Monday, April 11, 2011

A Political Hangover

I don’t know about you, but I spent the weekend feeling betrayed, insulted and sullied by the political theatre production of Budget. If you looked at the programme, you know it read: “Starring John Boehner and Harry Reid, with Barack Obama as the President Who Does Nothing, and introducing The Tea Party as The Hateful Minority That Has Seized Undeserved Power."

After the performance was over Friday night and the players were taking a bow, I felt sick and furious watching these supposedly arch enemies pat themselves and each other on the back. (Then on Saturday, Obama went sprinting up the steps of the Lincoln Monument to remind visitors that they could enjoy being there because he and Congressional leaders had done the right thing and managed to keep the government up and running. Give me a big break!)

How is it possible that the Democrats, who could and should have presented a fiscally responsible and socially progressive budget six fucking months ago not do so and instead collaborate with the Republicans, the Conservatives and the Ignorant Teabag Maniacs after allowing the budget process to come down to the wire? How could the President allow military and civil service families suffer horrid anxiety about money for their day-to-day lives when he and all the cronies on both sides knew very well they were not going to let the government shut down? And how has the Tea Party, undeniably representing a minority of American opinion, gained so much political influence so quickly?

Smarter and better-informed heads than mine are pondering these questions and writing about them today. Since my ultimate question is: how can American Progressives sit back quietly while the noisy, hateful opposition use previously-successful left-wing tactics to successfully push forward their right-wing agenda?, I want to offer you links to some of the better things I’ve read this morning – with the hope that you’ll read them, too:

The President Is Missing

by Paul Krugman

Why the Right-Wing Bullies Will Hold The Nation Hostage Again and Again

by Robert Reich

Why Progressives Keep On Losing and the Right Keeps On Winning

by Richard Eskow

As I was traversing the blogosphere and news outlets this morning, it was clear that most folks were willing to put the budget-2011 fracas behind them and focus on the bigger battle currently gathering steam: budget-2012. Perfectly reasonable. But in order to fully prepare yourself for this onslaught, it’s worth noting what really happened last week – and why (therefore, the links above).

Going forward, confronting the deficit, the debt and (now) the debt ceiling may seem necessary, although that’s questionable… But let’s assume it’s as essential as the Republicans would have us believe. Why is there no deafening call for more revenue on the part of Democrats? When is someone going to find the balls to proportionately tax very rich people, as well as end tax cuts for corporations who outsource American jobs, and go after the huge sums in other unpaid corporate taxes (e.g., GE)? When will truly non-essential monies be cut out of the bloated Defense budget? When will the federal government look at its own house and defund programs that duplicate the functions of others already successfully in place (which in itself would save billions)?

And when will President Obama stop playing Mr. Nice Bipartisan Guy and start talking and behaving like the liberal he’s supposed to be? When will he let the opposition know that budget cuts will not be made on the backs of women, children, the poor, the environment, education, and the best that American culture provides – all of which, combined, doesn’t even begin to compare to the costs of mismanaged Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Don’t get me wrong: I do not want to see cuts in those programs made in such a way that they take anything away from the people they were established to serve. But no one can deny that there’s waste and fraud there, and a fine scalpel (instead of an ax) should be used to cut them out. And, once again (I’ll keep saying this over and over), the U.S. would save billions and earn billions if marijuana were legalized and taxed – and the War on Drugs could be waged against substances that truly kill people, cripple lives, and damage communities.

My final question is when will We the People start getting more concerned and involved – but I’m saving that commentary for another post, something that might be called Effective Dissent for Busy, Tired People. Keep an eye peeled.

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