Sunday, October 31, 2010

After the Election 2

Considering the 4 possible outcomes of the election next Tuesday (technically there are other possibilities, such as the Republicans take over both house of Congress by large margins, but these seem exceptionally unlikely) outlined in the first installment of this post, the first: Democrats will retain control of both houses with large gains in seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives, would logically be the most favorable for bypassing certain congressional deadlock and moving the country forward in at least a moderate direction.
As I've stated before in various past posts, the nation elected Barack Obama to the Presidency on a ticket of "Change." The country had seen eight long years of Republican rule, and had suffered the results, i.e., the country in two unnecessary foreign military engagements and the resulting loss of life and national treasure, a tepid response to the destruction of a major American city... New Orleans, real reckless spending (as opposed to the fake outrage the Republicans proclaim at the necessary response (i.e., the Stimulus and T.A.R. P.) required to undo their policies and actions that created the problems in the first place) the squandering of a budget surplus, loss of civil rights in the so-called name of national security, the use of torture as national policy, war profiteering, and the outing of covert assets for petty revenge, the blind allegiance to free market idealism that directly resulted in the deregulation of banks and investment houses on Wall Street which led to the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression. Obama was elected in a large part to reverse the damage caused by the outgoing Bush administration. Obama's oratory powers were used to the utmost to promise "change you can believe in," in all manner of things. From closing the extralegal prison at Guantanamo Bay, to ending the "wars," In Iraq and Afghanistan, to stopping the use of torture, responsible fiscal policies including financial regulatory reform, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," healthcare reform, and and a host of other issues.
Some of the issues have been dealt with, or are in are in the process of being resolved to the extent that it is possible. Many have not, which has left a faction of the President's base unsatisfied (at this time I am not going to offer a critique of his job performance, other than to say he has consistently attempted to move in a direction that is in line with progressive ideals. I have offered such criticism elsewhere and will continue to do so). And in the almost two years since Obama took office he has not been able to completely repair the damage done in the eight years Bush was in office, most importantly for this upcoming election, the state of the economy, the home mortgage crisis, and high unemployment. No one could given that amount of time. If Jesus Christ came down from Heaven and took office he couldn't fix the mess Bush has got us into in two years. It would take him at least three.
The Republicans have taken advantage of the American public's dissatisfaction with Washington, Congress and the President not being able to fix the economy fast enough to suit them, and due to this dissatisfaction may gain seats in Congress next Tuesday. This is unfortunate as it is exactly the opposite of what these dissatisfied voters are looking for, which is a resolution to their problems. Let's see why.
The second option listed in the first part of this post: The Democrats will retain control of both houses with less seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives (which I believe has a good chance of happening, and which I'll discuss further in tomorrow's post). This would allow the Democrats the ability to remain in control of both Houses of Congress of course, to continue to set the agenda, and continue to advance the policies of the Obama administration, which is what the voters in 2008 put him in office for. It would also strengthen the ability for the Republicans to continue to obstruct everything the Democrats put forth or try to advance. This guarantees continued gridlock in the halls of Congress, which makes no logical sense whatsoever. I understand the historical role of the opposition party, to act as a curb to the power of the majority. However, the Republicans have gone far beyond acting as a curb, resembling more of a roadblock or moat, trying to impede every single act the Democrats and Obama put forth, even if they were at one time in favor of the proposal put forward. It is utterly amazing the blatant disrespect the Republicans have shown for the process of government at the people's expense. To them it is simply political party above all else. Party above country. And because of the lies and misinformation put forth by them and their private television propaganda network, Fox "News," they have exerbated the discouragement of some working class citizens into believing their lies, thus creating entities such as the Tea Party movement, which appear to be concerned with an extremely narrow set of priorities, such as federal spending, deficit reduction, and the size of government, issues that may or may not have any direct bearing on their daily lives, and in many respects make no sense whatsoever (i.e., what would the Tea Partiers wish to eliminate in the federal government? Many of the Tea Party candidates state they wish to get rid of the Department of Education, for instance. To what end? How would the elimination of the federal student loan program, Pell Grants, and education reform programs like the Teacher Incentive Fund help our nation? Many Tea Party enthusiasts clearly do not understand what it is they are protesting against, such as when Tea Party protesters shout out, "Keep your government hands off of my Medicare!" Medicare of course being a federal government run program from which they benefit.).
The third option: The Republicans take over the House by a small margin, thereby losing the floor (agenda) for the Democrats, allowing the Republicans the power to control what business is taken up, and they will gain chairmanship of the various committees, is what most news organizations, pundits, and the common wisdom seem to think will happen. I assume this belief is based on knowledge of traditional historical outcomes in midterm elections, and information gleamed in polls. We will discuss polls tomorrow.
If this is the option that does come about Tuesday, and it very well may, the outcome is little changed from that of the second option, continuing congressional deadlock. Republicans, however, will now be forced to advance some type of agenda, since they will be in control of the federal budget, rather than do what they have been doing for the last four years, which is to complain about everything the Democrats do without offering any solutions of their own. Indeed, the best option for the Republicans may very well be the second option, allowing them to continue to criticize the Democrats in the majority, while continuing their obstructionist policies, and taking no responsibility for anything, then making a move similar to the one they are making now, in the 2012 primary election.
The fourth option is the worst possible scenario that this county could possibly face, simply because it gives more power to the Republicans (who in this election have been heavily infiltrated by the totally out of touch, possibly insane, Tea Party candidates), who as I've previously mentioned have gotten this country in the mess we currently find ourselves in, and who still offer no solutions to the very real problems this country, and the world now face. They will undoubtedly worsen these problems with their insistence in advancing wrong headed Republican ideology, such as climate change denial, tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else, endless military engagements, and so on. The Republicans themselves have said as much, stating they will possibly shut down the entire government to advance their agenda, initiate pointless investigations into President Obama's activities (just as they did with President Clinton) for partisan political purposes, attempt to repeal heathcare and financial reform (which they are essentially powerless to do given President Obama's ability to veto their proposals). The Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell has openly admitted his one goal for the next two years is to make sure Obama is a one term president. With all of the problems this country faces that is his priority. Despite what the Republicans keep insisting will happen if they gain power, declaring compromise with the Democrats is not an option, and thus insuring deadlock in the House and Senate, a good deal of voters seem to have been manipulated to the point that they ignore their own best interests... again... allowing the Republicans to regain power.
Don't take my word for it (don't take my word for anything, I'm a recovering alcoholic who lives in a box off of Skid Row). I'm happy to say that one of my favorite economists, someone Obama should have hired as Treasury Secretary (along with Robert Reich) rather than Geithner and the outgoing Lawrence Summers, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. I wrote the above before reading his article linked to below, and we essentially agree on everything. Take a look, and beware:
I think I should get a Nobel prize too!
So what is the best course, best rational course, logical course for the nation to progress forward, not backward as the Republican and Tea Partiers would have it. The answer is simple: option number one: The Democrats retain control of both houses with large gains in seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Only this will allow the Congress to avoid stalemate and give the President a fighting chance to do the job he was elected to do. Americans need to vote with their heads and not their emotions.
To do otherwise is nothing else than committing an act of national suicide.
The stakes are tremendous. The situation dire.
We shall see.

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