With elections less than two weeks away I wanted to write something about how the country was getting back on the right track nearly two years after George W. Bush left the White House. I wanted to raise points, toss out facts and figures; you know, the whole laundry list of why we all need to elect Democrats this year and why it was imperative that we not allow Republicans to take over government, especially not the Tea Party Republican Holy-Cuckoo-Asshats who are so far from the mainstream that it is frightening how their ideals, rhetoric, and lack of intelligence can be popular with any crowd in 2010. I was going to say how if the Republicans were back in charge we'd end up headed back onto the road to another Great Depression. How we'd be in Iran and North Korea faster than you can say, "You Betcha." How Wall Street, Big Business, and Big Oil would be let off their chains and really massacre us. I was going to say how things were getting better now that Barack Obama and the Democrats were in charge, maybe not as fast as some would like, but still, better. But I have to tell you, I'm not really in the mood. The thing is (to bastardize the idiom), I realize that you can lead a person to water, but you have to teach him/ her to fish and most people just can't be bothered. It's hard and it's dirty and it requires time, patience, and understanding and most people just don't seem interested in that kind of shit anymore.
You see, I've ranted and I've raved. I've said it plenty of times in plenty of ways and the message can't get any louder or any clearer: George W. Bush And The Asshole Republicans Ran This Country Into A Hole! I am right. End of discussion. I get it, there are people who don't like Obama, fine. I'm sure they have a reason beside the ol' he's a Muslim, N-word, anti-American, blah, blah, take my gun away Hitler mustache nonsense. And there are people who are under the delusion that Democrats are responsible for taking 'their country away from them,' fire Pelosi/ Reid second amendment remedies whatever. You can't make all the people happy all the time. But me, I just call it like I see it. If I see bullshit, I call it out. If I see bigotry, I call it out. If I see stupidity, I call it out. And for this I have been criticized, vilified, and ostracized for my opinions, style, and bluntness. Well, at least I'm not being completely ignored. I know that writing a blog or posting on Facebook is nothing compared to real political action, but I wouldn't completely discredit it in the age of grass-roots, 'get out the vote' internet campaigning. It's not much, but I feel like I just have to do something and politics is what I'm interested in. These issues matter to me. The future of this country matters to me. It might not matter to some people and it's okay for people to have different interests. I, for one, don't give a shit about Farmville. So if you feel that you are not affected by politics, no point in reading on. This doesn't really concern you. Go back to whatever it is you were doing.
Now, I'm a down to Earth guy. My head is not in the clouds. I'm a healthy mix of skeptic and pessimist and realist. I can see that we have problems. The economy is not getting better fast enough. Jobs aren't returning. The war effort is a never-ending nightmare. There is growing anti-government sentiment. A lot of people are hurting and some are afraid that things will get worse because while they are looking for that metaphoric light at the end of the tunnel, they see those real bills piling up. And a lot of these people don't see our leaders addressing these concerns enough, partially because there is so much on the plate for President Obama and the members of Congress, but also because the news media has become more like the bogeyman than the messenger of truth; where agitators and extremists, as they've always done, have preyed upon people's fears and weaknesses by propping up scapegoats, whether it be Muslims or immigrants or gays or blacks, for political reasons, or worse, for ratings. So much for this false claim of a Liberal media when it's all about ratings and dollars and news outlets have figured out that you can misrepresent all you want as long as you get the viewers to tune in to shows like Glenn Beck where he makes millions by playing a cross between Father Coughlin and Lonesome Rhodes, spewing hate and lies by pandering to an adoring audience. So, back to my fish idiom again: People like Glenn Beck would be happy to feed you fish if you don't want to learn to do it on your own. All you have to do is tune in to his show, buy his books, and take him seriously. If that sounds easier to do than the work required to help yourself, then fine, you can enjoy your fish or Kool-Aid or soylent green or whatever else he decides to feed you, but it's just not for me. I can think and reason and draw my own conclusions and I choose to express them. Ready? O.K.!
