The politics you can afford, the politics you deserve and the continual search for sanity

Surely no one was surprised by last night’s results. The treads were there for a while. Yet, I woke up this morning with this new reality – that the Republicans really did take the House and gained a bunch in the Senate. It is hard to wrap my head around and it is hard not to be depressed. Mostly, I just can’t understand it because it really doesn’t make any sense to me.

The phrase, everyone has the politics they can afford, keeps coming to my mind. It usually refers to something like buying a car with a traditional gas engine that gets 33 mpg instead of a hybrid that gets 45 – you would love to be able to get the hybrid because it is best for the planet, but the savings on gas wouldn’t pay off during the lifetime of the car. It is why I feed my family beef and chicken from the store instead of the grass fed and free range products at the farmer’s market. Today I keep thinking of it in reverse. So many people voted against their own self interests – they voted for the politics they couldn’t afford. They voted to go back to leaders promising to do exactly what they did the last time – which is what led to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. How can you say you are voting for change when you are voting for the same old thing? How can we afford these politics again, when they about broke us the first time? I understand that people are hurting; I know people looking for a job. They can’t afford the politics of tax cuts and no regulation. The surveys of the Tea Party crowd showed them to be better off than most, older and educated. In other words, we are getting the politics they can afford. The guy working his ass off at the factory (yes, there are still actual factories in this country), is not being served by them at all. Yet, the anger is catching and cathartic. If you are desperate it feels good to have someone or something to be upset about – yet it sure seems to be misplaced.

I simply get angry about it and the phrase changes to ‘you get the politics you deserve’. What really gets me though is that I am part of that “you” – I get the politics, too. Do I deserve it? I listen to the Tea-GOP’ers say they want to cut taxes to create jobs, to balance the budget, and for just about any problem that comes up. That is the only solution. Cut taxes. They want a balance budget, they want to cut the deficit – cut taxes. It simply counterintuitive, it is simply incorrect. They can offer no concrete way to pay for the cuts – they say defense, social security and Medicare are off limits. Yet, those are the biggest portion of the budget. They really offer no solution except cutting taxes. How can you logically listen to that and think, “oh that makes sense!” It is short sighted. The idea you might get your little piece of the tax cut or not have to pay a little more next year, is really not that much of an incentive, is it? Isn’t it like trying to buy a vote? Isn’t it a lot like people voting for Bush in 2004 because they had received a $300 check? You are paying a huge price for that little lagniappe.

This weekend I went to a satellite Rally to Restore Sanity (in Dallas at a bar named Lee Harvey’s, if you like irony). I really appreciate the message. I think Jon Stewart is brilliant and sincere. The two hundred or so people at the rally and I all agree, things are just crazy and need to be taken down a notch so we can really grasp the choices we are faced with. Perhaps his rally and the push for reason are just too late in coming because insanity really seemed to rule the day. There are exceptions, Delaware decided to go for the candidate that knew the constitution did specify the separation of church and state and Nevadans held their noses and voted for Harry. But you have Kentucky vote in a guy who questions the legality of civil rights legislation. Most of the insanity stems from what we see and hear in the media. Insanity sells. Controversy and argument sells. I understand the need to point out the vitriol on both sides of the center line, but I cannot help but think that in doing so, it cuts against the left. There is such a thing as righteous indignation. There is a difference in speaking in hyperbolic phrases to stir up fear and using actual facts to make a heated point. I am biased. I admit it. MSNBC is biased – I admit that and so do they. Yet, it drives me nuts to have them linked in with Fox as the counterbalance. The difference is Fox doesn’t admit to being biased and it plays very loose with the truth. MSNBC does actually report news or give commentary with factual information. The difference between the left and right, Republican and Democrats is the very thing that makes Republicans so much better at politics – they stay on message. Fox is not going to question Republican leadership where MSNBC can scorch Obama on any hint of compromise. But Fox and MSNBC are the extremes. Most of the news, with all its myriad faults, falls in the middle. I don’t buy the liberal bias for the reason stated above. Whatever you want to call them, those of us left of center never can stay on message. If anything the news is biased to the bottom line and what makes money is what is sensational. So the overall bias can cross that middle line from left to right, but it will always trend to the extreme because that is always more sensational.

So, where is the sanity? The sanity is us. It is finding news sources without an agenda – that excludes Fox and MSNBC. It is about actually taking the news and thinking about it. It requires more time and thought. It requires people to be engaged. It requires not yelling, but discussing. I will continue working on doing my part in that. Who knows, maybe it will become a trend.


1 Response to “The politics you can afford, the politics you deserve and the continual search for sanity”

  1. 1 jon
    November 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I believe the problem with America is Americans. I polled people where I work (I’m that guy in the factory) and TWO PEOPLE VOTED! When average people do vote, it’s a knee-jerk reaction. “I never vote but the economy sucks so I am going to vote for whoever ain’t in office.” I talked with one of the two and a lengthy discussion proved that all his strong-felt opinions were based on 2 sound bites heard in negative ads. He was adamant about his stand and had not even watched the news! Sorry but while engaged people on this site are having thoughtful discourse about policy, many Americans are simply clueless.

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