To say that the political events of the past year, which started out so promising, have turned out to be baffling, exasperating and discouraging would be like saying water is wet. Sadly, when it comes to either end of the electorate's ideological continuum, it would appear that the inmates have taken over the asylum. Except that nobody really knows where to find the keys or even realizes (much less acknowledges) that possession of them is a fundamental necessity.
First, let me address (and this is really painful), independents and my fellow liberals--especially those elected to office or employed as pundits or other political news analysts: shame on you. Nearly all of you are highly educated and well-meaning and used to display some grasp of reality. So why are you excoriating Obama for "breaking his promises" on healthcare and the economy, or the Democrats in Congress for "squandering a supermajority?" Have you, too, joined the cast of what has in effect become "Short Attention Span Political Theater" and latched on to the convenience and intellectual dishonesty and laziness of government-by-catchphrase? Have you forgotten that the Republican Party fell in line and is making good on its promise to unify in stonewalling ANYTHING Obama or the Democrats advocate and could claim credit for if achieved? Have you also forgotten that the Democratic Party includes moderates and conservatives and isn't (and has never been) one big happy liberal family--and that while 40 Republicans=40 Republican votes, 60 Democrats equals perhaps 50 Democratic plus 10 completely idiosyncratic finger-to-the-corporate-and-constituency-wind votes? Did you not learn (or have you also forgotten) that anything short of a budget reconciliation measure can be infinitely filibustered in the Senate until either the yakkers run out of breath or 60 brave and sensible souls can get together and, via cloture, get them to shut the heck up and vote?
Next, did you who decry that this is not part of the Constitution and ought to be changed never learn (or, again, forget) that it takes SIXTY-SEVEN votes to change a Senate rule until a new Senate takes office in 2011? Why are you climbing on to the attention-deficit bandwagon and joining the chorus of "You said we'd get change and prosperity and it's been a whole year and things have gotten worse?" A year ago, you spoke the truth and pointed out that twenty years of Reaganomics (the last 8 years of which were Bushonomics, or Reaganomics on steroids) dug us a massive economic hole lined with quicksand and shoved us all in. Now you're speaking gibberish to power and complaining that we're still in there and somehow it's Obama's fault because he did not lift us out. News flash: he didn't because HE CAN'T. And NOBODY CAN in such a short time. Stop calling for the guy's head on a plate because he didn't turn out to be Jesus. (Especially you independents who boasted that you voted for him to demonstrate your common sense and desire to change the political culture of expediency). News flash--he's not Dennis Kucinich either, and thank the good Lord for that.
Finally, stub out whatever it is you're smoking, stop singing "Kumbaya" across the aisle, and drop this idiotic fantasy of bipartisanship. You tried that back when we were in the governmental minority, and all it did was advance conservative principles. You forgot that the GOP couldn't kill the filibuster with just a majority vote, so you didn't use it--or used it just halfheartedly to show us you tried to protect us from dangerously reactionary judicial and Cabinet appointees. Not that you should have banded together to "make Bush fail." He was eventually able to do that all by himself (okay, with his fellow neocons' help). There is no way Republicans are EVER going to want to cooperate, not even on stuff THEY actually want, so long as THEY didn't introduce it themselves and WE might claim credit for it. We may have to wait till Jan. 2011 to make a majority worth 51% again--but we'd darn well better do it when that date rolls around.
Okay, Republicans, you're not getting off any easier. First and foremost, you need to define what it is you are FOR, besides anything that will "make Obama fail" and give you back the control of government you previously had and used to botch this country domestically, economically, and internationally nearly beyond repair. You are so reflexively knee-jerk anti-Obama that you are willing to do and say anything to get your own political power back--even principles that are anathema to your constituents, principles and platform. Second, STOP LYING. You were acolytes of Bush/Cheney so long that you seem to have forgotten how to tell the truth. You decry "government control" and "socialism," when you wouldn't know real socialism if it bit you on the butt--and the fact is that real socialism would laugh at the suggestion that any part of the Obama agenda remotely resembles socialism. Third, stop treating "moderate" and "centrist" as if they were cuss words. And stop idly tossing around the word "conservative" as if you knew what it means--and using it as a purity test for party members. You, especially the birthers, death-panelers, and teabaggers, are not conservatives--you're REACTIONARIES (and more than just a few of you hate Obama because he's black and not Ron Christie, J.C. Watts or Michael Steele). Barry Goldwater was a conservative. Bob Dole is a conservative. Jack Kemp was a conservative. Bush #41 was a conservative. John McCain briefly flirted with being a conservative before becoming a reactionary and is confused about what he really is or wants to be.
