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Power to some is a zero sum game. I have power then you don't and vice versa. To not have power is to be weak. Power is currency that can be transformed into other forms of currency. Power can be "hard" akin to the use of force or the threat of force, or "soft" more persuasive. On the global level, its saber rattling and force deployment such as an aircraft carrier. On the soft power front, it can be economic, but I relate it to more diplomatic and cultural connections.

The more I think of this election the more I view it in longer terms of power. It is a clash over class, race, and religion in terms of where the power rests. Power to control and see to it that long terms trends that had been set in motion are reversed. The reaction from some quarters has been so outrageous that I am at a loss so I'm taking a longer view here.

FDR was the traitor to his class with the New Deal. The Great Depression started with the Stock Market Crash of 1929. The exuberance of the Roaring 20's and its supply-side growth came down with the speculation in the market and the runs on the banks that followed in the wake of the Crash. World War II put people back to work in droves, but the policies remained in place and were expanded with Truman in office. Social Security has become a bedrock of the American social safety net. The economic policies allowed for a prosperous Middle Class to spring up after WWII and fueled years of prosperity.

LBJ was considered a traitor to his race. His "Great Society" sought to expand Civil Rights, Voting Rights, and end poverty. Johnson signed landmark legislation that he knew would hand the South over to Republicans/Dixiecrats for a generation. He pushed for racial equality.

Then there is the rise of the Moral Majority. The Christian Right pushed an agenda to "return America to its Christian roots." The fight was on to end abortion, outlaw homosexuality, to rid the airwaves of indecency and put prayer back in schools. The actual Moral majority was started in 1979. This was a reaction to the sexual revolution as they saw it. I hold that they also wanted women to return to their "traditional" roles of mothers and housewives.

There is a common point where these things begin to intersect. It was under Ronald Reagan that economic policies began to return to supply-side style and running up deficits. There was also strong deregulation of economy, thus eroding the support of the Middle Class.

Reagan launched his campaign in Philadelphia, MS, with the "dog whistle" of States Rights. He attacked welfare queens as part of his election. His Administration began undoing parts of the Great Society. He was hostile to affirmative action. It was at this time that the Moral Majority began working with the Republican Party to court evangelical Christians to form part of the base. The levers of government would begin to make changes to the power structure. The Republican party gathered religion and economic elites to their cause and sought to gain more power and control.

Power in class level had devolved to an extent thanks to FDR. Power was not going to be concentrated in White male hands if LBJ's policies could help it, and Religion's decline was going to be arrested and power/authority would return to the pulpit.

The battles on the social front made the most headlines, but the fights on the economic fronts were mainly headlines of unions losing and corporate profits rising. Society when it came to race was more diverse. But those long battles over class, race, and religion weren't settled and continued and we come to the NOW. The conservative economic policies have been a disaster with deregulation almost taking down the banking system and fiscal policies that have mired the federal government in debt.

Barack Obama's election set off all kinds of fault lines. The racial one being the most obvious. On the class front, the policy battles over the basis of economic policy and regulating the economy brought out the class elites who stand to lose. On the religion front, the social wars have grown worse as the attack on women and their rights have grown more pointed.

To me it is all about power and the ability of that power to control. President Obama is the very hallmark of what Civil Rights was supposed to achieve. America elected a black president. He did it of his own merit. LBJ should be smiling. Except that the backlash has been disgusting as some elements of society see that their "power" is gone. They see it as fading. They want "their" America back. They are racists. There is no other term I would use.

Wealth has grown more concentrated as Bush succeeded in what Reagan started and set tax policy to the benefit of the few over the many. He failed to end Social Security which would have killed the legacy of the New Deal. But he started the conversation. Paul Ryan has set forth a budget that would end Medicare as we know it. The Republican Party supports this. That would kill one of LBJ's legacies. They would kill the other with attacks on voting rights.

So this is all about who has power. This is about where that power will reside in the next few years. The few, the very few, would again control much of America as they did before the Great Depression. (Also taking into account the erosion of union strength, attacks on environmental regulations, health and safety requirements for employees, and public sector jobs. All designed to increase profits at the expense of people.) The fact that Citizens United as helped the wealthy elites spend unlimited amounts of money in this election only serves to allow them to covert money into an attempt to gain more power.

I could go on and on about the attacks on education and the lasting effects of those policies. But I see this all about Power. Fear has driven a large segment of our society to irrationality. And now those that felt they lost back when FDR was president want to return to that time, to succeed in undoing what their fathers and grandfathers could not. I would rather flip the script and launch another New Deal with a huge heaping side of Great Society. They have already caused incredible harm to the country and our people. They only way to undo that harm is to relaunch policies that they seek to undo.

