You know, I spoke the other day of the space program, and our ability to make it to the moon and back in less than 10 years from setting that as a goal. And now, all of a sudden, the United States finds itself incapable of leading the world in manufacturing and innovation.
Seriously, pretty much all of the major advances in American society and in our use of technology in the last century or so have come with Democrats in charge. The only time in the last forty years where Americans have been true innovators was during the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, while Democrats were in charge. In fact, if you look at the Republicans’ record when it comes to making progress in just about any area, the results are putrid to say the least.
Republicans put us into the Great Depression, while Democrats solved
it. Not only that, but in doing so, they created a regulatory framework that has
served to prevent us from having another depression. After the stock market crashed in late 1929, and
everyone lost pretty much everything, Republican President Herbert
Hoover simply sat back for nearly four years and adopted the typical Republican attitude, "Let
the market work," apparently forgetting (or disregarding) the fact that
"the market" had caused the problem in the first place.
wondered; why do Republicans think the Founding Fathers ordered Congress to "regulate commerce," anyway? Every single one of them was
rich; therefore, based on Republican logic, they should have been against such regulation.
So, why did they order such regulation and place it prominently in the Constitution?
Anyway, voters booted the Republican Hoover, and most other Republicans
in the government, and elected Franklin Roosevelt, the man who crafted
the New Deal, a series of programs that actually addressed the problems
of the time. Some programs worked and some didn’t; such is the
nature of experimentation, after all. But the net effect of the programs that have survived is that we haven’t had a depression in more than 70 years. Prior to the New Deal, we rarely went more than 15 years without sinking into another depression; and that’s with a "d".
Now, Republicans can complain all they want about the perceived "socialistic
effects" of some of the New Deal’s elements, but the fact of the matter
is, most of its main components have lived on and helped this country
to prosper beyond its wildest dreams. The positive effects of these
programs cannot be denied, and many still have a profound effect on our
Democrats instituted a minimum wage, so that everyone who worked for a living would be able to stay off government assistance, and retain a level of basic sustenance, But when Republicans took over, they all but abandoned the concept.
The New Deal also eliminated child labor, which set the stage for our modern era, in which all children are guaranteed a free basic education, thus creating a more fully trained workforce and making more jobs
available for adults with families. Social Security was also part of
the New Deal, and that program is inarguably one of the greatest government programs ever created. Folks who have put in a lifetime of working for the benefit of
the country no longer have to worry about starving to death when their work life is over. When the government insured banks against most
losses — also a component of the New Deal — banks regained a foothold
they had lost in the wake of the stock market crash, and were able to
make funds available in the form of loans to build the country and the
economy. Sure, the Depression didn’t officially end until we were
thrown into World War II, but New Deal programs created the groundwork
for other programs that would revolutionize commerce, first here, and
then around the world.
The New Deal merely set the stage. In the wake of
World War II, Democrats brought us the GI Bill of Rights, the most comprehensive
benefit plan to ever come out of Washington; the Marshall Plan, an
ambitious plan to assist Europe in rebuilding after the devastation of
World War II. Those two plans were proposed, planned and implemented by
Democrats, and were the primary reasons why the United States became an
economic superpower during the 1950s and 1960s.
The creation of
these programs caused an economic boom unlike any ever seen by any other country in the
history of the world. More people than ever could afford to go to
college and receive an education, participate in the American dream, and just as importantly, pay taxes.
More people than ever could afford to buy their own home and live in a
nice neighborhood, because the government took away some of the risk in lending money for a mortgage. Rebuilding Europe had the twin effects of helping
them, and creating markets for American-made goods.
words, without these government programs, most of the prosperity we
have enjoyed and continue to enjoy would not exist. At the very least,
our prosperity would be seriously muted. And all of these programs came
courtesy of Democrats. Not Republicans; Democrats. Democrats were also responsible for the Civil
Rights and Voting Rights Acts, with Republicans largely fighting them every step of the way, and even creating a movement based in large part on opposing it. Democrats also brought us the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, with the Republicans fighting them every step of the way.
