This commentary was faxed to the offices of Senators Lugar, Bay, and Reid; Representatives Hill and Pelosi; and the White House to Barack Obama, on January 24, 2010.
Two commentaries appeared in the mainstream media this week that both sum up how I feel at the moment perfectly. Keep in mind while reading this post that for my entire life I have been pretty much a steady, consistent Yellow Dog Democrat.
It is a truly remarkable feat, in just one year’s time, to turn the fear and anger voters felt in 2006 and 2008 at a Republican Party that had destroyed the economy, redistributed massive amounts of wealth from the middle class to the richest of the rich and the biggest of big businesses, and waged a trillion-dollar war in the wrong country, into populist rage at whatever Democrat voters can cast their ballot against.
All of this was completely predictable. And it was predicted. I wrote about it for the first time here on the sixth day of Obama’s presidency, and many of us have written about it in the intervening year.
The President’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge that we have a two-party system, his insistence on making destructive concessions to the same party voters he had sent packing twice in a row in the name of “bipartisanship,” and his refusal ever to utter the words “I am a Democrat” and to articulate what that means, are not among his virtues. We have competing ideas in a democracy — and hence competing parties — for a reason. To paper them over and pretend they do not exist, particularly when the ideology of one of the parties has proven so devastating to the lives of everyday Americans, is not a virtue. It is an abdication of responsibility.
The door is being slammed on the American dream and the politicians, including the president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many.
While the nation was suffering through the worst economy since the Depression, the Democrats wasted a year squabbling like unruly toddlers over health insurance legislation. No one in his or her right mind could have believed that a workable, efficient, cost-effective system could come out of the monstrously ugly plan that finally emerged from the Senate after long months of shady alliances, disgraceful back-room deals, outlandish payoffs and abject capitulation to the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits.
The public interest? Forget about it.
With the power elite consumed with its incessant, discordant fiddling over health care, the economic plight of ordinary Americans, from the middle class to the very poor, got pathetically short shrift. And there is no evidence, even now, that leaders of either party fully grasp the depth of the crisis, which began long before the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007.
The Democrats still hold the presidency and large majorities in both houses of Congress. The idea that they are not spending every waking hour trying to fix the broken economic system and put suffering Americans back to work is beyond pathetic. Deficit reduction is now the mantra in Washington, which means that new large-scale investments in infrastructure and other measures to ease the employment crisis and jump-start the most promising industries of the 21st century are highly unlikely.
What we’ll get instead is rhetoric. It’s cheap, so we can expect a lot of it.
The Republican Party has abandoned any serious approach to the nation’s biggest problems, economic or otherwise. It may be resurgent, but it’s not a serious party. That leaves only the Democrats, a party that once championed working people and the poor, but has long since lost its way.
I called the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) on January 21st after getting yet another email begging for money to fight the evil Republicans, and save our poor endangered Democrats. The poor guy who took my call was at least supplied enough with grit that he listened to me rant for about 8 – 10 minutes, an eternity in fund-raisingville, really. I basically said everything that is in the two opinion pieces quoted above about the failure of the Democratic party and Obama. I concluded with the promise that hell would freeze over before I donated another dime to the Congressional campaign committees or Obama, unless I saw an immediate change in their actions. We donated well over $700 dollars last year to Democrats, and for me and my family that was a lot. But I did it to try and throw the Republicans out of power. I assumed I would get at least a little bit of payback in the form of corrections to the course of the ship of state that has resulted from the manifold failings and evil acts of the Bush/Cheney years.
I was particularly brutal in pointing out my problems with the “New Capitalism”, which saw Obama putting Geithner, Summer, and Bernake, architects, bedfellows, and foxes of the financial disaster, in charge of the hen house. And I pointed out this week’s disgusting last straw: Goldman Sachs is paying out about 6 billion MORE in bonuses than it made in “profits”. How except in the “New Capitalism” here in America do you pay out more in bonuses than you made in profits? And of course why do those “profits” exist? Only because our tax dollars were poured down the rat holes to save these sorry financial players, who gambled and lost on the bubbles and the hedge funds. If there had been no financial bail-out, these companies would have collapsed.
