2012 election post-mortem
I was amazed at the breadth and depth of the Democratic victory this election cycle. From the local elections of John Garamendi and Lois Wolk, the new Democratic Supermajority in the California Assembly and Senate, the gains in the U.S. House and Senate, to of course, the resounding re-election of President Obama, moderate Democrats won big. The Republicans experienced a similar, happy election in 2010 and used their victories as a mandate to move their party to the extreme right. I hope that the Democrats learned from that Republican mistake and resist the temptation of extremist radicalization of their party. In my opinion, this year most American voters were simply trying to find a sensible, middle ground and the Democratic Party candidates came closer to that point than the Republicans. Obviously, America's political sweet spot lies somewhere near the middle, not at the fringe.
As we have seen in a recent Daily Republic articles and editorial cartoons, right-wing pundits like Bill O'Reilly have claimed that Republicans lost because America, sadly, has gone from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Thomas Sowell explained that Romney was just "too nice" and couldn't compete with big, bad Barrack Obama. Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan blamed his loss on "too many" people voting in urban areas, but Mitt Romney had the most Bubblicious answer of all. Romney told his supporters that he lost because President Obama promised "gifts" to blacks, Hispanics, and the young. Well, I sure hope these gifts arrive by Christmas. Don't tell my kids, but I plan on saving a pile of dough this year by erasing President Obama's name from the gift tags and writing-in my own.
Beyond the right-wing politicians and pundits spinning and scrambling to make themselves look less incorrect and hoping to retain a shred of significance, there are some real issues that the Republican Party needs to address if they are to ever return to meaningful political importance, and not simply be relegated to the dustbin of history, forever known as that party that once stopped America from moving forward. Why do I care about the future of the Republican Party? Because they still have a great deal of influence in what gets done in this country and their core attitudes and beliefs don't just hurt themselves politically; they can cause real damage to our entire nation. Any improvement in either party's vision would result in more mainstream cooperation and a better America for all. Republicans simply offer the lowest-hanging fruit.
Foremost, Republicans need to embrace science, rather than politically corrupted, faith-based belief. I'm not saying to reject God, I'm simply saying that certain biologic principles and physical laws are pretty-well documented and have worked in the real world for the past few hundred years, so why continue to argue with them? It makes Republicans look as relevant and contemporary as Luddites smashing steam engines. When I was fourth-grader at Fairview Elementary School, I decided that, if there was a God, Nature's Laws must be its language. Simple. Obvious. No conflict because science reveals God. Today, listening to Republicans contort science to mesh with their political or religious beliefs makes me cringe. Republican politicians dismissing Evolution and Climate Change, or discussing how certain "lady parts" are individually manipulated by God's Hand makes normal people think that they are grossly uneducated, and when a particular party backs so many candidates making bizarre, illogical proclamations, the toxic political fallout from these brain bombs contaminates them all. Next Monday in your Daily Republic, Part 2: The dangers of Plutocracy.
2012 Election post-mortem part 2
This is the second in a series of Daily Republic articles designed to help the struggling Republican Party return to mainstream American values. Last week, we discussed the importance of embracing reality; today's topic: rejecting plutocracy.
Last week I wrote: "As we have seen in a recent Daily Republic articles and editorial cartoons, right-wing pundits like Bill O'Reilly have claimed that the Republicans lost because America, sadly, has gone from a nation of makers to a nation of takers." Thomas Sowell's latest article echoed that theme, "If nonwhite voters can only be gotten by pandering to them with goodies earmarked for them, then Republicans are doomed..." A Daily Republic blogger offered a similar election analysis: "The Tax Consumers outvoted the Tax Payers." Unfortunately for all those still clinging to shreds of their tattered right-wing bubble, Republican states overwhelmingly take-in more federal dollars than they pay in federal income tax, while Democratic states are net givers. Democratic states are the ones giving gifts, in the form of our tax dollars, to the poor Republican states.
None of these Republican pundits are willing to admit that they lost the election because their candidate and his message rubbed most voters the wrong way. Most Americans could not stomach rich Mitt and his plutocratic, rule by wealth, economic policies. We witnessed an epic, good-versus-evil battle for our electoral souls in this last election with the Democratic thesis, "We are all in this together" clashing mightily with the Republican antithesis, "Every man for himself." State-wide, Californians responded compassionately, selflessly shouldering the burden of higher taxes, while locally, we Fairfielders showed overwhelming humanity, passing Measure P with a two-thirds majority. Right on cue, Hurricane Sandy demonstrated to voters across this country how we are all interconnected and why politicians from both sides must work together for our common good. It was instantly obvious to all observers that the plutocratic, "Survival of the fittest" approach would not have worked there.
