[PREAMBLE: The election is nearly over, and a good thing, too! Aside from the expected last-week smut of Republican and conservative PAC advertisements, I am appalled by a Republican presidential candidate of unprecedented dishonesty and duplicity. One side contradicts facts; the Romney campaign long ago promised that it would not let fact-checkers dictate its message--the one promise which his campaign has kept. The other side has, until recently, ignored them; the Obama campaign has been late to tout its successes and its intentions. Both sides have indulged the usual sweeping generalities, unrealistic promises, and simple-minded slogans. Neither side understands that one function of leadership, and one means of demonstrating it, is education: show and tell what needs to be done and why. For the second term, Obama ought to adopt, as he should have adopted four years ago, Roosevelt's custom of giving fireside chats to inform the public and explain the issues. At a time when so many know so little about the many and complex issues now before the country--neither energy nor the environment was an issue in the 30s or 40s, not to mention international macro-economics and global warming--regular, non-crises talks would be a great benefit to the country and to government.
So, I am also appalled by the little more, often less, than the occasional mention of major issues facing this country, and then mainly for the purposes of scoring points:
- basic issues: jobs, housing, education
- financial issues: student and consumer debt, regulation of financial markets, market distortions (too big to fail), the Euro crisis
- energy and environment issues: production versus pollution versus short-and long-range prices and costs, climate change
- gender and health issues: abortion, contraception, women's health, marriage and GLBTQ rights, health care (ACA improvements)
- governance: voting rights, civil liberties, filibuster reform, Supreme Court
- infrastructure--communications (including cyber-security, net neutrality and Internet regulation), transportation, transit
- others: drug policy, agriculture, drug and food safety
Does anyone know what either man would try to do in the next four years if elected? The honest answer is no; the honest response is that we vote for what we project in hope or fear that they would do if elected.
By the way, the latest job numbers are doubly encouraging. One, the number of new jobs is up. Each job represents a person and usually a family better able to support people, with little or no government assistance. Two, the percentage of unemployment is up. Paradoxically, the news is good, not bad. For the increase does not represent newly unemployed; it represents a return of those unemployed who, once too discouraged to seek employment and thus not counted, have hope and have returned to the job market; they are hopeful because the economy is improving, not worsening. Are you spinning, Mitt?
If there has been a moment of humor--gallows humor, I admit--it is Mitt the Shift's relationship with cars. First, he wants to let the companies go bankrupt because of a lack of private-sector funding. Second, he declares that Obama took his advice to let them go bankrupt by infusing them with government loans. Third, he criticizes Obama for losing money on the deal, despite the fact that the government will make money on its loans. Fourth, he brags that he likes American cars because, lest we forget, his daddy made them. Fifth, he mongers the lie that GM and Chrysler are exporting jobs and production to--hiss, boo--China. The humor arises, not in the changing positions, but in the slap-down by those car companies. Imagine: two large, right-leaning car manufacturers calling out the Republican candidate for president. Do we really want to think that Romney understands even the only industry which he ought to understand? Perhaps American cars made in Michigan are not the just the right size, as the trees are.]
If Republicans Take Washington: Four Predictions and One Speculation
The Republican Party, with its now-controlling Tea Party caucus, has faced, and fears, the demographic facts of an increasingly multi-racial and multi-ethnic populace—Obama has been its face, and fear—and decided to undermine democracy. The economic elitism of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the anti-Constitutional fanaticism of the Tea Party, and the reli6gious zealotry of Christian fundamentalists—all three boosted by bigotry against “others”—have created a perfect political storm threatening big changes in America as we know, imagine, or profess to want it to be. Going is its ideal of the Founding Fathers’ first principle: “all men are created equal.”
Accordingly, my four predictions assume that Republicans retain control of the House, regain control of the Senate, and win the White House.
One, on the first day of the new Senate, when it amends or adopts rules by majority vote, Republican senators will eliminate filibusters and restrict holds to make Democratic resistance to extremist legislation or appointments difficult, if not impossible.
Two, Republican politicians will intensify steps which Republican-controlled state governments have attempted or taken to suppress voting in ways disproportionately affecting minorities, seniors, and students, to expand or make permanent the means to future electoral success. They will not only make voting requirements and arrangements more stringent and limited, but also limit the franchise in other ways. They will make legal challenges to define the vote as a privilege, not a right, for states to award. The Republican Attorney General will not investigate or take action against voting-related irregularities, including voter fraud by the National Republican Committee.
Thus, three, Republicans politicians will establish permanent rule of an economically and ethnically apartheid country. Between Romney’s 1-percent socio-economic elitism and his campaign-co-chair John Sununu’s all-purpose racism, we see the gamut of Republican values and attitudes. For the means by which Republicans eke out victory in this year’s election, if they win, will be the means, augmented as the possession of power gives them greater opportunity, to ensure victories in future years’ elections.
Four, Romney’s political strategy will be to trade off his support on social-cultural-civil issues which he has not strongly or consistently supported, like abortion, for support on any economic, environmental, health, and military issues. Given the opportunistic inconsistency, and collective incoherence, of his positions during the campaign, no matter what he does, he will claim that he told us so and that his victory means that he has a mandate for whatever he does.
My speculation concerns abortion without exception for rape—a likely provision of proposed Republican state and federal legislation, one not considered in light of the national history of race relations. In the 1930s, two white women accused nine black men, soon known as the Scottsboro Boys, of raping them. In the notorious course of trials, convictions, appeals, and more convictions, one of the alleged victims recanted her accusation in its entirety. Nevertheless, racial prejudice demanded convictions and the death penalty, the standard sentence for black men convicted of raping white women.
Twenty years later, as the Civil Rights Movement attracted national attention, racial prejudices persisted. Segregationists opposed desegregation with one argument and two motives. The argument: states rights, whereby states seek exemption from Constitutional restraint in order to discriminate against, and to abuse, selected populations of their residents. The motives: the preservation of the Southern way of life, and the prevention of miscegenation and thereby the protection of the moral virtue and racial purity of white womanhood.
Today, such talk about the sexual pollution and racial contamination of white women by black men is rare or reserved. Political correctness requires self-censorship in the public square but not in homes, bars, and diners. Only the naïve think that such fears have gone with the wind
Many people who have such fears are among the many people who define life as beginning at conception and believe that the unborn deserve the fundamental rights of the born. Not quite so many people, including prominent Republican politicians—Indiana Tea Party candidate for the U.S. senate Richard Murdoch, among others—oppose, and would support legislation against, abortions in cases of rape. Murdoch probably speaks for most of them that a pregnancy resulting from rape is a “gift from God.”
The right questions make clear the potential clash between enduring racial prejudice and anti-abortion purism. Would anti-abortion white women, white husbands of white wives, and white parents of white daughters think that a pregnancy resulting from rape by a black man is a “gift of God,” give thanks for His “gift,” and gladly carry the “gift” to term? If such a pregnancy is a “gift of God,” would the woman, before learning whether she is pregnant, pray to God for this “gift”?
Negative answers expose the collision of bigotry and ideology. But my greater concern is that Republican rule and religious zealotry presage bad times for civil government and the enumerated freedoms under the Constitution.