Put those “New Capitalism Math” bonuses in the context of the Middle Class American who will be retiring within the next 12-14 months. In researching their social security account and prospects, they discover that they are actually going to be PUNISHED by reductions in their social security monthly payments if they work and earn money after they retire. Of course thel all know they will have to do so to eat, pay for their medication and medical expenses not covered by Medicare, and to keep a roof over their heads. America can be cruel to the old and poor. We are talking not about Goldman Sachs, AIG, Bank of America corporate, Wall Street millionaires. We are talking typical middle-class Americans, who worked their whole lives as citizens, and whose social security payments will be a meager couple of thousand a month if they are lucky.
The Democrats have demonstrated with crystalline clarity over the past year that they are hopeless, hapless, clueless, deluded spineless cowards, who seem to think if they just hug enough Republicans all will be well. The Republicans are simply evil incarnate, who have offered nothing but obstructionism, and promises to keep on with the same failed policies that have brought America to the brink of economic, international, and domestic collapse in just two short presidential terms.
And both parties are nothing but willing pawns and drones for their corporate masters in what is a dead and dying American Democratic Republic in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling declaring that corporations are officially persons and abolishing limits on campaign spending by corporations, many of which are not even limited in their base of operations or corporate registry to the United States. We are now officially “The New American Corporate Oligarchy” (TM), with the official seal of approval of the Supreme Court of the United States.
It is as if many, like me, have not been saying this to our Congressional representatives (and I use that term so very, very loosely), and to Obama, and to Reid and Pelosi (their FAX numbers including the White House are programmed in my FAX/copier/printer). It is just that the arrogant assistant to the President Rahm Emmanuel and the President and his aides for the past six months were more interested in attacking us progressives on the left of the Netroots, the very ones who got Obama elected! Meanwhile, every dark and dire prediction we made has come to pass, and the Obama presidency is in a shambles after just one year; the Democratic party has so alienated the young and other groups who rallied to get out the vote and elect what is essentially a super majority in both Houses of Congress, that they lost Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts.
How incredibly stupid, dense, wrong-headed can Democrats be? Especially if they continue to think that this happened because they were not “bipartisan” enough, or did not “move to the center” enough.
This happened because they failed to pass real health care reform. Instead, we have ended up with a bill that is sheer junk, nothing but a means to force poor Americans who do not have the money to buy junk insurance policies from the same for-profit companies that will continue to refuse to honor policies and insure delivery of medical care. The current Senate version of the bill should just be thrown on the junk heap where it belongs. The Democrats in both Houses have enough of a majority to pass real health care reform. Real reform means: no denial to anyone for any pre-existing condition; portability; guaranteed coverage; and single payer government controlled, to insure no more price gouging on prescription medications, and no more putting profits of corporations and share holders above the health of the American people. Simple creating a Medicare for all, into which all pay through payroll deductions, is what America needs. Let the insurance for-profit companies change, and be the paperwork keepers. But it is time to end what is not an industry devoted to saving Americans’ health and lives, but to denying them coverage and sentencing them to death and no access to medical care.
P.S., in case you could not tell, I am really, really, really fed up with our so-called political leaders. The Supreme Court ruling declaring that corporations are persons ranks right up there with the The Dred Scott Decision, ruling of 1857, one of the most infamous wrong-headed ruling in the history of our nation, one which triggered an immediate national panic, and contributed to the eventual outbreak of the American Civil War.
Meanwhile, while our American Congress dithers, and our economy collapses, and the real, honest jobless rate climbs up to somewhere around the 15% mark, China has been investing madly in infrastructure, everything from roads to high speed trains. They are polluting the environment, and they are a lovely police state already, but economically, they are going to leave this nation in the dust of history over the next two decades, as our infrastructure collapses, our roads crumble, and the looting of America by corporations, mega-banks, Wall Street and the for profit ‘health care’ industry continues.