Sunday, October 31, 2010

"The Politics of Populist Outrage Versus the Politics of Building"

DS Najib worth mentioning that the politics of development (infrastructures) is not relevant now, people want the present ruling government to change. DS Najib even proposed a new approach of political model. The Facebook of more than 200,000 young people against the proposed development of "Menara Warisan" 100 storeys reflects this kind of politics.

Here WZWH would like to show the same situation where the politics of populist outrage versus the politics of building. Professor Jonathan Simon at the Berkeley Blog:

The narrative choices faced by the Obama Administration in confronting the Great Recession were nicely outlined yesterday in the editorial pages of the New York Times. Columnist Frank Rich offered a blistering critique of the Administration for ceding populist outrage to the right by failing to go after Wall Street executives responsible for the financial crash with investigations and stiff punishments, going so far as to say that “the Obama administration seems not to have a prosecutorial gene”...

Rich’s editorial colleague Tom Friedman voices a different kind of disappointment. Obama’s focus on the future, and his talk of investing in rebuilding America, has turned out to be just talk. The billions spent on stimulus turned out to include only tinkering on the edges of a massive need for reinvestment. ...

The critiques suggest an Obama Presidency caught in between its reluctance to embrace the old politics of governing through crime, and its inability to launch new politics of infrastructure. After his health care defeat in 1994, Bill Clinton made himself into a the Prosecutor-in-Chief, supporting harsh and punitive laws on crime, immigration, and welfare. Clinton was reelected, but he accomplished little of importance for the nation. Since the 2008 campaign I have been impressed with Obama’s commitment to avoiding a politics based on demonizing. He could have framed Wall Street leaders as felons and sought to build legitimacy by sending as many of them to prison as possible and he might be more popular now if he had. It may be that he was simply too cozy with Wall Street (which did send him a lot of campaign support in 2008) but I prefer to believe Obama rejects a politics that converts fear into anger by demonizing an enemy and than seeking to punish it. Everything about President Obama’s style as a speaker and a leader, cuts against his effectiveness as a prosecutorial President. The bigger question is why Obama did not try to lead the kind of infrastructure rebuilding politics he promised during the campaign.

Ironically, both the politics of punishment and the politics of building draw on fear which is the essential source of energy in liberal governance. Think of the way FDR drew on fear of the Great Depression and fear of European fascism to create the New Deal and US involvement in the World War II. Obama has not lacked for similar threats against which to mobilize America. Both the financial crisis and last summer’s Gulf oil spill provided powerful examples of the threat posed by decades of underinvestment in infrastructure and under-regulation of corporate greed. Without demonizing either Wall Street or oil companies, Obama could have used the Oval office to make a sustained campaign for rebuilding American infrastructure and regulatory capacity.

It is not too late for both. A stronger Republican hold on congress will make new legislation impossible, but it will frame a stark choice between a government that actively seeks to protect ordinary Americans and one that leaves them to their fates. The Republican effort to repeal the health care reform and the privatize social security will pose this choice starkly come January. ...

Paul Krugman argues that the election is all about economic conditions, and I have no quarrel with that. The shape of the economy is the biggest factor in the election, and Obama's failure to put a stimulus package of sufficient size in place predetermined the outcome of the midterm elections. The question is whether Obama could have gotten a larger package through Congress, or another round of stimulus.

Many people argue that Obama as much as he could get with the stimulus package even if it was too small, the politics would not allow anything more. Perhaps so, but what about additional stimulus? Could he have exploited threats associated with events like the oil spill to argue for a second round of infrastructure spending, perhaps even seeking out examples of crumbling infrastructure to exploit in the media George Bush like through photo ops and other means? A "Make America Strong and Safe" campaign for infrastructure, something like that? Coalitions in support of action need to be built, they don't just happen, and if the administration wanted to get more infrastructure spending to help with the recovery, more help for state and local governments, more regulation, a larger stimulus package to begin with, a jobs program, whatever, it needed to get out and make the case. Maybe it still wouldn't have worked, but at least people would know that they tried.

[I don't really like framing this in terms of fear. Creating undue fear, or fear where there is no threat, to create support for a desired course of action is not what I'm calling for. Not at all. Politicians often make arguments in dramatic style to capture people's attention and "mobilize America," but holding people accountable for their actions, even if they are "Wall Street leaders," making people aware of legitimate concerns about the state of the Nation's infrastructure, or explaining the harm that can come from inadequate regulation and too large too fail banks does not cross the undue and false fear line.]


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