Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Only the Names Have Been Changed..."

What happened to all the idealists in the “new era?” I remember last November – Nancy Pelosi, shining and triumphant. After all, the big “house-cleaning” had been a mandate of the people. They wanted liberal policies, she supposed: more taxes, bigger government, universal health insurance, liberalized abortion laws, and more rights for gays and lesbians. Isn't that what the party is about? Obviously, that’s what America wanted, because they had thrown out the pro-life, anti-gay, fundamentalist conservatives.

Now, there’s something that most of the media does not want you to know. As dismal as Bush’s approval rating is (and you haven’t heard much about it lately because it’s been going up), he’s got a double-digit lead on congress. Wonder of wonders; even Dick Cheney has a higher approval rating than congress.** Why do you suppose that is? Could it be that the people that put them there are somewhat dissatisfied with their first year of performance? I mean, you can only milk “history” so far. It’s one thing to be the first woman speaker of the House, but finally, you have to do something besides wear a dress to congress and talk about your grandchildren. These people were put into congress last November by two groups: those who were “protest voting” the incumbents, and those who want to see more liberal tax laws, abortion funding, and gay/lesbian rights, including gay marriages. I have no data, but I suppose that the former was a much larger group than the latter.

And what have they done with their “mandate?” Well, they’ve drummed out an Attorney-general, issued several worthless subpoenas that cannot be enforced, and made sure that every Iraqi insurgent wakes up each morning with confidence that American troops will soon be gone. Honestly, can anyone tell me anything else Congress has done since January? They have spent a whole year throwing firecrackers at the White House with totally meaningless non-binding resolutions. At least, most normal people (notice I didn’t say the media) consider them meaningless. If they want us out of Iraq, why don’t they flex some of that newly-acquired political muscle and get us out of Iraq? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not in favor of liberal government, but if I were, I would be bitterly disappointed right now – no concerted effort to overthrow Bush’s tax cuts; no attempt to fund abortions; no efforts to add gay marriage to federal law – nothing.

In an amazing role reversal, the Democrats and Republicans are pretending to be – get this – each other! Republicans want to protect the poor, honor alternative lifestyles, and distance themselves from pro-lifers as much as possible. They want to court the gay vote, and while they don’t want to tax us further (at least publicly), they want to escalate spending. Meanwhile, the Democrats are quoting scripture, preaching in pulpits – sometimes even in white churches, and talking about God and government.

Never have I wanted a third party as much as I do now. I’ve looked into some of the others, but most just don’t have the heart – or the leader – to inspire enough Americans to abandon their own useless parties and “cross over.” It can happen, though. In the late 1970’s the Republican party was not a major contender. It had most of the characteristics of a third party, and then it had a leader. Ronald Reagan could inspire people to “take the plunge.” Even after he was out of office and suffering from Alzheimer’s, his momentum was still rolling. In 1995, I heard an East Texas farmer tell me, “I had never voted for a Republican in my life, but this past election, I voted a straight Republican ticket.”

Is there anybody out there with more charisma than I have, who could form a new party that inspired and actually had some convictions that did not change every hundred miles down the road? I have an idea for a name for your new party: call it the “Reaganite” party. However, one caution: look past anyone – even the obscure candidates – who are running right now. Find someone else with the spine that Reagan had. Even if I don’t agree with him on all issues, I’ll vote for his backbone (that’s the way RR did it).

In 2008, there may be a Democratic president elected, provided they can continue to keep everyone disillusioned about Iraq. If they win, they will manage to hang on to congress as well. But in 2010, it will swing back, and when it does, we will have a whole new slate of politicians to keep on doing the same things that have been done since 94 – nothing important. Or, we can vote for someone else. What if we woke up on a January day in 2011, and found that congress’ majority was made up of Independents? It could happen, couldn’t it? Or am I being too idealistic?

**Update, 9/19/07 -- both the President and congress have plunged to new lows, though Bush maintains his double-digit lead over congress. Check the story at:http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1844140220070919?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews&rpc=22&sp=true

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Talk About Out of Touch!

I didn't see the most recent Republican debate. I won't have to. They answered all my questions just by being there. Now I have to confess. I'm one of those "fundamentalists," which of course, according to the news media, means I go to church on days that are not Christmas, Easter, or funerals. I guess that makes me part of the "religious right."

But I digress. This is not about the ongoing befuddlement the media has with the fact that most Americans actually believe in a God that closely resembles the one depicted in the Bible. This post is about how far the once-mighty Republican party has fallen.

I have tried to watch all these straw people climbing over each other, and it's hard to get excited about any of them. With the possible exception of Rudy Giuliani, who ought not to even be a Republican anyway, they all claim to want to win the evangelical Christian base that Ronald Reagan reached in the 1980's.

I have a hint to any future Republican candidate: that base is out there, and still reachable, but any idiot should know this one: You're not going to reach any of them debating on a Sunday morning!

If any one of these mentally numbing stuffed shirts had thought about it, he would have realized that he could have won the debate hands down by making a simple statement: "I will not be at the debate on Sunday morning; I will be in church."

Such a statement would have left all the others scrambling for damage control. I especially am perplexed that former Reverend Huckabee did not understand this -- he was once a Southern Baptist pastor.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not commenting on their church going habits. I'm talking about campaign strategy. Did none of them have even one person on their staff that could venture, "Uh, sir, a Sunday morning debate will not cement any support from the largest voting bloc you're trying to court right now."

Not only are these candidates completely out of touch with the electorate; they don't have any intelligent advisers either. Do I really want another president like Bush -- a decent, moral, upstanding type of guy who has absolutely nobody with any integrity (outside of his own wife) to guide him? I know when I voted for Bush, I did not vote for Karl Rove, and I really wished I could split my ticket and not vote for Cheney either, but he came with the package, kind of like MTV comes with my "family" package on cable TV. The only difference between Bush and these guys, though, is that, whatever you think of Bush, he towers over this anemic list of candidates. And none of them remember that over 50 million Americans go to church every Sunday morning. Fifty million votes would elect anyone president.

Is it just me? Was this possibly the stupidest move in the history of the Republican party? Well, it's there with Watergate, Teapot Dome, and all of 2006, to be sure. When I hear Hilary Clinton put on a southern drawl and start talkin' 'bout Jeee-sus in a Mississippi pulpit, I realize that she's only perfecting what her husband was an expert at: lying. When Barak Obama talks about his "faith," I know he's just looking for some of those undecided "church people" votes. Now, when a Republican candidate postures his own religious piety, I can answer him as well, in the ancient words of Saint James, "Faith without works is dead."