* Republican Shell Game ~ in the guise of conservatism – Most Republican politicos and pundits are cautioning the Obama administration not to go too far left. America, they tell us, is a center-right country. This is a misleading strategy. The McCain campaign had positioned Obama as the most liberal member of congress since, uh, FOREVER. Obama gained a sweeping victory and Democrats increased their majorities in the House and the Senate. Perhaps the Republicans are observing an alternative Universe – the one their simpatico Creationists claim was created just 6000 years ago. This is not to say that all Republicans and true conservatives are religious-right fundamentalists. On the contrary, there are many intelligent and valued conservative principles and thinkers in America that have much to offer our national discourse. Unfortunately, their ideas were so bastardized during the Bush/Republican reign that conservatism lost its meaning. Perhaps it is time to step back from assigning labels and evaluate ideas and policies in terms of their benefit to the common interest and the common good. What is that interest and good?
An examination of Americans’ positions reveals the following: Based on recent polls and studies the majority of Americans do not want to see more restrictive limits on abortion and women’s reproductive rights and they do not want more restrictive measures imposed on gay relationships; minimum wage increases and union rights are supported; stem cell research has a mandate and universal healthcare coverage receives overwhelming support; science is accepted as a valuable and vital tool to advance human knowledge, address illness, spur our economy and enhance the quality of life; Americans emphatically say that the federal government has an important role in ensuring food and product safety and providing oversight of pharmaceutical efficacy; the American people do not want to see the Supreme Court tack far right; the use of torture is strongly opposed; Americans want their government pro-active on energy conservation and addressing global warming; Americans do not want the USA involved in unjustified preemptive war and they desire that the country return to a position of trusted leadership in the world community.
These are Progressive ideas and values. America being center-right is a Republican/Conservative marketing tool and about as accurate as the recently revealed eye-crosser that Sarah Palin believed that Africa is a country. In the pre-2008 election world, if Republicans said something often enough it became conventional wisdom, regardless of the wisdom. If Republican “wisdom” is to continue to move to their convoluted interpretation of the right I welcome their ensuing electoral losses until the attrition ultimately attracts Republican leaders committed to serving mainstream America. The day of single-issue social conservative values is over. Trickle down economics is in the storage shed if not the trash heap. Republican Party genuflecting at the altar of Reganomics has experienced a crisis of faith by the congregation. For the 10th straight month the American work force has lost jobs and there are currently 10 million unemployed in the U.S. Many of those still employed are working at lower-level or lower paying jobs than was the case 10 years ago. Republican/ Conservative philosophy failed Americans economically, militarily, environmentally and socially. Welcome to the 21st Century, even though it is nine years late.
* The politics of Three Card Monte ~ the dealer lost – Leading up to elections this year Republican operatives were filling the airwaves and filing lawsuits across the country raising the fear of voter fraud and the demise of democracy as we know it. The states primarily targeted with “cry wolf” warnings were Pennsylvania, Nevada, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Minnesota. Election officials in these states report that there was no evidence of voter fraud within their borders this election, nor have there been in previous elections for that matter. Perhaps the derriere-kicking endured by the Republican Party in the last two elections will inspire them to direct their efforts toward more responsible politicking and governance. Hopefully, the Democratic politicos received this message as well. It has taken an avoidable and interminable war and a crushing blow to the economy for the American people to pay more attention to the politic rhetoric but, in 2008 we did pay attention. Voter fraud was never a real issue and a more informed electorate was one of the deciding issues.
* Gay marriage ~ Straight conundrum – On November 4th three states dealt a setback for gay marriage advocates. I believe that many of those who voted for the setbacks are not necessarily anti-gay or anti-gay rights. They are having a tough time with the “marriage” part. This is understandable. Social change does not occur in flashes. It takes society time to alter long-standing custom and belief. I would suggest to gay-rights advocates that their energies be focused on the principle that same-sex couples are entitled to the same legal rights as heterosexual couples which include employer spousal benefits, hospital visitation rights and adoption rights. I believe that today’s society is ready to accept same-sex civil unions, a legal relationship between two people of the same gender. “Marriage” confuses and exasperates the issue. By advocates concentrating on civil union rather than marriage the anti-gay forces will lose a significant portion of their support, thereby fostering an environment for gay Americans to gain the rights they seek and deserve.
* Post facto, post mortem, post Joe – Senator Joe Lieberman is entertaining joining the Republican caucus upon learning that he may lose his chairmanships on Senate committees that include the very important Homeland Security. Did anyone notice Lieberman’s membership in the Republican Party took place quite a while ago. On one of the most important issues to Democrats, Iraq, Lieberman has voted with the Republicans and the Bush administration consistently. He unconscionably reiterated administration misinformation and spin relative to conditions in Iraq, demonstrating his loyalty to neocon philosophy not embraced by most Democrats and most Americans. He then jumped with both feet onto the McCain campaign giving a major speech at the Republican national convention and appearing next to John McCain on the campaign trail almost as often as Cindy McCain. During the campaign he was a conduit for McCain campaign innuendos against Obama and Lieberman sinisterly questioned Obama’s patriotism. Joe Lieberman donated his soul to the Republican Party and in their company may he rest in piece, a piece that Democrats going forward can do without.
Although Democrats seek a 60-vote Senate majority to avoid Republican filibusters blocking their legislation, I do not believe they need Joe Lieberman. I do not see Republicans voting in robotic unison as they did in recent years. They do not hold the White House, and the totalitarian hold Republican leadership held over GOP legislators is experiencing its wake. Incumbent Republican senators will look to recent voting of their constituents and conclude that the appeal of Bush’s version of Republican dogma and the track record of Republican governance has been rejected. I expect that a significant amount of legislation proposed by Obama and his party is legislation needed and wanted by a significant majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation. The Connecticut Democratic Party rejected Lieberman in 2006. The Democratic leadership in the Senate should do likewise in 2008.
* The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
Louis D. Brandeis (1856 – 1941) US Supreme Court Justice (1916 – 1939)