It would be helpful in this great republic of ours, if our leaders and those seeking to become our leaders, could set political advantage aside, just every now and then and just for a little while, to serve the nation and the people instead of themselves.
It’s good that so many citizens have taken an interest in the federal government and its financial morass the last handful of years. The Tea Party movement has shaken the Republican establishment down to its grass roots, demanding an end to borrowing, control of spending and an adherence to the U.S. Constitution.
The Tea Party is no longer a casual, loose-knit group of everyday citizens. Now it is a bona fide and powerful wing of the GOP and is making that power known during primary elections.
The Occupy Movement hasn’t and likely won’t coalesce into anything that mainstream Democrats could or should embrace, but it has drawn the support of many on the left in its criticisms of Wall Street and the power of money in our politics.
It’s amazing how close the two movement’s criticisms can be, while their memberships remain polar opposites. Maybe these extreme right and left viewpoints could find common ground that the rest of us could embrace, if they focused less on ideology and more on what’s really the problem in our government: are our elected officials serving us or serving themselves?
A major failing of our election system is that promises get people elected. We should stop listening to them, especially at the presidential level. Campaigns are filled with impossible claims and unfounded accusations.
The Democrats are holding Americans hostage, threatening automatic draconian tax increases at the end of the year if the Republicans don’t agree to increase taxes on “the rich,” forcing them to pay their fair share. It’s been called "Taxmageddon" and an economic apocalypse. And never mind that the increased revenues from the tax hike wouldn’t fund the federal government’s operation for a week.
Republicans aren’t willing to compromise with the Democrats, saying that any such tax increases and the damage they would create will be fully the Democrats’ responsibility. “You can’t raise taxes during a recession,” is their battle cry and a truthful one. But the record debt run up by President Obama on top of the huge debt piled on by President Bush can’t be paid off through spending cuts alone. More revenues will be needed.
If now is not the time to increase taxes, when is? What level of GDP or unemployment would the frugal Republicans like us to reach before they’ll consider raising taxes on anyone? If the poor economy is the only reason not to increase taxes, or at least return them to the level before Bush the Younger cut them, when will the economy be vibrant enough? Or is the economy not really the issue and there’s never a time when the GOP will support tax increases – at least not in an election year.
Most of us don’t know EGTRRA from JGTRRA. Those are the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, known these political days as the Bush tax cuts.
Economists and politicians still argue whether the cuts paid for themselves and boosted the economy after 9-11 or simply shifted the tax burden from the rich to middle and lower class workers and are the biggest contributor to the deficit over the past decade.
And there’s no one, apparently, you can trust to tell you the truth. Institutions, private and non-partisan, formerly trust worthy, now all seem to be partisan.
Our Democracy is failing because we have no clear majority. The left and right are evenly matched and cannot or will not work together. They seek advantage. They seek the opportunity to force their viewpoints on the other side.
We are liberals and conservatives, libertarians and independents, people with faith in a higher being and people with faith grounded more in provable science. Since we’re so divergent and mixed, why can we no longer abide opinions different from our own?
Our political leaders take full advantage of the division, using it to marshal their bases to win their elections. American politics is a contact sport and not for the squeamish, but while damaging their opponents, politicians must be cautious so they don’t alienate their opponents’ constituents.
Do you remember the “He’s not my president” bumper stickers after Bush and later Obama were elected.
Whoever is elected president must preside over an entire nation and not just the half that elected him. And forcing the will of one side on the other is no solution.
After 9-11 when our streets were lined with American flags we stood together. But we’ll never stand together again if our goal is for one side to dominate and not accommodate the opposition.
We would do well to remember President Lincoln’s hallowed words: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Although Lincoln was speaking about the division caused by slavery in the United States in 1858, his warning applies to self-serving politicians who would purposefully divide the nation again simply to serve themselves and their political careers.