What would the wealthy do if they ruled America? First, they would reduce taxes that affect them most: income taxes, inheritance taxes, capital gains tax, and corporate taxes. With reduced revenues, government at all levels would be diminished along with their ability to enforce regulations protecting our land, water, and air from toxic pollution. Workers' rights would instantly evaporate, and they would cut safety nets like Social Security and Unemployment Insurance. Medicare would become "voucher care." Product liability and consumer financial protections would also disappear. The one growth area would be national defense, because, if you are wealthy, wars are extremely profitable. If you step back and look at the Romney/Ryan economic plans in this plutocratic light, with their tax cuts, government cuts and increased military spending, you will see this vision of an American plutocracy clearly reflected. In my August 20th Daily Republic column, I wrote: "Listen to the rhetoric coming from the rich, their media spokesmen and Republican politicians. They only talk about cutting income tax, corporate tax, dividend tax and tax on interest payments, affecting the wealthy; never about the regressive taxes we normal people pay every day. Consider this: If Republican Paul Ryan's tax proposals are passed, Mitt Romney's income tax rate would drop to almost zero. Who picks up the tab? The 99.9 percent of us living in Fairfields all across this nation." In the board-game, Monopoly, we all know that only one person wins and ends up with everybody else's money and homes. It's not fun when this game is played for real. Republicans, reject your plutocratic platform; return to mainstream.
Government of, by, and for the people
This is the third, and last, in a series of Daily Republic articles designed to help the Republican Party return to mainstream American values and to help improve the overall political climate of our country. I'm not saying there are only three things wrong with the Republican Party, but if the Republicans could concentrate their self-improvement efforts in these three areas, we would all be much better off. Two weeks ago, we studied their tenuous, bubble-based belief systems and I politely suggested using fact-based information as a basis for proposing policy. Last week, we examined their devoted embrace of plutocracy, government run by, and for the wealthy, to the detriment of all others. Today, we'll delve deeper into the Republican view of our federal government, see where they derailed from conventional American principles, and try to bring them back on track.
In the beginning, our Founding Fathers enacted the Articles of Confederation, which organized our country into an assembly of independent states where each handled its own international affairs, created its own money, and provided for its own defense. As you might imagine, this loose confederation functioned poorly, and the Founders found it necessary to create our current Constitution, forging a strong centralized federal government to oversee the states and protect American citizens. Federalists, those who support a strong central government, and Confederationists, those wanting a weak central government, have been arguing ever since; the Civil War and today's childish secessionist movement leap to mind. Overall, our American system of government has worked very well for the vast majority of our citizens for over two hundred years. In 1860, a Republican, Abraham Lincoln, was president and the southern secessionists were Democrats. Today, the political party roles have reversed, with the South being a solid Republican red and a Federalist Democrat in the White House. Today, Republicans are pushing the "States Rights" agenda and trying to hobble our federal government. The Republican position has devolved into the absolute absurdity of Grover Norquist's "I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub," and his crippling, "no new taxes" pledge, signed by virtually every Republican in Congress. These simplistic slogans and sacred pinky-pledges only exacerbate the gridlock in Washington and raise our National Debt. Unfortunately, they continue to attract the attention and votes of those unwilling or unable to comprehend the complexities confronting Congress.
It sounds very "adult" to groan about "big government" and "over-regulation," but often, when complainers are asked to be more specific, they disappear. The laws of this land all had some purpose when they were first proposed; which regulations should we eliminate and what would be the consequences? For example, Thursday's Daily Republic letter to the editor specifically complained about "no burn day" regulations in Fairfield. We should weigh the good fireplace heat against the bad air pollution and decide if "no burn days" still makes sense. Of course, there are some silly rules, nonsensical laws, and even government agencies whose time has passed. As good citizens, it is not only our duty to get rid of them, but more importantly, to understand the true purposes of those left standing. There is no need to drown our Constitution in a bathtub. Last Tuesday, your Daily Republic printed an article about a few Congressional Republicans renouncing Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge. Hopefully they've also decided to abandon their failed, nation-crushing goal of making Barrack Obama a one-term president. This new open-mindedness emerging on the right is refreshing. Now, let's see how they vote.