Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Time To Give Up?

After a night like tonight (last night, already?) the urge to give up is great. I cannot really say that I am disappointed with election results. I am disappointed with what happens in between elections.

This time I am particularly disappointed, because Democrats held the legislature whole, and the executive, and they still managed to fuck things up. Democrats squandered a once in a lifetime opportunity to accomplish meaningful reform. They did everything too timidly, like--for example--they way the handled so-called health care reform: they compromised everything desirable away, and the remaining meaningful provisions, like insurance exchanges, will not kick in until 2014. Are you kidding me?

For a couple of weeks leading up to the elections, the President scuttled around the nation saying "Lookee here! Look at all we have done!" People must not have been impressed, if the results of the elections are to be believed. Rightly so, I might add.

We were promised health care reform. We got an expansion of the current, morally and financially bankrupt(-ing) insurance system.

We were promised Guantanamo would be closed. It's still open.

We were promised the end of war, and all that happened was that more troops were sent to Afghanistan and the soldiers who remain in Iraq were simply re-classified as non-combat troops. Go tell the Iraqi insurgents who routinely attack them.

We were promised financial reform. We bailed out the people that ruined us with hardly any consequences for them.

We were promised help to the middle class. Ask the middle-class folks who lost their job, their home, their savings.

What's worse, pundits will tell us that the mid-terms show that progressivism is the big loser, because Feingold lost his Senate seat and Alan Grayson and Tom Perriello lost their first-term House seats. And I am afraid they might be right, because those who say that progressives stayed home because they felt betrayed cannot apply to Grayson and Perriello. It simply looks like fear won once again, as it does so often.

We were promised hope. No promise was ever betrayed more egregiously.


John Stockwell said...

Really. You are forgetting that Bill
Clinton did his best work with a Gingrich-Republican Congress.

In US politics, having the opposite parties control the executive branch as controls the Congress have usually been a boon. The least effective administrations have been those with the same party running both houses of Congress and the White House. (Examples are Eisenhour, Johnson, Carter, and George Dubya Bush.)

The big difference is that we have just seen a pile of Tea-Party Republicans get elected. We know what they are against (which is just about everything), but we haven't seen what they are actually for.

I suspect that some of them will rise to the occasion, while others will be like the car chasing dog that has finally caught one, and has no clue as to what to do with it.

Sirfab said...

Hi John.

I have heard the argument you make in your comment before and I am not impressed by it. And here is why: When both parties agree on anything, it is usually not good for America.

Take NAFTA, No Child Left Behind, Clinton's entitlement reform, TARP, McCain/Feingold, things that had bipartisan support, and that all have one thing in common: either they did not meaningfully correct the situation they sought to address, or they were altogether disastrous.

I could go on and on (and I will, if I have the time, which is now a very scarce commodity in my life) but my point is that bipartisanship is very overrated. The achievements of the New Deal and The Great Society, certainly the most lower- and middle-class friendly periods in the last 100 years, were accomplished by Democratic presidents who enjoyed large majorities in Congress. Obama had a large advantage in the House and a razor-thin majority (by filibuster standards) in the Senate, and he only got corporate-friendly legislation passed.

And a whole blog could be devoted to the Carter and Reagan presidencies, showing how the estimation that people have of their performance is inversely proportional to the worth of the ideas each president had. Reagan was effective and Carter was ineffective. That does not make what Reagan accomplished better than what Carter failed to accomplish.

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