Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My State of the Union Address

A commenter named "Anonymous" wrote the following:

How about a recap on the current status of the Democrats. Kind of like the ones you did about the right wing morons. The Democrats have been so good for the country, nay, the world. And they are only getting better.


Your wish is my suggestion. I will now tell you what I think of the Democrats in a rambling, semi-coherent matter. And later this week, I'll provide you with my Super Bowl pre-game analysis and prediction. That's right. I'm promising two blog entries in one week!

The best thing about the Democrats, in my humble opinion, is that they're not Republicans. And the best thing about Obama is that he's not Bush.

That may seem trite, but for me it's huge. Having Obama take over was like waking up from a nightmare. The day may not be perfect, what with the root canal appointment and all, but at least it's not a nightmare.

You wouldn't think it would be necessary to remind people of this, but let's go over it again. Bush failed to adequately address the 9/11 attacks by ignoring a number of warnings, and then they used that awful terrorist attack as an excuse to invade Iraq and torture suspected terrorists. He and the Republicans advanced tax breaks that disproportionately benefitted the super rich. The combination of wars and tax breaks and struggling economy converted the surplus budget he inherited into a record deficit. In his final year, the economy collapsed, pushing us on the brink of a possible Depression. None of these points are even worth arguing. They're a matter of record.

When Obama and the Democrats took over, they inherited two wars, a devastated economy on the brink of collapse, and a record deficit with expiring tax breaks that act like political poison pills when they expire. (Obama is raising taxes! He's a tax and spend liberal! He's a socialist! HE WASN'T EVEN BORN IN AMERICA!!!)

McCain and many Republicans thought the solution to the bad economy was a spending freeze. Simply put, that's stupid. It's appropriate for the government to run up a deficit to help us out of bad economic times, and they should pay down debt during boom times. As much as I dislike running up the deficit, I thought the bailouts and stimulus packages trotted out by both Bush and Obama were necessary. The details of the bailouts and stimulus packages were highly questionable (typically political?) in both instances, but I don't want to get into those details. By the way, where were the teabaggers during the "Deficits don't matter" Bush years?

The Republican party is using the crappy economy -- the same one they played a major role in creating -- as a way of criticizing Democrats. And it's working! On a related note, I don't have a problem with Republicans opposing the Democratic agenda, but I don't like the way the filibuster has become so commonplace. Without getting into Constitutional issues, I prefer a simple majority rule.

One thing that frustrates me about both parties is that they've failed to take opposing stances in a few key areas. The Republicans used to represent business while the Democrats represented labor. Since the Clinton days, the Democrats have catered to businesses a lot more, effectively abandoning labor. And Republicans used to represent conservative fiscal policies while Democrats were more willing to spend and drive up deficits, but Republicans have obviously abandoned fiscal prudence. In a two-party system, those shifts are especially damaging. We need a five party system: Labor, Whig, Tory, War, and Green.

The fact that the Republican party has shifted so far to the right is incredibly frustrating to me. Instead of being able to maintain an independent stance and vote right or left depending on the circumstances, the wingnuts have essentially forced me into voting straight-ticket Democrat. Having only Republicans in charge isn't healthy in Utah, and having only Democrats in charge isn't healthy in the Puget Sound region.

It frustrates me that Obama has continued many of Bush's awful programs that permit torture and questionable spying practices. I understand why he's doing it from a political standpoint -- to be viewed as centrist for the next election. If it keeps a charming lunatic like Palin or Huckabee from being elected, I suppose that's the price that has to be paid. Still...

The health care system is broken. Even die-hard Bush-loving Republicans would have to admit that. If the Democrats fail to push through a decent health care reform bill, I'll be angry. I'm still waiting to see what happens with that story.

Grades

Republicans: F*
Democrats: D+

* The Republicans also received a 0 for citizenship and have been put on notice by this blog.

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