I know that social issues are important. I am not trying to say that equal rights for anyone (women's, minority, gay, etc...) are not important. Each of those issues are extremely important and need to be fought for. I am also not saying that other social issues like gun control, abortion, contraception, the war on drugs, incarceration levels, immigration and quality education issues are not important. They are extremely important and they are worth fighting for.
Just for a momemt though, let's take those things off the table and look closely at our government. Not at what they say they believe in and not what they psuh when they know their vote doesn't matter. Let's look at what they do. Specifically, let's look at how they treat the financial industry, the defense department, the healthcare industry, individual rights and social entitlements and let's look at it from the standpoint of who benefits and who gets hurt.
Let's look at the financial industry first.
Which republican or democrat has actively pursued incarceration for criminal behavior that resulted in the collapse of the world economy?
Okay, Elizabeth Warren and bernie Sanders and...
Okay, who has benefitted from the policies enacted since the collapse. I notice the stock market is doing fine and the CEOs seem to be doing well as are the majority of the top 1%. Who made these policies? Sure, the democrats blame the republicans and the republicans blame the democrats but I see rare bipartisanship in most of the policies. Why would the rich want anything to change when they are making out like the bandits they are with the current policies? Record profits, the Dow Jones at record levels, record wealth, near record low taxes... We are the only ones who want things to change because we are the ones hurting. We say the economy sucks because of our perspective. Have you ever thought that that maybe nothing ever gets done because this is exactly the way a lot of folks in power want it? Of course they cannot admit that in public so we get a kabuki theater but doesn't it seem funny that they always seem to benefit from their incompetence?
The Defense department also seems to be doing quite well. Even with closing down the war in Iraq a couple years ago, the department has still gotten raises every year (you wouldn't know that by listening to the media though). The cuts from this dreaded sequester have hurt a lot of middle class people and veterans but the programs that really waste money are still getting paid. Who has really opposed this policy of killing Americans in the United States and using drones to attack anyone the president wants?
Aside from Uber Libertarian and rightwing darling Rand Paul?
Who has benefitted from all of this? The defense contractors in this country are still raking in their billions, more money than ever before, none of them have to answer for the billion wasted or lost during the multiple wars and they are still making lots of stuff that we do not need or even want.
We were supposed to have real healthcare reform in this country. With run-away costs hurting every working class person and killing the poor at an embarrassing rate, we voted for change. What we got was a plan that had first been suggested by a republican think tank and implemented by a republican governor and it was packaged as pure socialism by the republicans and the media. Why was universal healthcare not even given a seat at the table during the discussions? Whay does our government already pay twice as much for healthcare in this country as france does and yet they have healthcare for all and we let 47,000 people die everyyear from preventable causes because it costs too much to afford? Shouldn't we have twice as good of healthcare as france without raising taxes a nickle simlply by copying their system? Why are common sense policy solutions not even suggested (like allowing medicare to negotiate drug prices) when they would go a long way toward solving this crisis? Where are the champions of common sense?
I am sure there are people in congress who have given lip service to these issues but they are not screaming it from the rooftops like they should. my apologies to the few who are actually making half hearted attempts.
Who benefits? We Americans donate more money to charities designed to find cures for cancer and other diseases than any other country in the world and yet they turn around and charge us tens if not hundreds of times what these drugs sell for in other countries. Many of the latest patented drugs are no better than the previous drugs that the patent has run out on but since we only require that they are better than a placebo, they get marketed as the next great thing. In fact, most of the R&D money spent is actually just refining existing drugs to keep a patent rather than finding new, innovative cures. Drug companies and insurance companies are making a killing and they do not want it to stop.
What about privacy and individual rights? President Bush decimated the Bill of Rights during his time in office. With 9/11 as an excuse, the Patriot Act, the Military Commisions Act and a slew of other bills chopped up our rights and made us feel unAmerican even suggesting that our rights were more important than our security. Besides, if you are not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about, amiright? The FBI, NSA, CIA and Homeland Security do not care about seeing your underware or your grandmother's secret cookie recipe, they are just after bad guys. Thank God president Obama got elected and reversed all that. I mean as soon as he got into office he... wait a minute, I thought we elected him to change all of that. He didn't? Well at least he stopped all that mess with torture... Well at least he doesn't claim he has the right to have a kill list with Americans on it who have never been convicted of a crime... Well at least he doesn't interfere with ordinary people protesting wall street and the loss of their rights using strong arm tactics of a militerized police force. What exactly has changed again?
Sure many people have complained about all of this on each side of the aisle but really, who has really done anything about it?
