The U.S. mid term election results were very upsetting to us liberals. Can American voters really be that dumb or that apathetic? They very clearly voted against their own self interest, unless the individual was in the 1% crowd. The media has to bear some of the blame as they were not at all forthcoming with keeping politicians honest.
It is not true that the Democratic economic policies were ineffective or that the Republican agenda would be an improvement. It is not true that Obamacare was an abysmal failure. It is not true that the White House screwed up the Mid East after the previous administration had gotten it under control.
It is true that the Republicans very deliberately did everything in their power to block Democrat policies and to distort the results. It is true that the Republicans did what they could to represent the interests of the 1% at the expense of the bottom 90%. It is true that by denying climate change they are dangerously delaying any remedy. It is true that Republicans spent a great deal of time and money stirring up false scandals instead of seeking workable compromises. It is true that under Democrats the economy did improve significantly and that health care dramatically improved for millions of Americans.
Unfortunately we live in the "interesting times" referred to in a Chinese curse. Solutions to the many problems require a delicate balance. Instead we are about to have the rhetorical heat edged up a few notches.
How did they do it? FEAR, GREED and IGNORANCE. It is easy to stir fear and greed amongst the ignorant. People naturally want more out of life and fear a lot of things. We all have a tendency to think short term, but decisions made today affect everyone for a long time, including our descendants. Everything affects our neighbourhood, but we need to look at a much larger picture.
I would like to run down a few issues to help explain my disappointment. It may seem a bit disjointed as I should admit I am not in a good mood nor as coherent as I would like.
DEBT is not a good thing. Yes, spending someone else's money is easy to do and can easily get out of hand. Waste needs to be targeted, but also priorities within our limited resources need to be determined. There are many problems that should be dealt with listed elsewhere. Taxation is not a dirty word. As others have said it is the price of civilization. There are more than enough resources to give all the people a better opportunity to contribute and share the rewards. The very rich benefit from a robust infrastructure, educated population, pollution free atmosphere, legal framework that prevents abuse, defence against our enemies and much more and if they are unwilling to pay their fair share we will all suffer. Contrary to many perceptions the Democrats handled debt much better than the Republicans.
JOBS are important. We all need to understand that jobs are generated by consumers, not just investors and innovators. Not only are the jobless a drain on the economy, unable to support business, but idleness does create bad habits and resentment. The government is really a facilitator. Government workers help facilitate their country in countless ways. Regulations may seem onerous and can certainly be overdone, but without them there would be a dog eat dog world. We shouldn't be living to work, but we should be working to live. In the future, automation will make it possible for more people to contribute and to enjoy life. We don't need greedy profiteers steering our future.
INEQUALITY is not just an abstract notion. If gone too far it has negative impacts on everyone. Eventually it can lead to revolution and violence. To some degree it is inevitable, but at some point is unhealthy. One solution is progressive taxes. Everyone is entitled to necessities, but those who have benefited from society need to share some of the cost. A delicate balance.
$4 BILLION CAMPAIGN EXPENSE This ensures a number of negative things. More time spent on fundraising than on resolving difficult issues. More obligations to special interests. There is a need to understand the issues and how they connect, but currently that is all obscured with negative campaigns and manipulating data. Debates to some extent are artificial, but offer an opportunity to thrash out the issues. Too many candidates avoid debates and hard questioning. Each serious candidate should have a platform to explain what they have to offer and why they are the best choice, but ideally this platform should be relatively equal so voters can make an objective choice. Not likely to happen.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Who do you believe? Those with an interest in the status quo or those who have studied the issues in an objective atmosphere? It requires individuals, but more importantly global co-operation. We cannot expect the other guy to act first, but need to lead by example and by intelligent argument. We are all losers if we don't soon come to grips with the problem. Governments, even though some think they are the problem are necessary to co-ordinate an international response. What is fair for those invested in current system and what is fair for those not so fortunate? What are we leaving for future generations? Some serious delicate negotiations are required and soon. Climate deniers need to get with it.
OBAMACARE--this is the most ironic of all. The path chosen is one originally touted by Republicans. Americans need to look at the rest of the world--medical costs and medical benefits are much more satisfactory in other developed countries. Medical problems are not the major cause of bankruptcy in other nations. Healthcare is essential for the economy and defence of a country. It is amazing how ordinary people have been fooled on this one. Republicans show a disdain for making it better.
INTERNATIONAL WAR AND PEACE. The world can be a dangerous place. There is distrust and fear that leads to violence. Ignorance of different countries and cultures is unhealthy. Americans would benefit from being more multi-lingual. It seems likely the American posture will be more belligerent.
SOCIAL ISSUES are with some groups so powerful they overcome economic self interest. Abortions and gay rights still seem to be wedge issues with some segments. Abortion is the unhappy solution to what some people feel is a problem, an unwanted pregnancy. Some die and others are rendered sterile in the effort and others end up in poverty. Sex education and provision of contraceptives have proved to be effective, but are opposed by those who reveal their real motivation is that promiscuity should not be allowed. That also seems to be a factor for those upset over gay rights. Why should we reward people for having sinful "fun." The world needs more love and less hate.
Racial attitudes seem unhealthy. Many dismiss the "race card" but fail to acknowledge there are racial inequalities in America that go back centuries. Racial injustice hurts all of us and perhaps this mid term is another example.
WHY? who really gains from the election results? The 1% must have gained something because they donated a lot of money for the result. Surely the other 99% must realize it wasn't much to their benefit. All of us are guilty of not making enough time and energy to study the issues and to vote our conscience. The politicians have used their resources to take advantage of us.
I don't mean that one party has all the answers, but we need to examine which one is going in the direction we need. What needs to change to go in that direction? Campaign finance, fair voting districts, fairer voting regulations and perhaps most of all a mechanism for truth. Democracy still seems like a great idea, but last night the American example is a bit tarnished.