I have hope we will see a change this electoral season. Yes, I know, Obama has copyrighted "hope" and "change", but that's not the reason I use the words. I have hope because things are bad, but not that bad. It's a tight spot and it's likely to get worse, but it is not a panic just yet, and with luck it will not become one. In recent times like these, Americans have voted for change again and again.
There are some good ideas in the conservative ideology, or at least there were in the conservative ideology as it was represented when my dad was young. The best idea was fiscal responsibility, standing against deficit spending whenever and wherever it arose. In this way, the true opponent of conservatives was not Marx, but Keynes, who said that short term deficits stimulating a sluggish economy were a good idea. What we have today would not be recognized by Keynes as a good idea.
We have long term federal deficits, and the Republicans can now be blamed for them. When Reagan was president, the Republicans said the huge deficits were the fault of Tip O'Neill. When fiscal responsibility made a short-lived comeback under Clinton, the Republicans said the credit belonged to Gingrich. In 2000, the Republicans stole the presidency, and so had complete control of federal spending. And they showed that being thieves and criminals is now encoded in the party's DNA, confident that a Justice Department answerable to George W. Bush would not go after them when they stole. The fiscal irresponsibility of this decade is theirs, and when you bring that up, they say "So?"
So... Duke Cunningham. So... Bob Ney. So, eventually, Tom DeLay. (Just when does his trial start anyway? He had a charge dropped, but there are still others, right?)
More amazingly, they started two wars and did not raise taxes. This is unprecedented not in American history, but in human history. Old men send young men off to die, this is an ancient story. But for those old men to tell the young who live through the war that they will have to pay for the war for years to come, that's a level of chutzpah no one has ever shown before.
The press may not portray it this way, but I believe the people will not need the press to see this. The Republicans are the party of wars they don't know how to finish. They are the party of $4.00 a gallon gas. They are the party of the collapse of the housing market, and turning the bankruptcy laws into house arrest debtor's prisons.
Kanye West, a rapper who has sold a lot of records, may be most famous for saying "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Mike Myers, a veteran of live TV, looked like a deer caught in the headlights. If Myers had even a little wit, he should have said "Kanye, you've got it wrong. George W. Bush doesn't care two craps about anybody." And it's true. He doesn't care if a city in the South is destroyed. He doesn't care if a bridge in Minnesota collapses, something that only used to happen in third world countries. He doesn't care if your home in California burns to the ground.
The new Republican slogan is "You're On Your Own", YOYO for short. People don't want to hear YOYO when hard times hit. I'm optimistic that we are heading towards an economic slowdown similar to the late 1970's and early 1980's, not some Weimar Republic nightmare. Just like Gerald Ford took the heat for the economic troubles, just like Carter and Bush the Elder took the heat, the Republicans, lead by longtime Washington insider John McCain, will also take the heat. I personally believe presidents take too much of the blame and/or credit for the economy, but the public doesn't agree with me.
But beyond that, it's the wars. Wars have to end eventually, unless we want to use Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four as our blueprint for the future. We have two wars that the Republicans don't know how to end. Political objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq are as elusive as ever, and piling up dead bodies like cordwood isn't changing that. To make matters worse, many people in power, most notably Dick Cheney and not coincidentally John McCain, want war with Iran. For those shaky on geography and recent history, Iran has three times the land and three times the population of Iraq, and its economy has not been under the burden of ten years of sanctions. When George W. Bush listed his Axis of Evil™, North Korea, Iran and Iraq, he decided, like the coward he has been all his life, to go to war with the weakest of those three. And he couldn't even win that fixed fight.
This is the Republican party these days. Their best option is to frighten people with stories of their daughters mowed down by scary black people with Uzis, while their sons are sodomized by married homosexual couples and made to swear oaths on the Koran. But the fear of this imaginary future is being drowned out by an increasingly difficult present, brought to you in large part by Republican policy.
I'm optimistic that the American public is going to say, as they did with Ford, as they did with Carter, and they did with Bush the Elder, these people have to go.