The intelligence community business is quietly booming. Hardly a day goes by that I do not read an article about legalized internet spying, phone spying, illegal seraches, etc... I am not sure who the suppliers of all of this technology, equipment and services are but I am sure their doing as well under this administration as they were under the previous one.
What about social safety nets and entitlements? Obama has came out in favor of a chained CPI. How bad could that be after all. It is only the key measurement to calculate inflation. Cost of living increases are in most union contracts as well as social security and federal employees. They also help calculate inflation adjusted numbers that you see everywhere. Where are the suggestions for treating unearned income like capital gains the same way we treat earned income like wages and removing the social security cap that only benefits the wealthy? How can we talk about reducing food stamps while we are still at 7.5% unemployment levels? How can we allow a sequester to go forward that keeps hungry people from the basic necessities of life and yet do not even dare to require livable wages for those who work full time at companies making billions of dollars a year? (and I'm not talking about the inadaquate $9 minimum wage meekly suggested by the president).
Admittedly, these issues are hotly debated primarily outside the media. They are always in political speeches and opinion columns but I do not see them agressively pushed in real legislation and when they are, they are quickly backed off from because the big, bad, mean republicans will not let it happen. I see half hearted defenses of the programs in poorly crafted arguments that appear to me to be pandering to the base in an a "I tried" sort of excuse. Why are the charts that show definitively that Keynesian demand side economic policies are far superior to Friedman supply side policies not being shown by our elected leaders everyday challenging the Milton supporters to justify their proposals with some kind of evidence? Data is definitely on our side here. Why are all of the arguments for real safety net enhancement so weak and easily refuted when there is so much historical evidence that shows it is the right way to go?
Who benefits from all of this? The 1%. Basically, by blaming everything on the poor, they cover their own super low cost of all of the benefits they get from living in this country. They get the benfit from the roads while calling the money that upkeeps them waste. They basically say that any money not given directly to them is waste and they blame the lazy, good for nothing poor for taking the scraps that are left over. They damn sure do not want us to raise their taxes and they do not want us to reduce the money we are giving them so basically, the money in the safety nets are all that is left for them to take and they want as much of it as they can get.
When you remove the social issues, I think you will see that the two parties are very similar. I do not believe that most of the politicians really care about the social issues at all. I think that they simply use the social issues to get elected and to show that they are different from the "other" party. When we overlook transgressions in our own party because we like our elected hero's stance on abortion or gay rights or gun control, we are allowing them to blind us to their true agenda.
We cannot rely on the media any more because of deregulation and the Citizen's United ruling, political parties have become billion dollar customers and no "legitimate" media would dare risk that kind of revenue to seriously take down one of their own clients. It is up to us. We cannot allow ourselves to blindly support any candidate because we want their social issue support.
I do not mean to be corny with this but we need a government that does their primary function which is justice for ALL of its citizens with the equal application of laws for all classes. Provides for the common DEFENSE (as opposed to offense), not nation building and not corporate protection for their profits. Creates an economy that promotes the general welfare and protects those who are vulnerable from those who are powerful. Finally, our government is supposed to ensure not only our freedoms but our children's and their children's. These laws like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act reduce and arguably eliminate that freedom. These are the things we must fight to protect because without the right to due process, no other right matters because you will never even get the opportunity to fight for it in court.
We have a responsibility on this website to not only elect Democrats but to elect better Democrats. The way to do that is to first understand what a better Democrat is. Without trying to down grade the importance of the social issues, the most important thing we must do is ensure they are working for the average person as opposed to their corporate backers regardless of the letter next to their name. In order to win a fight, we have to know who and what we are fighting against. We are fighting against a plutocracy that seems to have bipartisan support.
On the flip side of that, I know a lot of self described conservatives, who are middle class, that once you remove the social issues, they agree with everything point I made in this diary. What would happen if we would set aside our social differences temporarily and worked with some of them on our common issues? If politicians are working together on non-social issues to screw over the middle and lower classes, what if we worked together to fight them on these same issues?
Here are some isues that we tend to agree:
Fair trade agreements instread of the supposed "Free" Trade Agreements we are currently abused by.
Raising the cap on social security contributions.
Stop being the world's police and let countries pay for their own defense
Prosecute all criminals the same regardless of how much money they have.
Bail out the working class instead of the banks
Put people to work fixing our roads and bridges instead of giving companies money to send our jobs overseas.
Quit bickering between each other and work together to fix this economy.
It's not a lot but it's a start. By keeping us fighting about abortion and gay rights and whether or not we need to allow people to own 50 round ammunition clips keeps us from working together to hold them accountable for the economic issues THEY really care about.