The other half I think of it this way:
That really this bill was nothing like Truman's. Essentially it was enacting the counter proposal first suggested by Nixon and drafted by Dole.
Obama cut secret deals to sell out America with the Drug companies.
When the insurance industry objected to the bill the major provision in the public interest, the public option was removed and instead strong provisions making it a finable criminal act to not buy the health insurance industries products which amounts to little more than the same kind of corporate fascism that we've had for a generation.
Worse yet to get it passed Obama had to pay huge bribes. It would have been a lot cheaper to just give Nelson and Landrieu a suitcase full of cash then the obscene way they were bribed.
So in the end we got mild insurance reform masquerading as health reform, a defeat made to look like a victory, and a defeat that institutionalized corruption even further.
My turning point when I decided our government was nothing more than a facade for corporate corruption was the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (wikipedia page). Up until then I had believed that we basically had a good but flawed government. Since then I've lived in a world of diminished expectations looking for candidates that are the least destructive. Appalled at our leadership and appalled at Americans for voting for this leadership. It seems like TARP had that effect on millions of other people and I'm thrilled that lots of people now view our government as a kleptocracy since maybe that understanding will create the pressure needed for real reform. With huge leads in the House, 59 Democratic Senators and the Presidency and a population more progressive than any since the 1930s was this year's Financial Reform Bill really the best we could do? TARP, which I was neutral too, demanded real reform in exchange for these huge loans, but I've watched with complete disgust as our Senators and Congress were bribed and bought off by banking interests to act against the common good. Even TARP was designed in such a way to make sure that the public achieved almost no benefit from taking on hugely risky assets and that the profits would flow back to Wall Street. Pure institutional corruption involving tens of billions of dollars. Timothy Geithner's theft from the treasury may very well be the largest financial crime of my lifetime.
One of the differences I noticed between living in California and New Jersey/Pennsylvania was the corruption of local politicians. In New Jersey we have political machines and corrupt non idealogical politicians. Things can get done as long as the right hands are greased. There is a casual indifference to corruption. For example the Chief of Police in Elizabethtown owns the towing company with the exclusive contract to tow off the Highway. And everyone thinks this is funny, a gallows humor born of the desperation of people having given up on having the sort of government we were raised to think we had. When some disadvantaged kid rips off a store he does years in jail. When the Chief of Police uses his office to transfer hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars from the public to his own accounts its treated as a joke. That Elizabethtown corruption pales in comparison to the corruption at the national level but its a perfect example of the problems in the North East and why we can't have decent government here.
Conversely in California we had no corruption that I knew of in local government. California public officials were mainly idealogical: environmentalists, right wingers, liberal activists.... These officials were drawn to government over a few limited issues they were passionate about; and once there had to active in many issues so they ended up joining coalitions and reinforcing one another. These California officials were generally independently wealthy and thus hard (or at least expensive) to bribe, unlike the blue collar or professional class politicians of New Jersey who are on average middle class. Senator Heinz used to make a joke that he was "Too rich to be bribed and too powerful to be threatened", and there is a lot of truth to that. One of the reasons I like idealogical politicians is that at least they they act on the public interest as they see it. So given the intense desire to corrupt our system I think we need more ideology not less.
Its one of the reasons I have mixed feelings about citizens united. It might just create a group of politicians that are adequately funded and don't need to be constantly hawking for money. On say 3% of the issues they are bought and paid for but on the 97% they can vote their conscience. That's a lot like how the system worked in the 70s and 80s. So there is some hope, but I'm appalled that the best I can hope for, for my country is that the attempt of the Supreme Court to facilitate easier bribery backfires into accidentally producing a more honest government. But alternately, wealth doesn't seem to work on the Presidentially level, Kerry was still a weasel even though Teresa Heinz (who had Senator Heinz's fortune) is worth between $750m and $1.2b.
All this brings me to the Tea Party. Where we suddenly have a group of ideologues taking a major political party. People who are definitely planning to shake things up in Washington. Of course we've all heard this before, and I may be setting myself up for disappointment. But still its hard to live in constant disgust with your government. Pat Buchanan sees the Tea Party as playing the role of commissars ensuring that the Republicans officeholders don't sell out. I can easily see that. Lately I heard the Tea Party's anthem and I was moved. While I doubt I agree with Krista Branch, the singer, on the solutions I completely agree with her on the problems, we both agree that a government completely unresponsive to real American concerns and focused on K-street is the real threat to America:
And this little patriotic ditty is moving. She may be hokey but I'm desperate for any kind of patriotic message that I can actually believe in at all, what she in the previous video and Glen Beck mean by "restoring honor". Under Clinton corruption was terrible, but George Bush pushed it to a level not seen in America since Andrew Jackson drove John Quincy Adams from power. She is absolutely right that America has forgotten who we are, we are not a people damned to forever live under a government so incompetent and dishonest that the rest of the world can look across the ocean in pity for how poorly governed we are.
So could I be one of those 8% of the Tea Party which are Democrats? First off I just don't agree with them on the issues. Economically I am a Keynesian. I agree, with Paul Krugman's critique that the problem with Obama's policies has been that the stimulus was too small. Where I disagree with Krugman is believing this is accidental, high unemployment has been very useful in driving down wages and maintaining profits allowing corporations to de-leverage without harming the income of the investing class. I think Summers and Geithner were quite willing to throw ten million people out of work to make sure the right 100,000 didn't see their income drop off. Krugman's perspective is the exact opposite of what the Tea Party has argued. Also I don't think they way the Tea Party have been debating is helpful. I guess I'm also an intellectual and incoherent rage is scary. This is the first mass armed citizens political group active in the USA since the Klan.