Friday, January 29, 2010

GOP – The Party of “No!” The Party of “Gimme!” The Party of “Fuck the Rest of You!”

And nothing that took place after Obama’s State of the Union is going to change that impression (and before any potential conservative wags start their bellyaching about being painted in that light, let me ask you this: How would you fix this very real problem? Hint: Glib answers only prove my point).

In the meantime, have you read or listened to any of the Republicans’ replies to Obama? They all pretty much say the same thing, with tiny derivations of the following: “The President is not listening to the American people,” “job killing agenda” “same old liberal agenda” “they just wanna spend spend spend” ad infinitum.

In other words, after Obama’s call for bipartisanship, he was met with more non-bi-curious partisanship. Big surprise, and let’s just take as a given that this sort of behavior won’t change anytime soon.

While political points can and likely will be gained from continued conservative obstreperousness, there’s the matter of helping the left/progressive/Democrats find its spine; for if the Republicans are the party of “LALALALALALAICAN’THEARYOU!”, then Democrats are the party of “Why’d he hit me even after I gave him my milk money?” Current Democrats are the political equivalent of the simp at the beginning of that old Charles Atlas ad you used to see in the back of comic books, the one who got his girl taken away from him after some douche came along and kicked sand in their faces. (“It’s just fucking sand, you pathetic sack of flesh!” I’d think.)

This is an untenable situation, and if our elected representatives on the left are wondering why it is they can’t seem to get traction for their policies for longer than a couple of days, they would do well to remember that there’s a lot to be said for consistency, backbone and, ultimately, being able to deliver. I know a number of people who identify as Republican, whether they agree with the right’s policies or not, simply because they get things done.

Historically for the left, sticking to our guns has proven extremely effective. Roosevelt’s New Deal faced an unbelievable amount of opposition before its passage, and most of those programs are still standing to this day. Medicare has been so successful over the decades that the modern day base of conservatives believes its existence is their god-given right; the same is true with Social Security. Even right wing sops to progressives have proven necessary; whatever else could be said about Nixon (the last real conservative/Republican president in my estimation, nasty piece of business that he was), it was under his administration that the EPA was created.

This is why I appreciated Obama’s open admonishing of legislative Democrats during the State of the Union address, delivered just before he chastised their Republican counterparts.

However, admirable though it was, it’s surely not enough; at least not to satisfy my thirst for real progressive movement within our government, and, to be plain, the problem starts at the top.

Mr. President, beneath the fervent feelings the Left, the Progressives (oh, but not the Liberals, no; perish the thought) among us expressed for your candidacy during the 2008 campaign, was not just a desire for change or hope, but for leadership. It’s the sort of thing Jon Stewart expressed succinctly in this clip from the Daily Show.

Leadership is more than delivering uplifting, tough and compassionate oratory rhetoric. Leadership means sticking your neck out and providing ever important details, not just throwing out a blanket statement and then leaving the minions to figure out how to deliver that, and if they screw up, well, it’s their mess. “We still got some version of what we wanted, right?”

It means holding the hands of those doing the leg work, if necessary, in order to get them to deliver the desired policy you want. It means bolstering those who quake in their boots in the face of loud diversionary tactics as it is happening. It means browbeating those in your party who are visibly caving to the interests of lobbyists and industry.

It means not capitulating on goals and ideals in order to simply get things moving. It means remembering that bipartisanship is achieved by having a strong detailed plan and bartering over the small stuff. It means acknowledging that the other party isn’t being reasonable long before they just start saying no and acting appropriately at that moment, not weeks or months down the line.

Mr. President, during the State of the Union address, you said that you didn’t choose to tackle the health care reform issue just to get a legislative victory under your belt. I believe you, but can you tell me how taking someone that is unemployed, or maybe is employed, but still can’t afford decent health insurance and making them buy some kind of policy from the very insurance companies that have screwed us in the past; how is this not capitulation? How do you go from the Public Option (and you did campaign on the Public Option) to trigger plans and not see that as dispiriting for the people who voted for you?

Is it better than what we had before? I guess, but it isn’t Bold. Not as bold as the New Deal. It’s watered down Clinton progress and that is saying something.

That’s just health care reform; there are numerous areas where you’ve caved, Mr. President. I agree that some of that caving was probably necessary, but I don’t think that’s the case in every instance.

Lastly, I implore you not to take Progressives for granted. Please. One could say that it was moderate Republicans who put you in office, but beneath that, there was the massive Progressive support that provided the large bulk of your votes.

There is a school of thought that says that progressives will always turn out for the Democratic candidate, that they’d rather swallow a scumbag than face the alternative. You could argue that this has been true for quite some time.

But, increasingly, the more we get left out in the cold, the more potentially foolish notions get in our heads. Corrupt voting practices in Florida and the Supreme Court may have been responsible for handing George W. Bush the presidency in 2000, but let's remember that Ralph Nader was around to seduce valuable votes away from Al Gore.

It may be akin to cutting off our nose to spite our face, but not being heard, paid attention to, or appeased will drive anybody to extremes.

Consider this a friendly reminder.

1 comment:

(S)wine said...

ah but you see, there's a question of "legacy" once one holds this office, and the idea of 'at least we got a version of it done' starts to look mighty attractive once legacy enters the picture. i loathe the "'s better than what we had" attitude. it's on par with "lesser of two evils." it's like having a big pile of shit in your living room, and then replacing it with a big pile of vomit. whatever this 'health care reform' piece of shit legislation is floating around Congress is not better than what we had. it's the big pile of vomit. with chunks and minced bile and blood. no thank you. i continue to think that this country is basically too big to have a majority consensus on anything. it's pretty much split in equal parts. which yields stalemate. and this is exactly what Congresspeople want. it means job security for them. it's Orwell come true all around. it's the illusion of one side perpetually fighting the other, keeping politicians in their jobs for decades.