Debate Forum Left 12/29/10

The Democrats kicked ass. Done and done.

By Ben Tompkins

Benjamin Tomkins

The fact that our country’s economy hasn’t collapsed into a post-Roman wasteland is in-and-of-itself a minor miracle.  As of right now, the GDP is slowly and steadily increasing, and the unemployment rate has dropped from a high in January 2010 of 10.6% to around 9.8% this November.  Things are improving, and we are officially on the road to recovery according to absolutely every definition of a recession except the one being used by the Republicans and Fox News.  Incidentally, one of the best ways to tell when Democrats are doing a good job is when every news agency except Fox News is telling you they are.

Now, this recovery started at the beginning of 2010, which means that the turnaround started a little more than a year-and-a-half after the recession began. That’s astonishing, because this was the single worst economic collapse that anyone under the age of 80 can remember.  Sure, our national debt has skyrocketed, but what did we expect to happen?  In the eight years prior to the collapse, our government engaged in two wars, expanded our government significantly and cut everyone’s taxes to make sure we’d never be able to balance the books.  So we’re already living on the edge, and when a serious disaster hits us, we’ve got no money in the bank account. Oops. Now we’re totally screwed, because we’ve got to spend a few trillion on medical expenses and we can’t even afford the gas to drive to the hospital.

And speaking of health care…

On top of that, the Democrats made history by finally climbing the Mount Everest of all legislation and passed a sweeping health care reform package. This legislation addressed desperately needed insurance reform, elimination of pre-existing condition exemptions, arbitrary dropping of sick policy holders, removal of lifetime benefit caps and so many other messed up industry practices I don’t have the space to mention them all.  Is it everything everyone wanted? Of course not. Compromise means we all feel a little shafted here and there and that’s why liberals and conservatives alike turned on the Democrats when they passed this bill.  It was a case of too much or not enough and rather than celebrating the achievement and committing ourselves to improving this wonderful new bill, lots of people decided to get pissy and bitter because they didn’t get their way. The Republicans themselves simply sat down in the middle of the rotunda and had a hippie sit-in, which I found to be incredibly juvenile.  Combine that with the continuous misinformation campaign waged by Fox News and you’ve got yourselves the makings of the November elections.

Look: health care, an improving economy, the end of Iraq combat operations, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and several other pieces of pro-economy legislation firmly cement the 2010 Democrats as one of the most progressive and effective political bodies of modern times. Frankly, when you consider that they had to drag a 10-ton elephant along the way to get these things done, it’s almost unthinkable. Rather than attempting to contribute to the process, the Republicans decided to universally vote against anything and everything significant that came through Congress and instead commit themselves to a non-stop misinformation campaign against the Democrats in anticipation of the November elections.  So while the Democrats were setting to the work of climbing Everest, 40% of the people at base camp spent their time sipping hot cocoa and working over the media and the American public. Then, when the Democrats finally topped out with all the things we asked them to do in 2008, the majority of the public had been deluded into thinking they weren’t even on the same mountain anymore.

That’s why I wholeheartedly believe the Democrats were vastly more successful than the Republicans this year. The Republican success was one of media and politics and the Democratic success was one of substance. It’s so much harder to effect real meaningful change than it is to get elected and because the Republicans basically ran with their snouts shoved eyeball deep into the Tea Party’s “stop everything” agenda butt crack, I don’t think they have anything substantive to offer anyway. What was their first demand? Repeal health care? Continued War in Iraq? Financial reform? Nope. It was the same old nonsense they always push; tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.  And what’s really special is the fact that they are now being forced to pander to Tea Party idiocy by proposing ridiculous Constitutional Amendments that have no hope of ever passing.  If your definition of political success is being led onto the House floor by the Tea Party on all fours, wearing a studded dog collar and gimp mask, and being made to kiss their bare fanny in front of everyone, you’re welcome to it.

Benjamin Tompkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, CO.  He hates stupidity, and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue.

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