 20th Century. The New Deal might be gone, but we can still fight for the Progressive Era!

15 02 2011
mdivel1

W J BRYAN?!? I WOULD HAVE PREFERRED CLARENCE DARROW!!! MIKE D.

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