Originally posted to The Mad Hatter on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:49 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Really worth waiting for! (6+ / 0-)

    Power is most dangerous when people feel they're losing it, and the 2008 election really unhinged people (see my April diary on other power and privilege issues, Misogyny? Racism? Meet the Arrière-Garde, for some manifestations of that). 2010 emboldened them, but now they think even more extreme stuff is what the people want.  I'm betting it isn't.

    Yes, flip the script! We have our marching orders for November.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:40:06 AM PDT

  •  I sometimes wonder if I'm missing a chip (7+ / 0-)

    The quest for power, to me, is simply insecurity gone awry. I've never wanted to be extraordinarily wealthy. I mean, I wouldn't cry if I won the lotto (though I'd be mystified if I did since I don't play), but the thought of sitting on top of piles of money has never appealed to me.

    Republicans are telling poor people that they, as individuals, are special little snowflakes that are working hard but can't get ahead because every other poor person is lazy and they're dragging all of us down.

    They buy into that and end up even poorer.

    I can understand the feeling of powerlessness being a motivating factor in life. I've been there before. But what I'll never understand is actively working towards stripping yourself of what little power you have left in the name of trying to get "back" to something.

    I just don't get it.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:28:28 AM PDT

  •  Megachurches (5+ / 0-)

    The rise of the megachurches and televangesists seems to co-occur with the Reagan years if I recall correctly. I have to wonder if the likes of Jerry Falwell  were the Reagan era equivalent of TEA Party astroturfing. They have the same bigoted outlook, and also lead to obscene wealth to a few select demogouges.

    Registered Buddhacrat

    by clear SKies on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:47:32 AM PDT

    •  Spreading the gospel (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge, jessical

      to the suburbs. They also helped establish a new type of Republican orthodoxy.

      The Spice must Flow!

      by Texdude50 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 01:29:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Churches were the last refuge from desegregation. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Texdude50

      Schools, jobs, housing were all subject to federal court orders... but not churches.

      As white Amerikaners retreated to the suburbs, they took a powerful resentment toward "big government" with them. Their new churches became aligned with that attitude.

      American churches are still glaringly segregated. In 2008, only five percent had congregations with more than 10% of members outside the dominant ethnicity.

      There has been recent progress - curiously, in the suburban evangelical mega-churches. But, they're run more like businesses than denominations. Competitive pressures and changing suburban demographics would motivate them to become more inclusive... just to keep their school operation profitable.

      Have you noticed?
      Politicians who promise LESS government
      only deliver BAD government.

      by jjohnjj on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 05:10:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's more about culture than race or class. (3+ / 0-)

    They often go hand in hand, but not always. A lot of it varies regionally. And don't forget that a lot of what cultural-centric types say is hypocrisy. That's the problem of cultural-centrism, people claim to agree with the culture while personally behaving at variance with it.

    BTW, are you saying that power is NOT a zero-sum game? I think it quite clearly is. There are ways to divide and share power, but that doesn't mean that it's not finite.

    -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

    by JPax on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 02:05:28 PM PDT

    •  Digby on culture re the south (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Texdude50

      http://www.digbysblog.blogspot.com/...

      Perhaps the key for us is not to allow the contradictions and hypocrisy to go unchallenged, allowing American power blocks to feel culturally smug and unified based on nutin'.

      I mean the larger us. Dems, media, the public.

      I count on our perseverance HERE.

    •  Zero sum (0+ / 0-)

      to me is based on a black/white outlook. There are shades of gray in power politics. Multi-lateralism and power bases making non-linear changes.

      Though the clearest aspect of power being finite- for now at least - is in the energy arena. Access to oil is biggest zero-sum power play around. However, if a new source of energy were developed, then that zero-sum is broken, a new player means a new pool of power and it is not unilateral. Not sure if that is making sense. I see it in my head, but words...

      The Spice must Flow!

      by Texdude50 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 04:14:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm curious -- Why do you refer to the 1920s (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Texdude50

    as supply side growth?

    Seems to me there was an explosion in demand that drove growth.  In the strictest sense, there is no such thing as supply-side growth -- if you exceed demand, prices collapse.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:07:04 PM PDT

    •  You are correct (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinotrac

      Supply-side was created in the late 70's, but I guess proto supply side would be better. The idea that government gets out of the way and allows business to do business. Low taxes - though they liked their tariffs back then.

      The Spice must Flow!

      by Texdude50 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 04:16:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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