On my way back from Sunday morning laundry, I pulled into one of the small self-service vegetable stands local farmers set by the road. I could use some tomatoes, and 3/$100 certainly beats the grocery store price.
I counted out two dollars worth of dimes--good opportunity to begin to clear up my change tray--when a woman, 65+ I’d guess, swung her SUV in behind me. As I got out of my car and started depositing my dimes, she, apparently having read my bumper sticker, opened her door, and without any greeting at all, countered, “Enough is enough, vote Republican!”
My bumper sticker, “Enough is Enough! Vote Democrat!” is the first I’ve ever sported on any car. The Democrat National Committee sent it to me along with a few other materials in their ever persistent quest for additional donations. I wish they’d intersperse news about party efforts and progress--I’d probably donate more frequently.
Nonetheless, I share the sentiment so strongly that I posted it prominently. I was fiercely independent until Ronald Reagan tried to shut down science, quadrupled the national debt, and convinced Americans that we just had to keep telling ourselves everything is fine. Just like magic. Then he added illegally defying Congress in the Iran/Contra scandal. Let’s not even get into his arming Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. Something had to be done, so I turned to the Democrats.
George H. Bush, a warmonger who in 1979-1980 campaigned against Reagan’s “trickle down” economics fantasy as “voodoo economics,” turned and embraced it to win election in 1988, running unemployment up to double digits--and getting his chance to go to war.
Bill Clinton defeated Bush on an economic platform, and despite facing a hostile Republican Congress for most of his term, passed a number of measures and presided over the largest peacetime expansion in the nation’s history--and returned to budget surpluses along the way. He even managed to contain Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. George W. Bush returned us to war and record deficits, committing us to years of expensive occupation all while refusing to pay for it, cutting taxes especially for those best able to afford them, ignoring the complete lack of positive economic impact--except for the wealthy. He’s even strained the military, including the National Guard, so far that all commanders warn we can’t sustain these deployments past the spring. And to top it off, military benefits, including needed health care and proper combat vehicles, have been missing, underfunded. Then there’s systematically destroying then very rights that make the U.S. Constitution our guiding principles. Enough is enough. Vote Democrat.
I really wasn’t up for an argument with this lady. “Well, we’re engaged in economic policies and a war we can’t sustain,” I offer, choosing a nonpartisan point.
“We HAVE to do that!” she insists, stridently, ignoring the logical disconnect. I let it go--the discussion promises to be pointless anyway. She doesn’t. “Bill and Hillary only got that surplus by cooking the numbers--it didn’t really exist!”
“They slashed funding for the military!” she adds, voice rising.
[Incidentally, why do so many Republicans assume all debate is about Senator Clinton? Haven’t they noticed the lively primary debate, featuring a range of strong candidates all with enthusiastic supporters?]
She doesn’t offer any specifics. I assume she’s referring to the long-standing practice of all administrations of lumping the current Social Security surplus into the overall budget--a practice candidate Al Gore promised to end, by the way, in his 2000 bid for the presidency. The practice also means all those deficits are that much worse, a point which seems to have escaped her. Probably just repeating what she’s heard on Rush Limbaugh.
I sigh inwardly. Issues like this need discussion, though, so I start to explain. Immediately she interrupts, her voice nicer, “Well, you have your ideas and I have mine.” The conversation is over.
So thousands of people will continue to die, thousands more badly wounded, because a retired lady in rural New York doesn’t need information to make up her mind. Medicare, headed rapidly for a financial meltdown, will wait until it’s a crisis. The looming Social Security shortfall, completely solvable if we act soon, will similarly wait for doomsday. If she has anything to say about it, America will remain the only industrial nation without national health care, spending billions on emergency room care instead, at far greater cost. Promising stem cell research--and possible cures for a wide range of diseases--will have to wait for scientists from other, more reasonable nations. Tax cuts will remain the magic cure for all ills, continuing the myth that “giving the money back so they can invest as they see fit” will resolve entitlement difficulties, ignoring Americans negative savings rate.
And peacetime prosperity will remain an accounting trick, all while America spends its former greatness and prosperity into the shadows where all myopic empires have been humbled. Instead, this will be the age of China, India, and the European Union.