What the “I’m Mad-As-Hell” Party Could Do

A third political party is emerging in America. Call it the I’m-Mad-As-Hell party.

It’s a mistake to see the Mad-As-Hell party as just a right-wing phenomenon – the so-called Tea Partiers now storming the gates of the Republican Party. There are plenty of mad-as-hellers on the left as well – furious at Wall Street, health insurers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and establishment Democrats.

Mad-as-hellers don’t trust big government. But they don’t trust big business and Wall Street, either. They especially hate it when big government gets together with big business and Wall Street – while at the same time Main Street is in shambles and millions of people are losing their jobs and homes.

First it was TARP, the giant bank bailout that seems to have made Wall Street flush again — so flush the Street is now distributing giant bonuses as if the crash it brought on never happened.

Then came the stimulus package, replete with earmarked goodies for every corporation big enough to hire a team of Washington lobbyists.

And then it was health care, which to some people looked like a sweetheart deal between government and Big Pharma and big health insurers.

To the Mad-As-Hell party, the biggest event last week wasn’t Scott Brown’s upset victory in Massachusetts. It was the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United vs. the Federal Election Commission, allowing corporations to spend however much they want on political campaigns. True mad-as-hellers see this as inviting even more collusion between big business, Wall Street, and big government – and against the rest of us.

With the mid-term elections months away, both Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to embrace the Mad-As-Hell Party as their own. Republicans are hoping the mad-as-hellers forget the gushing corporate welfare of the Bush administration and the last Republican congress. And Democrats have become born-again economic populists, blaming the nation’s problems on the same “fat cat” bankers and corporate lobbyists they’ve been cozying up to for years.

robert_reich.jpgIf the Mad-as-hell Party helps get money out of politics it will do a world of good. I might even join up. But if it just fulminates against the establishment, forget it. Wrecking balls are easy to wield. Rescuing our democracy is hard work.

by Robert Reich

This article first appeared on Robert Reich’s Blog. Republished with permission

Published by the LA Progressive on January 26, 2010
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About Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine.

Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.