It's the social networking, stupid.

Before the election, the Republicans talked “jobs jobs jobs.”

No word on jobs, since the election.

gridlock

Now they’re talking “health care repeal, health care repeal, health care repeal.”

I guess they want to stop it before it starts — afraid that millions of people might prefer having a doctor instead of going to the ER for every little thing.

They’re also talking about tax cuts.

And deficit reduction.

Tax cuts and deficit reduction just don’t go together.  Clinton erased the deficit and created a surplus by raising taxes AND cutting the budget.

Of course they do want spending cuts (although they won’t say what spending they want to cut).

A couple more thoughts:

The economy will improve in 2011.

Why do the new members of Congress talk like they’ve got all the power? Why do they talk like they can get things done without compromise? According to Mr. Basinger, my ninth grade civics teacher, a bill cannot become a law unless it’s passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President.

Can Obama get things done without compromise?  That is, can the President do things without passing legislation?

Yes — a hell of a lot.  And he will.

The Republicans didn’t get the mandate they think they got.  Why not?

It’s the social networking, stupid.

With online networking, messages can spread very quickly.

YouTube has only been around five years.

Facebook has been open to the public less than five years.

The past election was a seismic shift in the American political spectrum.

Two years after the previous seismic shift.

And we’ll probably have another one in 2012.  And another after that.

The days of ten and twenty and thirty year political cycles is over.

Things go fast now.

I think many of the members of Congress think they’re still operating under the old media system, where money, gridlock, and time is a valid strategy.

Money will become less important.  Gridlock will get them voted out.  They don’t have as much time as they think.

Obama seems to understand this.

The last Congress got a lot done.

It might be wise for the newbies in Congress to realize that political lives these days are short — and get some work done with the time they’ve got.

Just my opinion.

upside down rhetoric on government

At election time, here in Rowan County, North Carolina, I’m almost always on the losing side. But I can’t remember, in my lifetime, a more frustrating set of arguments.

It occurs to me that the political rhetoric coming from the right is completely upside down.

The things government can do, they want government not to do.

The things government cannot do, they expect government to do.

The government can do a lot to provide health care to all people.  It’s a proven fact.  Many governments have done it very successfully — including ours.

Yet, the rhetoric coming from the right is for government to stay out of health care and leave it entirely to the private sector.

The government can do a lot to educate people (children and adults).  This is a proven fact.  Many countries have done this very successfully, including our own.

But some on the right even want government to step away from education.

Government can provide a safety net for those who are unable to work. This is a matter of common decency in a civilized society.  Yet, cutting aid to the poor and disabled is a loud battle cry from the right.

Energy.  European countries have cut consumption by passing policies that conserve energy.

Yet, Reagan eliminated Carter’s tax credits for solar energy.  In 2000, Bush mocked Gore for suggesting we produce hybrid cars.  And the opposition to energy conservation goes on and on…

Government is even pretty good at running prisons. Yet, there are movements to privatize this.

The government cannot control oil spills.

The government can control unnecessary war.

But the biggest matzah ball of all is employment.

This is mostly a private sector problem.  The government can only do a few things that affect employment around the edges.

And yet, the campaign rhetoric from the right is “jobs jobs jobs.”

If we take them seriously, which is not easy, they actually want government not to do anything around the edges, but still create the jobs.

Government cannot create tens of millions of jobs.

It can help with the long-term, allocating funds to research and infrastructure, which can lead to millions of jobs in the future — and has done so with much success in the past.

But Republicans criticize this kind of spending.

The Republicans campaign on wanting government to do what it cannot do, and not to do what it can.

If something’s not working right and needs improvement — they seem to cite that as justification to cut it altogether.

If you think about it, it’s really frustrating!  Which is why it’s best not to think about it.

That said, the Democrats still have a lot better record on jobs and budget deficits than Republicans.

Does Mitch McConnell make anyone else feel like barfing?

