No pretty pictures in this blog post today, people. Everyone in the media is predicting huge Republican/Tea Party gains in the upcoming midterm elections, now less than 2 weeks away. Voters have much to be angry about: foreclosures are at record levels and rising; the unemployment rate remains steadfastly just below 10%; working people's wages are all but frozen while CEO salaries continue to skyrocket; prescription and medical costs continue to rise faster than inflation; the federal deficit is at an all-time high; our schools are slipping and dropout rates are rising; our roads, bridges, schools, office buildings, and inner cities are crumbling; Congress is bitterly partisan, fights within itself, and can't get anything done; and the war in Afghanistan drags on, turning into a quaqmire, and is running the risk of spilling over into Pakistan and possibly Iran. The coomon wisdom is that the party currently in power, the Democratic Party, will be ousted and control of Congress will shift back to the Republicans, who held it from 1995-early 2007. The natural trend is for voters to remove the party in power if that party fails to improve the lot of the country. But before voters take that seemingly automatic step this year, it may be wise for them to ask and answer the questions below before they nake what very well could prove to be a dangerously rash and counterproductive move:
1. WHO CAUSED THE COLLAPSE OF THE ECONOMY? Was it caused by overly strict government regulation on banks and investment firms, or was it caused by Republican-led dereregulation of mortgage banks and the stock market? I think most of you know the answer. Why, then, would you even CONSIDER returning this party to power to reimplement its same old deregulation policies?
2. DID THE REPUBLICAN BUSH TAX CUTS CREATE MILLIONS OF NEW, GOOD-PAYING JOBS IN THIS COUNTRY ONCE THEY TOOK EFFECT? That's what the tax cuts were supposed to do, weren't they? Isn't that what Bush and Republican congressional leaders told us at the time? If you said yes to this question, where are those jobs today? In India? China? Mexico? The Philippines? I think you know the answer here. NO good-paying jobs were created here; LOW-paying jobs were created outside our borders, and American workers were laid off by the millions as corporate CEOs padded their own salaries and benefits. This was done because the Republicans told us "free market" policies like this would be good for us. But instead, these policies have proven to be very BAD for all but a tiny few of the wealthy elite at the top. Why, then, would you even CONSIDER returning this party to power to implement even more outsourcing and further tax cuts for the rich?
3. HOW WILL A WEAKER, MUCH SMALLER GOVERNMENT (AS ADVOCATED BY THE REPUBLICAN/TEA PARTY CROWD) BE ABLE TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE ELDERLY POOR, THOSE NOW BELOW THE POVERTY LINE, THE SICK AND HANDICAPPED, AND THE UNEMPLOYED? The conservative Republicans and their Tea Party allies all want a much smaller federal government. If you vote them into power and they get their way, who will feed and shelter these needy people? YOU? Will they starve and drop before your very eyes, or won't you care so long as the government is smaller and weaker? What will you do when desperately sick and hungry people attack YOU on the street for your pocket change? Should they just be shot by police and cast aside like garbage? How will you remain healthy as these people slip into disease and become carriers of tuberculosis and dysentery? Also, in the event of a severe natural disaster, who will have the necessary resources to bring immediate aid to the terribly afflicted victims?
4. ONCE FEDERAL REGULATORS DISAPPEAR OR ARE SEVERELY CUT BACK, WHO WILL ENSURE THAT YOUR FOOD AND WATER REMAIN SANITARY? THAT YOUR HOMES ARE BUILT SAFELY AND THAT UOUR PLACES OF WORK WILL BE SAFE? Will the marvelous Republican/Tea Party "free market" that replaces government oversight provide these safeguards voluntarily all by itself? Surely, you're not THAT gullible!
5. ONCE THE MINIMUM WAGE IS DISMANTLED (SOMETHING MANY REPUBLICANS AND TEA PARTY CANDIDATES ARE NOW ADVOCATING), WHO WILL MAINTAIN WORK STANDARDS AND WAGE AND BENEFIT LEVELS? With no federal government to protect you, how long will it be before your place of employment cuts your wage down to $2 per hour or lower? How long before you are told you no longer get time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 per week? How long before your boss tells you that to keep your job you must work 14 hours each day, 7 days a week, with no vacation or sick days? This won't ever happen, you say? How can you be sure? Who or what will be there to prevent it?
