One week to go: my opinion

Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the U.S. Senate, has confirmed that the GOPs major objective is to make President Obama a one-term President. So, if the GOP prevails next week, the gridlock of the first two years of the Obama administration will only intensify. The GOP leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives have received huge political contributions from big recipients of the Fall 2008 TARP money.

Karl Rove and his ilk view political campaigns as war, as mortal combat, with voters as soldiers and media and words and images as deadly weapons used to kill opponents. "Sniper fire" attack ads funded by contributors to super pacs who do not need to identify themselves will fill the media the next seven days in targeted races nationwide. The overwhelming majority of this money will go in behalf of Republican candidates or against Democrats. It will be a very nasty week compared against an already-nasty season. It applies to state (such as governors) as well as national candidates.

The ultimate paradox, to me, is that the middle class - those who vote and pay the taxes - has been successfully recruited to kill itself: a sort of class suicide.

Voters still rule in this country. In my opinion, informed voting is our most important civic duty. Next Tuesday, November 2, most everybody in the United States will vote. (I include as "voters" those who can but won't show up at the polls; those who vote with little or no knowledge of who or what they are voting for, and those who do not consider the short and long term implications of their vote for any office.)

So be it. It's a free country. All I have is my opinion. I will vote Democrat on Tuesday, November 2, with no hesitation whatsoever. November 3 we'll have an idea what we're in for in the next two years - what fork in the national road we've decided to take.

*******

We're leaving a "fast and loose" first decade of the 21st century. Luckily we survived it somewhat intact. From 2001 to 2009 we could imagine that the good times were a-rollin'. It was party time. War and prosperity were purchased on our national credit card; tax cuts were enacted that we didn't need and couldn't afford. All of this has truly left us with a national "hangover" which first manifested itself, officially, in mid-September, 2008, when the big banking world nearly crashed and burned. (The first to be rehabilitated, through TARP, from that huge crisis were the biggest bankers themselves. This happened at the request, and at the end, of the Bush era, before a new president was even elected.)

We've been in the painful stage of recovery the last two years and regardless of who wins next Tuesday, the economic struggle is far from over. This is hard medicine to take, but it is essential if we are to leave a country and world worth leaving to our grandkids. We need adults in charge as we continue - people who recognize actions have consequences. We can't go back to those "good old days."

The Democrats have been the majority party in the House, Senate and White House for less than two years, and have done a great deal to begin the process of reform which is so desperately needed in so many areas. They deserve more time.

The Republicans controlled the House and Senate from 1995-2007; controlled the White House, House and Senate from 2001-2007; and controlled the White House from 2001-2009. (Here's the data: Congress and Presidency001). It was during the many years of the long Republican watch that we nearly lost everything. It makes little sense to me that we seek to go back to that style again, but we might.

The most dangerous period in American history since the Great Depression happened in 2008 and early 2009.

It has been a difficult two years since.

Those who pray for big Republican gains in this election should consider carefully what they pray for. If they win, this time they will not have the presidency as an ally.

*******

Among the many issues facing Congress is the issue of the tax "cut" much bandied about: should it go to everyone, or to the bottom 98 percent of the people in this country? First, the debate is not about a tax "cut" at all. Rather it is whether to continue a tax cut that ends by law at the end of this year. If agreement is not reached, in 2011 no one will have the tax cut enacted ten years ago; if agreement is reached that everyone should have the tax cut continue, the economic implications for the long term will be horrible. Either we save money for the wealthiest among us (continue their tax cut), or we continue the recovery: this is the choice.

If the Republicans regain control, not only will our national legislative house be a divided one, but the new house members will in large part be people with no experience and no seniority in the rough and tumble environment of Washington DC. It is one thing to campaign promise to beat back "Washington"; it's an entirely another thing to have an impact, even within your own party.

We are at a watershed moment: either we will re-attempt the false prosperity of the early 2000s; or endure the discomfort that comes with change and recovery - never a rapid or easy process under the best of circumstances.

Americans are not a patient people nor are we accustomed to discipline. But we have no choice but patience and self-control in the next few years. The problem is not someone else; it is each one of us.

I will proudly and confidently vote Democrat next Tuesday. I see more thoughtful and reasoned approaches to government at all levels and more attention to the concerns of the common people - the middle class - from the Democrats, than I see from the Republican Party which has very openly become the party of corporate influence and wealth.

When you vote, and I hope you do, vote with with full awareness of the implications of your vote.

We not them, are the government we will see in 2011 and 2012. It is our country we are making or breaking.

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Dick Bernard's picture
Dick Bernard