Let’s be blunt, shall we? The Republicans are committed to winning elections and regaining the majority no matter how much harm they do to the country making that happen. When in power, the republicans govern like drunken sailors. We get unfunded wars, tax cuts, corporate social programs like Medicare Part D and deregulation that allows for the possibility of one economic bubble after another. Bubble economies (think the dot.com frenzy, followed by the home refi and ownership society craziness) allow for the appearance of wealth generation and create annual bonuses for bankers that are only slightly taxed.
Not that the Democrats are much better. They get an opportunity once in a blue moon when the country manages to overcome the propaganda of Fox, Comcast, Clear Channel et al and the vagaries of vote-counting systems that have no mandated papertrail to assure integrity. The Clinton era of 1992-1994 and the Obama era 2008-2010 are the two times that has happened and look how those two year stints turned out.
When they are out of power (which is most of the time) the Democrats do better than Republicans do when they are out of power. They do not seize every opportunity to make things go wrong for country for political gains in the next election, they appear to function somewhat responsibly, working with the party in power to negotiate legislation and policy toward the mainstream, but the upshot is the political situation we have today, where US citizens and soldiers who have been convicted of no crime are tortured in the brig by deprivation of contact, by systematic humiliation, and more in the hope of breaking the mind and spirit of an individual. This will break most of us. Human beings are social animals. Where State governments work to strip unions of collective bargaining power.
All of this negotiating and compromising creates a meek Democratic party that cannot remember its own principles when the stars align to give them a majority. The party is so unfamiliar with governing from a majority position that it can’t figure out that the solution to an economic downturn of the scale of the great depression or the great recession is keynesian economics directed at job creation and infrastructure, not the stabilization of the economic status quo. Nothing is too big to fail as the Democrats have proven in 2008-2010 as they governed themselves and the country further into the ditch as they protected financial institutions that are the fount of electoral politics. They were completely inept in their understanding and response to the ultimate SCOTUS corporate decision – Citizens United. There were legislative fixes that should have been in place even before the Supreme Corp announced its unsurprising decision.
And health care? Yes, health care needs fixing. The system we have is a private enterprise mess. The health care fix is in moving to single payor. This isn’t rocket science. In the absence of the fortitude and votes to go to single payor, you have to keep it on the table in the form of a public option or you might as well not waste the time and effort on the reform battle. Sure, it’s a good thing to have new rules that allow “children” up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance policies and to reduce corporate profit-taking by rescission and pre-existing condition sleight of hand, but 2008-2010 screamed for a job program, for the bankruptcy court cramdown solution to the housing mortgage crisis, for an all-out push to reduce our energy dependence on foreign oil and look what we got instead.
It’s not too late for the Democratic party to learn how to lead, even from a minority position, but they have to be ready next time to speak the truth. We need to raise taxes and regulate the economy and industry. We have to be true to our founding principles regarding human rights instead of bending to the pull of commerce and profit.
Set Bradley Manning free. Put Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in jail (and ct scan to determine once and for all if they are human or reptile). Stop the wars. Bring the troops home, close down at least half of our foreign bases. Reinstate the tax structure that existed under President Nixon, if not the one that existed under President Eisenhower.