In fact, the period from 1933 until about 1973 was
about the most prosperous period that any country has thus far
experienced in the history of the world. During that span, we went from
being just another nation struggling through the Great Depression along
with everyone else, to the economic model which all other
industrialized nations aspired to. This nation was a "can do" powerhouse.
If it needed doing, the United States did it. During this 40-year
period, Democrats held power for all but 12 years, and the momentum was so great during the eight Eisenhower years, that Eisenhower’s Republican leadership would be
impossible in today’s Republican Party.
Look at the period
since 1973; a period in which Republicans have held the reins of at
least the executive branch for all but 12 years, you tell me if there
is anything "can-do" about these people.
After the Republicans’
hideous defeat in 1964, the Republican Party was desperate for voters,
so they adopted the "Southern Strategy," which basically amounted to
using arguments meant to appeal to the lowest common denominators among
voters, meaning those who thought the Civil Rights and Voting
Rights Acts amounted to treason. This worked as an electoral
strategy, but that’s really all it was. The number of election wins
increased, but by taking in these Democratic "scraps," if you will, the
Republican Party increasingly became the party of "opposition," and
nothing more. Think about it; when was the last time you heard a Republican campaign by telling you what he or she wanted to do for you? Their whole shtick these days consists of telling you what horrible people Democrats are, and scaring you into not voting for them, not giving you a positive choice for office.
As a result, The United States, as run by Republicans, has increasingly
become a "can’t do" nation.
It might have started as soon as the Republicans took over in 1969, but the Democrats had built up a lot of momentum with the electorate, the only exception being the Vietnam War. But by the end of Nixon’s first term, things had already started going
south for us, with the turning point being the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973. In 1968, the country ran a budget surplus, despite the insanity going on
in Vietnam, but within no time that, and the country’s progress, pretty
much stopped in its tracks.
Nixon himself had a small
progressive streak in him, because the left was actually very vocal and
very effective at the time, but even then, the Republicans in Congress
gave us a preview of what they were about. When Nixon thought "we can"
make workplaces safer through the creation of OSHA, the Republicans
were screaming "we can’t." When he and the Democratic Congress recommended the creation of the EPA to implement environmental
legislation, Republicans shouted "we can’t."
And the refrain
has never stopped, for a very basic reason; the
people who took over the Republican Party have no vision; they
can only see the future through the warped prism of a past that never
existed. For example, abortions didn’t start with Roe v.
Wade; that case merely brought reproductive rights to the public consciousness. But the current Republican mindset wants to
return us to the days before Roe, under the guise that abortions simply
didn’t happen in the past. They want to return us to the "good old
days," which means they tend to rely on a necessary revision of history, as well.
For instance, as Republicans see it, the federal government shouldn’t be involved with
anything but national defense, despite the fact that
every branch of government is given the power to act on things other
then national defense. Of course, their idea of "national defense" is to build piles and piles of weapons that we’ll never use, or conduct war after war to use them up, so that their corporate buddies can keep making more and more money.
Republicans also believe that the states actually have more power than the federal
government, despite the fact that all 50 states agreed to give up most
sovereignty to the federal government on most issues. Think about this;
they call themselves "federalists" because they want to take away most
of the federal government’s powers. Read the Federalist Papers, folks;
they weren’t arguing for a weak federal government. Did I tell you; Republicans of today aren’t big on irony.
a large portion of the Republican Party — the part of the GOP that has
grabbed most of the leadership based on its ability to raise money and
win elections — is in government ostensibly, to take apart the
government. If you think the reaction to Hurricane Katrina was pure
incompetence, think again. A large segment of the group currently running this
government probably thought it was a good way to
demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the federal government. As the right wing sees it, what better way to kill FEMA than to demonstrate that FEMA doesn’t
work? And this has just been the most blatant example of their purposeful negligence. In the last 30 years, though they really haven’t proposed one single program designed to move society forward; instead, they keep trying to make the programs that exist not work, in an attempt to kill them.
