Sunday, December 4, 2011

Interesting Political Times

By Cal Potter

One can surely say that we live in very interesting political times. Conservatives are already hard at work pinning all the political and economic problems and decisions of the last ten years on President Obama. Massive corporate dollars and many irresponsible talk show hosts and politicians are fueling a political atmosphere that defies fact and intellect, and has too many civic illiterate citizens buying this trash talking propaganda as the truth.

The basic facts being perverted are that if our nation still had the tax rates of the Clinton administration; had not been fighting, mostly through deficit spending, two multi-trillion dollar wars; and did not have the great recession brought to us by irresponsible Wall Street and major banking actions, this nation today would have no national debt at all - None. The political and financial community decision makers over the past ten years have given us a real economic mess, and a political climate wherein cooperation and compromise, needed if a divided and pluralistic society such as ours is to function in behalf of the citizenry, is impossible.

The voters are indeed fed-up as is reflected in the 9% positive rating given to Congress in recent national polling. One would think that Congress, faced with this unbelievable negative report card, would be falling all over themselves trying to regain some semblance of public support. Herein lies another facet of our interesting political times, the reliance for re-election on one issue voters, who when added together, can still give politicians victories in spite of over-all dismal performance ratings.

Conservatives can put aside addressing our pressing economic issues and focus on their hopeful defeat and false political character assassination of President Obama, because many voters vote guns, gays, abortion, no taxes, religion, or other such single issues. Politicians know that all they need to do is keep throwing various individual constituencies attention to their pet issue, and in the end add up the votes to be 51% victories or greater at the polls. Yes, this is a form of democracy, but not the good governmental operation needed and geared to solving the nation’s pressing economic, educational, health care, environmental, and infrastructure challenges.

Yes, we have 50 million people without health care coverage; 52 million people living in poverty; tens of millions unemployed or living on greatly reduced pay due to the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs, many relocated to the biggest Communist dictatorship the world has ever seen in China. American investment in Communist China has certainly helped fuel their growing economic prosperity, but has been reflected in the loss of millions of good paying American manufacturing jobs, along with the loss of worker health care benefits and retirement pensions. Is it any wonder why there are demonstrations on Wall Street and in other major cities over this nation’s problems, and the lack of action to rectify them.

As we approach another presidential election year, we need to recognize that this nation is split in its opinions, and commit to the idea that we should have a system that truly does address the needs of our citizens, know that compromise is needed, and that this will be the only way to truly have a functional government. We need a greater degree of actual understanding and knowledge of the problems we face, based on real facts, and not the venom spewed by some of the ratings seeking unqualified talk show hosts and many of the less than stellar candidates hoping to defeat the President next November.

Simply maligning Obamacare as something that needs to be repealed, without recognition or even caring that 50 million Americans without health insurance is a national disgrace and unfairly continues to cost all of us in the final analysis. Calling for the demise or drastic cuts in basic life lines such as Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid is totally irresponsible in what purports to be the richest nation in the world. The economic plight of millions of today’s Americans depends, now more than ever, on the need for the creation of financial soundness for these programs, not ridiculous attacks on their basic need or very existence.

If many in this nation continue to pursue simplistic answers to complex problems, do not recognize and work within the diverse nature of our national culture, and do not put aside political partisan selfishness and meanness, placing political interest not national first, we will be guaranteed more of the same dysfunctional operation we rightfully detest in today’s politics. And for a nation as great as ours, this would be a continued national tragedy. There is an old saying that in a democracy we ultimately get the government we deserve.

Calvin Potter is a member of Common Cause in Wisconsin's State Governing Board and a former State Representative (1975-1991) and State Senator (1991-1998) from Sheboygan Falls.

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