Friday, January 27, 2006

A Question for my Democratic Friends

It seems to be inevitable that the steady drumbeat of bad news will probably result in the Democrats picking up seats in the next election. Whether they gain enough to actualy take control is another question, but certainly within the range of possibilities. With that in mind, I would like to ask some questions about what the new control of government will mean for me and the country. There is no right or wrong answers to these questions, rather it is to establish a framework, whereby we can rationally discuss what is going to be done.

First off: 1. What is going right with our country right now? This question is necessary because if we all agree on what is working, we won't have to reinvent the wheel and waste time.

2. What are the top three issues that need to be addressed in order of priority. You can't say everything, because then nothing is a priority.

3. We have been fighting the War on Poverty for 40 years. Have we made any progress? A follow up; What is working, and what isn't working?

4. Is terrorism (as identified with Osama bin Laden) a threat to this country? What should we do about it if it is, and if it is not, why not?

5. Are there any Republican programs that you agree with? If so, which ones?

These questions are not meant to be provocative. But reading the tea leaves, and looking at history, it seems quite probable that Democrats will retake Congress eventually, and in '08 may take the White House. If they do, I would really appreciate knowing what the agenda is going to be. So far, there does not seem to be a coherent voice or system of thought for when that happens. I am hoping that answers to my questions will clarify that for me.


The Viceroy's Fuguestate said...

As you're probably aware, I'm no democrat but I know what the agenda will be: Impeachment. Impeachment.Impeachment. Feed the slavering base. That's it. I've heard nothing else from them since Florida 2000. What they'll probably do is take most of the ideas proposed by Bush that they claimed would bring about the apocalypse,(Social Security reform etc.)water them down a bit, repackage them and call them their own and pass them to great media fanfare. President Nanci Pelosi will then go down in history as "The Reformer."

Wulfgar said...

xbyadayada's attempt to pidgionhole Democrats not withstanding, I have posted my response, as has Matt.

Eric Brooks said...

Hi. Popped in from Wulfgar's site. First off I wanted to thank you for setting a respectful tone to this. The whole Lefty/Moonbats, Righty/Nazi caricatures have turned me off for the longest time.

I hope you get some good answers to this because they're GREAT questions. (For the record, I am a registered independant, not a Democrat or Republican).

I don't think *either* political parties are capable of serving the people by themselves.

Anonymous said...

1. Right now, I think the best thing that’s happening in the country is the burgeoning grass-roots movement both on the left and right. People are talking. People are interested in politics. You see this in the blogosphere, you see it on the state level, when state and local governments are becoming more active in, say, setting emissions standards stricter than federal limits.

When institutions fail, Americans create new institutions. I think that’s cool.

2. The top three issues:

(1) Create effective national security. To do so, we should fix the mangled situation in Iraq by first putting more boots on the ground (a draft?), cleaning out corrupt no-bid contractors like Halliburton, and getting more Iraqis trained, then leaving as soon as possible. Also, we should get qualified people into government positions, especially in the Homeland Security Department, then funnel security money to areas that need it, like New York and LA instead of to the rural red states. We should also plug the gaping holes in our borders, get effective screening of inbound ship cargo, and force big energy to put security systems on their power plants and nuclear reactors. We should engage in diplomacy again, especially with North Korea and Iran. Oh yeah. CATCH OSAMA BIN LADEN.

(2) Balance the budget. Roll back Bush’s tax cuts and implement a simplified flat tax that eases the burden of tax-paying off the backs of small business and the middle class. Trim corporate welfare. Trim unnecessary government programs, like SDI or the uniformed secret service. Cancel the recent transportation pork projects. Create a realistic health program that helps defray the cost of insurance for American working families.

(3) Stop the encroachment on civil liberties by striking the unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act, providing trials to the accused terrorists at Guantamano, shutting down the covert CIA prisons, establishing and following clear guidelines prohibiting torture, and drafting and passing a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing Americans the right to privacy. Impeach President Bush and clearly establish that the president of the U.S. is subject to the rule of law.

3. Yes, we have made some inroads on the war on poverty. There’s universal public education and affordable secondary education that’s open to all. That was a nice step. Of course, this country has never really committed to fighting poverty. To do so would require less punitive measures and more job training, drug rehabilitation, and education programs. Schools, especially in the inner city, need to be smaller – say classes no larger than 5 to 10 students – and educators need to be more involved with the students’ personal lives. I don’t think it works just handing people money or cramming the poor into housing developments. We need to arm them with skills, interests, and hope. Of course the main barrier to fighting poverty is racism, as was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I have no idea how to solve that...

4. Yes, terrorism is a threat. But not to the country. It’s a threat to individual Americans. I don’t think any terror organization has the means to destroy the country. After all, Israel still exists, France, Germany, and England still exist despite terror attacks. There is, however, a serious indirect threat from terror, greater than from terror itself, and that’s to our nation’s principles, values, and democratic institutions from an overreaction to the fear of terrorism. Fear gives power to people who would take our democracy from us.

