March 1, 2013 By Jack Jodell.
The dreaded sequester is now upon us, thanks to Republican unwillingness to budge on closing unneeded tax loopholes for the very rich and their bitterly partisan desire to shift blame for this action solely onto the President. The trouble is, while Republicans once again place playing political games far above the needs and wants of the people, millions of Americans will suffer needlessly. Thousands of teachers, police, firefighters,and government employees will lose their jobs, and our defense and disaster-relief options will become limited. Additionally, a great many section 8 housing people will literally be thrown out on the streets to swell the already far too numerous ranks of the homeless, just because reactionary Republicans felt this was the opportune time to make a foolish, short-sighted political point. In doing so, these heartless clods will be throwing the baby out along with the bath water!
The way democracy has been practiced in the United States has always included compromise and give-and-take, both inside and outside of our branches of government as well as our political parties – until very recently. The party out of power has nearly always employed the very wise tactic of “give a little to get a little back.” This has served the nation reasonably well, albeit at times imperfectly, over its 200+ years of existence. It has also shown the world an enviable method to achieve progress among disparate groups as each works with the other to achieve positive solutions to pressing problems. Most regrettably, it now appears that this American method of practicing democracy is on the wane.
Thanks to the overbearing rigidity and unyielding stodginess of the now far-right, Tea Party-infested Republican Party, compromise has become equated with surrender. Uncompromising, total governmental gridlock has been the result. It has wrought only unneeded and dangerous economic and political instability. Its only real achievement has meant the end of progress as well as repeated, unheard-of attempts to shut down our federal government. This, my friends, is regression in action, and it is destroying our democracy one manufactured crisis at a time. These modern Republicans have voted in near lock-step unison against all Democratic Party initiatives ever since Barack Obama was first inaugurated President in January of 2009. They opposed his economic stimulus program, even though it saved our automotive industry and prevented our economy from sliding into a second Great Depression. Then they opposed his Affordable Care Act of 2010, which permanently ended the ability of overly profit-hungry insurance companies to discriminate against persons with pre-existing conditions and made it illegal to dump customers undergoing prolonged, expensive treatments. They opposed all efforts to implement a badly-needed federal jobs program. They have systematically and routinely failed to act on hundreds of presidential judicial appointments. They have unprecedentedly voted to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress on the flimsiest of politically-driven charges. They have abused the practice of filibuster in the Senate, making it possible for one single, solitary Senator to secretly block any bill whatsoever without having to give any type of public explanation at all. They also voted in near-unison against any tax increases on the very wealthiest Americans, even though those wealthy Americans have enjoyed ridiculously low tax rates for 11 years (with numerous tax loopholes as well) and have unfairly held down everyone else’s wages while exporting millions of good-paying American jobs to foreign slave labor markets. This nearly-unanimous voting pattern by the GOP more closely resembles European-style parliamentary democracy more than its traditional American counterpart. For the European version usually has one party or one coalition of parties voting as a bloc in an effort to achieve a vote of no-confidence in the existing government, which they hope will force a special new election to topple that existing government, allowing them to take power. Unfortunately for these Republicans, that is NOT the way we do things in this country!
Voters today are fed-up with congressional stalling, obstruction, and inaction. They are sick to death of manufactured crises every few months. They want cooperation and compromise between parties and the various branches of government. They want a return to GOOD government: government without name-calling, brinksmanship, or back-stabbing. They want government to work properly – the way it did before reactionaries took control of the Republican Party, and especially before the Tea Party began its unhealthy infestation of the GOP.
In European and South American parliamentary democracies, the effective head of state (usually a Prime Minister) can and sometimes does dissolve the Parliament and will, for a time, rule by decree, if he or she believes an imminent threat to the country’s security exists. In 1958, French President Charles De Gaulle did precisely that, and eventually saved French democracy as a result. Perhaps President Obama should emulate De Gaulle by DISSOLVING CONGRESS ALTOGETHER and calling for brand-new congressional elections! After all, this current Congress is showing itself to be unworthy of representing the country as a whole, in that it places grandstanding and political gamesmanship far above the pressing needs of the citizenry. After all, Congress has repeatedly in recent years shown that it is more devoted to the wants and needs of special interests than it is in the common good of the populace. In some cases, notably in terms of Hurricane Sandy relief and in its steadfast refusal to place an outright ban on assault weapons, it has even voted AGAINST what the voters wanted and needed!
Perhaps it would be good for members of the Tea Party and other reactionary Republicans to actually experience that which they have falsely claimed we have been living under: a dictatorial and fascist presidency under Barack Obama. Then and only them, they may recognize the foolhardiness and ridiculousness of those reckless and meritless accusations. It would serve them right to be forced out of power long enough to come to their senses and realize that compromise is the only way to get things done in a democracy like ours, where ALL parties have the right to provide an input, and being a strict, doctrinaire hard-ass is simply not allowed!
I realize that what I have proposed above is unprecedented for American politics and would, for many reasons, be impractical. It is, in effect, based on fantasy more than reality. Nonetheless, I am calling out loudly for AN END TO THIS PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY GAME the Republicans have been playing!