Friday, October 8, 2010

A Plea to Vote (for Democrats)

We’ve been hearing quite a bit about the “enthusiasm gap” or the fact that Democrats are demoralized and, therefore, might not go to the polls in November. If Democrats stay home and allow Republicans to take control, it will be a classic case of cutting off a nose to spite a face (you know, I never really understood that cliché…). There are a few things to think about heading into the upcoming election.

When you think about the current economic reality facing our country, ask yourself this: Are we in economic hard times because of Republicans or Democrats? Before answering, remember that we’ve spent hundreds of billions (maybe even a trillion now) on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while giving tax cuts. (Oh, and don’t forget that Republicans passed laws that makes bankruptcy more difficult for consumers and givens credit card companies more opportunities to recover money from consumers filing bankruptcy.)

If economic woes continue, which party do you think will do the most to create jobs and to help those hit hardest by the economic slowdown? Recall that during President Bush’s administration (and the 6 years that Republicans controlled Congress, job creation stagnated before falling off a cliff). Since President Obama took office, job creation has improved; it isn’t where it should be, but at least it appears to be headed (slowly) in the right direction. And remember that it was Republicans who refused to extend unemployment insurance benefits and who talk about phasing out or privatizing Social Security.

Or think of it this way: Had Republicans been in charge for the last two years, would the economy be better or worse now? I know that people are frustrated with the stimulus; it didn’t create as many jobs as we all might have hoped. But it did create jobs (despite Republican lies to the contrary). What would the economic outlook be now had that stimulus not flowed into the system? Or try this thought exercise: Had Republicans not obstructed everything that the Democrats tried to do during the last two years, might things be even better now? Do we want to reward the Republicans for obstructionism by giving them the chance to drive us right back into the economic ditch?

Do you really think that those making more than $1,000,000 per year need a massive tax cut? Are they going to spend it to give you a job or are they going to sock it away in a hedge fund?

I’m not happy with the results we’ve seen in the last two years. But my unhappiness is not a function of the Democratic policies being the wrong ones; rather, my unhappiness is a function of the fact that Republicans stymied Democratic efforts to make things even better. Remember when Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail? Well, isn’t that exactly the goal that Republicans have worked at since the inauguration? And if you think that President Obama has failed, ask yourself whether he’s failed because of his policy goals and those of Congress or if he’s failed because failure was the strategy that Rush and Glenn Beck and Fox News have pursued with willful glee?

And now we’re also getting to witness the results of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United as unlimited amounts of anonymous money (including foreign money) are flooding the system to help elect candidates. Does it come as any surprise that this flood of money is favoring Republicans by a 7-1 margin? And recall that Republicans blocked the bill that would have forced disclosure of the identity of these anonymous funding sources. How can individual voters keep up with corporations (including foreign corporations) that can pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the system?

I worry about how much worse things may get if we give Republicans control this November. I worry that Republican victories will simply embolden tea partiers and their violent and racist rhetoric even more; after all, if their conduct is seen to “work” in 2010, then just imagine what they’ll do for the 2012 Presidential election!

Oh, and one more thing for Hoosier voters to think about. Next spring the Indiana General Assembly will be redrawing Indiana’s political districts (both for Congress and the General Assembly). Right now, the House and Senate are divided. Democrats have no hope to take the Senate because those districts are so badly gerrymandered that Democrats will remain a perpetual minority in that chamber. If Republicans take control of the House, they may be able to do the same thing to the House. Think about how few competitive local races we have. Well that could be even worse if Republicans take control. So even if you’re not excited (or scared) about what may happen in Washington, think about what may happen here in Indianapolis. If Republicans control both chambers in the Indiana General Assembly, social issue legislation will likely push Indiana from the 20th Century back to the 19th. I’d like to see Democrats in control so that maybe, just maybe, Indiana can enter the 21st Century.

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