5. Republican programs I agree with? Republican or conservative? I like conservative ideas: I’m somewhat fiscally conservative and think establishing a global body to negotiate trading agreements is a good idea. I think small government is a great idea, especially if it reduces the presence of government in our personal lives. I’m not against welfare reform. But Republican programs? Hm. Thinking...if were a rich man, I could probably think of a couple...

Anonymous said...

My response here

Steve said...

I think that this one has to be the best post ever as ffar as intelligent discussion without the usual rages. I really appreciate all of your answers, and am still digesting them.
Thanks for your civil and thoughtful help.

Anonymous said...

I’m a long time Republican who is fed up with the current administration and I have regressed somewhat to my liberal roots. I’m a fiscal conservative and I want a balanced budget and I want the federal government out of my life to the greatest possible extent. I am an environmentalist, a proponent of free education, organized, universal health care, and I’ll worship whatever I want to worship whenever I want and I don’t think it is anyone elses business nor do I feel compelled to try and foist my beliefs on anyone else.

1. What is going right with the country? The economy is fairly resilient despite tne machinations of big business and big investment groups. The environmental effort is bending but has not broken and can hopefully hold out for a better day. Some of the courts are showing some backbone and standing up to the radical Christian elements that are trying to take over the public schools. Despite the best efforts of the current (and previous) administrations and big auto and big oil, I think the people are starting to get the message that we need to get off of foreign oil. Once again a president has made this statement but he will be just like the rest, he will not do anything about it, lame duck that he is he has not got the cohones for the job.
2. The top three issues are: (1) Balance the Federal budget once and for all and pass legislation that requires that the perpetrators (traitors?) who engineer the next massive deficit be shot! (2) Pass legislation that requires the instant imprisonment of the everyone who ever again utters the phrase “comprehensive energy policy”. This is the biggest joke of the last and now of the current century. As long as politicians become rich at the teat of big energy and big auto there will never be meaningful reform. These business entities were powerful enough to virtually destroy the railroads early in the last century and now they are powerful enough to control the course of the government of the most powerful country on earth. Think I’m wrong? Look at their governmentally granted concessions, look at their profit margins, look how they treat the communities and people who have given the bulk of their lives to those companys’ successes only to be booted out for the almighty buck. That’s the America I’m proud of! (3)The provision of decent, affordable healthcare for ALL AMERICANS. If that means reigning in the pharmaceutical and health care providers then so be it. What we are doing now is shameful. Perhaps the most civilized society in the history of the earth, supposedly God fearing at that, and we won’t care for the sick and disabled. How can people go to church, get on their knees, and look up toward the eyes of their God and not instantly feel burning shame knowing that their neighbors are hungry, ill clothed, poorly housed and have no health care?
3. The War on Poverty requires a compromise solution. We have to help people up a little and at the same time lower the bar a little til they can grab hold. We need to have mandatory government service for young people in a myriad of fields where they can contribute to the community, learn a sense of responsibility and pride and enhance their job skills. Two years after high school does not seem too much to give to your country. There are a bunch of us Boomers who are going to get real bored in retirement who could help get this program in gear. I may not be old enough but I never have heard any horror stories about the CCC, but I do still see the fruits of their labors allover the country. The other half of the compromise is lowering the bar; attainable food, housing, medical care, and with it the sense of pride and respect that comes with being a functioning member of society. Oh I know, you look at the TV and see the gangstas and drugs and wanton violence of the inner cities and it looks pretty hopeless but we have to start and we have to persevere. It won’t be solved in a year or a decade or maybe even in a century but if we don’t start and try it won’t ever be solved.
4. Terrorism. Of course terrorism is a threat. And that we have expended the lives, the time, the money and the materials that we have and have not captured bin Laden is a huge embarrasment. Is bin Laden a threat to America? No of course not. He is a pipsqueak compared to Hitler or Stalin or Mao. His attacks on the US are more likely to result in the decimation of Islam and the displacement of millions of people from the Middle East than real damage to America. What should we do? Get off their oil, get out of their countries and politics and religion, get off this colonial nation-building crap and turn our humanitarian face to the areas of the world where we are needed.
5. I’m sorry to say that I have become so jaded in the last few years that if a Republican proffers a sensible program I immediately think that it is either a trick, a spin to cover something else or an outright lie. I am not proud of myself for this, I used to believe myself to be an open, objective thoughtful individual who was above taking sides for political reasons. I always voted for the the best candidate for the job or for the provision that I thought best for the people. Now I believe that a lawyer in political office is a conflict of interest and that there should be mandatory term limits on every elected official, mandatory limits on the terms of all federal judges including Supreme Court judges and that we should take a very close look at the movement of people between government and civillian jobs.

Thanks for asking some very thoughtful questions, sorry if I ranted too much.