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Video: Chris Matthews Calls for “Radical Solutions,” Cites Revolutionary War, Civil War as Precedent

John on October 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm

This is from last Friday, but I just came across it. I find this pretty stunning. Here we have a supposedly respectable commentator on MSNBC suggesting it’s time for “radical solutions” to our current economic crisis. I may be that Matthews is talking about a new CWA, but listen as he compares our current situation to the Revolutionary War and the abolition of slavery which led to the Civil War:

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Here’s the full text:

Radical. Normally, we don’t like that word. Normally, we like our politics somewhere near the center – somewhere between progressive and conservative. You get beyond that and people consider you troubling, at best, dangerous, at worst.

Radical positions. Radical solutions. Radical politics. Normally, as I said, not the stuff most people are comfortable with.But there comes a time when the positions, solutions and politics of normal times don’t seem to be working, or to be more exact: aren’t working!

We have a 9-plus percent jobless rate. People are not getting hired, not being put to work the way they need to. The normal forces are not solving their problems. Corporations are not hiring; they’re investing overseas or finding automated ways to get work done.

We’ve got a housing situation today that isn’t getting fixed. Older people are unable to sell homes they don’t need. Young people are having a very rough time getting mortgages and finding a house they can afford. Here again, the normal forces of supply and demand are not getting houses priced to sell, which mean priced to be bought.

Not everyone is getting hurt by all this, certainly not equally. The oil companies have made huge profits. So have many in the financial community.

And millions have been hurt. They’re hurting more each month as the hunt for work grows into years, as the corporations – who we’re told by one Republican presidential nominee are “really just people like us” – continue to find ways to make profits without offering people in this country real full-time jobs.

So people with brains, and a sense of history, begin to think about solutions to our problems, that arise beyond the normal list of progressive or conservative tools we’ve used to fix problems.

So we have to listen to the arguments being made down there on Wall Street. Radical solutions are sometimes the right solutions. Think of American independence. Thomas Paine was right. We had to cut off our ties with England pure and simple. Think of abolition. The only right way to deal with American slavery was to ban it outright – not negotiate with the slavers.

How long, exactly, should we continue with policies that leave so many out of work, without the dignity and vitality of a job to go to? How long do we let our economy shrink right there in front of us?

We may, as a society, have to take direct action to put people to work. If the corporations aren’t coming to our rescue, why “isn’t” the government?

All of this is playing off the protests in the street where organizers are calling for what? Revolution. Again, Matthews isn’t saying he wants violence in the streets, but the two examples he cites as precedent both happen to have involved major wars, i.e. the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. If all Matthews had in mind was a new CWA, why not say that? Why bring up these bloody examples as precedent?

Update: Here’s another, more recent Matthews clip from a couple days ago. In this one, he’s clearly talking about a massive new stimulus program similar to the CWA. That’s a position I disagree with but is certainly within the bounds of normal political discourse:

Maybe that’s all he meant in this other clip above. But notice that he says this CWA-like proposal is based on an article that appeared that morning in the NY Times. In other words, he couldn’t have been referring to this specific idea in the previous clip because it hadn’t been published yet.

At a minimum, saying it’s time for “radical solutions” and “direct action” and recalling the Revolutionary War and the Civil War at a time when there are people in the streets calling for revolution (some of them violent revolution) is pouring gasoline on a fire. Unless Matthews really does want blood in the streets, he ought to be more careful with his words.

Put it this way, if Glenn Beck had said anything like this, the heads of senior fellows at Media Matters would be spinning like tops.

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