Monday, November 12, 2012

Voting and Gloating Are Over – Where Do We Go From Here? (November 10, 2012)

The presidential campaign stretched out for 18 months, yet it seemed longer — a lot longer.
At least we won’t be bombarded with those fact-skewing, negative attack ads — until local campaigns emerge less than a year from now.
I’m also fed up with constant robocalls. Why is it that political calls are exempt from “Do Not Call” lists? And don’t give me that free speech explanation. That’s just a flimsy excuse when self-serving representatives fashion expedient legislation to exempt themselves, yet blocks solicitations from private businesses.
One thing this election demonstrated was that the nation’s melting population is more diverse than ever — and must be given attention. While the Democratic Party got an overwhelming majority of the minority vote, it’s going to have to work hard to secure that base and not just count on it for years to come. On the other hand, though the Republican Party is far from being washed up, as long as the GOP adheres to its horse-and-buggy manifesto, it’s likely to remain losers for years to come.
Are reasonable Republican leaders so blind they don’t see the multiracial population makeover growing or will they just continue to validate their defunct 20th century mentality?
Ever since integration spearheaded the civil rights era, the GOP has nourished a hard core base of white southerners. However, as the country’s population gradually transformed, Republicans overlooked the emerging minority, while centrist Democrats embraced America’s constantly melting pot.
Hard core conservatives, who exert significant pressure on Republicans, may not be partial to or recognize the nation’s changing cultural and ethnic mixture. But, if the GOP hopes to thrive and survive, it can no longer neglect minorities that now make up more than half the population and whose numbers are only going to climb in the future. Unless Republican Party leaders stop being manipulated by extremist factions, like the Tea Party and rigid neo-cons, and reexamines its right-leaning ideas, it could remain the underdog for years to come.
Conservatives and some Republicans must stop crowing, “We have to take our country back.” Who exactly do they want to take it back from? Actually, when you evaluate that line, it’s nothing but veiled racism. It simply means taking it back from minorities that have swelled into a majority coalition.
There’s a joke that goes something like: surrounded by Indians the Lone Ranger says, “This doesn't look good, Tonto. We’re in trouble.” To which his Native American sidekick replies, “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?”
Nowadays, ‘we’ isn’t a majority of Caucasian Americans, it’s more closely associated with the Constitutional, “We, the people.” People who are white, black, brown and yellow. People who observe diverse religious affiliations  or none at all. People who are heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, transgendered and even asexual.
We is the unconditional characterization of the melting pot that has made our nation more unique than any other.
Republicans have to decide whether or not they’re going to distance themselves from the far right fringe, led by Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, several Fox commentators, Donald Trump, etc. They disgrace the party and deters moderate fence-sitters.
It would be unconstitutional, though certainly applauded by some, to silence extremists’ right to utter whatever the hell they want, but respectable members of the GOP should not fear a backlash or appear reluctant to berate them when they make outrageous, nasty comments. Silence, however, is an implicit stamp of approval.
Besides the consequences of Republican platform issues, the stakes are high for Barack Obama over the next four years. Despite his lame duck status, he must turn this country around or the legacy of the first black president in U.S. history will be worse than that of David Dinkins, New York City’s first black mayor.
The president supports an extension for the bulk of the Bush tax cuts, but wants to end them for households with annual incomes over $250,000. In addition, under Obama’s plan the top federal income tax rate would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.
What is now commonly referred to as the “fiscal cliff” is a blend of spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect next year, if Congress does not act. Spending cuts roughly total $1 trillion over the next decade, including $500 billion from defense. Tax increases include the expiration of the payroll tax holiday and of the Bush-era income tax cuts.
Democrats, naturally, maintain that Obama’s reelection was an endorsement of that approach. However, if a deal cannot be reached to ensure that wealthy Americans pay their fair share or Democrats can’t negotiate entitlement program reforms to achieve economic growth — that Republicans favor — before December 31st, no victory will stop the economy from reaching the fiscal precipice.
It remains to be seen if Republicans and Democrats will reach a deal. But, the longer bipartisanship is deferred, the worse it will be not only for the nation, but for those politicians too pig-headed to recognize the problems and priorities staring them in the face. Congressional elections are two years away and if cooperation eludes another legislative session, voters may decide to make some changes when they vote next time.
Most importantly, the federal government must be an active and constructive partner in promoting prosperity, opportunity and American greatness. Consequently, for the good of the nation, our political leaders must formulate a joint strategy to outline a practical course that will put an end to the current impasse that is sapping America’s inner strength and distorting our national motto – E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one.