Saturday, October 30, 2010

What’s At Stake.

It’s come down to this: D-day for America. This Tuesday, the electorate – millions of them – will head to the polls and cast a vote that will chart the course of the nation for the next two years, possibly longer. Everything that could’ve been said has already been said. For the last two years – yes even before Barack Obama took office – the Right has been steadily building up to this crescendo and is poised to take back a country that only two years earlier had thoroughly rejected it.

It was a brilliant and masterful game plan based on two proven political axioms: say nothing substantive and wait for weakness. A staggering economy and a fragmented and inept Democratic Party have set the stage for them. From the depths of virtual annihilation, the GOP has managed to climb the mountaintop as it were and with ostensibly the same, sorry slogans they have had for well over two decades are about to pull the wool over the eyes of the people once again.

Yes, as unlikely as it seems, millions of frightened and frustrated voters will succumb to their most basic of instincts and trade in reason for reaction, again. They will know deep down in their guts that they are making a huge mistake – one that they fully know they will regret – but they will make it nonetheless. And that is because at heart, most people are inclined towards that most famous of punch lines: fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Well, this time the shame and the ensuing consequences will come to – and be borne directly on – those who fell for it yet again. And not just for the second time, but over and over and over. And they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?  Insanity, thy name is America.

You can save all the spreadsheets and pie charts – the ones that keep consistently unraveling and exposing the con job that is supply-side economics; you can stop trying to explain how impossible it is to balance the federal budget and keep three trillion dollars of useless tax cuts on the books – you might as well pee in the wind; you can put out of your mind any hope that the military industrial complex, e.g. the Pentagon, that now commands more tax dollars than any other program – even more than social security – will ever be significantly cut (hint, its budget is now bigger than the next 18 largest countries’ military budgets combined, including Israel, which the American taxpayer subsidizes); and you can stop trying to figure out how a movement that says it stands for greater individual freedom has bedded down with interests that are marching it right into the waiting hands of the very power elite it purports to hate most. You can forget logic, for logic has no place here. It has gone the way of the dinosaur.

It matters not whether the Senate falls or just the House of Representatives. The former would merely be the cherry on top of the banana split that is awaiting the “new and improved” GOP. Everybody knows the Senate is where bills go to die in a sea of endless committees, but the House is where the purse strings are kept. And that is the golden calf of political fortunes. Barring a potential return to the White House in 2012, Republicans will take a House victory this year as the ultimate grand prize and bide their time until they can complete the hat trick. They are nothing if patient.

The next two years are not going to pretty. Expect subpoenas, government shut downs and a political circus the likes of which you haven’t witnessed in your lifetime. Not even Watergate will compare to the coming theater. The throng of Tea Party candidates who are expected to sweep into Washington next January will not only represent a threat to the established order, but will bring the nation virtually to its knees. It is one thing to be inexperienced; it is quite another to be completely unqualified and in over your head.

In normal times, the country could possibly survive such a flood of eccentrics. These are anything but normal times. In his op-ed piece titled “Divided We Fail,” Paul Krugman – who has been one of the more consistently accurate voices over the last two years – has some rather salient and apprehensive thoughts regarding a Republican win this coming Tuesday.

“The economy, weighed down by the debt that households ran up during the Bush-era bubble, is in dire straits; deflation, not inflation, is the clear and present danger. And it’s not at all clear that the Fed has the tools to head off this danger. Right now we very much need active policies on the part of the federal government to get us out of our economic trap.”

Translation? The new Republican House of Representatives will put the brakes on whatever measures have been propping up the fragile economy and, in one last-ditched effort to resurrect the ghost of Reagan, will sink the nation into the depression Obama at least kept us from sliding into. They will slash spending at a time when that spending is the only thing keeping the states from issuing massive layoffs, cut programs designed to mitigate the effects of the recession and, worst of all, rather than trim the deficit, they will end up ballooning it to unheard of heights by making the Bush tax cuts permanent. When Obama vetoes their attempts, they will simply huff and puff and bring down the House. Literally! It was one thing to see this Party sit on the sidelines the last two years as they watched the building burn to the ground, we now get to watch as they sell off the hoses and fire trucks.

This is the threat that America faces this Tuesday, and it may well be the worst threat it has dealt with since World War II. This isn’t about liberalism vs. conservatism anymore; that ship sailed a long time ago. This is now about reasonable sanity – albeit a corporatist one – vs. the most unhinged nightmarish scenario imaginable. Nothing else can explain it adequately. As I have said on more than one occasion, the inmates are about to take control of the asylum and burn it down in the process.

And out of the ashes of their arrogance and incompetence, rather than take some measure of responsibility for the soaring unemployment that will undoubtedly ensue, the new Republican Party will once more pass the buck and blame emperor Obama for their mess. And since election trends tend to run at least two cycles, that makes 2012 the last exit before the cliff. It might well take decades to repair the damage this time around.

Time is running out on this runaway train. There now appears to be little, if anything, Democrats can do to stave off a crushing defeat in the House. They have trudged out Bill Clinton, to no avail. The problem isn’t one of logistics anymore. It’s a win or lose proposition. Even a one-seat majority in the House will be sufficient for Republicans to put their foot down and run the show. Unlike the Senate, the House needs no two-thirds majority to enact legislation or pull the plug on legislation it doesn’t like. True, we may get to see what President Obama is really made of with a Republican majority; equally true it may not matter. If you thought Newt Gingrich was extreme, wait until this crew takes over. And thanks to the Supreme Court, it may well be quite some time before the nation can rid itself of their presence.

And all this because a knee-jerk response nation couldn’t see past its own frightened nose and, when push came to shove, not only put its own head in the guillotine, but willingly tugged on the rope that released the blade. To quote Paul Krugman, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

1 comment:

dmarsilia said...

One view of the upcoming mid-term 2010 election sees the event as the Titanic plunging blindly into a North Sea of political icebergs with the impending doom of the sinking once and for all of the American experiment. A more apt analogy is the sailing event, the America’s Cup. Two behemoths, the Democrats and Republicans, in a match race of apparent simplicity but immense and conflicting complexity. The resiliency of our economic and political system lies within a web of interlocking dependencies and is often overlooked in the descriptive analysis and trend predictions of an electoral outcome. Similar too, is the formation of the America’s Cup teams and the two party systems as competing and highly moneyed factions. The USA is not simply a single vessel hampered with an overabundance of hubris and a flawed design in a dangerous situation but is two craft hoping for the indeterminate outcomes of nearly incalculable premises. The actions of the one are continually at play in reaction to the other and the impacts of the interplay in each other’s capability, while also adjusting to the ever changing winds of event and circumstance.