Saturday, July 2, 2011

The "RULE OR RUIN" Strategy

Recently the Republican minority leader of the United States Senate was being interviewed concerning the crisis of the Middle East--specifically, the relationship between Israel and Hamas.  He, McConnell, observed there would never be peace between Israel and Hamas because Hamas denied the existence of Israel, and its stated purpose is to destroy it.

Having heard this, it occurred to me that minority leader McConnell’s attitude toward Obama is much the same as Hamas’ attitude about Israel.  At numerous public meetings, Republicans have avowed their stated purpose of opposing everything our president is for in hopes his presidency would fail.  I wonder what’s happened to us in America.  Once upon a time, after the election, everybody advocated putting aside partisanship and with hope to unite behind our president for the common good and for America.  It was then called patriotism.  Now, apparently, it’s all politics.

Sadly, too many Americans are buying into this “rule or ruin” strategy.  

Picture yourself as the coach of a football team.  Suppose you made a judgment about the person who should lead the team as the quarterback, and you discovered a minority of the players were disgruntled about your pick to lead the team.  This disgruntled minority conspired to lay down on the job to score, and to do the best they could in a team effort to make your quarterback look bad.  Would you keep these people on the team?  Would you question their loyalty?  

How can you be truly a loyal American while working to keep the leader of your nation from succeeding in his job to defend the country, to promote the common good and to bring back a shattered economy he had not caused but inherited?  

Harry Truman truly believed any political leader should be a student of history.  He reasoned that, given a set of circumstances, human beings pretty much react in the same manner faced with similar circumstances.  On the eve of the Great Depression, Republican Herbert Hoover advocated balancing the budget, cutting back on spending--most of the same things Republicans advocate now as a way to overcome a sick economy and the drastic shortage of jobs.  FDR on the other hand took the opportunity for America to use its credit card to help us climb out of the depression, and at the same time invested our borrowed money on the infrastructure which in turn created jobs.  

Just here in Jefferson County there remain numerous reminders of FDR Programs which helped end the depression, and left us with a better community.  The courthouse, for example, was built as a part of such a program--and also the sub-courthouse in Port Arthur, and Woodrow Wilson as well as Franklin school.  Most of our basic national parks were put together by Roosevelt’s Conservation Corp.

Too, in our review of history, we should not forget how we got to where we are.  In recent history, one of our most prosperous times when we enjoyed a surplus was under President Clinton, prior to the Bush tax cuts.  The Bush tax cuts, which cost us trillions of dollars for the last 10 years, have apparently not provided jobs for middle-America.  

A major cause of our current fiscal dilemma was brought about by the deregulation efforts of Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican who spent most of his career trying to help the banking industry, which now pays him a very handsome salary to do very little but consult.  Gramm’s efforts at deregulation probably are directly connected and a probable proximate cause of bursting the housing bubble which in turn was the beginning of our economic collapse.  Gramm, and others, expanded their efforts for “voodoo”-type accounting practices, deregulating and removing the watchdogs from Wall Street which caused ordinary working folks to lose millions on companies like Enron.  

The same folks who applauded all of the above measures are now trying to convince us that, by simply trusting insurance companies, the cost of medical care will become affordable for us all--and we will all be taken care of.  

I am also having a difficult time understanding the Republican strategy that spending cuts will somehow lead to more jobs.  I thought a recent quote I read made lots of sense when one fellow observed that it is difficult to starve yourself to success.

Some people bemoan the fact that liberal policies of Democrats are simply an effort to redistribute the wealth. They seem to overlook the fact that for the last 10 years Republicans have done a great job of redistributing the wealth by moving most of it to the top wealthiest folks in our society.  
Instead of creating jobs, all they have done is create huge fortunes that these folks are sitting on while whining about programs which will give the elderly some comfort in their old age and Medicare which will at least give us a safety net when we are old and ill. 
Aren't these among the basic things you would expect a decent democratic country--both the majority and minority--to do for its citizens?

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