Sunday, July 27, 2008

You Say You Want A Revolution

Noted: We're still on vacation through Thursday. But a well-built soapbox waits for no man, so...

Bill Moyers is one of the best in the media business. Without question.

And this transcript of Moyers and The Nation's William Greider discussing the current state of the U.S. economy is fascinating. Even though we don't agree with everything that they say.

One highlight:

BILL MOYERS: Do you think Washington really knows what's going on [with the current economic crisis]? Do you think they really understand what's happening out there in Cleveland and places like that all over the country?

WILLIAM GREIDER: The short answer is, no, I've been in Washington as a citizen andresident for 40 years. And I'm still occasionally shocked by its ignorance of the rest of the country. And some of that is willful, of course. But some of it is just, it's a very nice life in Washington. You get used to certain protective qualities.

We saw that recently with these political players, who got good mortgages. How do they do that? Well, we know how they did it. And in any case, Washington doesn't yet see the depth of the problem.

If you ask me, well, who's figured this out? Who understands, at least in general terms, where we are? The guys in Washington? The politicians and their governing policy advisors? Or the dimwitted public? I would say the public. And I think there's a lot of evidence in that. You know, they keep seeing these polls where the public expresses doubt about this, about-

BILL MOYERS: Eighty-one percent of the people in the most recent polls say we're heading in the wrong direction.

WILLIAM GREIDER: I call that an extreme consensus. Why do the newspapers not celebrate that? They're always looking for consensus politics. Here's the American public, they've got an eighty-- you know, that's extraordinary.

WILLIAM GREIDER: We have an opening in this crisis for, this is really going to sound grandiose. We have an opening in this crisis for a deep transformation in American politics. I don't say it happens this year, next year, or it's going to take a number of years. But we are in the shock of reality. And people get it everywhere and see the blood in the streets. And you tell them how this worked and who did what to whom, and that's a basis for a new politics.

But it requires people - this is the hard part - to get out of their sort of passive resignation to, "Well, we follow the Democrats" or "we follow the Republicans" or "we let this group or that group tell us how to think" and engage among themselves in a much more serious role as citizens. And when, as they do that, they have to be willing to punish the political powers, in smart ways or crude ways, however they can, first, to get a place in the debate. But, secondly, to force the changing values of the system.

And I, this may be wishful, but I think in the next year, two years, five years, you're going to see both political parties floundering. What do we believe about all this stuff? We've told folks this, you know, lovely story for 20, 25 years about the magic of the marketplace. Do we still want to kind of prop that up? That's where they are now. They're still trying to prop up the marketplace vision and make it work again. It's over.

I think events will demonstrate that. So if they're not willing to change then we need to change the politicians. And that's all a bloody process and doesn't happen quickly. But that's why I'm optimistic.
Or, to put it another way: