Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Democrats Have Failed Us

Let's cut to the chase: We can go on and on about GOP obstruction and an ideology entrenched in a fierce desire to consolidate power while defending the interests of the rich, or the failure of the current administration to hold its own in the face of this, but here's the bottom line: even with a congressional majority, the Democrats have failed us. Big time. And in more ways than one. But today, in a meeting with key congressional Republicans, the President of the United States may have sealed his fate with many who have supported him, by clearly demonstrating he doesn't have the testicular fortitude to confront those who openly defy him at every turn and have been clearly at war with his administration from Day One.

After having his bipartisan olive branch repeatedly swatted out of his hand by Republicans, whose number one priority is the failure of his administration, President Obama--in what can only be described as the political version of battered wife syndrome--acknowledged not reaching out enough to the GOP. Yes, he actually said that. Let it sink in for a second but try not to have your head explode while you're at it.

I think its time for the Democratic Party to act aggressively, independent of the White House and to make some bold statements. For starters, I suggest busing in to Washington, DC thousands of angry, unemployed folks for 3 days of protest before Congress. Let the GOP and their Democratic Blue Dog allies see who it is they are screwing over, live and in the flesh. I'm sure they can reach into their coffers or even get a couple of their wealthiest donors to foot the bill. Think of the press mileage they could get out of this; the surge in Democratic fervor among the base. And more importantly the message they'd be sending. (The voice of the American people, indeed!)

I'm not a political pundit, merely an observer. But it seems to me that unless a phenomenal, Clinton-like economic recovery transpires in the next 2 years, Barack Obama will be a one-term preisdent. Which is why--much to my chagrin--I suggest the party start looking towards running another candidate to face Obama in the primaries or prepare to be left out in the political wilderness for a decade or so. Seriously.

Here's Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Washington) on MSNBC's The Ed Show explaining the Republican "sink or swim" mentality while addressing the expiration of unemployment benefits and the President's baffling conduct vis-a-vis GOP lawmakers.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

What Will the Next 2 Years Look Like?

In 1998, a lame duck GOP Congress--despite the wishes of the American people, as evidenced in the polls--went ahead to impeach President Clinton. Meanwhile, this administration can't find the resolve to say, "You know what? We're in favor of continuing the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. If you want to derail that if the rich aren't included, then YOU go out and explain THAT to the American people."

Not a peep. Oh, and yeah: the Dems STILL HAVE THE MAJORITY IN CONGRESS. You wouldn't know it, right?

In politics, perception is 90% reality, says the old cliché. And if it weren't true the Dems would win every single major election, for they have the populist agenda not the country club agenda on their side. Sticking up for the sick, the unemployed, the exploited, etc is being on the side of the angels. But when Republican craftiness and Democratic ineptitude collide, well...

This administration has made a few major tactical errors, and caving on their principles ranks quite high among them. Continually watering down the agenda to appease the GOP in the name of bi-partisanship only to have them reject the administration's proposals every single time, regardless, what kind of idiocy is that? "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." What about when you are fooled again and again and again?

No reasonable observer was expecting Barack Obama to be the savior of American politics. But the milquetoast approach to policy and bipartisanship from this veteran of the notoriously hardball Chicago politicial arena has been quite the revelation: the equivalent of a fratboy hitting on a lesbian and expecting her to hook up with him. Granted, the party of "no" has not been one of loyal opposition but one of utter obstruction. Yet, time and time again, the Dems fail to take a stand and end up letting the GOP run roughshod over them.

And then there are those within the Democratic party who feel this past election was a mandate from the American people for the party to become more centrist. As a moderate Democrat who leans left, let me just call bullshit on that one. There is no mandate. Period. More importantly, where does this readiness to compromise on principle come from? Unless, of course, we're talking about hacks staring at the political weather vane, I just don't get this seemingly wholesale Democratic spinelessness.

Plus, do you really want to give credence to folks who believe there's only one major party in American politics, to begin with? Not that I would dismiss the qualms and disappointment these folks have with the current system, but instead of sticking to its identity there are those who want the party to be more like the GOP? Why not the other way around? This is my problem with the Blue Dogs, who seem to feel more in tune with their opponent than their own party. Why else would one of them recently suggest the Dems be more like the Republicans?

In principle, I have nothing against being a moderate Democrat--diversity is healthy, and, as I stated before, I happen to be one myself--but when you vote in large part against the agenda and ideals of the party, maybe it's time to re-think one's allegiance, no? However, there is something about the Republicans the Dems should, hopefully, learn to emulate: sticking to your guns, fighting for your convictions, and growing the necessary spine and "stones" to do so.

