Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Politics of fear and cowardice in the mid-term election.
While many of us are quite surprised at the outcome of yesterday's election, you have to remember that our government was founded on the "balance of power" and that balance is supposed to teeter-totter back and forth. That's one of the things that has always kept this country at the forefront of world dynamics and is true of all successful governments throughout history. It's a natural democratic phenomenon and will hopefully continue, albeit in a healthier fashion.
Conservative vs liberal is very much like having both extroverted and introverted friends. They are a balance and both bring important things to the table. Too much introversion can be crippling and too much extroversion can be exhausting. This dynamic dichotomy was the birth of democracy, and anywhere that democracy has been successful you will find a healthy exchange.
The problem is not that the balance of power has shifted to the GOP, the problem is how we are allowing it to happen. We have allowed a party to sweep an election not by bringing great ideas to the table, but by using the well-honed conservative trump card of fear. Obama, Isis, ebola, gay marriage, minimum wage, unions, terrorism, abortion, Putin -- these are the things to be feared for our very existence. The GOP, much like many religious institutions, understand that fear is one of the largest motivating factors in our psychological underpinnings and they use it masterfully.
There was hardly any mention of education funding, green tech revolution, the deficit being slashed, much lower unemployment, massive corporate profits, consistent job growth, and on and on, because there is no deep-seated motivating factors in those issues. You can't convince someone that those issues will destroy your family in the way gay marriage is bound to do.
Should the Koch Brothers dark lord money masters be ashamed of monopolizing people's fears so they vote against their interests? Well, yes, if they had any sense of morality. Even Darth Vader showed empathy in his last moments of life.
But that's not where the shame should be placed today. No, it should be placed squarely at the liberal party's feet. The shame of fear-mongering is only trumped by the shame of cowardice, and that is what the Democratic Party should be facing head-on at this very moment, if there is any sense of responsibility.
Almost every single economic indicator has been turned around in the last 6 years, and any bi-partisan assessment of Obamacare has shown it to be an overall positive boost to both the economy and the deficit, yet Dems chose to consistently place themselves as far away from Obama as possible. How do you plan to win an election with the message, "Our party has turned the economy around, but I don't agree with it?" That is pure idiotic cowardice. Alison Grimes' main platform was how different she was from the President and didn't even have the guts to say she voted for him -- that's cowardice.
Political bravery would have been to say:
"We've slashed the deficit, but we should do MORE by investing in massive infrastructure upgrades while interest rates are rock bottom."
"We've patched a massive hole in the health-care system by allowing so many middle and working class people to purchase affordable insurance, but we should do MORE by figuring out how to extend that to the people of the conservative states who are being held political hostage."
"We've seen Wall Street profits soar to an all-time high, but we should do MORE by closing tax-loopholes and directing that money to education and hi-tech manufacturing retraining programs."
"I will work tirelessly for a constitutional amendment to end the Citizens United ruling, not because it will further my career, but because it will make the country better for our kids and grandkids"
But no, Dems marched lock-step onto the battlefield of fear and thought they could stand mano a mano with the dark lord self-serving billionaires and come out on top.
In the moment it was all very confusing, but in hindsight it was a myopic self-crippling strategy that didn't deserve to win. But it was also a strategy that we, the electorate, sat back and allowed to happen on our watch. We have just as much shame and blame as the Dems out there fighting--maybe even more.
The pendulum swings, panic and fear rules, yet somehow the human race continues to move itself forward in progressive tides that are forever strengthened by education, knowledge and a deep-seated humanistic empathy. If you want true change then never stop learning, never stop challenging yourself to new ideas and concepts, find common ground, and don't settle for fear-based narratives; but most importantly, demand that the people who represent you do the same. Politicians only suck because we've stopped caring and have allowed them to.
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Brian Paul Swenk