Friday, November 24, 2006

So we’re a couple weeks out from the mid-term elections and I’ve been thinking. As you know the Democrats have taken control of both the House and the Senate and have promised a few things like ethics reform, a higher minimum wage and lower interest on federal student loans. Those are fine things and should be perused. But as Mark Twain once advised, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Now I’m by no means a staunch Democrat so I’m not sure how much of a majority I’m in here. But the party that at least is somewhat closer to my ideals is in control of both houses of Congress. So I feel it necessary to consider what it is that I would like to see done.

First and foremost is ending the war in Iraq. It is a war fought on lies and was a poorly fought war on top of that. I’m not demeaning our troops, rather the Pentagon, especially Donald Rumsfeld, tried to fight the war on the cheap. That never works. So bring our troops home as soon as we are able. The fight in Iraq has bogged down our military and has made no real progress in winning the “war on terror”. So declare victory, if you have to, pack up our troops and leave this awful bloody civil war once there is a cooperative effort of neighboring nations and the international community to help rebuild Iraq.

Universal health care would be also very high on my list. We live in a country when people squander millions on cosmetic surgery and kids can’t get flu shots. There’s elderly that must decide between heat and medicine. Before the bankruptcy rules were changed about half of all bankruptcies were filled due to medical expenses. We simply cannot live under these conditions in good faith or conscience. There is no intellectually sound or morally just alternative to ensuring that all people have access to health care.

Our schools need fixed. College costs are out of control. Many public schools systems have inadequate facilities. If we do not do something as a nation to fix our broken education system then the democracy will suffer for it. A well-educated population capable of critical thought is essential to a democracy’s well being. If our schools fail so does our democracy.

I’m sure these three things will be given at least lip service. I’m not sure they will be given much else though. Which brings me to the fourth thing I’d like to see done. I’d like to see the power of lobbyists and corporations diminished exponentially. Lobbyists should be treated like the cockroaches and vermin they are and kept far away from Capitol Hill. The funding of all elections should come from public moneys and all advertising should be free and available to all candidates. Let’s level the playing field and let the candidate with the best ideas win not the one with the deepest pocket book. Gerrymandering also needs to stop. The only basis for Congressional districts should be population not demographics.

Something else struck me as I was reflecting or ruminating or staring into space or whatever you want to call it. There’s a quote by Thomas Jefferson, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” As lots of people are all exited about how good things are going to be I feel I must issue a warning. The government at best has been helpful in social change but it doesn’t initiate it. The people are the origin of all social change in this country. Whether it’s the worker’s rights movement or the civil rights movement or any other movement that has demanded freedom or equality or justice, it has always started outside of the mainstream of American politics. Whether it was Mother Jones or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. demanding justice it has always taken root far away from the corridors of power. It has always sprung forth from the basements and churches of Main Street America. We are not reliant on some political party to protect our freedoms and ensure equality and justice for all. Rather, that responsibility rests on the shoulders of the people and the people alone. So no matter who is in power, no matter what party has control, it is always the duty of the citizens to write, call, march and protest and demand justice and protect their rights.

We live in curious times. The next two years could either be fruitful or catastrophic. It all remains to be seen. We must never forget it is our duty however to tell the leaders what we want and when they have made mistakes. If left to their own devices they will attend to only their own needs and not those of the people. So we should keep a weary eye on DC and as always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.


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