Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Change Because We Don't Have Any Other Option
Roger Simon over at The Politico summarizes the energy and scope of our do-a-whole-lot President.
As any of you who have been paying attention for the last two years might have figured out, Barack Obama is pursuing one of the most aggressive, sweeping legislative agendas since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first term. As Simon points out, he really doesn't have any other chance. Though he has run up against some opposition, I don't know how anyone with an aggressive change agenda would not ruffle a few feathers along the way. Something this bold is what I had been hoping for all along, but those with defeatist attitudes and bet-hedging disguised as folk wisdom used every rhetorical trick in the book to convince me that what I was seeking in Obama was totally unrealistic. They might have been right in any other year or any other epoch, but nothing about these times are typical or routine.
The Republican party, it nearly goes without saying, is in tatters, so much so that people (and the media) seriously think an obese blowhard, not an elected representative, is its de facto leader. Out of new ideas, the only strategy it has are the same old scare-tactics and its time-honored tradition of raising the specter of Godless communism, socialistic government excess, and a familiar return to righteous indignation towards perceived unrestrained, irresponsible Democratic tax-and-spend economics. Forgive me while I let out a hearty yawn. This blueprint is about twenty to twenty-five years out of date. It is no longer applicable to the current day.
Socialists like me have wished our government would adopt more oversight, more regulation, and more nationalized control for a good long while. While these steps move us somewhat closer to that reality, even these reforms stop well short at true socialism. These are reforms made primarily out of abject necessity, not idealism. In saying this, I understand that government is capable of both great good and great waste. But so too are the very corporations who got us into this fine mess, companies whose salaries and perks are delegated in a ridiculously top-heavy fashion while they have the gall to willfully neglect the salaries and deny basic benefits to entry-level and even mid-level workers under the pretense of cutting "waste". Our cultural expectations, not some kind of foreign standard at odds with the American mentality dictate each and every system; it would be pure folly to think the private sector possesses a kind of lily-white purity that government does not.
This is something I'd love for the rank-and-file GOP representative or senator to directly address instead of spinning a web of exploded myths. This is something I'd love for the right-wing radio spin doctors to ponder. This is something I'd love to posit to the latest Republican pundit on cable news peddling fear, doom, and worst-case-scenario instead of serving as the true Loyal Opposition. This belief that somehow business, and particularly big business is the solution instead of a government which in their minds is more along the lines of a festooning cancerous growth does not explain why we are where we are today. If not increased government, then what?
Government might never have been designed to function in this role based on a strict interpretation of the Founding Fathers, but if we went by that standard, slavery would still be legal, women would never have been granted suffrage, and any number of progressive reforms that few question the rightness of today would never have been enacted. What might be more accurate to say is that much in the way of established, guiding precedent for both the right and the left does not currently exist. We are, perhaps even more than we would wish to entertain, flying by the seat of our pants right now. Looking back, we can observe what has not worked and what likely will never work, but my prayers and fervent hopes rest on the judgment, flexibility, and persistence of our elected leaders.
I conclude with a familiar anecdote. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away abruptly in the first few months of his fourth term in office. A visible stunned Vice-President Harry S. Truman offered his condolences to the now-widowed Eleanor Roosevelt. He asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
Mrs. Roosevelt responded, "Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now."