It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.
So here we are, about a week away from a huge decision. Of course we’ve already delayed this “monumental decision” twice, so I guess it’s not exactly urgent. But this isn’t completely about that. Some of it is about me and my political evolution in the last few years. Now, I’m not about to run out and register as a Democrat but I am ready to put down the pitchfork and disperse the hate mob. Which is kind a sad cause I love that mob. Makes me feel safe.
You know, I had to go back a long ways to find an example of a political party “holding a country hostage” over a trivial issue that should have never gone this far. All the way back to the French Revolution and the Jacobins who basically tore the country apart for their own selfish goals. I’ve watched the Democrats do some pretty selfish things but it never went this far. You lose a few jobs, put some people in a bad way, but it’s politics. You move on and try your damnedest to do better the next time. You may leave some people behind but you don’t forget about them. This is so far past that.
I don’t believe for a second that we’re going to default but that’s not the point. I believe Democrats know that too and are trying to score as many political points as possible because the parties may be different, but they’re not that different. This is also besides the point and irrelevant. Democrats are doing what politicians do. Republicans seem to have gone way, WAY over that line. But somebody somewhere had to have predicted this the very day the debt ceiling was signed into law. At some point someone would use it as leverage and it would most likely be Republicans.
“Fixing” our economy is going to be a hard thing to do and the debt ceiling argument is just the beginning, not the end. I think the first problem is the thought that our economy needs to be “fixed”. It definitely needs a tune up but I don’t see us trading it in for a new one. Neither Party in the last 20 years has proposed the proper amount of “revenue increases” to balance the amount of spending we’ve done. People do pay taxes though. More than we think. Right now it is reported that only about half of American households pay federal taxes. Well, this is and isn’t true. It is true that the Bush and Obama stimulus plans raised the number of households that have federal debts covered by payroll and tax incentives but people still pay many taxes, most of which find their way to the federal government. So, even though we really do need more tax increases, we’re not exactly hurting. The biggest deficit is still large companies who refuse to pay any taxes. And this has been going on for years.
The genesis of our current debt crisis is dubious as well. When this all started both Parties swore that it was contained in the mortgage fund market. A few months later we found it had spread deeper into the housing market. Again, we were assured it would go no further by representatives of both Parties. Well, several bailouts and a few stimulus packages later and we’re pretty sure neither side had any idea just what was going on. But, we passed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and everyone cheered. A year later we find out it has less authority over Wall Street than a bill requiring vegetables to be pre-soaked. Democrats were happy about the bill, Republicans were so-so. So what happened? well, it turns out the Democrats had to make some concessions to please more “moderate” members of their constituency. Combine this with giveaways to the, at that time opposing minority Party, and you have a bill with a ton of bark and not a whole lot of bite.
But even this is besides the point. Again, I try not to blame politicians. If more people had been tougher with their representatives, especially those delightfully named “Blue Dogs”, maybe, MAYBE we’d have something that could hold bankers accountable. Instead we installed an automatic wrist slapping machine as Congress appears to be tired of doing even that now.
But forget all this, I came to a realization. An epiphany, if it could be called that. Why do I care whose fault this is? What is that going to solve? Am I suddenly going to convince a great number of Republicans that their Party is a plague? No. Am I ever going to convince a great number of Democrats that their Party is a weak old man living on past glories? No. And why should I even try? This is America. This is how it works. You can pick a side and hope for the best or do nothing and become an impotent spectator to your own country’s demise. I’ve realized that there is a give and take here. That everything is exaggerated to lend it a certain importance it otherwise would not have.
Like the assault on the Bush tax cuts and ending the wars. Go ahead. take away the tax cuts and end the wars. You’re still NOWHERE NEAR solving our debt crisis but everyone gets to celebrate a political win. Admittedly a necessary political win. But who says we even have a debt crisis? The politicians? They’ve been lying to you about it since it began. Either that or they’re completely incompetent. Taxing the wealthiest people in the country at maximum rates is long overdue but we need more than that to “get right again”. The tax rates under Clinton were far higher but still not where we’ like them. Clinton balanced the budget but make no mistake, he got help from what turned into a freight train economy. The tech boom of the 90’s helped Clinton do what he needed to do without much of the fight he would have had with Republicans. We brought in TONS of new revenue. New streams added seemingly every week.
This country needs something like that. And Obama, GOD bless him, has tried. Infrastructure projects, green energy initiatives, even some talk of a renewed space program. And many more. But he is trapped in the spending argument. And not just on one side. Democrats proposed 2 distinct bills last year that would have provided several new revenue streams this year and more and more each year for the next 7-10 years. It never made the floor. Dems couldn’t get enough votes on their own side. It led to some private meetings between Obama and Harry Reid. And all this colors the current debt argument. both sides have proposed bills that call for major spending cuts. Democrats really have tried to meet the Republicans on the spending cuts but the lack of new revenue will lead to a ton of problems down the road. Just cutting spending doesn’t solve anything. You’re going to lose jobs and you’re going to lose some current revenue streams provided by programs that will be no more.
And this is really where most of my grief came from. Both Parties have had chances to make fixes. Both have failed. Either from one side not having the will to or the other side not having enough. Now I just see it for what it is. A process. Democrats fail. They fail quite often. But they don’t stop. They get back up on the horse and they try again. I didn’t want to see that. They’re not a monolithic Party. I admit it. But neither, apparently, are Republicans. It does make me chuckle that, for once, Republican are failing because they can’t keep their Party straight. Perhaps it’s because they have no concept of dissent and the Tea Party just confounds them. Again though, not rushing out to register Democratic. Political parties can do good but most often they just get in their own way.
But I have accepted reality. Put some real thought into this. Anger can only carry you so far. And you usually wind up alone. It’s not that I’m supporting Democrats when I vote, I’m supporting democracy. And, more importantly, opposing Republicans. I’m not confident either side has the answer but I have become pretty confident that Democrats are a Hell of a lot closer. And if these are the 2 Parties that must run our country, I’d better shut up and choose a side. If not for myself then for my country. See you at the voting booth Democrats.