So, I've been hearing a lot about how so many are disappointed in President Obama and the Democrats in Congress and how the Republicans are going to sweep the elections this year. After all, Democrats became the majority party in Congress in 2006 and Obama won the White House in 2008, so there should be double rainbows and gumdrops falling from the sky, right? Well then, at the very least, there should be a chicken in every pot, right? How about if everyone who wants a job, has a job? Okay, so that hasn't worked out either. Actually, there are a few things that haven't quite gone as well as we hoped and yes, that is sad and I can understand the frustration many Americans have with Obama and the Democrats, but I really have to ask: How the hell can Obama fix the country in only two years?
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last ten years, you would have noticed that the problems we face now are thanks to the eight years of the Bush Presidency. Sure, Republicans will say that Democrats like to blame all the country's current problems on Bush, but really? Come on! The economy: Bush. The wars: Bush. The lack of regulation on...Wall Street: Bush. Banks: Bush. Oil drilling: Bush. Mining: Bush. Health Insurance costs up 300%: Bush. Our national debt: Billions for Bush's tax cuts for wealthiest top 2%... Billions for tax breaks to corporations to send jobs overseas... Billions to fund two unnecessary wars... While our infrastructure suffered; dams, bridges, and schools falling apart... While we lagged in education and technology because science wasn't considered important... Bush and the Republicans threw away the surplus left from the Clinton years and ran us into the ground and even since before Obama was sworn in as President, he has had to run around putting out the fires that Bush and his cronies started all the while getting bashed 24/7 by fear-mongering Fox News, crazies that think he's a foreign born Muslim Communist Socialist terrorist, weak-spined Democrats running in Red districts, Republicans in Congress who unite against him even if it means standing against their own policy in order to block every bill he favors, and an inpatient, uninvolved public who expected he could solve all these problems single-handedly as if political and social change was attainable as easy as ordering a latte.
The American people voted in 2008 for a Democratic President and a Democratic majority in Congress for a reason: because the Republicans were not working for the American People and a change was necessary. That change is still in progress, but Republicans have taken every opportunity to play party politics in order to slow it down or even halt it at times just to make President Obama and the Democrats look like failures come election time. And it's working. The Right has always had Public Relations down to an art and now this year more than ever, thanks to the conservative leaning Supreme Court's ruling in 'Citizen's United' granting corporations unlimited, anonymous spending into campaigns, the Republican party have used the media to fool the public into thinking that the Democrats are to blame for the nation's problems. Deception is their modus operandi. After 9/11, the Republicans used their tricks to instill fear and sway public opinion to start wars. Before the 2008 elections, they painted Obama as an Arab terrorist. Since being thrown from power, the Republicans have become so desperate that they will stop at nothing in order to regain control of Washington. They have done everything in their power to undermine the President at the sake destroying America. They have distorted the facts. They have stirred up controversy where there was none. They have riled up the public by stoking fear and prejudice. They have purposefully written bad legislation into bills under the guise of bi-partisan compromise to render them ineffective or unpopular. They have sold us out to Big Oil, Big Business, Big Insurance, and Wall Street. They have undermined democracy. And in doing all this they have dishonored those they claim to represent and the men and women who serve this nation at home and abroad.
What choice do we have in this election? If you think you're unhappy with the way Democrats have been handling things then ask if you really want things back to the way they were under Bush. Ask yourself where we'd be if our course wasn't reversed and this country did fall into that Great Depression we were headed for. What if Wall Street, Health Insurance companies and other Big Businesses had no regulations? What if banks and creditors continued their predatory lending practices. Sure unemployment is still high. Sure there are foreclosures still happening. But we're still here aren't we? And sure our deficit is high because of spending on things like TARP and the Stimulus, but these were emergency measures that gave working families and small businesses tax relief, saved jobs, and put people to work. They were not cure-alls, and the economy is still in rough shape, but at least now it's headed in the right direction. Consider what would have happened if those measures were not taken. Too many things have been ignored for too long and while there are those who believe that we should just stop and do nothing and hope these troubles pass as if it were a storm, we have to move forward and spur growth. Right now actually would be the best time to refocus on our crumbling infrastructure. For example, right now material costs are cheap and work on our roads and bridges, rail, and other transit would create jobs now as well as benefit us in the future and that goes for investment in clean, renewable energy as well. We should not squander this opportunity to retool our auto industry to build the electric and biofuel cars of the future. If the Republicans had their way, there would now be no American auto industry. There would be no investment in clean energy jobs.
