Note from Dan: The following was forwarded to me Tuesday by Joe Campbell of Glenvar, who received it from a dear pal in California named Larry. I haven’t asked Larry’s permission to republish it so I’m not going to use his last name unless I hear he wishes me to.
By California Larry
The deal that Obama/Biden struck was lousy but not as bad as it could have been. As usual, the stumbling block to progress was the odious Republican contingent from the agrarian south and midwest. But lest you think this is a recent turn of events, a little history review might prove useful.
Remember the three-fifths rule? This was the mechanism in the founding documents which counted slaves as three-fifths of a human being for purposes of determining states’ representation in the House. But those same southern states roundly rejected the concept of a three-fifths rule for determining states’ contributions to the federal treasury.
The South is still doing exactly the same thing today, never paying its freight, its cornpone pols inveighing against the evil government while the Southern states are collectively the most dependent on Washington largesse of all states and regions. The hypocrisy has a long pedigree.
In 1850, the only way California was admitted to the Union as a free state was if the Northern states accepted a strengthened Fugitive Slave Act plus the hated federal government had to assume the crushing debt of “The Republic of Texas.”
Through reelecting the same agrarian-reactionary House and Senate members for decades, the Southern states worked their way up the seniority system ladder into the chairmanship of many of the legislative committees, thus bottling up progressive legislation for most of the 20th century.
The two major pieces of progressive legislation of the 20th century, Social Security and Medicare, passed under liberal Democratic presidents who rammed them through Congress by dint of their forceful personalities and over the screams of mossback southerners.
In the last part of the 20th century, they have been joined by Mountain and Southwestern voices of repression and “stand-pat-ism.” Those of us of a certain age can remember a “B” rate movie actor who took a very anti stand on Medicare. See
What unites all these movements are pretty much the same motives that drive today’s right wing: hatred of government and taxation, constant (and almost always baseless) fear that a central authority is going to rob their liberty, and so on. They are bound together also by a kind of psychology and mindset, a conviction that they represent the good simple folk while their opponents speak for the shifty and the shiftless.
So I’ll hold my nose and accept the Obama/Biden compromise because I see that, in a historical context, it could have been much much worse.