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Davis, California

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Informed dissent

Congratulations you unpatriotic, terrorist-palling, fake American, Islamic Marxists, you did it. You just elected Louis the Sixteenth.

For those unfamiliar with the analogy, some history: King Louis XVI was the guy who got his head chopped off during the French Revolution. He didn’t sow the seeds of that revolution, or even really incite it. No, that honor belongs to his predecessor, Louis XV, who left the nation with atrocious poverty, soaring food prices, appalling inequality and an incestuous elite composed of the idle rich and fanatical religious conservatives. Add to that a foreign policy which exceeded the military’s ability to maintain the empire and, most importantly, a massive national debt which led to an unprecedented financial crisis, and it’s no wonder that in the last years of his rule, Louis XV said,Aprés Moi le déluge,which roughly translates to,You’re all fucked now.

Louis XVI just happened to be on the losing end of a game of hot potato; the music stopped, and everyone got mad. Really mad. Barack Obama is a bit like Louis XVI.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Obama’s going to get his head chopped off. What I am suggesting is that Obama, and by extension progressivism itself, will be blamed for the shit that’s about to go down.

Why? Well, Americans have a terrible attention span. Democratic presidents since 1948 have grown real GNP per capita by an average 11.2 percent, whereas Republicans post a meager 6.4 percent. However, as economist Larry Bartels has shown, the electorate only responds to election year economic trends; income growth in election years is over 2.6 times more important in determining vote margins than cumulative growth. Since Democrats typically grow average real income just 1.0 percent in election years while Republicans manage 2.5 percent (as compared to 3.0 and .66 percent, respectively, in others), we get tricked and turn our states red. But this time the GOP royally screwed the pooch.

The only income growth in this election year were the stimulus checks issued by the government to the people who deposited them into banks which subsequently went bankrupt and were nationalized by the government which is now in proud possession of its own stimulus. (Fail)

So Obama’s the man. But look what it took! Two botched wars, a doubled federal debt, ten straight months of job losses, media darling status, a two-to-one spending advantage, and even with all that, McCain was in it to the bitter end. And the popular vote? The most catastrophic financial crisis since 1929 got just 3 percent to swing left. Landslide my ass.

Speaking of asses, Obama owes his victory entirely to Henry Paulson. When Paulson let Lehman Brothers die and the markets collectively shat themselves, Americans were suddenly reminded of the fact that, as the Daily Show put it,the stock market is just a consensual mass delusion based on fictitious valuings of abstract assets,and the only safe investment is bullets. That got everyone all freaked out, so much so that the typical fearmongering, which was working until Sept. 15, lost traction. Thus, Americans voted against the incumbent party, not for Obama.

And according to economist Nouriel Roubini, who predicted all this in 2005, the recession is going to last another 18 to 24 months with severe, protracted ramifications to follow. This should be sufficient time for the Democrats to get swooped on and all thisnew political eragarbage thrown, well, in the garbage.

I honestly wish McCain had won; in four years we’d be readying the guillotine, Cindy’d be saying shit like,Let them drink Bud Select,and we might finally stop getting tricked.

But at this point, Obama must hammer aggressively that he’s out to undo the damage of the past 40 years of Republican driven neo-liberal economics. If he doesn’t, progressivism will retreat even further than it has since Nixon in the face of the coming conservative onslaught and our own economic amnesia.

Which assumes that Obama will even take on America’s Ancien Régime. Which he won’t. Which is why, as the good king said, aprés moi le déluge.


K.C. CODY thinks Hillary Clinton would be Madam Defarge. Compare and contrast Dickens, history and K.C.s deluded world at kccody@ucdavis.edu.


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