Put the Gun Down, John!

November 30, 2012

Last year when Congressional Republicans put a gun to the head of our economy by threatening to not raise the debt limit, the crisis was averted partially, since their gambit did actually harm the economy by resulting in the first ever lowering of our credit rating. They agreed to delay the budget decisions until after the elections, and then make the consequences of not working out a budget deal so odious that… well it would just have to be worked out. It was in a sense saying that if we don’t get this deficit worked out by the end of December, we will blow our own heads off.

I suppose to the rationale mind, the prospect that Republicans would never do it again didn’t occur to President Obama, but these are not your father’s Republicans. Like a scene from “Blazing Saddles” when the newly appointed sheriff of Rock Ridge points a gun to his own head to avoid having it blown off by the townspeople, John Boehner is holding tax relief for 98% of Americans to protect 2% of the richest Americans… and not raise the debt limit… and reduce entitlements. And he is willing to blow up the economy to do it.

Every day he plays the politics of “chicken”, the more it harms the economy because our economy depends on spending during the holidays. Who would go on a spending spree if you know your taxes will go up $2200.00 and the economy will tank? The danger is that House Republicans are irrational and will pull the trigger. This Congress has proven time and time again that they put political interests ahead of the Country’s welfare. That is what makes the current situation in D.C. so scary…

Just… put… the… gun… down, John. Agree to tax relief for 98% of Americans.  For God’s sake! Somebody needs to talk the man down…

Post Script on the Election

November 28, 2012

I’ve been holding off on commenting on the results of the election, simply to take a deep breath and consider the results, rather than react to them. So much of the rhetoric in the last election suggested that elections may still be about ideas, but the ideas were irrational. We were re-introduced to the concepts of voter fraud as a justification for suppressing votes and “legitimate rape”. We were told that corporations had the same rights as a human being and that money would not affect elections. The embrace of the irrational began as an animus toward science by the GOP and culminated in an admission by an advisor to their candidate that facts are irrelevant.

In the end, the truth rang out through both the process and the result of the election with a certain clarity that can’t be denied. What did we learn about our Country in November? One undeniable fact is that the country is divided along many fault lines.

Class is one fault line. The disparity between the rich and the rest of us has never been greater than at any time in our history. (How ironic is it that Romney officially garnered 47% of the popular vote? Now he truly is Mr. 47%). Maybe the reality that our society is rapidly becoming one where no matter how hard you work, you won’t get ahead is coming home to roost in elections.

Culture is another fault line, although the older generation dominated by white men seems to be fading as fast as John McCain’s grasp of reality. America has always been a diverse nation, but now it is no longer dominated by European cultures.  

However, the primary fault line dividing us today is one that has been there from the beginning – race. This Country is still cursed with legacy of slavery, and the lamenting words of Benjamin Franklin that slavery would ultimately destroy the Republic still ring truer than not.  

 The religious right support of a Latter Day Saint exposed the lie to their hysterical rhetoric about electing a “Muslim” Obama as President of a “Christian Nation” in the previous election. It was always about race, not religion.

The Conservative ideological grip of “Big Government” among Southern voters has always been rooted in race. The South has always been the biggest recipient of Federal largess, so why do you think white Southerners (who receive most of the welfare benefits) are so fearful of their economic benefactor – Federal government? Start with 1863 (Emancipation Proclamation) to 1957 (Little Rock) to 1965 (Voting Rights Act). That grip on the South is beginning to loosen not because white Southerners are changing, but because the South is becoming less white.

Enough said about the election. After all, the election only highlights the real struggle for economic justice in our society. Without race as the tool to divide Americans, what will the 1% use to cause many of us to vote against our self interests? The next battleground will be the “Fiscal cliff” negotiations. This is where we will see if our votes really mattered.