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Between the Lines: Corrective Action

It’s (always) time to throw the bums out.

Comments (5)
Tuesday, October 08, 2013

When the federal government officially shut down just after midnight on Tuesday morning, Oct. 1, I was still awake, tossing and turning and worrying about all the things middle-class people with children to feed, clothe and educate and elderly parents to care for worry about.

As a middle-aged white guy who’s made his living in the newspaper business for more than two decades, I’m hardly a stranger to bouts of anxiety in the middle of the night. Even if I worked in a more financially healthy sector of the economy, I can’t imagine being sanguine about what has happened to the American middle class over the half century I’ve been on earth. And the sad fact is, I’ve spent at least half that time believing that, no matter how partisan their behavior most of the time, our elected representatives in Washington would soon turn things around, if only for the sake of their own political survival.

As I tried in vain to drift off to sleep in the wee hours of Oct. 1, I came to the realization that today’s crop of politicians will never turn things around. The latest government shutdown exposes both political parties for what they are: ruthless gangs whose members are self-interested, arrogant, pathologically ambitious and utterly indifferent to the plight of the people they were elected to serve. To shut down the government at so precarious a time in our national economic recovery is beyond reckless; it exposes a political class that cares more for partisan gamesmanship than national service, that treats life and death issues like a parlor game.

As my mind raced that sleepless night, I wondered how I might have reacted to such a government shutdown in my 20s. I suspect that back then I’d have been inclined to side with the Democrats, to buy into the partisan spin that Republicans are holding the country hostage to their unreasonable demands, that only Democrats can be counted on to do what’s right for the working class. But I lost faith in Democrats back when Bill Clinton was in office. Barack Obama has done nothing to restore my faith. Whether it’s Democrats like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi or Republicans like John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, I distrust them all, revile them all.

The failure of Congress to come to an agreement to fully fund normal operations last week should be a wakeup call to working Americans everywhere: it is time to break apart the two political parties that have long dominated American politics and send all their members packing. While a few good souls may be lost in such a purge, we have no other choice if we want our democracy back. If the politicians in Washington can’t be bipartisan, we can. Let’s throw them all out.•

Comments (5)
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Cheer up. Next shutdown they'll have healthcare as a ginormous bargaining chip. This is why our founders stressed limited government... because they understood the natural incliniation of power reach. Right now the only party remotely interested in stopping government expanse is Republican. Someday perhaps moderate democrats will emerge once again... until then I will have to vote R right down the line, every time.

Posted by Ben on 10.10.13 at 6:48

Tom Vannah misses a few points. Bipartisanship is how we got into this mess. Right wingers have been against working people getting anything since time immemorial. Republicans were against the “New Deal” under FDR in the face of wide spread unemployment, and in some cases death due to starvation.

Obama spend most of his time as president doing the Kow Tow to these people who simply want to be medieval lords. He established such a history of bowing to their demands that they thought he would surely do it again. Most of the things I do not like about the Affordable Care Act are things that were put into it to placate the Republicans. It will be the only useful thing to come out of this administration, and they want to abolish it after having agreed to it. If they get it their way the minimum wage and Social Security will be next, which will be followed by even more outsourcing of jobs.

The Democrats also helped the outsourcing to take place. We need a party responsive to the average American. While Vannah mentions elections he does not mention the nomination process, which is where the restrictions are. Here in MA a statewide office requires 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot!!!! Other offices require less, but they are all excessive. No one is addressing this point. The excessive signature requirement is the barrier, not campaign spending, not not filing enough reports, just getting the excessive number of signatures just to get ones name on the ballot.

Posted by Robert Underwood on 10.10.13 at 14:02

"Right wingers have been against working people getting anything since time immemorial."

There you go, folks. This is a shining example of why the country is so divided. The cliche is 100% true.... Republicans think Democrats are wrong, Democrats think Republicans are evil.

Liberalism doesn't work. Take a look at struggling states and cities... virtually all long time liberal strongholds. A growing economy is the best thing for working & poor people and the proven best way to accomplish it is with strong free market capitalism. Yes, rich people will get richer.... but if I can get an extra 10k in salary I really don't care that a CEO makes a couple more million. It's liberals obsessed with income gap that is the problem. A rising tide lifts all boats. Smart people will always get rich so stop worrying about them. Worry about helping the poor and middle class. Sticking it to the man has resulted in this crappy economy where there is little opportunity for advancement if you do have a job. Not good.

But continuing to label conservatives as various forms of evil makes you part of the problem. Grow up and understand that good people can disagree with you.

Posted by Ben on 10.12.13 at 8:27

That from the guy who regularly shows up on the advocate site to talk in broad generalizations about liberals and "their ilk". He's told us that all gun control advocates want to ban all guns. He's told us "Liberalism doesn't work." But Mr. Underwood is the problem!

Maybe, just maybe, BOTH sides painting the other as evil is the problem.

Posted by SDudgens on 10.15.13 at 12:35

It's also true, Ben, that the huge and growing income disparity makes your idea about getting an extra 10K pretty spotty. There is a finite amount of money in the economy. If the vast majority of it is in the hands of the few, the same few who have access to political power, why in heck should those people even bother throwing you a table scrap now and then?

A rising tide would mean it was coming from below. What you are talking about is money trickling down. A trickle is all you'll see, too, because rich people keep most of their money instead of spending almost all of it like poor people. That's why they're rich.

Posted by SDudgens on 10.15.13 at 12:40
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