Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A User's Guide to the Midterm Elections

Here we go again, another midterm election registering 7.0 on the Richter scale. This is the second one of this magnitude in my lifetime. The first was sixteen years ago, the midterms of 1994, the "Republican revolution." Anybody able to hold their breath under water for a minute or less can remember that one. The aftershocks are still with us.

The usual gang of suspects back then were different, of course, as they didn't have the chutzpah to profess to be a new movement or, for that matter, anything new at all, but boldly and proudly traced their origins back to Barry Goldwater conservatism. The Tea Party, on the other hand, a fabrication of the mainstream media, consists of some card-carrying incompetents who would never have hijacked the spotlight were it not for complicity by the press, broadcast news, and TV talking heads.

Relish the irony of a group of "populists" who evolved in response to outrage at the government for bailing out the banks and Wall Street. Of course, it is the wrong government they should be outraged against. It was George W. Bush's administration who started the stimulus program, but while they're in the neighborhood, tea partiers might as well speak out in favor of privatization of social security, and so-called free market economics. Ronald Reagan would be proud. It was, of course, Reaganomics that got us into this mess in the first place.

Then, there's Rand Paul who now says he wouldn't have voted for the Civil Rights Act, and would leave it up to private establishments to decide whom they allow, and disallow to frequent their clubs. We got a little taste of that kind of thinking when an Alaska journalist went to a rally for Republican Senate candidate, Joe Miller, to interview the candidate and was handcuffed, detained for a half hour, and ejected. This is the kind of empowerment Dr. Paul would like to extend to your local watering hole along with the right to carry a loaded gun on to the premises.

But, no matter. While the spirit moves me, I thought it might be expedient to put together a user's guide for this uber-important midterm election which would have been most helpful had there been one back in 1994:

First and foremost, show up. Nobody ever got elected by shadow voters. Well, that is, almost nobody. George W. Bush is a prominent exception. Absentee votes are okay, but absentee ballots are often counted last. Your vote must count. Put down that remote, walk away from your computer, and go to the polls.

#2: Vote for the outcome, not the candidate. Think about a country under the thumb of a bunch of Palin clones. Forget about how the media has sexed up the Republican Party by making what has been the same old, same old into a "movement." If it talks about your right to bear arms, wants to rescind any attempt to equalize health care in this country, proposes turning over your social security check to Wall Street, backs military surges and the "war on terror," plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, calls anyone a "socialist" who wants to reform a bankrupt and failing economic system, if you vote for that person, you are voting against yourself.

#3: For the gentlemen out there, stop looking at Michele Bachmann's legs. When Christine O'Donnell talks about masturbation as adultery, she is referring to you. That's right, if you're married and you pleasure yourself, you've just cheated on your spouse. Talk about boundary issues! Sarah Palin has a few of her own, too. She still thinks she can see Russia from her front porch.

#4: Now that you've read the newspaper avidly for the past month or more, forget everything you read, and instead remember the past. As the saying goes, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Remember where you when Richard Nixon was in office? Too young? Okay, how about Ronald Reagan. Did Mr. Reagan's trickle down thingy do anything for you? Well, stay tuned for trickle down take two if these tea party candidates gain momentum. One seat in Congress is one seat too many.

#5: Don't watch the election results on Election Day until after you've voted. Yes, that's right, the power of suggestion is a righteous thing.

#6: Friends in California, okay, I concede, Jerry Brown isn't sexy. Meg Whitman has better legs, but she's got better teeth, too, like her Republican counterpart, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and her bite is worse than her bark. If elected governor, she will work for more furloughs for state workers, cops, firemen, and teachers, strip even more than $250 million from a program dedicated to child care, beef up ICE raids, build a better fence to keep "illegals" out while secretly hiring undocumented workers, and make it clear that the upper 1% is going to remain just where it has been for the past 30 years in the upper 1% of wealth. A vote for Meg Whitman is a vote for corporations, big business, big banks, and a vote against working people.

#7: Don't be fooled. If you're concerned about the "national security" issue, it was Ronald Reagan who extolled the virtues of bin Laden's freedom fighters when they were pups in Afghanistan, and it was U.S. taxpayer dollars, under Reagan, that financed the training of the Taliban in Pakistan. Ultimately, there would no bin Laden without Ronald Reagan.

So, a vote for those who want to dissolve the difference between church and state only when that church is a Christian church, a vote for those who inveigh against building Muslim community centers in lower Manhattan is a vote against national security.

Last, but not least, it is not enough to show up. It is more important to grow up which is something we have yet to do in this country. Nobody wants to accept that a setback isn't a defeat. Everybody wants instant results. If things don't move fast enough, go to the other register.

Well, guess what, we're running out of registers, and the only register that matters now is the one that enables you to vote.

We're running out of allies, too. If you think this radical right lunatic fringe of a movement is scary, think about how it looks to others around the world, and picture your grandchild, twenty years hence, being all alone on a battlefield with a bunch of guys with shaved heads. This is the future you are voting for on November 2nd, election day. Let's get it right.