Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Republican Congress

In my heart of hearts, I really do not see what has managed to convince the voting public that the solution to the problems of the United States is to send more Republicans to Congress.  It really strikes me as the equivalent of smashing a broken computer with a baseball bat: it fixes nothing and your kids are likely to crawl around in the mess afterward, putting pieces of glass and circuitry in their mouths.

It looks like America is about to send a Republican majority to the U.S. Senate, to join the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.  The two houses of Congress will then presumably begin passing horrible new bills (which the President will veto), or simply continue voting to defund the Affordable Care Act (which the President will also veto).  Jack shit will get done, and everyone will stew in a toxic cloud of misery and blame everyone else for their own failures.  The people of the United States (at least the ones who haven't had their votes stolen), contemplating this state of affairs, are smiling, and already practicing their collective swings with a Louisville slugger. 

But what the hell do I know?  I'm an unemployed teacher.  Nobody gives a damn about teachers or the unemployed (apart from making sure it's easier to get rid of them or sweep them out of sight).  When it comes to national politics, nobody really cares about anyone but themselves.

So I'm not looking forward to Tuesday night.  I'm going to watch the dominoes fall, shake my head, and get on with my life.  Being a cis-het white guy with wealthy folks, there isn't a whole lot the Republican party can do to hurt me directly.  It's just about everyone else I'm worried about.

In 2014, the Republican party stands for ignoring the issue of income inequality, shrugging at our country's most deplorable human rights failures, and if at all possible actively making these problems worse.  Democratic politicians frequently find themselves on the wrong sides of these issues.  But the Republican party has staked its reputation on always being on the wrong side. The party has a compulsive need to claim the most classist, nativist, chauvinist possible positions as the national mood will allow.  The principal failure of the Democrats has been their vain desire not to be outdone on this score.

For a long time, keeping Republicans out of power has seemed like a good enough reason to vote for Democrats.  Honestly, it's about the only recommendation I can make for the party as a whole.  But it doesn't really fix things either.  To go back to my metaphor, voting for a Democratic Congress is a lot like trying to turn on a broken computer every morning, hoping it'll work this time. 

The elite political class of the United States has systematically failed hundreds of millions of its citizens.  Half of us are low-income or impoverished.  If you are a woman, a person of color, a disabled person, an immigrant, an adherent of a non-mainstream religion, or anywhere in the LGBTQIA field, you can be certain that duly elected politicians are working hard to screw you out of your rights and your basic human dignity.  And if you're a young person, you can also be sure they're doing their level best to alienate you from the political process, and sap your empathy for the people most marginalized by the system.

The next few years will be more of the same, only with more broken glass on the floor.  There may be hope for us yet, in the form of genuine grassroots activism that continues to edge the mainstream of political thought in a more progressive direction.  Creeping from victory to victory, we might make the sort of progress that will improve people's lives in the long run.  But there's little glory in the march toward a better America.  It's going to be ugly the whole time, for the principle reason that the national political establishment, and especially the Republican party, are going to make it that way.

I've already voted in this election, and yeah, I voted for Democrats across the board.  I call it damage control.  Millions of people have already voted as well, and it's too late to change their minds about anything.  But if you haven't voted yet, and you're looking for a little help deciding, here's my recommendation.  Don't vote for a Republican.  Vote for anyone else or no one else.  Dull the edge of this wave if you can.


  1. In my opinion there are far too many things amiss with the United States, particularly with its political structure, to realize any substantial alleviation of ills in our lifetimes. In my life I've seen things go from bad to worse. What we have is not what the founding fathers intended - - - far from it. If I could choose a place to begin attempt at amelioration and reparation though it would be to scrap our ensconced two-party system. It may not be the root of all this nation's ills but it surely must be the point of origin from which a significant number of them arise. Of course the powers that be would never allow it.

    Excellent essay. One typo - - - principle for principal. You seem to hold still the belief that evolutionary change might bring about improved conditions more attuned to the hungering human condition. I no longer harbor such a conviction. I see this nation evolving more and more in the direction of ultimate self-destruction and extinction. All empires end eventually. Ours will also.

  2. Empires end, but people go on. Frankly, I'm counting on the end of the "empire" for a better society.

    I don't really care about what "the founding fathers intended" anymore. They didn't build the kind of society I want to live in, even if they did build one that was better than what came before it. Many of our problems relate directly to flaws in their original conception. It's time American politics moved beyond its fixation on 18th century political thought.