Republicans would see to it that those jobs went overseas as they and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have spent the last ten years doing by removing regulations on corporations and demonizing labor unions. As they have overseen the near extinction of the manufacturing sector and the collapse of the middle-class, allowed Health Insurance companies to raise premiums and deny coverage, and allowed banks and lenders to take advantage of people on hard times and watch millions foreclose on their homes, Republicans stood by and let multinational corporations take over America in order to help their Corporate friends and line their own pockets. And then times being tough; people living in poverty and people now out of work collecting unemployment and barely scraping by, you have Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Orrin Hatch, Steve King, Ron Johnson, Sharron Angle, John Kyl, Andre Bauer, Dean Heller, Tom DeLay, and Carl Paladino among many, rubbing salt in the wounds by calling those unemployed people lazy, drug addicts who should be forced into work camps and taught personal hygiene. The relationship between the corporations and the Republican party have always been obvious, this year they are practically rubbing our noses in it. Millionaire CEO's running in this years elections in California, Nevada, and Connecticut are campaigning on their business credentials, apparently proud of their records. In California, Meg Whitman of Ebay, who so far has spent nearly $140 million dollars of her personal fortune not to mention millions in corporate contributions running for Governor yet somehow still calls herself a fiscal conservative, and Carly Fiorina of Hewlett Packard are both guilty of downsizing and outsourcing American jobs for corporate gain and exploiting workers; though Connecticut candidate Linda McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment takes the cake for the exploitation of workers as they annihilate themselves with steroids, injury, and pain-killers all for the amusement of a paying audience.
Tea Party Republican candidates this year are by far the worst candidates ever selected to run for political office. Out of the Tea Partiers running for Congressional seats, no other Tea Party candidates have gotten more attention than Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Joe Miller, Ken Buck, and Rand Paul. I could fill pages with the idiocy displayed by this group including the usual stances on Gun Control and Reproductive Rights, but I'll limit myself here: Angle can't tell Latinos from Asians and has called for Second Amendment remedies to take out elected officials should they not do as we please. O'Donnell (who is not a witch, in case you cared) doesn't believe in masturbation because it's adultery, nor evolution because she's never seen a monkey evolve before her eyes. Joe Miller wants to get rid of the Board of Education, the Minimum Wage, Unemployment Benefits, and thinks East Germany was a good model for Border Security. Ken Buck thinks being gay is akin to alcoholism. Rand Paul believes it's ok for a restaurant owner to not serve black people if he's a racist and called President Obama un-American when the President criticized BP in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems that if the Paris Hilton of Politics, Sarah Palin, can have a career in this field anyone can.
For all the talk about the Tea Party this year, how they claim to be real Americans with real American values though they are often exposed to be a crowd of anti-government, ignorant racists, the true story of the Tea Party is that the Tea Party didn't start as a grass-roots movement but rather a corporate funded Republican plan to protest Cap and Trade, Health Care and Wall Street Reform. Billionaire oilmen, brothers Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, continue to pour cash into the Tea Party group 'Americans for Prosperity' and Republican Dick Armey and his Chamber of Commerce friends funnel corporate donations into the Tea Party group 'FreedomWorks' are only but just two examples of how corporate interests have figured out that it's cheaper and easier to trick people into lobbying for their causes than to pay real lobbyists. The most interesting part about the Tea Party is, that though it started out as a Republican project and was represented by the far-right-wing of the Republican party's base, the Tea Party has actually become Frankenstein's monster by attacking the establishment and pitting Tea Party Republicans against the 'Old' in the 'Grand Old Party.' Some Republicans have decided to latch on the Tea Party wave this year in order to maintain their slight relevance, such as Sarah 'John McCain, who?' Palin and Newt 'now with even more crazy' Gingrich, while others have fallen victim to the Tea Party, such as Charlie Crist now running as an Independent for Senator against Marco Rubio in Florida and Lisa Murkowski who lost in the Alaskan primary to Tea Party nut Joe Miller and now running as a 'write-in' candidate.
