Thursday, November 8, 2012

The PARTY OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY just blamed somebody else

'Romney Rolls Royce' photo (c) 2012, Mike Licht - license: way back when that secret video of Mitt Romney came out in which he described the 47% of Americans who don’t pay taxes as “victims” who would vote for the President no matter what? Initially he said he had misspoke, later he declared that he was “completely wrong.”  The Democrats of course hammered Romney on this “47% controversy” while the Republicans did their best to downplay the comments right up until they lost the election.

It’s a funny thing, for the last two year the Right has declared that Obama was dividing America, promoting “class warfare” and pitting one side against the other. Well, what did the Right do as soon as they lost the election? They went right back to the “47%” mantra again (technically now it’s the 52%).  Rather than taking some personal responsibility for promoting policies that are often out-of-touch and unpopular, the Right chose to blame the media, the electoral college, and most of all the so-called “moochers.”

Now I’ll be honest, the Right has done a fabulous job framing the narrative, promoting the “job creators” while demonizing the “moochers.”   This was an election, they said, between the “makers” and the “takers.”  Conveniently of course, they were very limited about what was and was not an “entitlement.” 

'The '47' Percent' photo (c) 2012, Peter Stevens - license: I talked to a man who blamed Obama for his two years of unemployment, yet when I pushed back that the two years of unemployment benefits he received (thanks to Obama) was itself an entitlement, he retorted that he had “earned” that.  It’s quite the self-serving narrative, if it’s something that benefits a conservative its “pro-business” or “good for America,” if it’s something that benefits low-income folks it’s an entitlement.  Give me a break.  That small business tax credit used to buy the Lexus SUV because it’s classified as a “light truck,” the subsidies on corn that turn a crop into a profit, the tax breaks a city or county gives a business to relocate, the DARPA funded project called the internet on which so many business rely on, the streets so many drive on, and the 15% tax paid for money made off the hard work of someone else (who themselves get taxed higher).  These, and many, many more are all example of entitlements whether you want to call them that or not.   A Facebook friend posted that he was glad his family had taught him to “reject entitlements.” I’m sure they gave back the many tax deductions and credits they received every year and will continue to receive.  Oh, wait, probably not.

What’s even worse, the Right has intertwined this narrative with Scripture. This unholy alliance—true heresy if I’ve ever seen such—is anything but biblical.  Try as they might to convince that “personal responsibility” is a biblical value, if we could go back in time and speak with Peter, Paul, and John they’d have absolutely no idea what we were talking about.  The Bible, written and assembled over 2000 years ago in a culture massively different than our own can’t be used to justify our own 21st century ideas without a horrific hack job.  Anachronistically reading the text, many try to interpret individualism into a world that was entirely communal.   There was no “I,” there was the family, the community, and the society.

The problem, of course, is that so many on the religious right have blindly followed this shoddy interpretation and engrained it into their spirituality. Questioning the “doctrine” of personal responsibility becomes akin to attacking their faith and they come at you with the same anger and fury as if you were questioning the very existence of God.  Further, they’ve constructed a quasi-Calvinistic theology that asserts their financial “blessings” are because they have found favor in the eyes of God.  Conveniently ignoring the many passages about taking care of the poor and not stockpiling wealth, they sit in their McMansions or drive their Escalades while reflecting on how “God has been good.”  Reality check, you’ve been good to yourself.

If I’m a “moocher” for voting for Obama, you are selfish, egotistical, and materialistic for voting Romney.  Heck, I thought the Democrats were wrong in ’08 for elevating Obama to a “Savior-like” status, yet Rush Limbaugh has practically deified Obama as the omnipresent, omniscient, eternal “Santa.”  Republicans, it’s time to take some personal responsibility for your policies. If you won’t, feel free to continue losing elections, because there is a majority of Americans who believe the same things I do:

-That health care is a right, and not a privilege

-That it is the duty of a democratic society to educate its citizenry

-That no stomach should ever go to bed hungry

-That minimum wage is not a living wage

-That just as this country welcomed our white, European ancestors seeking a better life; we should also extend that welcome to our neighbors south of the border who want the same for their families


(oh, and I forgot to use “hypocritical” in the entire blog, until now)

Monday, November 5, 2012

The most important election of your lifetime…if you’re an old white guy.

I’m sure you’ve heard it said over and over again in one form or another.  The constant and repeated cries about the significance of this election, that it will shape our country for the next four years and beyond, that our vote will have a lasting legacy on our kids and our grandkids. 

This is the most important election of our lifetime and I ask you to vote for love of country this Tuesday” Mitt Romney recently wrote on his Facebook page.  For his part, President  Obama has made similar declarations in his own commercials, alluding to the magnitude of each and every vote by referencing the 537 vote margin which gave George W. Bush the victory in Florida in 2000 and thereby the Presidency of the United States of America. 

A local talk radio host (@davidsirota) satirically tweeted that “On Tuesday, ‘the most important election of our lifetime’ (2012) will end & ‘the most important election of our lifetime’ (2016) will begin.” How prophetic—no, @davidsirota isn’t predicting the future, he’s speaking the truth.  It’s doubtful the rhetoric  will ever decrease, especially as the average voter becomes less and less informed and our society continues to place more and more importance on the present, forgetting about all else.  Yes, if we forget history we are doomed to repeat it.

To be honest, in the grand scheme of things, are things really going to change that much? I strongly, strongly doubt it—either way.  Is Romney really going to overturn Roe vs. Wade? Highly improbable.  And what, if Obama gets re-elected he might raise taxes on a tiny sliver of the American populace by like four percent?  Congress really has far more influence in legislation—yet even there things are so deadlocked not much will really change. Change is the most overused word in politics.

That being said, there is however a smaller and smaller segment of the American populace for whom this election will have significant and lasting consequences—the angry, old, white male.  The Republican Party has been dominated (even that word doesn’t seem strong enough) by angry, old, white guys.  But, there’s a problem; as GOP Senator Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) put it so eloquently, “the demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term” (Washington Post 8/29/12).

Here’s the thing, he’s right.  Demographics indicate that the grip white men have had on the political realm in the U.S. in quickly slipping away.  Think about just how many angry white guys are going to die in the next four years—and worse, they’re not being replaced.  The percentage of the population growth among whites is miniscule compared to growth in minority groups. Some predict that by 2050, white Americans will be outnumbered by minorities.  And here’s the kicker—minorities vote Democratic (at least now).  Three-quarters of Latino voters and about 90% of African-Americans support Obama.  The trends don’t look good even getting away from ethnicity.   Of young adults under 30, 33% don’t claim a religion and tend to vote liberal. Oh, and this isn’t official, but the 31,000,000 Facebook likes Obama has versus the 11,000,000 Romney has should tell you something.

This is the last we will see of the Republican Party—or at least the Republican Party of the angry, old, white guy. For them this is the most important election of their lifetime, because either they’ll be dead by the next one or a good number of their buddies will be.  Considering the amount of money they have spent supporting Romney, they know this to be true.  Forking over that kind of money will come with some serious kick-backs if Romney wins, so don’t be foolish enough to think he’s actually going to do anything for middle-income Americans.  Romney represents the big, last, final gasp of old, angry, and often rich white guys’ chance to control this country. Yes, it is the most important election of their lifetime.