What are we trying to accomplish here?
Does either side of the political fence think that total annihilation of the other side is plausible? Is that the goal? If it isn’t then why aren’t we working together or even listening to each other? Why are the arguments so extreme?
Does anyone really think either party is going to lie down and confess, “You guys were right! We need to shut up, step aside and let you take over!”?
I’ll admit that I did not like the Bush Administration and I was vocal as I opposed the invasion of Iraq and I bristled at continued de-regulation on top of already deep Clinton-era de-regulation policies that allowed for derivatives to turn toxic. Money was being siphoned from the bottom toward the top with more gusto than a Gold Rush prostitute.
I was baffled by reducing revenue while engaging in two wars and I scoffed at the poorly conceived and underfunded “No Child Left Behind,” as well as falsifying costs of the Prescription Drug Program.
I was miffed when President Bush shunned counsel from his own economic advisors, and angry at Dick Cheney’s self-serving involvement in creating Halliburton loopholes.
I was ashamed of the administration’s jingoistic foreign policy that alienated allies and I was incensed by the Patriot Act which gave government virtually unlimited powers of surveillance over its citizens without judicial oversight!
In short, I wanted George W Bush and his neo-cons, the post-Reagan Republicans, and a growing extreme on the right to go away. I wanted an election revolution where the left took over.
I was being naïve.
The 2008 election turned out pretty much the way I wanted, but the lines of division were now so wide and so contentious that bi-partisan cooperation was as improbable as Snookie becoming an advisor to the Princeton Review.
So what have we done? What have I done? I’ve engaged in the battle, thinking that I might attach the right words to the right ideas that will change the way things are; I thought I could get my “opposition” to come around to my way of thinking.
Not gonna happen.
But, here’s my conundrum: When I offer conciliatory olive branches by applauding the accomplishments of Republicans in our history, or when I am critical of President Obama and Democrats (I distrust his abuse of power from the Patriot Act as much as I did with President Bush), I don’t get even ”one thin wafer” of acknowledgment from my friends on the right.
Instead, they reveal a GRAVE double-standard as they chastise me for supporting our President while they condemn him for the very things they once embraced.
Or…to be more accurate; things that they once cared far less about…
Things like the Patriot Act, Deficit Spending, Debt Ceilings or the Debt, for that matter.
Obama essentially continued the same economic recovery plan set into motion by Bush with Stimulus Spending and Bailout Loans to Detroit and Wall Street. Very little was done to actually “regulate” the markets that had just betrayed us. Obama did not immediately de-escalate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, either. He didn’t change counter-terrorism policies and he continued the Patriot Act.
Yet…the Republicans hate him and when I point out the inconsistencies in their arguments, their reply is consistent and swift: “Excuses! When are you going to stop blaming Bush?”
Well….history is what it is…but this isn’t really about placing blame. It’s about trying to figure out WHAT THE F*#K IT IS THEY BELIEVE!!!
If the Republican ”offense” is that Democrats are making excuses and still blaming Bush for what is wrong, why, then, can’t they acknowledge what is right? And I have to ask…”Excuses for what?” Look at the stock market, corporate cash reserves, hiring, and the housing market. Look at real budget numbers that show that deficit spending was coming down, even before the Draconian austerity measures. More Americans have health security. Long decaying roads and bridges are being re-built. The war is de-escalating.
Those words will fire up the Republicans who read my columns as they insist that America has only fallen deeper into a hole for the past 4 years. In fact, I know a guy who just bought a house and went on a vacation for the “first time in 4 years.” He even said that his business is hiring again, yet, he still complains about how badly Obama has messed things up.
I am not suggesting that it’s time for anyone to take a victory lap; we still have deep, dark issues surrounding civil liberties, immigration, un-employment, foreign policies, and Constitutional protections; but, I am confused as to what it is I’m being asked by Republicans to believe.
And, in fact (olive branch coming…) if President Obama’s stimulus package and loans to Detroit and financial institutions were instrumental in the recession’s reversal trends, we have to share that credit with President Bush, as well. Unless we can find common purpose and sit down without intending to throw one side out the window; unless we can define our principles and acknowledge that both sides have contributed to what we believe is great about this country…we will condemn ourselves to continue this unhealthy and destructive journey toward an eventual implosion.