Banking on banking

“Follow the money.”

(above: video clip from All the President’s Men, courtesy Orlando Sentinel)

‘Moderate’ Democrats are fretting (“Hitting Blockade Over His Agenda, Biden Tacks Left,”October 3, NYTimes). Not about votes exactly. They are fretting about money presumably needed to win an election. Sharing their collective fear of a potential “backlash” from voters at the mid-term election next November caused ‘presumably’ by their party and their President’s “tilt to the left,” this cadre is pulling up stakes on campaign promises their party and their newly elected President made publicly in 2020.

Its a cynical ploy. Don’t buy it.

Some analysts position this defection as another case of the Democrats’ “circular firing squad.”

That’s overblown intellectualizing. Don’t fall for it.

To grasp this sudden public fit of demuring, consider the documented disconnect between public opinion polls and Congressional votes: polling shows that popular programs like the Build Back Better Bill and the Voting Rights Bill rarely reflect the votes needed to pass in Congress. Conversely, moderately leaning Congressional politicians in presumably “tight races,” worry that taking a position, any position, on such policy matters is inherently unpopular. With whom?

Their donors.

‘Follow the money.’

America punishes skeptics and rewards cynics, to textualize F. Scott Fitzgerald’s observation, “There are no second acts in American Politics.” So “moderate leaning” voices rationalize their fears by casting the Progressives as hailing from “easy districts.” Another cover is to whitewash a lack of solidarity/empathy with blaming the ‘left’ for acting like political ingenues, committing political gaffes, slip-ups, ‘voter’ piss-offs: humiliated by vapid ‘experience’ mongering at large.

Money, so we are schooled, buys organization and messaging. Not effective organization and messaging, not authentic partnering, but a cynical condemnation of voter loyalty to ideas and action.

The result is 45 and an army of the disaffected.

But it is about organization and messaging. And yes, ‘money’ in a way. Let’s face it: the GOP has an edge. But it’s also about ‘imagination,’ something the party of conspiracy and conspirators have perverted. America has always been a breeding ground for authoritarianism.

Debating authoritarianism is not invoking the imagination, it’s invoking it’s perversion.

America got a glimpse of authentic ‘political imagination at work’ in a video bite of Biden scurrying to South Carolina from a loss in the the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential primary. ‘Lil’ South Carolina, home of Lindsey Graham, military contracts and the blue blazer martini swilling white Charleston crowd. But also the home of proud historic black colleges and the Sunday Church-going Black women voter filled buses. ‘Clybourn country.’ Biden knew he had to win South Carolina to stay in the game. He trusted ‘Clybourn country’ to do the heavy lifting. On the eve of Super Tuesday, Biden showed up, handshaking and corralling, a seminal moment in Presidential campaign politics. Gone were the ‘what-ifs,’ the beltway chatter, the polls upon polls upon polls. It was a moment of at first awkward partnership — Biden and Clybourn , white career Senator and black career Congressman— but then commitment and reckoning.

Biden won South Carolina convincingly, ‘Super Tuesday’ dawned and America’s Democrats chose a ‘familiar face.’

For a moment the candidate and an exasperation for change merged:

Game over.

That was then, ‘trad politics and all,’ pre-vaccination. And pre-George Floyd protests. The murder of George Floyd in a Minneapolis neighborhood in May, 2020 by a deranged white police officer was witnessed by equal numbers of whites and blacks. And so were the nationwide street protests which followed, mostly black and white crowds we saw, marching together shoulder to shoulder. Another ‘critical imagination moment.’ Of course the protests wound down but the impetus for social change and restoration didn’t until demurring ‘moderates’ intervened on the floors of Congress.

Game over?

Now we fret that the country, mired in conspiracy and cynical ‘moderation,’ might not survive this historic lapse in political imagination. Hence the handwringing over the 2022 mid-term elections.

Let’s remind ourselves of Biden’s tipping point, the Black Ladies of Georgia. Where was the money there? Sitting back, waiting for Biden to tank? Probably. So the ‘Black Ladies of Georgia’ did do the heavy lifting. Super Tuesday followed and the voters rediscovered a familiar face amidst the cacophony of Presidency contenders.

What won votes in 2020 was a shared sensation of exasperation, a ‘decent’ theme — ‘Soul of America’ — and a familiar face.

Votes came later.

October 6

Writer, essayist, dreamer.