Finally, stop tossing around catchphrases like "big government," "tax & spend," "Islamo-fascism," "elites" and "the Real America." Instead, tell your constituents the specifics of what you stand for and against. One of the reasons they have short attention spans is you encouraged that, because if they dared to do their homework they might discover what frauds you are. While you're at it, go read up on the original Boston Tea Party, and don't hide its actual history from your followers--you'll find out what REAL "taxation without representation" entailed and that its proceeds went across the pond to benefit King George the Gaga instead of providing services to the colonists.
And check out the definition of "fascism:" it doesn't mean extremism, jihad or even dictatorship (there are plenty of Communist dictators out there, after all). It means government getting so far into bed with business that they produce a monster love child a la Mussolini's Italy. (For those of you who complain that the Wall St. bailouts were exactly that, wrong again: Wall Street banks pre-bailout were a behemoth aggregation of private entities, run by rules they changed at will and made so arcane they had no idea what they were, taking insane risks fueled by even more insane greed, that strapped on a collective suicide-bomber vest and threatened to push the detonator button unless we gave them money. That's what "too big to fail" means, and you don't want to contemplate what the results of THAT kind of "failure" would have been. You think times are hard NOW? The bailout was one big bomb-defusion operation. That Wall St. survived to screw us over again is infuriating, but if it had blown itself up it'd have taken us down with it). However, this week's Supreme Court decision (as "activist" as it gets) is the genesis of fascism--government and business making it at least to third base.
Meanwhile, there is a way to make sure "too big to fail" never happens again: it's called REGULATION. And no, just like taxes, it's not an instrument of the Devil. (As to why you--not just the GOP in bed with the ultra-wealthy but those everyday people being stomped on by the ultra-wealthy--consider taxes some sort of "third rail," it defies logic---when we cut taxes on those, including businesses, with multimillion-dollar incomes and deregulated them, their profits went through the roof.......and they still kept downsizing and outsourcing and eliminating your jobs. Why should we cut them that same break now and suddenly expect them to create jobs)? Yes, the government would get involved to accomplish such horrible things as making sure that banks don't make loans they shouldn't make, that they can't drown you in unfair ATM and overdraft fees without your advance knowledge, that they can't yank all your credit cards across the board simply because you were late on one payment, that they can't charge you Vegas viggorish interest rates, that they can't suddenly shorten the period between purchase and due date (and then mail you your bill so late that you can't help but be late unless you own a Wayback Machine), etc. All of this would ensure that we won't get eviscerated by the banks, that they couldn't get themselves into so much trouble that they harm the economy again, and that they couldn't get their collective hands on another shahid vest and threaten to blow us all to kingdom come unless we bail them out again. What's wrong with this kind of regulation? Oh, riiiiight---it's "government control." Make up your minds, folks, fish or cut bait. And learn facts and think things through instead of parroting catchphrases. Once you learn, you won't need catchphrases anyway.
And everyone---will you get off your duffs and LEARN (or re-learn) basic principles of government so you know what you're all talking about (and might actually think twice before shooting your mouths off)!! Our schools seemed to have given up on teaching civics (and poli sci isn't even part of most college core curricula any more--students are encouraged to declare majors ASAP and to go straight to preparing for science, math or business degrees).
Knowledge is power. Ignorance, however, is not bliss--it's folly, and it makes us lemmings. We may be on different sides of the aisle, but until we learn what is happening and what can and can't be done, we're all gonna blindly jump off the same cliff.