You’d think, reading about, watching and listening to American politics these days, Democrats had done something really, really, really bad. And only just finished doing it. The airwaves are ablaze with Republican screeds and manifestos seemingly guiding the nation back to wise policies, prosperous days and sanity. Republicans are laying down the law to the nation and to Democrats in no uncertain times. They have spotted the bat signal high above in the clouds, and they are here to rescue the nation from a debacle all the making of liberal ideas and Democrats. Say what?
If you’re just back from Patagonia, or dropped in from a moon of Jupiter, I’m here to tell you: things are not as they seem.
It’s more than a little astonishing that only two years past a Republican controlled government with its conservative economic and regulatory policies reducing the nation’s economic landscape to a smoking ruin, the entire political debate proceeds as though the opposite had in fact occurred, and rather than Republican ideas having been blatantly discredited through pronounced public failure, Democrats made the mess.
True, Republicans got spanked in a couple of election cycles, and last year took advantage of a lousy economy and high employment numbers to make a lot of gains. That doesn’t mean the rest of us should accede to their jejune boasts that such a result was a glittering mandate for their ideas, nor should we act as though Republicans sniffed out a big golden economic truffle during their reign, rather than the opposite. And it’s not just Bush and his Republican congress, it’s a decades-long trend of deepening conservative policies in and out of government: ridiculously low taxes on the wealthy, broad and acute deregulation, highly compensated CEO’s, and shifting of national wealth upward and tax burdens down. The economy expanded most dramatically during the Clinton terms, when as a matter of fact, taxes for the wealthy went up.
But so help me Sweet Baby Jesus, based on what one encounters when tuning into a radio or television news broadcast, one would think conservative ideas had righteously prevailed and liberal ideas are running for their lives. The latter of course is true, though it has nothing to do with their comparative records. What it has to do with is a massive and effective Republican propaganda machine matched against a puny counterpart, a propaganda machine prevailing in a virtual vacuum.
The most disturbing thing about this is that a Democrat, and what many of us presumed to be a liberal holds the most visible, most powerful bully pulpit on God’s green earth, the presidency of the United States. But it’s a pulpit that’s largely silent as far as offering a philosophical alternative to conservatism is concerned. Honestly, if Obama keeps making speeches proclaiming how good he is at successfully implementing the other side’s agenda, I’m going to have to be sedated. At the very least it would be nice if he would not all but hold up conservative values and goals as exemplary, and pat himself on the back for how splendidly he has achieved them.
I often feel compelled to ask the President the question asked by Pogue Colonel of Private Joker in FULL METAL JACKET: “Whose side are you on son?”
Political consultants, whose record in Democratic presidential campaigns over the last thirty or forty years is shaky at best, claim the American public dislikes any casting of blame or dwelling upon the past. I don’t believe them. What better bolsters one’s argument for the efficacy of one’s advocated principles and policies than the most up-to-date concrete historical record? Jimmy Carter’s economy, like Gerald Ford’s before it was battered to pieces by sluggishness, inflation and oil embargoes. Ronald Reagan never stopped blaming Carter, not for a minute, not for the duration of his two terms. He made the Carter presidency synonymous with economic dystopia, and it certainly worked, which is why Republicans did it for eight years, and even during the 1988 Bush v. Dukakis election. Obama and congressional Democrats should N-E-V-E-R stop repeating that Republicans just finished jacking up a trillion dollar deficit and bringing the nation’s economy to its very knees. N-EV-E-R.
And Democrats have not only the recent Republican failure to which they can point dramatically they have definitive evidence from the modern presidential era demonstrating conclusively that the American economy performs better under Democratic administrations employing progressive ideas than under Republicans. Measured by a variety of metrics from GDP growth to job creation to home ownership to poverty levels to savings to median wages, analysis of government data from sources as mixed as Forbes, the New York Times, Slate and the Christian Science Monitor prove indisputably that Democrats’ economic ideas are better.
Still, when you check in with any radio or television venue covering politics these days you’re going to wonder if someone slipped Rohypnol into your Captain Morgan when your head was turned, and if you missed something really important while you were in the twilight zone.
Maybe it’s asking too much, but could somebody, if not Obama or members of his administration, if not congressional Democrats, if not television reporters and pundits, but could somebody please regularly note amidst this latrine pit of Republican fecal matter that Republicans used a wrecking ball to demolish the nation, and they can’t walk away so fast. Not only have their ideas failed, in fact they have been used to criminally ream the middle class for several decades now. Please?
I’ll gladly tutor you on just the vernacular you should use. Tell Republicans, “Shut the fuck up, no one is remotely interested in hearing what you have to say because you BLEW it, man. And everybody knows it.”