Monday, November 3, 2014

Votes aren't in, but the lessons are

Clear Lessons from Tuesday’s Election Muddle

Robert Borosage

Whether she chooses to run for president in 2016 or not, we live in an Elizabethan era. To get a hearing, Democrats will have to be populist enough to describe why this economy doesn’t work for most people. Pollsters and pundits will conclude that this election shows voters are looking for competence. But even Hillary Clinton, a potential candidate with the most extensive resume in memory, will be unconvincing running on “competence.” She’ll perfect a more populist voice or face a more perilous path. 

Occupy a Stacked Deck
Election 2014 has been remarkably tawdry. Dark money flooded the airwaves with negative ads. Candidates assailed their opponents, detailing what they opposed without saying much about what they were for. Fears were thundered; hopes whispered. The ersatz vied with the timorous.

This isn’t likely to change without a popular mobilization that forces politicians to respond. Occupy Wall Street was scorned for lacking leadership or agenda. But its critique was clear, its passion and commitment stunning. And politicians scrambled to adjust.

The next Occupy may well focus less on the crimes of the 1 percent and more on the outrage of working people. More than one-half of Americans earn less than $30,000 a year. More and more can’t afford the basics of a decent life – dentists, vacations, retirement, college and more. More and more work in short-term, part-time, contract or other forms of contingent employment where they aren’t even told their schedules from week to week.

The next Occupy may well be driven by working women struggling to work and raise a child. It may come from the eruption of people of color locked in despair, sparked by the Ferguson outrages that occur across the country. Surely the young, their futures blighted by debt, lousy jobs and a catastrophic climate changes, will be at its center. The target may well be more focused on government inaction and corruption, rather than Wall Street abuses. It may well get in the face of politicians rather than in the face of banks.

All that is mere speculation. But the need for Occupy II is clear. This election won’t solve gridlock, and it won’t create a government remotely able to address the challenges we face. Change won’t be forged by politicians spending hours each day raising dough for negative ads to win elections. In this populist era, change will wait on the people to mobilize, protest the stacked deck, and force politicians to respond.

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