“Dead in the Water” or “The Good Old Days”



 President Obama’s news conference this week confirmed a sensation we’ve been having for weeks now.

 We’re not getting anywhere.

 Worse, we’re not going to get anywhere that benefits the country.

 We are, as the saying goes, “dead in the water.”  No wind, no current, no tide lifting all ships.

 Congress is determined, the Republicans in Congress that is, that nothing that transpires between now and 2016 should be considered a success for the President.  Forget about a success for the country, because the Republicans have, ever since election night in 2008.

 It’s more now than simple racism.  After all, nearly five years have passed and the country is still standing despite the fact that our leader is black.

 What we’re witnessing now is institutional racism, approved and fostered by an opposition that cannot believe the election returns of 2012.

  We’ve reached a point where it’s not merely Senators and Congressmen and women determined to stand in the way of any logical legislation.  They now have organized allies. 

Foremost and most recently, of course, is the gun lobby.  There will be no meaningful legislation that includes extended background checks, or ammunition clip limits, or assault weapon bans.  Chances are, there won’t even be armed guards in elementary and high schools across the country.  Having won this debate, the NRA isn’t compelled to do anything more that costs its members money.  Even believing that to arm teachers and guards would bring more loot into the pockets of gun manufacturers, the NRA is probably smart enough to also understand that localities around the country no longer have unlimited state or federal funds at their disposal to affect protection of any sort.  Worse, we have the “sequester” cutting funds right and left, from schools to businesses, from research and scientific development to the Defense Department.

Now, as we know, the sequester was an idea too horrible to contemplate and in passing it, Congress believed that they would come up with money-saving ideas that could later allow them to repeal the bill.

They didn’t.  They’re not even looking for new ideas.  They’re simply content to let the ax fall on their fellow citizens, but, of course, not on themselves.  Witness the wondrous connect-the-dots of Jon Stewart who brilliantly explained to us why the air traffic controllers were given a sudden pass.  Congress was about to take another week off and plans to fly home were being affected by the sequester cuts to the FAA.

But back once more to the industrial allies of the Republicans who are so determined to make President Obama irrelevant.

Look to the Chambers of Commerce around the country.

Look to the Koch brothers’ right wing organizations, those that purport to be grass roots organizations but which are really, and only, financed by they themselves.

Look to the oil and gas lobbies.

Look to the state houses where Republicans have clear majorities.

Look to Wall Street.

Look at right wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh.

Look at the mainstream media who has begun wondering if the president has “the juice” left to do anything meaningful during the next three years.

All these players have silently agreed to stand with the Republican party to thwart not only the president, but also the desires of the nation at large.  No one seems to care about Meals-on-Wheels, or Headstart, or cancer patients.

Last week was a typical one in Congress.  Having just returned from its Easter recess, it met, diddled from Tuesday to Thursday, and then decided it needed another week off.  Was any business transacted?  None.

Putting racism aside for a moment, there is a definite national aching for the good old days.  How often do we hear and read of people wishing out loud that “all they want is life the way it used to be.”

Well, folks, that’s what they’re going to get.

And the best indication of that is the putative immigration “battle,” which is now no battle at all.

Big business, big agri-business included and especially, wants life to stay as it was.  Shadowy immigration allows shadowy workers to work for shadow wages.

And if we “follow the money,” as we are always advised to do, or to look for “qui bono,” who benefits, we find that everyone from small businesses to major corporations make more money under the imperfect system already at work than they would following any sort of meaningful immigration legislation.   Forget about a path to citizenship.  No one in business, from Mom and Pop to Exxon/Mobil, wants costs to rise, as they might in a new and fairer world.

If we could only go back to the wonderful  fifties or even the early sixties, people profess they would be so happy they might, then, begin to be able to consider doing something meaningful about Defense, about terrorism, about the environment.

It appears to us that that’s what’s going to happen.  The nation will be happy to ignore injustices, voting rights, representative government if only the roads are repaired and they themselves are benefiting –although they would never admit this – from governmental programs like the G.I. bill, health insurance, minimum wages, and Medicare.

Where are the Democrats, the liberals, the progressives?  Like everyone else, it seems: they are glued to their hand-held communicative devices checking to see who checked them out, who sent them an email, who wants a call-back.

They, like everyone else, have become divorced from reality and have settled comfortably into virtual reality, which poses no threats or hints of displeasure.

Worse. Since polling tells them the Republicans have and are losing female voters, Hispanics, the elderly and youth, the Democrats can afford, they think, to relax and let the Republicans disappear.  This is unlikely to happen.

You have to hand it to the Republicans for executing one of the most brilliant mid-field reverses in the history of politics.  Having decided to vote in the negative on anything the President proposes, they have now sent an urgent letter to him asking for his leadership on legislation they have already vowed never to pass.

Democrats, liberals, progressives certainly don’t want to get involved in name-calling, blame placing, or even protecting their own voters from others who want clearly to marginalize them.

The Republicans, like the NRA, have convinced an entire country that only they, when they wish, can lift the barricades and allow progress to occur.

And when will this happen?  Certainly well after Obama leaves office, certainly after unemployment figures have failed to level off, certainly after the entire middle class has been downgraded to the working poor.

Then, and only then, might we see change, and what we see may not make us happy at all.



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