HARD AT IT
The Republicans still can’t believe they lost.
The Democrats are having a wonderful time trying to convince them.
The Republicans say proudly that more people voted Republican than voted Democratic…just look at the membership of the House.
The Democrats say proudly that every day, as new voting figures come in, more people voted Democratic including the new House members, where their party picked up eight seats.
The Republicans continue to announce that their campaign was perfection, and that they lost because President Obama paid off interest groups.
The Democrats continue to point out that the interest groups in question have a long history of voting Democratic, and that the price that was paid this year is well under what losing Republican candidates paid just trying to win.
We all still face the same problems: the deficit, the debt ceiling, the fiscal cliff, rising healthcare costs, the sequestration of funds and tax increases across the board at the end of the year, gun control, immigration reform.
The Republicans feel they’re being sandbagged and set-up as fall guys: no matter what happens, they lose.
They’re right. And we think they deserve to be. Not only because they’re out of step with the most of the nation on social issues, but also — actually, more — because they wasted an entire year of our time and our money doing nothing to solve any kind of problem whatever.
All of which is to say that both parties are still campaigning hard well after the contest has been won and lost.
And although it pains us to say this, they’re right to do so.
Because from our point of view, if they continue the battle, so will voters around the country.
And we think this is a vitally important thing for citizens to do.
Do not disengage.
Generally after an election, the public grouses and grumbles and then gets back to doing what it did before: raise families, work hard, worry, and dream.
But we hope not this time.
Voters in states all across the country have learned that if they don’t like something, they can change it. This is called the proposition plan, or if you will, the recall plan, or the impeachment plan.
With enough signatures gathered for any good or ill reason, the average voter can actually have a positive effect, from his or her point of view, on matters that loom large in their consciousness. With enough money raised at car-washes, bake sales, benefit dinners, raffles, members of a PTA can oust all or part of a school board. With shoe leather and hard work, and good manners, labor can make a comeback against state legislatures that have relegated them to history. With enough support from non-profit groups like a state bar association, or a state medical association, laws can be changed.
All this can happen but only if we all stay hard at it.
Of course, not every popular or populist idea comes without penalty.
We were living in California when the first of a long line of propositions passed to keep property taxes rising at no more than one and half per cent per year.
As a home-owner, we voted for it.
Thirty years later California, drained of income from many sources, not this one alone, had to cut public services and education beyond the starvation point. This year, after fully understanding what had happened, voters in California agreed to raise their own taxes to save what could yet be saved.
This needn’t have happened, but it did because the state’s governor went to work and persuaded his citizens to rethink their options. It was not an easy sale, but with the loss of millions of jobs from state-imposed cutbacks, people realized what they had to do.
The United States faces the same problems as California. Replace the governor with the president, and you can see the next few months and years ahead. The difference between one state’s problems and those of the entire country are only a matter of size.
We believe that Democrats understand this. We also believe that the Republicans do not. And probably will not until after 2014, when fewer and fewer of them are returned to power in government.
We believe the Democrats believe that the voters have real power to persuade and bring change.
We believe the Republicans could care less.
Not every movement will succeed. Some are unworthy of life. But until and unless we the voters stay at it, there is little or no chance at all of salvaging the nation’s economy, its influence abroad, its path to greatness in the 21st century.
Often we scoff at a president who decides to talk over the heads of Congress directly to the people to ask them for their support, to ask them to let their Congressmen and women know how they feel. But, it turns out, we are in the minority here. When the president makes that request, emails and telephone lines and Twitter and Facebook go berserk doing exactly that: letting Congress know it’s on the wrong track. The people are hard at it.
And the voting public has learned how to discern real character from false.
It’s not simply a matter of Mr. Romney’s hair gel, or Mrs. Obama’s fashion sense.
The public has discovered that by listening carefully and acting wisely, people who could rightly be called heroes can be elevated to service and saved.
Take the instance of David Wiggins in Iowa, one of a panel of Supreme Court justices under fire for their approval of same-sex marriage.
The Republicans targeted him for extinction. He was not alone. In the last election cycle, three of his colleagues were thrown out of their judicial chairs.
But Wiggins survived. He fought back, not with crates of outside money or even with the assistance of PACS, but simply with his belief that judges should not, to begin with, be elected. Electing judges politicizes them. Wiggins believes, and said so, that jurists should not be pressured by everyday paybacks and influence peddling. That judges should stand proudly above the law, in order to deliver, eventually, unencumbered decisions that benefit all.
Iowa voters listened, thought, and admired his stand. Judge Wiggins is still on the bench, and will be sworn in again in January.
This is entirely a matter of long-held American beliefs and practice. The election of judges around the country is part and parcel of the proposition/recall/impeachment plan. One of the least effective ways to secure impartial justice is to elect judges that are beholden to special interest groups. Even the US Chamber of Commerce admits that people in business with business before a court who had contributed to the sitting judges’ campaign are likely to get preferential treatment. This is not what America is about.
What do we citizens get for our 24/7 attention to political detail?
Firstly, an unceasing amount of noise. The years ahead are likely, largely because of our 24/7 news cycle, to be loud and contentious. But that also means they are years where to be alive matters, where to be informed counts, when to be concerned daily about national problems, neighborhood problems, international problems can create new directions and solutions for us all.
And in this process, we are likely to find more David Wiggins, men and women of character and strength who matter to our daily lives. We are, happily and not, we think, naively, likely to find men and women who want to serve their country without first checking on healthcare for their own families, retirement benefits for their own families, tax perks for their families. We may actually end up with what was once called “a few good men” only in this case, we can hope for more than a few men and women of value, honesty, and strength.
With these new leaders, we may have a real shot at changing the country we have come to revere once more into a country we can love and be proud of.
But only if we stay hard at it.