Once a week I check my Facebook just in case someone made that rare comment which would prompt political interest or provoke thought instead of the usual comments from adults living vicariously through their children's lives or the narcissists who comment about what they're doing at the moment or what they did or what they plan to do as if.
As luck would have it I came across a link to a YouTube video with comments like: "this is the man we need in Washington", "I agree Rodger is a good man for the job" and "I have a lot of faith in him". Even though I didn't have a dog in this fight such platitudes peaked my curiosity sufficiently to spend the next 28 minutes listening to Rodger Cook, Republican candidate for the 12th district of Southern Illinois, explain why he was running for office if for nothing more than to have a better understanding of why my friends on Facebook "need" this man in Washington.
By the time the interview with Mr. Cook had finished I concluded that I do have a dog in this fight indeed all citizens from coast to coast have a dog in the 12th district in Southern Illinois because Rodger Cook's perception of political reality which he expressed during that interview created the inescapable conclusion that the Rodger Cooks of this country are trying to perpetuate the same failed economic policies that led to our economic meltdown in 2008 when George W. Bush was president and not Barak Obama and the people who think he belongs in Washington do so on faith rather than facts blaming the later for the results of the failed policies of the former which are now being repeated by Rodger Cook.
Mr. Cook began by saying that he would make a difference because armed with "facts from our history" as his guide he would change the direction of the country by doing what Presidents Kennedy and Reagan did i.e. cut taxes which also raised government revenue and do away with government regulation. My understanding of historical facts indicates that Kennedy did cut taxes on the wealthy from 90% to 70% and he also cut taxes on the middle-class as well. As for "raising government revenue" in the process I can't speak on that but I can strongly suspect such a result to be highly improbable in and of itself but I do know based on historical fact that prior to Reagan we were a creditor nation and we've been in debt ever since.
Really the wealthy paid a 90% tax rate in 1960 during which time we had a strong middle-class. I knew because I was there when John Kennedy's motorcade passed through my hometown during his campaign for president. It was a time when both parents didn't "have" to work and yet still be able to put their children through college. Workers earned a livable wage and were able to save which in the 60s was a value that was possible to attain. Teachers were respected and so was officer friendly.
I even listened to Kennedy's inauguration speech in which he said: "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" and most Americans did ask with the exception of the lunatic fringe of the opposition party from the John Birch Society founded by Fred Koch, father of today's Koch brothers, to the sanctimonious Billy Graham that feared a Catholic president but for the most part the country was united in those early to mid-60s.
Fast forward to Reagan who said in 1980 that "government is the problem" then proceeded to prove it by instituting trickle-down economics which included less taxes on the "job creators" and less government regulation. In addition Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy to circa 28% by the time he left office but from 1980 to 1988 he also raised taxes in 6 of his 8 years in office including and thus began the great divide of the income gap between rich and poor that threatens the very existence of the middle class today requiring both parents to at least have one job each to make ends meet thereby altering family dynamics while Reagan's party claims the mantel of "family values".
Meanwhile since 1980 teachers have been subjected ridicule, derision and disrespect, officer friendly became organized into paramilitary units more suited to suppress the inevitable social unrest that followed as a result of the widening of the income gap between rich and poor and the lunatic fringe of fear mongers is now in charge of Rodger Cook's party financed by Fred Koch's two sons.
What I found particularly troublesome was that Mr. Cook claimed "these are the facts" to support a free market economy - less taxes and less government when in reality either he didn't "know" the facts or he deliberately mislead his constituents with his version of the facts. After 30 years of a failed economic policy i.e. Reagan's trickle-down economics which in fact is more like "trickle on economics" for most people working for a living from paycheck to paycheck in today's uncertain economy here's Mr. Cook prescribing the same failed solutions i.e. less taxes and less government regulation while telling his constituents to expect a different result thus meeting Einstein's definition of insanity of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.
Mr. Cook claimed that the current administration stifled jobs with taxes and over regulation yet under President Obama most Americans have experienced fewer taxes. Indeed Obama even extended the Bush tax cuts but only because the Republican Party threatened to cut off unemployment benefits for millions of Americans. Republicans only give half the truth when they claim President Obama extended those tax cuts on the "job creators" because they don't want to remind Americans why President Obama broke that campaign promise and as long as no one in the mainstream media is asking them how many jobs did those "job creators" create with all that extra income they don't have to explain how their financial portfolios were fattened when jobs were shipped overseas with legislative approval.
During the interview Rodger Cook also praised the Republican Congress and President Clinton for doing away with banking reforms that were designed to control the kind of speculation that occurred during the Bush unfettered free market years when they repealed the Glass-Stegall Act which reestablished the conflict of interest within the financial industry and created the "too big to fail" institutions that led to the housing market collapse and its associated financial crisis. It came as no surprise to read Mr. Cook's bio includes his work in the banking industry.
In addition, Mr. Cook made the mendacious claim that people on the other side of the aisle don't even admit we have a problem with the deficit without supplying any factual evidence and says in order to address that problem one first has to admit that the deficit is a problem. Apparently Rodger Cook as well as the interviewer conveniently forgot that people on Mr. Cook's side of the aisle most notably Dick Cheney who said that "deficits don't matter". Rodger Cook also claimed that we haven't passed a budget since Obama has been president apparently he forgot that the 2010 budget was passed without any Republican support.
Mr. Cook also took the time to mock Obama's mantra of "hope and change" by saying his children and presumably other young people have learned their lesson because there are no jobs and young people are paying more attention today as such 30 percent of the youth vote left the president presumably the other 70 percent was paying attention to the reality that it is the Republican Party that has blocked every job creating initiative introduced by this president and I suspect the other 30 percent that left had higher expectations and little familiarity about the way government works when one party believes "government is the problem" rather than asking what they can do for their country.
Meanwhile my friends on Facebook responded to my comments by claiming Rodger Cook would represent their interests while implying those interests weren't the same as my district in New York to which I replied that the needs of people in Albany NY are really no different than those of people in Southern Illinois - people here want living wage jobs, affordable health care, opportunity for equal education and for our children to have a better future than our present with some semblance of economic security. We want less government too - we don't want government telling us who can marry who, we don't want government controlling a woman's right to choose in essence we don't want government involved in our right to privacy but we do want government to regulate an avaricious economic system based on the excesses of greed for profits.
My response generated one last comment from a thin skinned conservative "friend on Facebook" claiming he was insulted by my "condescending bullshit" which prompted me to realize that America does indeed get the gridlocked dysfunctional government it deserves when misinformed and easily manipulated voters fall for the failed policy solutions and empty rhetoric of those candidates like Rodger Cook who claim to possess historical facts on their side without fear that their followers will ever question authority even when their own reality demands otherwise.
In Rodger Cook's closing statement he said his constituents should vote for their children's future and vote Republican but American already voted for change in 2008 and got nothing but obstructionism from Republican conservatives like Rodger Cook whose idea of change is nothing more and nothing less than more of the same "trickle on" economics of the past with lower taxes on job creators and fewer regulations on business which is eerily familiar to the path we've already traveled to the edge of the abyss in 2008. Voting Republican won't bring about change but it will certainly bring us closer to proving Kafka's observation that there is hope, but not for us.