There are so
many examples of this "can’t do" attitude in evidence, it’s hard to
know where to start. The thing is, most of our biggest issues either
involve problems we’ve either fixed before, which Republicans have
"un-fixed," or problems which someone else has fixed, or is in the
process of fixing, so we know we "can do" a lot to fix them. But the
Republicans keep shrugging and cutting taxes, while demonizing one
minority group after another. Seriously; if you can look around you and
even begin to think that the Mexican who’s busing your table or the gay
waiter who wants to marry the gay cook is the biggest problem this
country faces, then you’re really not paying attention.
start with poverty. Or rather, the disparity between rich and poor. The
richest 10% in this country keep on getting richer, while the poor and
working classes keep growing in number and keep getting poorer, as long
as Republicans are in charge.
They spent years trying not to raise the minimum
wage, claiming we "can’t do" that, because it would cause an undue
burden on small businesses, despite the reality that no minimum wage
increase in history has EVER caused an economic downturn, and makes no logical sense in any case. If I own a small business with 20 employees,
all making at or near minimum wage, sure my 20 employees are going to
be making a little more money, but so are thousands of others in the
same area, as well. How does a larger pool of potential customers
translate to economic hardship? Ironically, these same Republicans will
tell you that a few millionaires with a few extra dollars in tax cuts
is good for the economy, and they’re not entirely wrong. But while we can put a few extra dollars in the pockets
of those who don’t need it, but to put it in the pockets of those who
do need it; somehow, that’s bad for the economy, and we "can’t do it."
also sit back and shrug as most of our manufacturing base has gone off
shore, and claim they "can’t do" anything about that because well,
that’s the market. Ironically, however, they manipulate "the market"
every day, by giving their rich corporate buddies tax breaks designed
to make them more money, and handing them lucrative contracts for goods
and services designed to keep them rich.
Republican "can’t do" regime, we’ve been told that the reason manufacturers
have moved their operations offshore is because we supposedly "can’t
compete." Of course, they’re wrong; we can compete, if we compete
intelligently. In fact, we really don’t have a choice; in a global economy, we must compete, or get
left in the dust. We used to be able to manufacture goods and compete with the best of
them. But the Republicans are running the show, and they are letting
huge conglomerates run the economy, and those huge conglomerates have
decided that price is the only consideration consumers make when it
comes to goods and services.
Think about that shirt you just
paid $30 for the other day. Chances are, it was made in a third world
country for about $3-5 (and that’s being generous; it may have been
less than closer to a dollar.). It could have been made in the United
States for about $5-7, because we have more skilled workers, or could have, and our workers are more productive. So, instead of everyone along the supply chain
splitting $25-27, they’re splitting $23-25. Of course, goods wouldn’t have to travel as far, and at least one layer of middle man might be eliminated. And the thing is, cotton farmers would make more money, factory workers would make
more money, and the tax bases in areas where the factories are located would grow, taking a lot of the pressure off the federal government. In short, more people culd afford more $30 shirts.
But the Republicans "can’t do" attitude precludes them from thinking that
way; they are attuned to providing excuses as to why we "can’t do"
things, rather than working to make the opportunities happen. Their
entire being is about maximizing profits for the few; they have
demonstrated that they care little about the average person. This
country should be manufacturing more of its own goods, but according to
the GOP, we "can’t do" that.
We’ve been in a full-blown
energy crisis now for about 35 years. when Arab oil producers were first able to embargo oil from export to the United States; it didn’t begin with that event.
But since we discovered we had a problem, the
government, led by Republicans has refused to take the lead in solving it. Instead, they threw their hands up in the air and claimed they "can’t do" anything about it, and assured us that there was an endless supply of oil, and they encouraged us to buy as many SUVs as we could. Now, they "can’t do" anything about speculators, who are driving up the price of oil, they "can’t do" anything to cut off the massive subsidies to large oil companies, and they "can’t do" anything about gasoline prices, choosing to once again shrug their shoulders and blame "the market."
