Let me get this straight. The GOP, under Geo. W. Bush (Remember him? Trillions for the rich. Diddly squat for the rest of us), crashed and trashed the U.S. and world economy, threw millions of Americans out of their jobs -- those jobs not already sent overseas -- gambled away trillions of hard-earned life-savings, and sank millions of home mortgages underwater. Ever since then, in almost perfect lockstep, the Republicans in Congress have threatened, delayed, filibustered, and in every other way they could think of obstructed every single piece of legislation that offered help in any way, shape, or form to those millions thrown out of work, those millions more far-underemployed, teachers and nurses and firefighters and police facing layoffs by state and local governments in crisis, and all the rest of us everyday Americans wanting nothing more than to provide for our families and to make a worthwhile contribution to our nation but threatened with abject ruin at every turn.
Now, what we Democrats were able to accomplish -- only half of what we tried our damnedest to do -- has stopped our economy from going completely off the cliff but has not done nearly enough to get our great nation back up on its feet again. Meanwhile, the very same Party of No that would rather grind our party and country down into poverty than let any but the wealthiest of us succeed, has the unmitigated gall to blame all the remaining disaster -- which anyone with half a brain knows they created in the first place -- on us!
And as if all that wasn't enough, they are demanding trillions more in tax breaks for the rich -- who, thanks to Geo. W. and his gang, got almost all the wealth working Americans created even before things all went bust.
Holding millions of honest, dying-to-be-hard-working Americans hostage, while demanding a huge ransom be paid? As an American and a human being, I'm disgraced and disgusted to say that there is just one word for what today's Republican Party is committing: EXTORTION!
So the choice in this upcoming election is clear, if not exactly how it has been so carefully framed by the GOP strategists and so vehemently, sometimes violently echoed by their Tea Party dupes (Yes, all you following Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and all those other pathological liars, self-righteous hypocrites, and blithering idiots, you're being played -- like a Stradivarius -- for fools! It would be bad enough if you were just cutting your own economic throats; but by fighting financial and health care and other vital reforms, you're trying to take all the rest of us down with you. God bless you for trying to be patriots; but in effect, you've been helping the "kings" try to hang us all together!).
Yes, the "conventional wisdom" is that this election is being primarily fought between those who favor more job creation by government spending and those who favor balancing the budget, by cutting Social Security and other benefits for working families (cutting taxes for the rich apparently doesn't count in their no-account accounting, since most of our record-setting deficits are the result of the Bush tax cuts, mostly for the rich, and unfunded wars).
But that "government spending vs. budget balancing" frame for this election -- with the "prudent balancers" said to be overwhelming the "reckless spenders" -- doesn't really fit the facts. Polls show most Americans favor job creation -- like green job creation, as to compete with the Chinese, or long-overdue repairs to our vital infrastructure, or ... the list of work needing to be done is even longer than the list of people needing to work -- but very few Americans are as worried about our running deficits in the short-run, at this very critical time: Unlike many (thankfully not all) of our most learned economists, most everyday people realize that we'll never be able to prosper again, let alone pay off our debts, if we don't get people back to work again.
Instead, what we do have in Election 2010 is the oldest, ongoing struggle in the history of the world: The most corrupt -- and short-sighted -- of the powers-that-be are doing everything in their power to keep on taking and taking from all those whose work actually creates the wealth that they horde. And if they succeed in killing the goose that lays the golden eggs -- a gainfully and fully employed working and middle class -- then all of us -- rich, poor, and everyone in the middle -- will ultimately become poorer. Believe it. As horrible, or as threatening, as things are for millions of Americans right now, they can -- and will -- get worse, much worse, for us all, if we let those who drove us to the edge of the abyss get back into power, and drive us right over that cliff, into another Depression.
Do not -- DO NOT -- let them.
No matter how slight or great the shortcomings of any Democrats in power, at least they pulled and pushed in the right direction overall. And those who fault the president had best remember not only the historic accomplishments of his leadership -- from the sheer size of the rescue package, which saved millions though still not enough jobs, to the health plan, which will save and improve countless lives, and the financial reform, making the system much less likely to crash than before. And remember, too, that some of the best bills or best portions of bills passed by the House, almost all of which the president very publicly supported, died like all too many others in the chamber of the Senate. If in the weeks, months, and years to come we demand even more of our leaders -- like an end to the filibuster, at least as we know it, with a simple majority-vote change to the rules at the start of the new Congress (as we must work to assure we continue to control) -- then most of our leaders will follow, ironically yet democratically.
But if we pay the ransom, give in to the demands, the EXTORTION of the Republicans -- marching in lockstep against everything we have tried to do to help, and speaking out in favor of everything that got us into this Great Recession in the first place -- then we will deserve the hell we will pay. But our children will not deserve it. Nor will our children's children. Nor will any of those who will inherit a nation once great, then sacrificed on an altar of greed.
I believe we are much better than that. We are Americans.