6. WHAT PLANS DO REPUBLICANS AND TEA PARTY MEMBERS HAVE TO CREATE JOBS? HOW WILL THEY KEEP YOUR WAGES AND BENEFITS FROM SLIPPING FURTHER? The Republicans and their Tea Party allies all opposed the Economic Stimulus Plan and do not believe the government should ever intervene in the marketplace to create jobs or influence wage levels. They support "free market" export of American jobs to ensure that big corporations will be as profitable as possible. They have absolutely no plan for job creation other than cutting taxes for the rich, and we have already seen that act not producing any good-paying jobs here. They also jave no plan to protect your current job or maintain your current wage level should the market further contract. Do you really want to trust the task of rebuilding this economy to a party with absolutely no plans in place to do so?
7. IF THE REPUBLICANS ARE ALLOWED TO PRIVATIZE SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE (AS MANY HAVE PLEDGED TO DO), WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE ELDERLY IN TIMES OF ECONOMIC DOWNTURN? How will the poor and working poor ever be able to save enough money to invest in a retirement fund big enough to meet their needs? And if the market crashes, won't these lifetime investment funds be wiped out too? Will these people then become homeless and starve once their savings are gone? Will YOU be taking them in and caring for them? Will they die on the streets penniless? Will they, at the time of life when medical care and treatment for pain is needed most, be forced to do without, suffering needless and preventable agony, and die before their time just because they cannot afford ever-rising medical care? Is THIS what you want for your children and grandchildren? Or for your grandma and grandpa, or great aunt or great uncle? Sounds like a sort of cruel "death panel" to me, and I thought conservatives violently opposed those...
8. WITH NO THREAT OF GOVERNMENT REGULATION OR INTERFERENCE AROUND, WHAT WILL PREVENT BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY FROM FIXING PRICES AS THEY SEE FIT? What will stop the oil companies from charging you $12 per gallon for gasoline? Or the pharmaceutical companies from increasing their prices tenfold across the board? The "market" will never permit this and will correct itself, you say? How can you be so sure? And how can you be so naive? It wasn't the "free market" which quickly rolled back $4 per gallon gas prices in the summer of 2008. The "free market" ENABLED this price rise! It was only the threat of windfall profit taxes made by the DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS which caused gas prices to drop! How can you even THINK of returning a party to power who wants to let a greedy and unforgiving "market" run roughshod all over you?
9. WHAT MAKES THE REPUBLICAN PARTY THE PARTY BEST SUITED TO GOVERN THIS TIME? Have these conservative Republicans put forth any solid practical solutions to our problems? How will they rebuild our infrastructure? Reduce or end poverty? Make your job more secure? Or will you be voting for them solely because the economy isn't progressing as quickly as you would like and you want to punish the progressives and Democrats for that? Does the fact that the conservative Republicans have engaged in uncooperative and nonproductive obstruction of all Democratic initiatives for the past four years mean anything to you? That they have stood in the way of progress solely for the sake of political gain? The fact that they are threatening to shut down the government altogether if they gain control and their demands are not met? Would you like no mail during the duration of ssuch a shutdown? No National Guard? No Border Patrol? NO SOCIAL SECURITY or Welfare checks going out to those who need them? No Veterans' hospital care? Is THIS the type of "governance" a responsible and responsive political party should be offering? Is THIS what you, as a taxpayer, are sending people to represent YOU in Congress for? Is this what you really want or deserve?
10. DO YOU BELIEVE YOUR LIFE WILL BE BETTER BY RETURNING TO POWER THE VERY SAME PARTY WHICH RASHLY PUSHED US INTO A COSTLY AND UNSUSTAINABLE WAR AND PUT US INTO THIS CURRENT ECONOMIC CRISIS TO BEGIN WITH?
Voters, the answers to these questions are starkly clear: the Republicans and Tea Party advocates do NOT have the solution to our problems and have actually CAUSED MOST OF THEM. They will lead this country down the path of economic destruction, NOT prosperity. They must NOT get your vote, because if they gain governmental control, they will embark on a disastrous radical agenda that will wipe out every positive gain the middle class has made over the past 75 years! Moderates and independents, for the good of the country, you MUST vote progressive and Democratic this time around. Progressives and Democrats, DO NOT SIT HOME THIS ELECTION---VOTE!!!