Being Like The Little Children
There has been some good news of late concerning Bu$hCo and the rapid disintegration that is underway. Dissatisfaction with the current criminal regime in Washington is growing - and growing vocal:
The most interesting tales came from Republicans elected from districts President Bush carried by fewer than 10 points. For Republicans from vulnerable districts in the Northeast and Midwest, the president has become, as another member put it, radioactive. Those districts were once moderately supportive of the president, but now, as one member of Congress said, the anger at Bush is so deep it's almost indescribable. It's a generalized feeling of betrayal. At town meetings, big subjects like Iraq and the deficits barely come up.
Anyone who is not a Bu$hCo Republican should be applauding and parading in the aisles upon hearing this news. This is what we have been after ever since the Mi$take From Crawford announced he was running for president and the public couldn't gather around him fast enough. They have all had to learn the hard way all those things the rest of us understood from comparing his existing record as Texas governor to the condition of the nation. We made a mistake in over-estimating the connectedness of our fellow citizens, and were sure that such a thorough examination would ensure a Bu$h defeat.
But we were wrong then - and we would be wrong now to assume that the American people are any different than they were in 1999.
How can I suggest such a thing? Personal experience with my Good Orange County (CA) Republican coworkers, for one. We progressives should be noticing that the American people live for disconnectedness, or 'reality' TV wouldn't have been such a big hit. Shows like Jerry Springer wouldn't even get on the air because they wouldn't appeal to anyone based in reality. Drug and alcohol usage would not be the 900 pound gorilla that it is in American life.
We progressives should be noticing that the American people live for disconnectedness. Republican shills like Brooks understand this:
Congress is polarized, but this isn't an ideological moment, liberal or conservative.
It's a moment when voters want to know someone is running the country, that there's someone to project authority and take responsibility, to establish international and domestic order, so they can get on with their lives.
This last comment of Brooks' in a nutshell describes quite clearly what progressives are up against. We are trying to arouse a nation of irresponsible children who don't care who is running things, as long as playtime isn't interrupted and the milk and cookies arrive promptly at snack time.
I happen to be an experienced parent, and I recognize in Brooks' comments a basic phychological scenario that children need as they grow up. They want the security of knowing that someone is there to defeat the monsters under the bed or in the closet. They want no worries about things like food or being cold, remedies for which will be provided on cue by a parent. They want boundaries, so that they aren't allowed to wander into areas of life for which they aren't ready to cope. They want regularity, so that they don't have any unpleasant surprises to deal with that destroy all these feelings of comfort and care.
That ain't how the world works, kiddies! It's cold, it's hard, it's rough, and it's tough in this mean, old world. Anyone who's ventured out into the night to see how the friendless and homeless survive knows this, and the Bu$hCo world of "with us or against us" has left us with few friends and no home in the world community.
The rest of the world, in the role of worried parents awaiting word of their wayward child, wants to see signs that we have learned our lessons, and will not try to take on more than we can handle, and will ask for their help and advice in the future. They know now that we don't know what we are doing, and are no longer willing to blindly follow us as we go boldly forth on our latest misadventure.
But as Brooks points out, we haven't learned a thing. No appeals to higher standards, like Senator Harry Reid's America Can Do Better slogan, will be heard above the iPod din as the party resumes. No amount of parental input from anyone will be allowed to interrupt the party once it begins again.
But somehow, I don't think the party IS going to begin again. GM just slashed healthcare for retirees, will be lowering wages for workers, and will be laying off 25,000 over the next two years. Ford is announcing plant closures and thousands of layoffs. The airlines are also eliminating workers and reducing compensation. The leading economic indicators are down for the third month, which even though this would normally be taken as the sign of a recession beginning, is being dismissed as merely another effect of Hurricane Katrina and will turn around soon.
Ain't gonna go that way, not with GM needing more cuts to survive and workers taking more more costs of their coverage. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says the middle class is on the ropes but with planned job cuts now regularly including white collar workers, there is no more labor 'fat' - they are into the 'muscle' (assuming one buys into the conservative bias that management is necessary while labor is a necessary evil). She also adds:
"The reality is that the leadership in the House, the Senate and the White House don't get it," she said. "There has to be an understanding that the current policies aren't working."
This is going to come as a shock to our Wrong-Wing Wregulars to see me write this, but they are correct when they claim that the Democrats have no solutions to these problems caused by the current Bu$hCo policies. They have some worthy goals, and certainly some good ideas on how to get there, but they have yet to look at how such things are going to be paid for. As jobs are lost and per capita wages go down, the tax base is reduced while societal needs remain - at best - constant.
The Bu$hCo solution to this dilemma is to practice Bully Diplomacy and invade nations that - on paper - couldn't fight their way out of an open MRE. We would then impose both economic colonization in the form of American companies who offer little for a high cost while they take a lot and offer little payment, and a compliant authoritarian puppet regime to see to it that the people don't become nationalists and throw us out.
Despite the fact that this approach to fixing one's economy is morally repugnant and a throwback to the days of Teddy Roosevelt and Gunboat Diplomacy, it is at least thought out by those who originated it over one hundred years ago. All today's 'wurld conkerers' have to do is read the script.
The Democrats, if they are to survive as a party, need to come up with new solutions and new methods of achieving them that reflect today's reality of a declining superpower faced with numerous challenges all across the spectrum. We're faced with military challenges from China while we can't even pacify Iraq despite spending $445 billion dollars on our military last year - 47% of the world's total expendatures on armaments. This is an expense that can no longer be borne by a society that is rapidly losing its wealth. We're faced with economic challenges all over, not the least of which is that our economy is proped up with soon-to-be-very-expensive foreign loans.
So the Democrats have to show that they understand the problems and have some solutions. That will be the easy part.
The hard part will come when they have to sell a program of privation and effort that will interfere with watching sports on the weekends and partying 'til the sun rises. In short, the Democrats are going to have to sell adulthood, responsibility, hard work (the real kind, not the Bu$hCo variety), fiscal probity and sobriety to a country excessively besotted with itself and pleasure and prone to irresponsible behaviors.
I'm going to go waaaaaaaaaaay out on a limb I borrowed from PNAC. I'm going to state that all of this will become possible for the Democrats (or whomever replaces them should they self-destruct like the GOP will) provided they are ready for the triggering event.
That triggering event is going to be The New And Improved Great Depression.
The Republicans are dead set on gutting what remains of the American Economy, and I am of the position that since the American People have no care about this whatsoever, they should reap what they sow. They should collect what they invest. They should live on the rotten fruits of their lack-of-labor when the bottom falls out and the world's investors demand repayment of the trillions they have extended to us, the poor credit risk of the world.
Only then will the American People be willing to accept another approach, and begin the long and arduous process of rebuilding this nation in a new (and hopefully, greatly improved) self-image. That is the time for which progressives need now to prepare for. It's too late to take any other course. All we have to do is follw the script.
The winds of change have reached record hurricane strength, and the projected path is headed right at us according to all the signs. The time to rest on one's laurels is over, and a new time has begun.
The only question is: who will be ready - and who will not.
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