Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's Election Day and So What? ... What Are the Issues Are Other Than "Vote for Me" Because "My Opponent" Is a Bad Guy? ... Another Lesson in Why Politics Sucks

Today is election day. Billions have been spent convincing us not to vote for the bad guys, as defined by their good guy opponents. But hardly any time or money has been spent telling us why we should vote FOR somebody. I guess the pols don't believe we should be trusted to think and act for ourselves, and maybe they're right about that. If so, we're really in trouble as a nation with either the current crop of political 'leaders' or their opponents 'representing' us.

In sharing a story about legendary basketball player Bill Russell, Keenan's post reminds us to fight for ourselves, which in today's elections means thinking independently and voting accordingly. I agree completely. But the politicians don't want us to think for ourselves. They want to think for us. An informed citizenry is not the main idea of American politics. Not even close.

Negative advertising and name calling have been the 24/7 main ingredients of this year's political campaigns. In the commercial spots and ads, we aren't given reasons why we should vote for a particular candidate but instead why we must vote against that candidate's opponent.

If the candidate being attacked is a Democrat, he is accused of being too close to President Obama and perhaps Harry Reid, as well as a tax raiser and big government spender. If a Republican, he is allegedly out-of-touch, probably too rich himself, and in any case will give his rich friends a tax break. And he hates women, blacks, Hispanics and immigrants, and will vote against raising the minimum wage while polluting the environment.

But at no time during all this nonsense are we told why we should vote FOR somebody. Or the steps we must follow to get the economy growing and good jobs created, deal with foreign policy or national security (ISIS and Russia), ObamaCare or getting our national debt under control. There has  been no serious discussion about the pros and cons of cutting government spending, dealing with our unaffordable entitlements issues (such as Social Security, Medicare and ObamaCare), improving our taxpayer supported systems of K-12 and higher education, or approving energy projects like the Keystone Pipeline and drilling for and exporting more of our oil and gas.

So no matter who wins and who loses the various races, my guess (sadly) is that not much will change. That said, it will still be nice to have it over. Yes, politics as played and practiced in the U.S. amounts to very 'expensive small ball' and it sucks.

Midterms Cover Everything Except Governing Agenda hits the nail on the head:

"The U.S. midterm elections have had almost everything, except a vision for governing.
The Republicans ran on hating Obamacare and accusations that President Barack Obama displayed a lack of leadership on Islamic State's terrorism and Ebola. . . .

Democrats leveled charges that hard-hearted Republicans would slice Granny's Social Security and throw her off the Medicare rolls while denying younger women contraception. . . .

A national campaign that will cost about $4 billion, . . . has featured little discussion of issues that will confront the next, likely Republican, Congress.

The absent agenda is tax reform, reshaping the Affordable Care Act -- which won't be repealed -- or a long-term deficit measure dealing with entitlements and taxes or much-needed major infrastructure projects or whether and how to wage war against Islamic State.

An election in which neither party advances ideas usually augurs poorly for getting much done.

The probability is that Republicans will win a slight majority in the Senate and add about 10 seats to their House majority. That means constant clashes between a Republican-run Congress and a lame-duck Democratic president. . . . Republicans dismiss arguments they are too negative; they seem to be in the driver's seat now.

Republicans don't relish the prospect of losing the White House again in 2016; that would give Democrats control in 20 of the last 28 years. Preventing that outcome is complicated by the Republicans' image with voters. "Just say no" works in midterm elections for the opposition party; it usually doesn't in presidential contests. . . .

To achieve anything substantive in the Senate will require bipartisan support, which would mean McConnell and his Democratic counterpart, Harry Reid, would have to start talking to each other.

As for the president, . . . Obama can ill afford to stay in a funk and ignore the domestic front. He should perhaps consider a political trade-off to keep the guts of his Affordable Care Act -- while chipping away at some of the little stuff -- in return for giving the Republicans more on corporate tax reform, trade, infrastructure and even an immigration bill that's a bit to the right of the bipartisan measure passed by the Senate.

A substantive down payment on immigration reform would help Obama's legacy, and Republicans can ill afford another presidential election as the anti-immigration party.

"It may be possible to get some things done," says former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. "It's not probable, but possible.""

Summing Up

This year's election season should end today, but it won't. In fact, the election season in many parts of the U.S. probably won't even be over anytime soon. For example, the Senate may well not be decided prior to a runoff on January 6 in Georgia (where I live). Let's hope that's not the case. 

And now the 2016 presidential election season begins. In our political circus, it's a matter of all politics, all the time.

Perhaps someday soon We the People will rise up and require our "public servants" to actually try to do the people's work. Only then will we as a nation begin to repair the many things that need fixing.
It's not about women vs. men, whites vs. blacks and Hispanics, young vs. old, urban vs. rural, rich vs. poor or the college educated vs. the rest of Americans. We've had more than enough name calling. lie telling, and purposeful and mean spirited divisiveness from the politicians, starting with President Obama.

It's time to let all of them, including him, know that We the People are not fooled, that we're very much all in this Ship of State together, and that we are ready and willing to do our parts to keep the American Ship afloat. 

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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