In other words, we’ve had
an oil problem for years, but Republicans in charge have chosen to
shrug and whine about "dependence on foreign oil," but offer nothing to solve the problem, except to "wait it out," or the occasional abstract mention of "switchgrass" or "hydrogen," with little or no intent to actually implement any measures to fix the problem. See, it’s that
"can’t do" attitude again; they can’t help themselves, or us, because to actually solve a problem would actually undermine their basic premise, that government is naturally incompetent. And they have no motivation to reduce gas and oil prices anyway. Their supporters have no problem paying for it, and why would they object to the immense profits? You should also brace yourself; $6 per gallon is not outside the realm of possibility.
The only time we actually took the energy crisis seriously was when Democrat Jimmy Carter was president. During his first year in office, he pushed through energy saving measures that actually reduced our usage by a full 5% per years until 1985, when Republican Ronald Reagan killed them. If that had continued until today, we would be importing 80% less oil than we do now. In other words, Democrats put in place measures to save oil that would have prevented the pain we’re seeing now, and that would have reduced our dependence on foreign oil by far more than all the drilling Republicans now drool over.
We have an out of control budget deficit, but they claim
they "can’t do" anything about, because there’s a war on, you know? Strangely, with Democrats in charge, we managed to keep the deficit under control during the
previous quagmire in Vietnam, so it can be done. Of course, they think the budget
deficit is no big deal, which is absolutely wrong. A greater portion of
our debt has been purchased by other countries, which means they own a
piece of us, and could call in their debt at any time. We are being put
in a precarious position because the Republicans "can’t do" anything
but reduce taxes and funnel money to their big money donors.
The Republican response to the ongoing health care crisis in this country ts worse
every year, is to whine that they "can’t do" anything about it. Their
solution is, "let the market work," despite the fact that the all-powerful "market" continues to leave more people out of the
system every year, including the sickest among us. What that means is,
"the market" has caused the cost to the rest of us to escalate out of
control. Many people whose employers pay their health insurance premium
really have no idea how much their bosses are paying, but the cost of
insurance is staggering, often topping $15,000 a year for an employee
with a family. But the Republicans are so "can’t do" about health care, that they
had to be dragged kicking and screaming into creating a prescription
drug plan for seniors, and because of their "can’t do" attitude, they created a plan that is confusing and anything but
These are only a few examples. Republicans have
also shown they "can’t do" anything about corporate and government
corruption. They "can’t do" anything about insurance companies’ price
gouging. They "can’t do" anything about cleaning up our environment,
because it might increase the costs to business by a few pennies.
This country has
a lot of problems, and we experience them every day. Yet, all the
Republicans in charge seem to care about are issues that
simply don’t affect us. Reducing taxes for the very rich, gay marriage and abortion are not even close to the most pressing problems we have in this country.
But if they actually started talking about problems that truly matter to people, they would then have to make suggestions for solving them. And they can’t do that.
So, keep that in mind as you head to the polls this fall. Ask yourself this; when was the last time a Republican ever solved a problem? Then keep in mind, they are ideologically incapable of doing so. As long as we have Republicans, we’ll be the "can’t do" United States of America. We need a government that will stop giving excuses as
to why they "can’t do" things. The Democrats themselves, in their quest
for electoral victory, must begin to reclaim the "can do" attitude that
marked the party for many years. If they can do that, voters will flock
to them in droves. We the people are tired of politicians taking more
and more of our money every year and whining incessantly that they
"can’t do" anything to fix the problems that we all face.
CAN fix out fossil fuel addiction. We CAN balance the budget and pay
down the debt, without putting anyone into the poor house, or burdening
our children with tons of debt. We CAN create more manufacturing jobs
to this country. We CAN create a health care system in which everyone
gets health care, and no one is put in the poor house because they get
sick. We CAN create an economic system in which anyone who wants to has
the opportunity to get rich, but which also makes sure that every
person living in this country has a roof over their heads, food in
their bellies, and a decent school to send their children to, so that
they, too, may have the same opportunity that our parents promised us,
and their parents promised them.
It’s time we took back this
country from the "can’t do" idiots who have been running it for far too
long. Democrats; would you please take over your traditional role and
start making this a "can do" nation again?
Copyright 2008 The PCTC Blog