As some of you have remarked in emails and text messages, it has been about two weeks since I have posted anything new on here and yeah.. I really don't have a good excuse. Or maybe I do... Lately it has been hard to write about the current state of politics and culture in the United States without wanting to scream obscenities and throw things at the television.
There is a wonderful Ivor Novello song from the soundtrack to the movie "Gosford Park". The title is "The Land of Might Have Been..." As we approach the 2010 mid-term elections I find that title resonates all too well with how I feel.
The common consensus among the political punditry says the Republicans and the corporate created and funded Tea Bagger monstrosity it has spawned, will at the very least gain control of House or Representatives if not also the Senate. Though, most projections have the Democratic Party holding on to the Senate by a narrow margin.
The fact is, in 2010, the face, voice and mind of the Republican Party is made up of people who are racist, xenophobic anti-constitutional nut jobs. Reality and fact play no role whatsoever in their world view. When pressed to explain why they "feel" the way they feel. Or when asked to explain their fox generated talking points in greater detail, you get this...
It has been popular to make comparisons to the "Republican Revolution" of 1994, when Newt Gingrich lead the GOP to a midterm trouncing of Bill Clinton and the Democrats with their "Contract With America". ( It is interesting to note that none of the items in that 1994 "contract" were ever actually enacted by that GOP controlled Congress.) Still it is worth examining what the GOP is promising that they will do THIS time if they win back control of congress.
The very idea that there is a role for Government in the welfare of the American People is what the Republican Party is running AGAINST. The idea that insurance companies can deny you health insurance for a pre-existing condition, regardless of what that condition might be, is what the Republican party is running FOR. The idea that if you lose your job and are unemployed it is your fault, is what the Republican Party is running FOR.
The idea that oil companies are the real VICTIMS if they are made to pay for the damages their own negligence has caused , this is what the GOP in 2010 stands for.
Then on top of all of that we have Barack Obama and the Democrats. Citizens of the Land of Might Have Been.
We might have had real health care reform and a Public Option for Health Insurance. But instead we got mild tinkering with insurance coverage that while a good first step, will benefit insurance companies more than it will help the broader problems with Health Care in America.
Now we have a GOP that is seriously running ON the premise, that for a insurance company to NOT be able to deny you coverage or just drop you for a pre-existing condition, THAT is the real crisis that has to be fixed.
We might have had real financial reform in the wake of the abuses and excesses of Wall Street. But instead we got mild tinkering with with Credit Card rules and the same players who took our financial sector the brink of collapse have been allowed to stay right were they are doing the same things.
We might have had real advancement of civil rights for all our citizens , including LGBT Americans. With an inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act, repeal of The Defense of Marriage Act and the ending of the military's ridiculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of forcing patriotic and skilled American Service Personnel out of the military simply because they are Gay or Lesbian. But instead we got speeches, nice inspirational speeches that were meant to provide cover for political cowardice.
So after spending two years trying desperately to woo non-existent Republican support for an agenda that an overwhelming majority of Americans elected him and his party to enact. President Obama seems to finally be grasping the political reality he and the Democrats are now facing. If the Republican Party gains control of Congress, President Obama and the Democrats will spend the next two years trying to defend the meager accomplishments of the last two years from repeal, and doing little else. In a recent speech in Ohio, the President finally seemed willing to take the GOP on.
So I can't help feeling like the last two years have been such a wasted opportunity. Barack Obama ran with such passion, energy and vision but has governed with such timidity, as to make me wonder if Candidate Obama and President Obama are even the same man.
I understand the argument that if the Democratic base doesn't get over our "enthusiasm gap" all of these dire predictions of the damage a GOP controlled Congress would do, will come true. And I also understand , and have even made the argument, that cowardly Democrats are still better than any of the current crop of Republicans.
Yet the truth is, I am having a hard time getting energized about a choice between apathy and evil.
If the Democrats lose control of Congress Barack Obama will spend the next two years with even less to show for it than his first two. Not much of a record to run for re-election with.
Nobody expects the President to win every battle. I just wish it didn't seem like Barack Obama was so afraid of fighting the battle. I guess what I really would like is for life to occasionally imitate art...