Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Just Say No: To Politicians Who Sign Pledges
As the public's attitude toward politicians and politics in general has grown over recent years from one of hope to ambivalence and eventually to the current attitude of utter disdain, there is a widespread belief among the majority of independent minded voters that the parties are equally to blame. While in some respects this is only logical. There are two dominant parties and as the old saying goes, "it takes two to tango".
Now, while this may be true when it comes to dancing or fighting, unfortunately when it comes to politics, this is not necessarily true. The recent anecdotal evidence from the upper Midwest states of Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as the current standoff in Washington D.C. lends credence to my hypothesis that something has fundamentally changed politics as usual in this country over the last couple of generations.
I trace the origins of the problem back to the mid-1970's when evangelical Christians set their sights on taking over the Republican Party. The first hint of trouble was the "I Found It" bumper stickers that started to appear on cars. The next sign of the coming political Apocalypse was the shotgun marriage of the evangelical Christians lead by Jerry Falwell and his so-called Moral Majority (which in actuality were neither) and Ronald Reagan, a divorced movie star who neglected his own children, did not even attend church and negotiated with the enemy while running for President in order to get elected. Never mind the fact that he defeated one of the most decent men to ever hold the office, Jimmy Carter, an actual Christian who lived the precepts of his religion, not the phony Gospel of Prosperity of the Rev. Falwells and their ilk.
The administration of President Alzheimer and Mommy Dearest will mostly be remembered for running up the largest deficits in U.S. history up until that time, thanks largely to a bogus, three card Monty con game of an economic policy called supply side and the trickle down theory. Under the trickle down theory, by cutting taxes on the wealthy, we were promised that pennies would fall out of the pockets of wealthy Americans and trickle down their pant legs to the middle and working classes. Well something was and has been trickling down upon the heads of Americans ever since but it is yellow, liquid and has an acrid smell.
Couple this with union busting and the all out war on the American middle and working classes was well under way. Before leaving office Reagan was to commit truly impeachable offenses such as treason and other high crimes and misdemeanors in his scheme to sell arms and spare parts to the most evil regime of our time, the Islamic dictatorship in Iran and funnel the profits, in clear violation of U.S. law to the Contra Rebels of Nicaragua, a group which was murdering priests and an archbishop as well as raping U.S. nuns before killing them. Remember what Reagan called these brutish thugs? "The moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers". That statement makes Michele Bachmann look like a professor emeritus in history.
Next up was George Herbert Walker Bush, the last of a dying breed of moderate, competent Republicans. I have to admit, I have mostly admiration for the elder Bush. Highly competent, former head of the CIA, ambassador to the U.N. and China, he truly understood the power and wisdom of multilateralism and was uniquely qualified to rally the world against Saddam in the first Gulf War. Not only did he get other Arab countries to fight by our side, he got countries that did not contribute troops, like Germany and Japan, to kick in monetarily, resulting in a $5 Billion surplus. As great as his leadership in the first Gulf War was, perhaps his greatest legacy was having the courage to stand up and speak out against Reaganomics for what it was: "Voo Doo Economics".
In what will undoubtedly go down as his greatest moment and perhaps the last act of bipartisan courage shown by a Republican politician, he stood up to the know-nothings of his own party and went back on his pledge of "No new taxes" and did the right thing, setting the groundwork for the Clinton Administration's unparalleled years of economic prosperity. Unfortunately, this, like most lessons from history, are lost on today's Republicans.
So remember Americans, any fool politician can keep a pledge for their own political gain to the detriment of the country. But it takes a politician with real moral courage to stand up to his own party and do the right thing for the good of all Americans. Unfortunately there are no more Republicans from the Greatest Generation left in politics for the Democrats to work with. Not only is this a loss for the Republican Party , but a loss for America as well.