Posted by: John | October 28, 2008

US Elections: Paradigm shift

If this election has show us anything at all it is the devices used by the Right to get what they want (from experience) and how the Democrats have fought back:

1. One of their tactics is responsibility transference – ie  let the other side do the vetting or clean up the mess of their allies in Wall St.

2. Another tactic is to use the status quo whether in character, culture or policy as a default position against which the progressives have to struggle – ie YOU prove that you are squeaky clean, that you are not elitist or explain why people should change.

One of the remarkable things about the past month or so is that there’s nothing to prove on Economics and  that everything is up in the air thus taking away a handicap under which progressives have laboured. How can the default position be one of lower taxes for the rich when that clearly hasn’t worked. Economic progressivism has become not just a question of choice or something that has to be fought for against a default backdrop of fear of higher taxes – it has also become a question of pragmatism ie `the other lot have screwed it up their way with `trickle down` we might as well try something different`.

3. This has forced the hand of the Mainstream Media to respond. They can no longer simply reflect the Right’s default positions as a `common sense fait accompli` as it would discredit their own professionalism in responding to crisis as well as losing their own image of reflecting the facts. Of course there are always the recalcitrants like Fox News (basically an arm of the Republican Party). The non-right has developed industrious ways of getting their message across through wit and talent – like Air America, H.O.R.N Radio and the netroot blogs like Daily Kos and Huffington Post. Add to this the talents of Maddow, Olbermann, Jon Stewat and Colbert and you have a bulwark against status quo Republicanism that is hard to ignore.

We can see in this election the degradation of the Republican/Right wing hegemony. This is a lot to do with the financial crisis.

1. They are being called out on transferring responsibility to their opponents – this device became transparent over the Palin pick. At first they expected that most of the mainstream media would fall in line with them calling the shots and thus giving her an easy ride. When they realised that they wouldn’t bend the rules they flailed about saying that anyone who opposed them on whether she should deign herself to give an interview or say that the pick was political were `sexist`. Of course during all this vetting fell to the Media and the Democrats. The Republicans failed to realise that the media would have to protect their own professional self-image if they didn’t want to become a laughing stock.

2. The status quo no longer works for them. On tax they have no real narrative regarding economic recovery. When people are fearful of their own economic standing due to what they perceive as Republicans in Wall Street/Washington no amount of pushing back will help the Republicans. The default position has changed 180 degrees from `raising taxes is bad for the Economy` to `not raising taxes on the wealthy is bad for the Economy`. There are those of course who have not been significantly affected to say – `well since the old schemes haven’t worked for my neighbours I might as well get a share myself`. Obama and Pies!

3. The Tina Fey SNL sketches were a seminal moment. When a whole philosophy is allowed to be laughed at during an election due to the dire decision-making of the Presidential candidate then you know things have changed.

If you get the chance look at the choice Chris Matthews interviews – where once interviewing Republicans was like watching Parkinson, or even paint dry, now it’s like watching Paxman. The response was amazing to watch – it was rather like a spoilt child being punished for the first time `How dare you ask me these tough questions, don’t you know who I am?`


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