Saturday, October 25, 2008

* Politics in need of a Thesaurus – John McCain and Republican brethren are accusing Obama and liberals of having an agenda of Socialism. They fail to comprehend that “Socialism” and “fairness” are not synonymous. They fail to recognize that sharing the bounty is good for everyone. Our society works best when there is an engaged work force earning a reasonable wage. That has nothing to do with the indiscriminant distribution of wealth or resources. Ultra-conservative Henry Ford understood this principle. He paid his workers a higher wage than what was the standard at the time. He realized that if employees had sufficient income they would also become customers for the automobiles he produced.

In more recent years the marriage of Republicans, conservatives and special interests has resulted in the abandonment of the common good. Declining wages, increasing unemployment and dramatic increases in the concentration of wealth are evident in every study that examines U.S. economic conditions. Adjusting economic policy in order to revitalize what had been a vibrant middle class is not Socialism. It is intelligent Capitalism. On the other hand, not adjusting economic imbalances is exactly what leads to conditions that have spawned Socialism and Communism and revolution. I would suggest that Senator McCain and his Party are also in need of history books.

* Different roads offer a clear choice – I watched appearances of McCain and Obama this week. When McCain made a comment about Obama the crowd booed. McCain paused to allow the boos to resonate and then continued with his comments. When Obama made a statement about McCain there was a smattering of boos in the audience. Obama held up his hands in a halting fashion and said to the crowd, “We will have none of that.”

* A prescription for conservatives – It is understandable that some Republicans and conservatives find the McCain-Palin ticket unappealing but have anxiety about voting for a Democratic candidate or a Barack Obama who is perceived as left of center in political philosophy. Since I already prescribed Xanax for nervous voters in the previous blog I offer a non-pharmaceutical alternative. The website Conservatives for Change is a project featuring Republicans and Conservatives who, in their own words, explain why they are voting for Obama. Perhaps peer experiences will ease the transition. See McCain Effect below.

* Does McCain suffer from dementia, ignorance or bovine excreta? John McCain was interviewed on the Don Imus radio show. In reference to his VP selection Sarah Palin, McCain said, “I think she's the most qualified of any that has run recently for vice president, to tell you the truth.” McCain therefore concludes that Governor Palin possesses superior qualifications to that of Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Dick Cheney and George H. W. Bush. Perhaps this explains McCain’s affinity for George W. Bush and why many serious voters have difficulty taking McCain seriously. In the categories of ”irony” “ludicrous” and “my mirror is broken”, this week McCain accused Barack Obama of being willing to say anything to win the election.

* Bradley Effect - Each day polling data increasingly favors Obama. Many supporters of the Illinois senator take this news favorably but with tempered optimism due to the Bradley Effect. Twenty-six years ago Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, an African American, ran for governor of California. Prior to the election he led in the polls by 20%. He lost the election to George Deukmejian, a White American. It was concluded that many voters polled before the election said they favored Bradley but when it came time to pull the lever they could not vote for a Black man. I have seen comments suggesting that polling is significantly more sophisticated today and that more recent races between White and Black candidates demonstrated that polling reflected the final results. Such observations have not reduced the apprehension of many leading up to this year’s election.

* McCain Effect - I have been wondering if this year’s election may produce a McCain Effect. It appears possible that some Republicans and conservatives, as well as Whites who are reluctant to vote for a person of color, have told pollsters they will vote for McCain. Is it possible that some will stand in the polling booth and decide that deep down inside, in opposition to their inclinations, Obama is the right choice to be our nation’s 44th President?

* Palin Effect ~ defining a terrorist – I never imagined that my East coast major metropolitan viewpoint would be the same as someone from Alaska. What I did not realize is how far apart these perspectives can be. NBC’s Brian Williams interviewed Sara Palin this week. In the context of the 1960’s actions by Bill Ayers, Williams asked Palin if an abortion clinic bomber is a terrorist. Most would agree the question is moot but I find the answer telling. Palin responded, “There’s no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was one who sought to destroy our U.S. Capitol and our Pentagon. That is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now, others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that uh, it would be unacceptable. I don’t know if you’re going to use the word terrorist there.” Am I being cynical wondering if the darling of the extreme religious-right subtly is implying that an action is somehow more excusable if it is performed in an interpretation of the Almighty? I believe we call such folks “al Qaeda.”

* Economic realism – The implosion of Wall Street highlighted many Republican and conservative philosophies and policies that have been somewhere between bad and devastating for the vast majority of Americans. All of their recent finger pointing and misleading blame game tactics do not alter the results. As noted above the employment record is another proof-is-in-the-pudding moment. Republicans would have us believe that tax cuts for the wealthy will lead to greater investment in industry which will lead to greater employment. There may have been some merit to this strategy under different economic and workplace conditions but certainly not as it has been applied during the Bush administration. Articles this week pointed out that Clinton created 23 million jobs while Bush created 4.8 million. At the beginning of the 21st century the Trickle Down Theory may apply to a toddlers right leg but, as a strategy for the American economy, it has dried up. I would expect that under an Obama administration we would see intelligent tax incentives for business aimed at increasing employment while reducing the existing tax cut policies that are devoid of responsible requirements.

Another Republican strategy that I expect will merit demise is anti-unionism. The 20th century offered a history of the battle between unions and business. Each side had their victories and losses but what is clear is that when either side became too strong the common interest was hurt. Today we again see the result of business having become too dominate in this relationship. The unwritten contract between business and the Republican Party has resulted in union membership in private industry falling from 30% after World War II to 8% today. “The decline in union membership paralleled with a decline in real wages, retirement benefits, and quality of health care. To ensure that workers who wish to organize are able to do so, the House passed the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) in March 2007 with bipartisan support. In the Senate, however, a group of 48 conservatives successfully blocked the measure with a filibuster threat three months later.” I anticipate the passage of this bill in the next Congress.

* The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles.

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869 – 1948) a political and spiritual leader of India


Sue Katz said...

"...the Trickle Down Theory may apply to a toddlers right leg" - Damn Stephen, I laughed so hard I almost spread the wealth right here in my chair.

Another winning post, not the least, the whole conversation about Obama being a socialist. I've been running into that mythology as I promote my book on Sarah Palin. One woman whispered conspiratorily "Obama's a socialist." I laughed. "No, he isn't. But I am!"

Keep on keepin on,

Anonymous said...

Your always enjoyable post, Stephen, allowed me to crave the near-certain return of an intelligent presidency. The 8-year fiasco is nearly finished, an era in which leadership on the highest level was nonexistent.

How wonderful it will be when we can look forward to reading the well thought-out plans of a smart man and the smart people he surrounds himself with.

Loved the Gandhi quote!

Special howdy to fellow blogger Sue Katz.

Ruth Z