Am I the only one who feels like barfing every time Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and other Republicans in Congress, in regards to health care reform,  say, like silly billy parrots, “the American people do not want this bill.”

makes me feel like barfing

I doubt it.  I’m guessing, if all the people who felt like barfing every time this lie was told actually barfed — the country would be swimming in barf.

This is because, while he endlessly repeats “Americans do not want this bill,” a lot of Americans in fact DO want this bill.

Wh0 are we, the Americans who want this bill?  Chopped liver?  And why does he keep saying we don’t want it, when we do.  Or does he not consider those who agree with him to be Americans?

And which bill do we not want?

That’s the problem.  The House and the Senate passed different bills — and nobody is completely happy with either.  So if they say we do not want “this bill,” they are technically right — since they haven’t defined what they’re talking about.

But most Americans DO want any damn bill that passes and begins to climb the country out of health insurance hell, introduces fair play, and moves us towards, ultimately, universal health care.

Certainly you’ve got polls that say the majority of Americans are against health care reform — because you’ve lied and distorted and scared the bejeezus out of people.

Well, here’s a poll for you:

In August of 2009, SurveyUSA asked 1200 adult Americans a question for NBC News and Wall Street Journal.  The question was “In any health care proposal, how important do you feel it is to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance?  1) extremely important 2) quite important 3) not that important, or 4) not at all important?

77% said it was either Extremely Important or Quite Important.

So get real.  The American people want Congress to fix the broken system.  That’s why we elected Obama.  It’s the health insurance industry that’s against it, and they’ve spent $380 million buying your votes in Congress and moving those poll numbers for you guys — more money than was spent on the entire 2008 presidential campaign.

Importance of Public Option

Dear Senator Bayh,

Dear Senator Bayh,

You say that the Congress is full of good people, but that the ‘system is dysfunctional.

Might I suggest the opposite is true? The system is good and some of the people are dysfunctional.

If your wife works for the health insurance lobby and you stand with her rather than with people in need — then who or what is not functioning?

Senator Evan Bayh
Senator Evan Bayh

If you begin — right after Obama’s election — to throw the Democrats under the bus every chance you get by joining Republicans in speaking trash about programs that are desperately needed by the American people, then who is not functioning?

Were you hoping he would pick you for Vice-President?  Disappointed?  Just asking.

If you raise $13 million for a Senate re-election campaign and then wait until the last second to announce you will not run again, thereby preventing anyone else in your party from preparing for such a campaign, who is not functioning?

The Republicans in Congress appear to be the ones who are not functioning, and you’ve helped them not function. One minute they say what the party tells them to say. Another minute they say what lobbyists tell them to say. One minute they sponsor a bill. The next minute they are against the same bill. One minute they vote against spending and rail against it. The next minute they rejoice in the money it provides. The next minute they rail against it again. One minute they want to help people in their district in hard times. The next minute they vote against health care for all Americans.

The system may need some tweaking, but it’s been around a lot longer than you.  But it’s the current Republican leaders in Congress who have been dysfunctional — INTENTIONALLY!  It is their strategy not to function.  And, like you, they are paid by big business to be dysfunctional.  And you’ve given them a helping hand.

Sam

P.S. I really liked your father.

Can't we all just grow up a little?

The Obama protesters — a noisy bunch — strike me as folks who don’t understand how democracy works.

They are horrified by Obama’s agenda — but it’s not new. This is what he campaigned for.

During the campaign, they made fun of “change,” saying Obama just liked to give ‘pretty speeches,’ accusing him of using ‘rhetoric’ (dismissing rhetoric as something undesirable — when, in fact, it’s something quite useful and necessary).

No — it was actually change.

The push for health care reform should not be a surprise. Many of us gave money and walked many miles canvassing — precisely for this “change.”  We had an election. We won. That’s the way it works.

Granted, he didn’t plan on beginning his presidency with bailouts. Nobody liked that.

But…don’t we want our President to deal with a crisis? Would we have preferred another Great Depression? I think not.

Am I stating the obvious? I think so.

