The Triumph of the Plutocratic Status Quo

Last night, Dec. 11, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill (known as #CRomnibus), $1.1 trillion from the American taxpayer to go fund itself for the next fiscal year. Many are presenting the imbroglio as a tacit alliance between “Tea Party” Republicans and “progressive” Democrats to hold up the bill and risk a government shutdown for the second year in a row. Hasn’t happened. The Senate is currently debating the “cromnibus,” and one of the chief objections made to the budget is a blatant giveaway to the big banks, whose lobbyists inserted language on derivatives that only benefits themselves — the greater risk of another crisis be damned. Yet it mischaracterizes the reality to assert that there’s a partisan divide between the political parties, because what matters more is the division lies across both parties.

In other words, the two rival camps are not Republicans and Democrats: the two major coalitions are comprised of Establishment versus Insurgent posturings, in which technocratic politicians with an “R” or a “D” next to their names square off against ideological politicians with an “R” or a “D” next to their names. Most of the population is not as polarized as the political class itself, and where that polarization seems to be happening in a new status quo. The spectrum of debate has shifted more and more rightward over the last generation. Meanwhile, the financial sector has captured an increasing share of the levers of the political process. These observations are by now almost axiomatic. The good news is there won’t be another shutdown; the bad news is that we live in a plutocracy. Citizens expect overt extortion from powerful vested interests — i.e. special interests — as the cost of the public business. Let the technocrats and ideologues fight it out and quit the charade.

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