Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Future of our Republic

The future of our republic will be decided elsewhere. Utah's essentially single party status has made them irrelevant to national politics and merely play a role as defining the outer reaches of conservative and nativist extremism that's possible if the Republican noise machine succeeds nationally.

Places like Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Nevada and Pennsylvania will likely determine whether the Democrats continue to control the Senate, and a broader belt of midwestern and far-western states will determine whether they control the House. The Mormon belt and the Bible belt are now the solid red bastion of conservative extremism, and is it any wonder, that these areas are also those areas with the most devout followers of fundamentalist religious faiths? Correlation doesn't always equate with causation, but I have a hard time not linking these two.

My concern is long-term about the future of our country. Keyne's maxim that "in the long run, we're all dead" may be true, but I have children, nephews and neices and I care about future generations of our country. If we are to create creative solutions to the problems of today, and to our future, we will need to as a society have a great deal of attributes antithetical to religious or political dogmatism. We will need flexibility, creativity, accountability and transparency. Religious dogmatism is anti-thetical to all those things that we will need to create the best solutions to whatever problems we face in the future.

The feedback loop goes as such- people during periods of stress and uncertainty, look to ideologies that provide certainty. These ideologies result in poor solutions to pressing problems which results in greater stress and uncertainty, followed by more dogmatic adherence to certainties. This is what I fear for our country. Eight years of Bush created a disaster economically and morally for our country. Conservatives response to this has been that the problem was Bush's lack of adherence to "true" conservative principles. Conservative ideologies, like a drug to an addict, provide escape from reality but temporary comfort, but provide a scarcity of creative solutions to the problems we face as a country. And like an addict, when the addictive behavior creates more problems, the solution is more of the drug.

We face an intellectual and moral crisis in this country. Those who look backwards into the past for solutions to the present limit our options and bind us with inflexibility. This is the paradigm I see in Mike Lee and tea partiers. And I don't believe me and my little blog will make a difference in the intervention our country desperately needs if we the people, will take responsibility, and look to flexible solutions, not dogmatic myths about ourselves. The politicians are a symptom of a problem that goes much deeper. It lies in us, the American voter and people and our susceptibility to demagoguery and delusion.

The answers to our problems are rarely simple. Let's move forward looking for the best solutions, not to dogmas based on authority. Progress in our Republic is still possible, but I fear this election will stunt our growth and bind us for generations to come. I hope I am wrong.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Question for Republicans

I want real answers, not the usual Republican spin about “waste and inefficiency” that is in government. Republicans have controlled the executive branch of government for 20 out of the last 30 years. It was the Democratic President, Bill Clinton who finally brought the deficit under control, but let’s spare that debate for a second. Let’s look to the future. Republicans want to continue the W. Bush tax cuts. What specific expenditures are you willing to cut to pay for it? I WANT SPECIFICS (note, we liberals try not to use all CAPS when writing because it makes us look like angry conservatives, but I’m willing to meet them half way).

The vast majority of the federal budget is in the areas of social security, Medicaid, Medicare and National Defense. Once you get beyond these areas, any material cost savings (ask your Republican accountant friends what material means) will have to come from these areas if they are to really affect the deficit. Spending through earmarks barely show up as a factor compared to the obvious elephants in the room. So what is it? Do we cut the military? Social security? Medicare? Tell me. Keep in mind that baby boomers are now beginning to retire and the projected costs of social security and medicare are only going to increase, no matter what inefficiencies you business geniuses can find.

So what is it? As a car buyer, I’d like to know what is under the hood. Is it a four, six, eight cylinder, or lawn mower engine? Or is this just the typical Republican "cut taxes and borrow" engineless Lamborghini that looks so good in advertisements, but doesn’t exactly get me to work? My eyes are weary from watching posturing teapartiers and other clueless know-nothings yell at the top of their lungs that government needs to be reined in. Well here’s your chance. Chaffetz? Lee? Bishop? Rein it in. Specifically what are you going to cut? Is there any engine in this car you’re selling, or do we need to get Fred and Wilma to show us how it really works.