Is this outrage real? If so, it’s perfectly legal and okay — but it’s a little late. That energy should have been channelled into the McCain campaign. Is the outrage strategy for future elections? Possibly. I don’t know.

I feels more like a bunch of babies who don’t know how to lose.

It’s almost as if some people don’t understand what elections are, and that if you care — and I know they do — sometimes your candidate still loses.

In fact, losing is normal and complete victory never happens. Even when your candidate wins, it’s a mixed bag.  We have a pluralistic system in which his or her agenda — particularly in domestic matters — is never completely realized.

Recalling a few Presidential elections:

1972. I was a junior in high school. The Saturday before the election, my older brother dropped me off at a strip mall in Kannapolis, NC. Kannapolis, at that time, was not known for its diversity. Let’s call it a “conservative” area. I’m Jewish.  My hair was long, very curly, and unruly. My partner was another long-haired guy with a heavy accent — our Finnish exchange student.

I don’t think we won George McGovern any votes that day.

I liked McGovern. He said something like ‘We’ve tried getting peace with bombing. Let’s try getting peace with not bombing.’  Something like that.  As a sixteen year old who would soon be registering for the draft, I wanted the war to end ASAP.

I remember, about the time the polls closed on election day, talking with the local newspaper reporter who covered politics.

I remember still hoping that McGovern could win. This reporter told me he thought McGovern might win a few states, but that winning was “out of the question.”

I still remember hearing that cold prediction and not believing it. A few hours later, of course, his forecast was confirmed accurate. The next morning, on the way to school, a friend told me, “Don’t take it so hard. Nixon’s not that bad.” I was not to be consoled.

1990.  Here in Salisbury, we had an anti-Jesse Helms rally.  We marched from the Democratic headquarters, on South Main St., to the courthouse steps on North Main, where we made speeches.  Across the street, Helms supports shouted back. It was crazy — but at least it was before the Helms-Gant election, not after.

1992. I took my daughter to Clinton rallies and to the inauguration. We had a blast. Thus began the indoctrination of another generation.

2000. The debate was held in Winston-Salem, and I took my children.  We watched it in an auditorium, on the large screen, with lots of other Democrats. We saw Al Gore ride by in the motorcade.

In 2004, I spent quite a few evenings on the phone, calling swing states. On Saturdays in the fall, I took my daughters canvassing.  It seemed that every door we knocked on (all registered Democrats) was opened by a hardened, pro-war, Bush supporter.  We canvassed all day on election day, in a slightly more sympathetic neighborhood.  Even in a hopeless effort, which North Carolina clearly was, I like to feel that I’ve helped out a little.

That night, when Bush defeated Kerry, these daughters of mine, and one of their friends who was at our house that night — all of whom had worked quite hard all day — began to sob.

It took me a minute to realize that their grief was real. They were really this torn up about an election. I blamed myself for taking this too seriously and transferring that emotion.  Some things in life are more important than others, and at this point in my life, a national election seemed too abstract to take personally.

“Geez,” I said. “It’s not that bad. It’s just politics.  The pendulum swings back and forth. Maybe we’ll win the next one.”

No words could comfort these three girls, sitting on our living room couch, balling uncontrollably.

I realized that I was caught up in the history as much as the cause, whereas they were devoted entirely to the cause.

I’ve always taken comfort in the advice given by Timothy Gallwey in The Inner Game of Tennis, which goes something like this:  ‘If you pay attention to the score, losing is the norm.  Even so, winning isn’t that great and losing isn’t that bad.’  The idea is that one can win all the time by redefining what it means to win.  Full effort and improvement is winning.

And that’s the problem with folks now. Winning can happen — but it’s rare.  Losing is the norm, and it’s not worth going crazy and having a tantrum.

Politics is fascinating, but we seem to have a decent system that is somewhat self-correcting.

So c’mon, Republicans. Get a grip. Grow up. Play fair. It’s better for the country. There will be more elections, and your day will come again.