FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Class and Party Differences

While I was in the shower last night, I heard on my portable radio that Martha Coakley called Scott Brown to congratulate him on winning the Massachusetts Senate race.  The right-wing talk shows I dropped in on were the first to announce it, and were madly celebrating while the ‘progressive” pundits on WBUR were still arguing over whether Martha or the White House should be blamed if she lost. (Coakley reportedly “leaked” a memo to Politico yesterday blaming Obama).

The only similarity between the liberal and the conservative radio commentators was their ignoring the fact that this was a referendum on the Democrats’ health insurance reform, as much as it was a referendum on Obama’s trail of broken promises, and billionaire bailouts, and unemployment.  I don’t think the outcome of this election had much to do with who Martha Coakley is or what she believes. Most of those Brown supporters who called into local conservative talk shows said she was probably a “nice woman.”  But, when Scott Brown said he’d trash the current health insurance reform proposal and start all over with a real health care reform plan, many people, regardless of party affiliation, thought that sounded great even though they were not thrilled with the fact that he supports expanding the slaughter in Afghanistan, fewer taxes on the rich, unregulated financial markets, and still others are afraid of what he really thinks about women’s right to abortion.

Election day, local news announcers also agreed that Massachusetts had remarkable voter turnout.  It was raining and sleeting; snow drifts several feet high, slush and black ice covered the sidewalks and streets of my town.  People who would usually not venture out on a day like this—like the elderly women in my housing project–were on their way to the polls.  There was a remarkable difference I noticed in the appearance of the Brown and Coakley supporters lining the streets near town hall and other polling stations.  On one side of the avenue were the Coakley supporters: mostly middle-aged; well-dressed in attractive winter coats, boots and hats; supporting enormous and colorful “Martha” signs, smiling and chatting with passers by.  On the other side of the avenue, were the Brown supporters, mostly older women (some elderly from the subsidized housing project now facing hugh increases in their 2010 Medicare premiums and drug costs), wearing headscarves and old coats or jackets, determinedly wading out into the slushy street with little, often homemade, “Scott” signs. Further down, at the major traffic intersection, there were two young men in denim jackets and blue jeans holding relatively small “Scott” signs on one corner, while their well shod opposition on the other corner struggled to keep extremely large “Martha” posters from carrying them off the curb.  I wondered how two young guys got the afternoon off from work; but maybe they were unemployed.  As I walked around my town (“best place to live in Massachusetts” if you are “rich and single” according to one survey), it appeared to me that the class distinctions between the opposing campaigners were visible.

This election was a referendum that brought out people who would normally ignore an off-term election.  Was it, as the media has speculated, anger that warmed them up and motivated them to weather the icy rain and sleet? Were those who would usually have stayed home, so fed up they just wanted to let others know that they did not like being ignored and pushed around by politicians who took them for granted in this bluest of the blue states? Eavesdropping on the late night AM talk shows, I have been impressed by the number of callers who said that they had been life-long Democrats, but this time they were voting Republican. In fact many said they didn’t usually call up conservative radio show hosts. There is also a noticeable class and occupational difference in the audience of those who call up the late night AM radio shows (more truck drivers), and those who call into NPR talk shows, like “On Point” for example.

Personally, I have no doubt that if the Republicans held power in the White House and were the majority in Congress, they would do much the same as the Democrats have done. (Comparing Obama and Bush policies makes that crystal clear.) After all, they are paid for by the same corporate interests, befriended by the same lobbyists, and both parties know who they need to represent to get re-elected….and it ain’t the people I saw standing in the streets today.  Clearly one has to have the big bucks to run for US Senate in the first place, and Scott Brown is no man of the people (or, at least, not of the people I know). In spite of his everyman’s truck symbol, Brown is reported to own at least five different pieces of valuable real estate—and no one wins without the party’s deep financial pockets and the party’s friends who write the big checks.  The Republicans would probably not have been able to bail out all their wealthy friends, expand the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, cut funding to Medicare (which has already happened), and facilitate elimination of jobs, wages and benefits from union contracts, etc., etc. in quite the same bold and audacious manner that our Irish-African American President has been able to pull off.  People would have been on to them immediately and protesting loudly in much larger numbers than “progressives” have been able to mobilize.  No, the very unique Obama magic would not have been available to disguise the loyal opposition’s goals as it has for the current administration (even though their goals are identical to Obama’s).

Now we will see if Scott Brown remembers his threatened promise to dump the current health reform proposals and start from scratch.  Or will he conveniently forget this idea when faced with the power of the largest health insurance and pharmaceutical industries in the world that strongly back that highly profitable health insurance mandate proposed?  He would not be the first to go back on his word once victorious, right?

Or will he have to face this test at all?  Some predict swift passage of the health insurance overhaul plan that is on the Senate table right now, as the Dems will want to get Obama’s health insurance legislation passed before Brown takes his seat.

If, after Brown takes his seat, we see the inevitable process of business as usual (you know what I mean) the enforced health insurance rip-off goes through, more bail outs and less regulation for Wall Street, increased military spending; pollution and unemployment continue with no remedy; Guantanamo, military contractor crimes, and secret CIA prisons continue; civil rights and human rights are even more compromised, and Obama moves on to attack Social Security and bring it down in the same way he is cutting up Medicare — then will all those people who usually don’t get involved come out onto the streets again? Will those from both sides of the avenue get together this time?  Really, what will it take?!

PS: The morning after: Independent pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that those who oppose Obama’s health insurance proposal voted overwhelmingly for Scott Brown; those in favor of it, voted for Coakley (WBZ AM Radio, Boston).  My town went 65 per cent for Coakley.

MARY LYNN CRAMER, MA, MSW, LICSW, has a background in history of economic thought and bilingual clinical social work, as well as personal experience dealing with Health Reform fallout and increased Medicare premiums. She can be reached at mllynn2@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:

Mary Lynn Cramer, MA, MSW, LICSW has degrees in the history of economic thought and clinical social work , as well as over two decades of experience as a bilingual child and family psychotherapist. For the past five years, she has been deeply involved in “economic field research” among elderly women and men dependent upon social security, Medicare, and food stamps, living in subsidized housing projects. She can be reached at: mllynn2@yahoo.com

June 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Divest From the Business of Incarceration
W. T. Whitney
Angola in Louisiana: Proving Ground for Racialized Capitalism
Susan Babbitt
Assange and Truth: the Deeper (Harder) Issue
Kenn Orphan
Humanity vs. the Rule of Law
Mateo Pimentel
Why on Earth a Country of Laws and Borders?
Michael T. Klare
The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China
Howard Lisnoff
The Outrageous Level of Intolerance is Happening Everywhere!
Vijay Prashad
The People of India Stand With Palestine
RS Ahthion
Internment Camps for Child Migrants
Binoy Kampmark
Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Lawrence Wittner
Getting Ready for Nuclear War
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Women Protest After Being Told by Turkish-Backed Militias to Wear the Hijab
Dean Baker
When Both Men and Women Drop Out of the Labor Force, Why Do Economists Only Ask About Men?
Bruce Lerro
Big Brother Facebook: Drawing Down the Iron Curtain on Yankeedom
June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail