Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I Too Believe In The American Dream, Mr. Boehner!

I felt for Durham-native David Gergen on election night.   Sitting on one of a series of morphing CNN panels but always in a league of his own, the close advisor to five former Presidents of the United States -  both Republican and Democrat -  issued quiet, calm, balanced and insightful comments as those about him loudly sated themselves in an orgy of mostly hyperbole or point-scoring hubris.

I find it much harder to be an Independent these days.  It was easier when there were conservative, moderate and progressive wings in both the Republican and Democratic political parties.   I was touched when soon-to-be House leader Rep. John Boehner fought back tears while asserting he has been chasing the American dream for all of his life.PolicyBasic_WhereOurTaxDollarsGo-f1_rev4-14-10

I too love this country Mr. Boehner, every bit as much as you or any of our partisan elected officials, maybe more.  I just happen to believe that patriotism and limited government include expanding access to health care, conserving the environment, helping the poor and ensuring fairness in the free marketplace.

I believe that the American Way includes, in the words of Gene Nichol, that “we need to live up to our defining nation-promise by recognizing our neighbors as brothers and sisters rather than strangers removed from the fates we claim as our own.”

I also believe right now is not the time to dramatically swell the rolls of the unemployed even further by arbitrarily chopping the Federal budget by 20% or by letting temporary tax cuts expire.  The current deficit can be easily eliminated in four or five years by calibrating the growth of government once we’re assured the economy has fully recovered.  Then I believe we should let the so-called “temporary” tax cuts expire and put the revenues in a “rainy-day account” so we’re better prepared for future emergencies.

To paraphrase an insight  by Michael Tomansky, author and editor of the quarterly Democracy:

  • Republicans are good at speaking in broad themes like “freedom” and “liberty” couched in initiatives like tax cuts and deregulation but with blurry details.


  • Democrats talk more about programs and policies couched around equally broad, but harder to bumper-sticker, campaign themes such as compassion, community and justice.


  • Over time, Republican campaign rhetoric has been more popular but Republican policies aren’t.  Democratic themes may resonate less with voters but their programs of Social Security, Medicare, Environment and even curbing carbon emissions do.

The Congress will do well to leave Senator McConnell to his petty, personal vendetta against the President which will probably do nothing more than ensure that the 2012 turnout will parallel 2008 levels.

There is room enough for honorable Republicans, Democrats and Independents to all stand shoulder to shoulder on principle.  It is clear from past elections including the the one just held and as so well written by Jacob Weisberg in the current issues of Slate and Newsweek, that Americans are more comfortable when conservative elected officials (such as President Reagan) “feint right while legislating closer to the center” than they are with those who waste time playing chicken.

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