These days it’s pretty much agreed that our country is at risk of a double dip recession or even a full-fledged depression. Yet astoundingly enough, some “Have” members of Congress were unwilling to extend unemployment benefits or provide aid to the states without new cuts elsewhere. Deficit Delirium and Fear of Creeping Socialism are the phony excuses they’ve been giving, and no doubt some actually believe it, comfortably myopic as they themselves are in their happy “Having It All “social circles. But their call to keep the Bush tax cuts for the rich, with no new revenue to make up for that? Even Alan Greenspan thought it was cracked. Their “credibility bubble” is overdue, and that’s how we should be talking about it.
But it will take more than just naming and shaming to make their “credibility bubble” completely pop. That will require a huge groundswell from the vast American watershed, something those elite Haves didn’t see coming. (More on that below.) Of course, some of our elite Haves have shown that for the last 30 years they could believe about twenty impossible things before breakfast every day or at least sell others that bill of goods. I’m talking about whoppers like “supply creates demand,” “tax cuts for the rich create jobs (not customers with money from good wages to spend?), “debt-fueled austerity builds prosperity for all,” and “regulation hurts the economy.”
Many of these “Haves” are quite cynically trying to push our country over the electoral cliff by blaming Obama for the Bush/Wall Street aftermath. Not only do they lick their chops over getting back into power, they eagerly look forward to pushing American workers even further down the wage scale, not noticing of course that these were our American consumers, their own customers, the best ones in the world. They seem to believe they can get enough customers somewhere else. They also still buy or push Reagan’s “welfare queens” lie, as if anyone in their right mind would actually prefer to live on skimpy unemployment benefits or welfare if they could get a real job instead. These elite “Haves” hold fast to the dim idea that doing nothing to remove barriers to equal opportunity for everyone else will keep making them rich, safe in their gated communities, and free of the ecological crisis too.
But the biggest impossible thing some of these elite “Haves” think is that people won’t vote if they have recently lost their jobs, and healthcare. Those people, of course, are just the most recent draftees forced into the growing army of American Have-Nots, drawn from what used to be the great American middle class. As for long-term American Have-Nots, the scheming Haves I’m thinking of firmly believe that they will not vote next time, or if they do, they’ll vote for the very people who are their real enemies.
So this is where talking about popping the Haves’ “credibility bubble” goes to the next level. It was good news to learn recently about the new, very well named ‘One Nation’ coalition of a hundred and seventy liberal and civil rights groups focused on the midterm election.(1) Their goal is to repeat the resounding success of the 2008 campaign, coupled with a demand that the promises of that campaign be kept this time. They know that not voting or voting wrong will absolutely guarantee that we get the dangerous new Chamber of Commerce policy agenda in 2011, 2012, and maybe even beyond. (2) I hope that a lot more groups and coalitions around the country sign on to this effort too, in whatever way they can.
And to make crystal clear exactly why we’re voting for real change this November, let’s call it the best way, bar none, to pop the elite Have’s “credibility bubble.” That would send the right message to all who hang out in D.C. these days–we’re still here, and we vote.
Susan C. Strong, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of The Metaphor Project, metaphorproject.org. We help progressives and liberals learn how to mainstream their messages by framing them as part of the ideal American story. Our website contains many free resources for this work.
(1) The ‘One Nation’ coalition was reported in the Washington Post on July 12, 2010, by Krissah Thompson; the article was subsequently circulated by Common Dreams, entitled With ‘One Nation,’ Liberal Groups Aim to Match Tea Party’s Energy, Influence
(2) Ryan Grim reported on this on July 14, 2010, in a Huffington Post article entitled, Chamber of Commerce’s Jobs Suggestions: Cut Taxes and Social Security, Privatize Roads, Drill Offshore, Log National Forests