The New and Improved "Us vs. Them" Narrative

By Al Giordano

I haven't so far posted any of these weekly YouTube reports by the President that roll out each Saturday morning because, well, they're sort of ubiquitous already on the Internets and I figure folks come here for stuff you won't ordinarily read or see elsewhere.

But this one is irresistible.

Here's the money quote:

"I realize that passing this budget won't be easy.  Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington.  I know that the insurance industry won't like the idea that they'll have to bid competitively to continue offer ing Medicare coverage, but that's how we'll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families.  I know that banks and big student lenders won't like the idea that we're ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that's how we'll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable.  I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that's how we'll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries.   I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they're gearing up for a fight as we speak.  My message to them is this:

"'So am I.'

"The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t.  I work for the American people.  I didn’t come here to do the same thing we’ve been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November."

Okay, here's what I think just happened: The President has reframed the narrative from the stale dysfunction of Democrats demonizing Republicans and Republicans demonizing Democrats and stepped over that puddle of slime to create a more authentic narrative: The American people vs. the special interests (and note that the ones he mentions are universally from the corporate sector).

And let's keep in mind that the interests he mentions - "the insurance industry... the banks and big student lenders... the oil and gas companies..." - have their hooks and donations just as deeply into Congressional Democrats as they do for Congressional Republicans. They've all just been put on notice: oppose the reforms he's pushing and be portrayed as siding with those corporate interests against the American people.

This is is quite huge. It hasn't been done by a president since FDR. And the populist campaign rhetoric by Edwards, Clinton and even Obama in 2008 aside did not rise to this level of clarity by a longshot. Really, it hasn't been done this way by any Democratic presidential candidate since Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris ran in 1976.

This is the real "us against them" fight to be waged, far more important than the eternal and often childish skirmishes between Democrats and Republicans. He's just pulled the curtain to reveal those who are the real obstructionists behind the puppets. This is exactly to what I had referred to back on February 7 when I noted that bipartisanship is not all carrots, but is also a big stick to be wielded on Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike.

Tread carefully, oh members of Congress.

Meanwhile, I'm firing up the popcorn.

Update: Here's an additional observation. Obama can do this in a way that prior presidents in the age of expensive television advertising could not do precisely because his campaign supporters established a primacy of small donors making him not dependent on corporate sector contributions for his reelection campaign in 2012. He is in a position of unprecedented strength, as long as his small donors continue to see his presidency as important to them. He can afford to blow off the "influence donor" machines without harming his political prospects.

The challenge, now, is for members of Congress to wean themselves off dependence on influence money and develop, similarly, small donor armies, and, yes, that means the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, too. That's not going to be easy. But the harder path would be to try and resist the tide that has now broken through the dam.

 

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About Al Giordano

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Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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