Two Parties, Big Differences

One thing I've been seeing a lot in comment threads lately is the idea that there's no real difference between Republicans and Democrats. On too many issues, you could legitimately argue that there isn't enough of a difference between the two, but to say there's no difference is just plain wrong. Part of what's driving the perception is the fact that Democrats made big gains in the last few election cycles, which practically guaranteed that Democratic incumbents would make up a wider band of the political spectrum. In a two party system, both parties have to be coalition parties and, as a result, the larger party will have more centrists. It will also have more people who would normally belong to the other party, but either couldn't get elected in that party in their districts or differ from party orthodoxy on a key issue -- say, abortion or environmentalism.

But I suppose I should've said that "in a two party system, both parties have to be coalition parties most of the time." Republicans did so poorly in recent elections that candidates in all but the most conservative districts lost, for the most part. It acted as a party purge, driving out the ideologically impure and leaving a party where all members are in agreement on almost everything. In short, Democrats look like a lot like the Republicans used to, because the political middle had swung so far toward the Democratic pole that it took some of the Republican coalition with it. And that's what's swinging back again. Check the results in November; you'll see that very few actual progressives have lost, but that many centrists and Blue Dogs will be joining the ranks of the unemployed. A lot of those centrists and Blue Dogs will be replaced by extremely conservative candidates, but that's because the GOP and the Tea Party are only allowing the most ideologically pure wingnuts to run and win their primaries. They're getting way ahead of that swinging middle and I wouldn't expect those gains to hold. In fact, if the gains are as great as some believe, the House of Representatives will become gridlock central -- at the worst possible time -- and the GOP will take most of the blame. While the economy burns, House Republicans will be fiddling with doomed bills to allow guns in churches, declare global warming a hoax, and privatize Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and -- oh, I don't know -- national parks or something.

But if you really need convincing that there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats, here ya go:

Jobs graph show employment growth after stimulus
Click for full size

Tell me -- with a straight face -- that the stimulus would've passed in a Republican-controlled congress.

Still need convincing? Here's Robert Shapiro, former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs under Bill Clinton:

From December 2007 to July 2009 -- the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy -- private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans' watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000-630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs.

So, when some of those GOP candidates change the subject from unemployment to treacherous immigrants, they actually may know precisely what they're doing.

92% of jobs lost are Bush job losses due to Republican policies. And this represents another kid of purge: the purge of the middle class. If there's one thing that's becoming clear, it's that virtually all Republicans and too many current Democrats see America as a support system for the wealthy. That's what supply-side or "trickle down" economics is all about. It's manipulating the market to create cheap labor. It's the Walmartization of America. It's been the goal since Reagan and it's finally coming to a head. Unless something changes, we looking at a future without a middle class.

[Associated Press:]

Job creation will likely remain weak for months or even years. But once employers do step up hiring, some economists expect job openings to fall mainly into two categories of roughly equal numbers:

_ Professional fields with higher pay. Think lawyers, research scientists and software engineers.

_ Lower-skill and lower-paying jobs, like home health care aides and store clerks.

And those in between? Their outlook is bleaker. Economists foresee fewer moderately paid factory supervisors, postal workers and office administrators.

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle fades away. Meanwhile, the right is blocking anything that might help you by claiming that the deficit's too large to allow it (after having strategically created that deficit; see "starve the beast"). If you want your kids to have a good job, you're going to have to get them into college -- while you're working at the local Safeway. Federal aid? Forget about it. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you lazy slob. If you can't (and most won't), then you're just cheap labor who'll create the next generation of cheap labor who'll create the next generation. The idea that the Republican Party has your best interests at heart is for chumps.

What's going to happen in the upcoming elections is that the center is going to lose representation, for the most part, and people will be faced with the choice between right and left. When that happens, we'll see the "there's no difference" argument die.


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