Democrats still have an opening if they choose to use it

The Opening

by digby

Financial Reform is turning out to be quite an interesting drama. Too Big To Fail didn't happen, but the Audit the Fed bill passed unanimously yesterday (although Ron Paul is still kvetching, naturally -- he won't be happy until we officially go back to the feudal system.) And today the consumer focused Merkley-Klobuchar Amendment to Protect Homeowners from Deceptive Mortgage Practices passed as well, with some crossover Republican votes to boot. This shows that the Republicans know they are vulnerable to the populist critique and are giving a bipartisan veneer to financial legislation so they can inoculate themselves.

When you look at the greater narratives taking shape in this era, you have to look at the underlying storylines. And the starting point for Republicans is, and always has been, its close relationship with big business and big money. During periods of economic well-being, when the American Dream seems within easy reach, this works well for their coalition of resentful white people, social conservatives and the wealthy. In bad times, this can be problematic.

The Democrats could have taken advantage of this structural weakness in the GOP narrative and come down hard with a populist attack on the Reagan era and particularly the Bush years, but they chose not to play the blame game and look in the rear view mirror. (They have, of course, been complicit, so it makes it much more difficult). Still, the fact is that the structural narrative that has existed for 70 years or so still exists and they had an opening but were so wedded to neo-liberal principles (which they seem to have confused with politics) they have mostly squandered their opportunity. The way this Financial Reform debate is unfolding indicates there's still some daylight if they choose to take advantage of it.

All indications are that they don't have the nerve. But it's there.