The thought of progressives and Teabaggers working together was, in my opinion, an impossibility. Then I saw something that changed my mind. Last week I was watching the Rachel Maddow show. That night she had two members of the Wyoming State Assembly, Lisa Shepperson and Sue Wallis on her show. They and other small government Republicans (In this case I’m breaking my vow to never to use the word Republican in its plural form) stopped a right to life bill in the Wyoming House and Senate from passing. As Rachel kept reiterating, Wyoming is the most Republican state in the union, at least at the state level. Due to the extremely large plurality the Republicans, (I did it again) held, the Democratic help was minimal but it still illustrated that at least in this one instance, we could work towards the same goal. In this case the two sides had different reasons for working together. Their aim was to keep government out of the bedroom and limited in scope, ours was for a woman to have the right of choice. It made no difference in the end. The bill was defeated. This made me start thinking if there were other areas in which we could work together. It would have to be on things that both sides wanted. It doesn’t matter if we have for our own different agendas. All that matters is we accomplish a common goal.
Right now we are in the worst predicament this country has ever faced. There is a reason why these times are worse than the Great Depression. During that time the United States had thousands of factories idle. All that was needed was an influx of capital to kick start the economy. Today those factories are gone. They and the jobs they provided are now abroad. This is due to cheap labor. What many people don’t understand is US corporations would love to have their plants in the US. Just a few examples of that risk are the distances from the market place makes it more difficult to adapt to changes in consumer demand, the instability in some of the governments of the countries where you’ve relocated could change and suddenly you’re playing with entirely new set of parameters, and the fact that your management team must now take their families to, in most cases, 3rd world countries. If the government of the United States gave enough economic incentives to US companies to make widgets in the good old USA, we would once again have a middle class.
The Republican and the Teabaggers are only concerned with cutting spending. They have used the deficit as the reason for all this “economic uncertainty” they continually talked about in the 2010 campaign. According to Mr. Boehner, it this uncertainty that is killing jobs. That’s nonsense. The deficit is a symptom not the disease. The disease is a tsunami of lost jobs. For the last 20 years I’ve told my wife that our economy is like an hourglass. As the jobs are sucked though the top half of the glass eventually the economic engine that fuels the global economy, US consumer spending, will stop and the entire global economy will collapse. That has yet to happen but if we don’t do what is necessary, it will.
Last week ABC did programming on a normal upper middle class home and how much of the contents of that home were made in America. After removing all products made in another countries, the test family came home to an empty house. They were able to refurbish their home with all made in America products but with a great deal of difficulty and extra cost but it was possible. That is an important point. Economists are split as to will we have a double dip recession. If you use my hourglass analogy, it’s inevitable.
In an odd way we have two things going for us. Our country’s infrastructure is falling down and we have a need for high-speed rail. Those two tasks alone could bring back needed jobs and make us once again a economic power. The beauty of high-speed rail is it could bring back the US steel industry. Steel production is essential if we are to regain our position as a manufacturing giant. That and an economic national industrial plan. On ABC’s This Week, Leo Gerard president of the United Steelworkers Union, illustrated unlike other nations we do not have a national strategy for manufacturing. Mort Zuckerman, also on the panel, made the statement that we just don’t do things that way. Well maybe it’s time we did. In a nutshell, repairing the nation’s falling down infrastructure and creating a high-speed rail system would pulls us out of the Great Recession. To accomplish that it would take around 2.2 trillion dollars to repair our infrastructure according to The American Society of Civil Engineers. It’s hard to get a figure on what the cost of a national high-speed rail would cost but I’d guess at least another trillion. A trillion here a trillion there pretty soon your spending real money. Three trillion is a lot of money. For 2011 the total cost of all the different related defense spending is $1.060 – $1.449 trillion.
Over ten years that comes out to around 14 trillion dollars, give or take a few pennies. You could cut that in half and you would shave 3.5 trillion from the deficit and get the nation back on its economic feet.
So what does this have to do with Progressives working with the Teabagger movement? Before the Republican gained control of that movement, it was mainly white working Americans that were angry over taxes and the good old boy, common, everyday racists. There is also a strong libertarian element within that movement. The Pauls, father and son, are both staunch libertarians and probably the most popular figures to most Teabaggers. In other words there is a core of people that belong to the Teabagger World that could be persuaded to be rational about defense spending. I know Bill Maher called them out on this but after listening to the women on Rachel’s show, it made me think that we may find some elements of sanity in Teabagger Land. Just why is that so important? The lifting needed to save the country’s economy is not just heavy, it’s Herculean. We will never do it alone. The only hope I can see is getting money out of politics. You will never be able to slash the defense budget to where it needs to be if we don’t take drastic measures. There is just too much money being thrown at Washington politicians to keep the status quo. What is needed is a Constitutional Amendment. It doesn’t get much heavier than that. A Constitutional Amendment that would have the government funding all Federal elections. The formula for this would be way over my head but it can be done. Why a Constitutional Amendment? In the 1st Amendment there is a clause that states that the public must have a right to petition Congress. In other words lobbying is protected by the 1st amendment. That is what the Founding Fathers intended. They just didn’t foresee the two party system and the amount of money that any successful politician needs to raise to get elected. The makeup of this Supreme Court assures any type of election reform will die as sure as someone in a Texas jail awaiting execution. If you take the money out of politics then we will be able to drastically cut defense spending. Whether you’re a hawk or dove doesn’t matter, we just can’t afford it. In the way our political system functions we will march over a deep economic cliff if it’s not stopped. Also we could get rid of nearly all earmarks. If members of Congress can’t take campaign contributions then we may find that they will do what is good for the country instead of what will get them re-elected. It would also eliminate leaving Congress and moving your office to K Street and becoming a millionaire. Make taking a bribe a felony, which it already is but now there must be a quid pro quo, which is sometimes very hard to prove. If you doubled the pay of every person in Congress, they would be able to afford to keep two residences. Then, if they were caught taking anything except their pay, send them to a regular, ordinary, Bubba for your roommate, jail. That goes for the person offering the bribe as well.
I think that if a logical dialogue could be started with the saner elements of that movement, we could at least get a start on a Constitutional Amendment. That’s the hard part. I know anyone reading this is thinking, “This guy is crazy if he thinks we could ever work with those nut bags.” The problem is we have to. Passing a constitutional amendment is the hardest thing to do in our democracy. Just ask the women that fought so hard to pass the ERA Amendment. Progressives alone just can’t do it. If we can get the far right as an ally, it just might work. If we can take the money out of politics we will have a fighting chance. At least we will have the funding needed to accomplish these tasks. If we don’t at least try, we will not have the United States that we grew up to hand down to our children or our children’s children.
In times of our greatest challenges we have always risen to the task. We’ve been doing that for 223 years. It’s up to us. Take it from someone that’s been a casualty of this recession. It’s not a pretty picture. If we don’t act we will become a 3rd world nation. It’s up to us.