"Pledge to America": Drinking Sand
The Republican "Pledge to America" doubles down on the Bush/Reagan policies which brought this country to its economic and ethical knees.
And yet, one of the great paradoxes of politics in this silliest of seasons is how Republicans, whose policies created the Great Recession, can be getting traction in the polls because people are angry about the recession the Republicans created.
It's as if a bunch of lemmings, having somehow survived the suicide swarm to the cliff, elected once again to follow the same lemming leaders who nearly destroyed them.
And it's not just any Republicans people are following, mind you, but Tea-Partiers - mostly middle class whites who espouse a particularly virulent brand of the Republican's middle-class-eviscerating policies.
How can this be? Aaron Sorkin provided the answer in The American President. Explaining rapidly falling poll numbers, presidential advisor Lewis Rothschild says:
People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.
Americans are now drinking the sand.
They're drinking sand because no one in the Democratic Party is offering water. Obama is offering - at best - damp sand. Half-baked health reform that is increasing costs in the short term; financial reform that doesn't actually reform much, leaving too big to fail, restoration of Glass Steagal and other essentials on the cutting room floor. That sort of thing.
And Congressional Democrats? Debate the Republicans on whether tax cuts for the middle class should be held hostage until the uber rich get additional tax cuts on income above $250 thousand? Oh, my heavens no. The Republicans might say mean things about us.
Meanwhile, pundits talk about the enthusiasm gap as if it were some ineffable mystery.
They're drinking sand because no one is telling them it's sand. Only rarely does a Democrat stand up and say, "Look, folks, the Republicans have been pushing policies that have taken money from your pockets and put it in the ample pockets of the uber-rich, the corporations, the privileged few."
This should be easy.
Republican policies have dominated this country for more than three decades now, including, sadly, the Clinton/Rubin/Summers era. In that time, the share of wealth controlled by the richest 1% has tripled, while wages have flat lined.
In the same time frame, Republicans - and yes Clinton - have largely deregulated industry and corporate America. The result? Collapsing mines; exploding off-shore wells; entire towns destroyed by mining tailings; poisoned toys; an epidemic of poisoned food - eggs, vegetables, meat, you name it. Eating is becoming like playing Russian roulette.
Not to mention the complete collapse of our economic system due to an orgy of unconstrained greed fed by this deregulation frenzy.
Meanwhile, climate change - the most serious threat humanity has ever faced - is being all but ignored, and a dangerous and costly dependence upon foreign oil and fossil fuels continues unchecked.
Leadership is grounded in values. Because Democrats have no values - or refuse to espouse them - Republicans have America drinking sand.
Elections are, or should be, about choices, and the choices should be clear, but if only one side is talking, the people have no choice and they will drink the sand.
The Republicans have done their best to make this election about fear and hate. That is their brand of sand.
Democrats are cooperating nicely, by refusing to engage in a values debate.
The only question is, why?
For many people the answer is simple: voters don't really have a choice; the political process is nothing more than a Kabuki dance in which both sides represent corporate America and the uber-rich, while playing their respective roles in public.
That answer is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Believing it makes it so.
But even if it's true, we, the people are the only power capable of changing that reality. We can start by refusing to drink the sand.
We can become the leaders we demand. We can organize to pressure corporations with our choice of what we buy-and what we won't buy.
At the end of the day, we are the source of wealth to such societal leaches as the Koch brothers. It does no good to bemoan their influence while we feed their coffers.
It does no good to gripe about Fox News' bald-faced lies, then purchase goods from those who advertise on Fox.
And if money is the lingua franka of politics, collectively, we can provide a campaign war chest greater than any corporate America can provide to candidates who adhere to progressive principles after the campaign. In the age of the Internet, such things are possible.
What we need is to organize - to bring together in a collective force, those who are tired of drinking the sand, and to stand together at the microphone and proclaim and demand an alternative to the two party beach blanket bingo that has stolen our country from us.
Progressives are fond of making snide comments about the poor misguided Tea Partiers. And yes, they are being manipulated by the plutocrats like a bunch of slack-jawed yokels at a three card monty festival. But at least they are acting on their passions, however misguided. We progressives are sitting on our hands and whining about the "system."
Yes, it's time to organize. It's time to act. It's time to get mad. And it's long past time to quit drinking the sand.
We might fail, and the plutocracy might prevail despite our best efforts. But they will surely prevail if we do not confront them.
And if we don't, then it's time to shut up and accept the status quo.