The Mess We Are In and Why I Have Hope

This past month has been utterly insane in our country. We were only hours away from defaulting on our loans, utterly up-ending the global economy, and crashing the value of the dollar. This was all caused by a group of die hard conservatives who believed, if the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) went into effect, the Republicans would never win a presidential race for a generation. The ironic part is all of their efforts to stop this prophecy from happening led them directly into their feared outcome.

The rest of this post is a mixture of history, current events, speculation, and opinion. Take it for what it is worth, research everything, and start a conversation.

The Republican party currently is the majority in the House or Representatives. During their tenure, they have pushed things through such as voter restriction (voter ID), and redistricting (which is to say, they redrew the lines of where districts lines are in order to ensure it would be easier for only Republicans to win). These two things made it so certain conservatives were “safe” from challengers on the left, the Democrat simply could not win the race for House seats, and the reds were safe. This allowed these Republicans to be more and more extreme, which is why they can get away with the absurd amount of obstructionism. The conservatives feared that, once the Affordable Care Act (AFA) went into effect, the American people would be dependent on the government, and would never vote for a Republican wanting to take away the “free gifts” so the Republicans would never again win a presidential election. So the October 1st start date for the AFA meant this was their very last stand before they thought they would lose for good.Ironically, their desperation not to lose is what damned them more than anything.

The shutdown totally backfired, costing the US about 24 Billion dollars. On top of that, we may still have our credit rating downgraded. Worst of all, we have, in many ways, lost the respect of the world. How can we be trusted in business decisions if we might shut down the government any day? This will continue to have diplomatic implications in the future, but for now we have things such as the Chinese government-controlled news source saying we need to form a “new world order” and move to a “non-Americanized” global economic system. The entire game of political chicken left both sides bruised, but the Republican party were the ones who insisted on shutting down the government and threatening the world economy over a law that was inspired by the President, passed by the Congress, upheld by the Supreme Court, and re-affirmed in the 2012 presidential election. Because of that, they are the ones who ended up with more of the blame. I’ve seen polls now placing approval for the Congress down to 5%, with a +/- 5% margin of error. Meaning, anywhere from 0%-10% approved of Congress. That is disgusting.

A government without the approval of the governed, cannot govern. I feel this will more and more become an issue in our country. I talked recently with a friend, about why it is this bad, and I have a theory. My entire generation, born in the mid 80’s, have only ever lived under the idea of trickle-down economics. Our entire life, politics has been about the government getting out of business’s way, and giving as much as possible to the “job-creators” or the 1% or whatever you want to call them. That is the only America my generation has ever seen, we are the byproducts of Reganomics. But that is not the only America. Before Regan, we still followed FDR’s New Deal, which was an effective safety net binding together the American people, a form of egalitarianism. It was not perfect (it was full of racist tendencies), but the New Deal has been, piece by piece, torn apart over the past half-century, until very little remains standing. If this generation had grown up under the New Deal, we wouldn’t feel so jaded towards politics, which seems to only care about giving to the very most richest Americans. Countless court decisions have stripped away to protections for the people, and given more and more rights to corporations and millionaires to shield them from paying taxes, and allow them to harm the American populace. If we look a little further back at history, the New Deal was a reaction to almost the same sort of corporate takeover of America which occurred before then, with monopolies controlling more and more of American life. This shows me America moves in cycles, which means we can do the same thing again; we can make another New Deal, and change the way government is viewed by our generation from corrupt and worthless, to safe and beneficial. The federal government is not supposed to be controlling our every day lives, but providing for us a safe and stable place in which to live our lives.  That is not to say it will be perfect, but it could be better than it is. We have swung the pendulum from one extreme to another, and it can change again.

There are many potential paths all of this could follow in the next year. My hopes is that the 2014 midterm elections will see the Republicans who most fiercely pushed us past shutdown and towards defaulting held accountable for their actions. If we saw the Republicans removed from the House of Representatives, and continue with a blue Senate and Presidency, we could see radical change in the American future. The main obstacle holding back things such as student-loan forgiveness, environmental protection, income inequality protection, better healthcare, better investment on education, technology, green energy, even a big infrastructure project to jump start the American economy and fix our 50-100 year old road system, are the same obstructionist Republicans who shut down the government. If, in reaction, these people lost their power and we saw a wave of blue in return, we could at least take some steps towards a better, more compassionate society. It will NOT be perfect, and it will take time, but if we saw the Teaparty Republicans removed for their extremism, all of those things could take place, we could see movement towards a better future.

And so, I have hope. Nothing is set in stone; it is just as likely to fall apart as it is likely to get much better. However, I’m choosing to put my energy into hoping it gets better. I’d still like to find a better way forward, but for now, I have hope.

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  1. Much as I would like to see more blue and less red, the red are facing a monster of their own creation. The Tea Party, often seen as the most conservative ‘wing’ of the republican party, is dominating the local elections. With the focus on redistricting, moderates in either party find themselves facing challenges from extremists. The moderate republicans who voted with the dems to end the shut down will likely lose their seats to Tea Party candidates.

    Let’s redistrict once more to make it so as many districts as possible are a decent mix of all political parties. Then we’d have candidates who’d have to learn to compromise just to get a local election victory, nevermind a federal one.

    • I hope that we do have another wave redristricting. This time, however, I hope that it is reviewed by an independent entity, that they are fairly distributed. I do hope to see more blue control, since at least that party looks out for the American people. But a one party system isn’t going to fix us either. Maybe completely open elections? Or a third party? Or a new one to replace the Teaparty? It makes me truly hope the 2014-2016 period sees massive reforms in campaign finance.


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