Speaking of which, I have recently been accused of focusing on the shortcomings of the Democrats and in the process giving the Republicans a free pass. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course I'm focused on the Dems: they have my allegiance! However, I'm not giving the GOP a free pass by aggressively criticizing the Democrats for not standing up to them. But guess what? They have FAILED miserably at it. The party of obstruction has been given every chance to help govern and instead rebuffed this administration repeatedly. Worse, the Dems have fallen for this nonsense EVERY SINGLE TIME. What's that definition of insanity again? Some might feel civility is the way to deal with folks that only respect fear and intimidation. Good luck with that. It's sure done wonders for Obama, huh?

The bottom line: politics is dirty and often ruthless. A sad fact but one that should never be ignored. The Dems are clinging to the idea that noble intentions are enough to govern and implement an agenda when you have a rabid, play-for-keeps opponent. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Americans ignore the accomplishments of the current administration. “We have done things that people don’t even know about,” the President recently told Jon Stewart. Whose fault is that? The GOP has successfully twisted the perception of the American people while the Dems did nothing to promote their achievements, believing that doing the right thing was enough. Guess what happened Nov. 2nd?

There are those who believe early signs of Republican internal dissent will avalanche into back-breaking discord come election time and have begun to align themselves with that glimmer of hope. Regardless, no matter how much infighting the GOP vs Tea Party divide might bring upon itself, without a resolute Democratic front it will all amount to nothing. And that doesn't seem to be on the horizon at this particular point in time. Not when Republican congressional leaders have the gall to ditch meeting with the President so they can have press conferences from which to attack his administration. And the White House's response? [cue crickets and tumbleweeds]

What the Democrats STILL don't seem to get is that the Republicans' sole intention is not to govern but to break this administration's back. That's it. And tax cuts for the rich, of course. (Btw, pardon my ignorance, but is it IMPOSSIBLE to shift this tax cut paradigm? What I mean is, I am most certainly in favor of tax cuts for the rich, AS A REWARD FOR INVESTING AND CREATING JOBS, but not as a no-strings-attached incentive, as the GOP is always pushing for. Is this not possible? And if it is WTF is this not on the table? Yes, I know that the GOP's demands for tax cuts for the rich are probably just a ruse and their true intent is to further line the wealthy's pockets under an economy-stimulating pretext. Thought I'd give 'em the benefit of the doubt, tho.)

The reality of modern American politics is an ugly one, and requires a steel-lined stomach and the courage not only of one's convictions but the ability to pounce and take no prisoners. I don't condone lying but short of that, in politics, you've got to hit your opponent with everything including the kitchen sink. We need more Alan Graysons and less milquetoast idealists in the Democratic party. Otherwise, in this aggressive and brutal political climate the GOP will beat you up, take your lunch money and make you pay them interest on it.

Looks like it's gonna be a long 2 years. You betcha.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Once Again, Let's Do It For Ourselves (part 2)

This is why:

When Wisconsin's Republican candidate for senator Ron Johnson--running against Democratic incumbent and liberal favorite Russ Feingold--was asked what should be done about the more than 100,000 homeless veterans in the US his answer was "I don’t believe this election is about details. It just isn’t."

He won.

Ron Johnson is against unemployment benefits.

He won.

Ron Johnson wants to maintain the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich.

He won.

Ron Johnson's favorite attack on Feingold was that the Democratic senator voted for the stimulus and healthcare reform.

Ron Johnson won.

Let's put aside the fact that someone like Feingold did the right thing but got no support from the White House--which did such a horrible job of communicating their message that only about 2% of the populace actually knows that their taxes have gone down since Obama has been in office--and take a sobering look at how a man running on a platform of not taking into account details beat out a principled incumbent. I mean, we've all heard of "not sweating the small stuff" but this is not just ridiculous it's offensive, as well. But of greater concern is that Johnson and his ilk will have a vote to help indirectly defeat measures in states where people not only did not vote for him but repudiate his entire platform.

More and more people like Johnson are coming out of the woodwork to undermine things like universal healthcare, unemployment benefits, environmental regulations, proper energy policy, corporate responsibility, on a national level. Let's get our own house in order before they make it even more difficult to do so. Remember, conservatives only back "states' rights" when it's convenient for ther anti-American agenda. Yes, I said anti-American. What else should I call people that consistently go against the interests of the average American?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Once Again, Let's Do It For Ourselves

In light of the results of yesterday's elections I will repeat it yet again:

It's time to forget about implementing change and reform nationwide and look out for ourselves. We must get our social and political agenda going in our own backyard, make our individual states function in the manner in which we'd like and not miss out on the policies we'd like to see enacted regardless of what happens in Washington. Why should we at home be at the mercy of obstructionists, meaningless compromises, and radical opponents on the national level? Let's strive for molding our states in our own image. This requires hard work and leadership, not to mention smart, ballsy, high-profile people to get it in gear, but it's a goal we must shoot for. Before it's too late.