USA! USA! If people really have to ponder the question of “Are we better off now than we were four years ago?” the “A” officially now stands for Amnesia.
Seriously? You are really asking that question?
Let’s see… 2008; the Dow Jones Index was at 8,281 points and would continue to slide to a stomach churning 6,624 points shortly after the inauguration. Today the Dow is at 13,306. Jobs were being sloughed off and lost at the dizzying rate of 700,000 a month. At the height of the financial meltdown people, me included, were taking sizable amounts of cash out of the bank because for the first time in our modern era the thought that the banks would collapse (without the cool Bonnie and Clyde fashion statement fedoras of 1929) was not so unthinkable.
You had single day Dow Jones plummets of 500 and 700 plus points. This, despite the fact that Sarah Palin was wowing the country at the exact same time with her reading lists on nationally televised interviews.
So yeah, I guess we are just slightly better off than we were in 2008.
As Dennis Miller used to say, when he was still funny and before his apparent stroke and being used as a meat puppet on Fox News “I don’t want to go on a rant here but…”
Republicans were at the helm when this economic collapse happened and had been for the prior eight years, eight years that also contained the attack on 9/11, the rush to a war on an ever-changing narrative-explanation of its necessity. An illegal and too-tragic-to-be-called-ridiculous but ridiculous war that both bankrupted and polarized this country, not to mention the uncountable dead and wounded soldiers and civilians. Those eight years are a two-term extravaganza of all possible bad things on my watch foxtrot.
Yet Ann freaking Romney has the tin ear temerity to mention in her convention speech that it is time for the adults to take over. A remark that is both unbelievably offensive not only for the racist undertone (if Mitt is an adult then who is a boy?) but equally so for the entitlement quotient. Yes, entitlement…we are white, wealthy and in this country that means that we deserve to be in charge…not for anything specific, you understand, certainly not for any coherent plan or shared roadmap for the nation. Republicans allegedly hate entitlements so the irony here is pronounced. I think I’ll pronounce it “nauseating.”
I know the scouting report on Party tendencies is that Democrats can govern but cannot message worth a crap and Republicans can’t govern but are dazzling effective in their messaging.
The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle. In the September 2012 Merrill Lynch report to its clients on effects on the market of possible election outcomes it stated that in the modern era the markets performed the best under a Democratic President and a Republican Congress. That model will probably see a change with the Tea Party and tax pledge – no compromise – no discussion behavior of the current House of Representatives but for now that is what history shows.
Their playbook on each other is Republicans are all about God but have no heart and Democrats are all about heart but have no God. In a nutshell that kind of says it.
If we could just agree to the general truthiness (thank you, Stephen) of these three things, I really think that the IQ of any political party line argument would be greatly improved and almost tolerable:
- God and Founding Fathers:
Our founding Fathers were men of God but they came out of the Enlightenment Era and most of the big hitters were Deists not Christians in the current denominational sense. Thomas Jefferson as many know created his own New Testament (now in the Smithsonian) by literally cutting and pasting pages to remove all miracle stories from the Gospels and preserving the moral lessons of Jesus. Deists believe in a creator and God but again not the construct of Jesus as God.
- Assault Weapons and the Second Amendment:
Our Founding Fathers did write the second amendment stating that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” But I am pretty sure that they could not foresee or conceive of assault weapons. One modern assault weapon of today could have literally defeated an entire army of Colonials or British with enough ammunition. Muskets of that era were considered accurate from only 150 yards and could produce four rounds a minute max if the soldier was very well trained as it took twelve different steps to reload and fire. So…a hundred rounds a minute with armor piercing ammunition and Kevlar vests for any citizen …enough already, I am reasonably confident that this was not their intent.
- Medicare and Medicaid:
The Democratic authors of Medicaid and Medicare wrote that bill in the 1960’s when the life expectancy was 67 years of age. Today it hovers at 85 years. They could not have predicted that any more than George Washington could have predicted that a 22 year-old could walk into a movie theater with more instant assault firepower than his entire army. We will have to adjust expectations and structure of Medicare and Medicaid, everyone knows that. It is a “duh.” The question is how fairly and intelligently we will discuss and then foster those changes. The National Debt is terrifying but so is “Atlas Shrugged” as a primer on domestic policy.
So, again, do we live in a political sewer? Why, as a matter of fact, yes, we do. Is there any cause for optimism that we will wake up less polarized, less bought and paid for from Day One? No, there is not. When the Supreme Court says corporations have the legal – political rights of people, and can spend unlimited amounts to elect their guys is there any reason to think we are going to be more functional as a democracy? Nope, don’t think so.
But…despite all this, is it too much to ask the American populace to remember back just four years?
Four years is not forever. If Americans can’t remember just that far back not only is it terrifying but it’s also a postcard from Goebbels with a “thinking of you” handwritten note on the back.
Hey U.S., I want my “A” back.