Friday, August 5, 2011

Americans Hate Congress Want Jobs

This New York Times poll is interesting. It shows that despite the media onslaught and the lies pumped out by the Republicans, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that creating jobs ought to be a higher priority than making cuts. If we broke it down by class, I'm certain that amongst working class people - the majority of Americans - the number would probably jump to about seventy-five percent. It's heartening to see that despite all the bullshit rhetoric spewed by Fox News and John Boehner amongst others, that the debt ceiling fiasco has damaged the Republicans in particular, though Obama and the Democrats also emerge damaged from this fiasco (72% vs 66% disapproval, respectively). The poll also indicates that the highest number in polling history have a negative view of Congress - a whopping 85%. Amongst some other goodies in the poll:

The Tea Party is now viewed unfavorably by 40 percent of the public and favorably by just 20 percent, according to the poll. In mid-April 29 percent of those polled viewed the movement unfavorably, while 26 percent viewed it favorably. And 43 percent of Americans now think the Tea Party has too much influence on the Republican Party, up from 27 percent in mid-April...

Though Republicans prevented tax increases from being included in the debt-ceiling deal, half of those polled said the agreement should have included increased tax revenue, while 44 percent said it should have relied on cuts alone. That issue is likely to be revisited soon: Congress is preparing to appoint a special committee to recommend ways to reduce the deficit. Sixty-three percent of those polled said that they supported raising taxes on households that earn more than $250,000 a year, as Mr. Obama has sought to do — including majorities of Democrats (80 percent), independents (61 percent) and Republicans (52 percent)...

But there was uncertainty about whether the debt-ceiling deal would help or hurt the economy: nearly half said it would have no effect, while 24 percent said it would make the economy worse and 22 percent said it would improve it.
This is a demonstration of two things: First is the fact that despite what many pessimists think, the American people are not simply empty vessels for right wing propaganda. They have suffered through several years of a housing crisis that continues to rip apart working class families. They are suffering from their own debt crisis and they are facing ongoing job insecurity or unemployment and underemployment. The rhetoric of the media or the Tea Party can have an influence but it is only one source, and not necessarily the most important, by which American workers try to figure out what the hell is going on.

Secondly, and most importantly, it shows that there is space to build an alternative to the Democrats & the Republicans, both of whom have effectively the same agenda - massive cuts & austerity - but who only disagree on the particular way that it will be implemented, whether all-out class war is the way to go or a phoney "balanced approach" in which the very rich give back a small portion of the many tax breaks that they have received in the last thirty years. However, the problem remains that that alternative will have to be built in struggle, through mobilization. But the trade union movement in the US, even more than in Canada, is split, conservative and pathetic. The heads of the US unions have largely been happy to wallow in the filth of their obscene salaries as their rank and file membership have seen their wages and conditions eroded and the aggressive anti-union policies of the American ruling class de-unionize the workforce to the point of making unions extinct. The union movement is a sick horse that the leaderships are riding into the ground. And when they are done, most of those union leaders - people like James Hoffa Jr., a former company-side labour lawyer - will walk away to plum jobs in the political machinery of the Democrats (or Republicans in the case of some of the more odious leaders like Hoffa) or into the corporate sector. It is frankly scandalous that during the entire recession and during this whole debate and move towards austerity that the American union movement has not lifted a finger for a national mobilization to challenge the Tea Party. Having allowed the inspiring Wisconsin movement to wither on the vine, they seem determined to prevent any effective mobilization. It will take an explosion by rank and file movements within the existing union movement and, perhaps even more, explosions by the unorganized to renew American unionism and take the latent class anger and hunger for a choice other than the Tweedle-Dee/Tweedle-Dum politics of Washington and turn it into reality.

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