They say every election is the most important election. They say every election is different from the last and more critical now than ever before. I get it. But look around. Sure party politics is an old story; the same back and forth over the years, but this year really is different. In the past you could possibly side with the Republicans. After all, who doesn't want to be on the side of the group that calls itself fiscally conservative, anti-tax, and pro-military? Support the Troops! Go U.S.A. and all that. But the Republicans now are not the same Republicans you remember. For one, they are not all that fiscally conservative if under the eight years of the Bush Presidency they spent like drunken sailors and put us under a huge pile of debt. And saying you're anti-tax is fine, but don't let the super-duper wealthy throw a party on the tab of the middle-class. And supporting the troops doesn't mean you send them into battle unequipped to oust a dictator you put in place to begin with to secure oil or mineral rights and leave them there for a decade with no plan of them ever returning home. The problem is, these Republicans don't care. They do as they like and if you don't like it they will manipulate facts and have you blame someone else. While they idolize Ronald Reagan, Reagan would be rolling over in his grave. These Republicans today are not the Republicans of your parents generation or even your grandparents generation because the Republican party this year has been hijacked by the lunatic/ racist/ homophobic/ xenophobic/ Islamophobic/ classist/ corporate sponsored/ Christian extremists who do not understand our Constitution while they claim to live by it, nor support the troops though they'll gladly use them as props. They are running, hoping that we have amnesia and have forgotten what they did to this country; hoping to fool those who do remember that they will do things differently if we give them another chance. But why should we believe that they'd do anything differently than they've done this whole time? Why should we believe that they wouldn't just go back to the way things were under Dubya? Could we believe them if they said that they learned their lesson? Should we just elect Republicans, knowing full well what would happen if we do, just because we are a little unhappy with the way things are under the Democrats? You know the answer. America, it's time for a gut-check. Do we elect Democrats and stay on this rough, bumpy road to change or do we elect Republicans and head back into the ditch the Republicans left us in the last time they were behind the wheel?
President Obama is not perfect and he has made mistakes; he is only human. I myself feel, like many who voted for him and the other Democrats to run the Republicans out of power in 2008, that the President was overoptimistic in believing that he would find support from Republicans. Arriving in Washington, he hoped to work with the 'GOP' in the spirit of unity while it was clear that the Republican Party made it their mission to see that he fail, becoming the 'Party of No' - unwilling to work with or compromise on anything favored by the President on behalf of us. For nearly two years we witnessed the President waste his political capital and disenfranchise his base by appeasing the losers of the last election by vowing to work together in the spirit of bi-partisanship even if those losers are sore losers who wish for and work for his defeat. Recently, though, the President has seemed to wisen up to Republican contrariness and obstruction. In September during one speech he said regarding Republicans, "If I said the sky was blue, they'd say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they'd say no." It's about time he realized this and listened to his base rather than try to appeal to the haters. It's better late than never because the rest of us want him, no, need him to lead this country out of the deep dark hole that those who hope for his failure have dug for us all.
When we elected President Obama in 2008, did we really think that he was going to step right in and fix everything we didn't like overnight? Did we really think he was the messiah or Superman? Sure his campaign was positive and inspiring with that 'Hope/ Change' message, but we had to know that hope alone wasn't going to change anything. I knew before the election and I've said it before and I'll say it again - real change takes work, not just hope. Change takes courage, faith, and discipline. Change requires sacrifice. Change requires taking risks. Change requires time. Now two years later we find ourselves at a crossroads. Some of us have made great sacrifices. Some of us are tired or scared. Some of us have lost faith along the way. But do we turn back now, knowing what that road leads to, or do we summon up the will for something better? Do we gather up our strength, our determination, our faith, our hope, and move forward to meet any challenge head on and succeed as America has always done in the past? Do we? Can we?