Who shall it be?
Seldom in my 70 years has there been an election with so many senior issues on the block. Privatize Social Security. Eliminate Medicare’s donut hole or, eliminate Medicare. Legalize importing affordable drugs. Increase our minimum wage. (One in five of us over 65 works, often for diddly-squat.)
And, perhaps, most important to those of us who still remember a government that was of, by, and especially for the people: Rescue our democracy.
The issues are clear. But whom shall we vote for?
- Who failed to pass any substantive legislation this term except to provide half the money to fence one-third of our southern border?
- Who buried every bill that would have improved seniors’ lives?
- Who pushed our country to the brink of bankruptcy?
- Who refused to demand even minimal competence and planning from their leaders?
- Who shamed themselves and our nation by voting for torture and against Constitutional and human rights dating back to 1215 A.D.?
- Who are so morally crippled that they’ve sacrificed our treasury, our jobs, our homeland, even our safety to oil, chemical, timber, mining, insurance, pharmaceutical, and defense corporations for the sake of a buck, a free trip, or casual sexual companionship?
- And who seem incapable of contrition for past mistakes – witness New Orleans, Afghanistan and Iraq – and blind to the certain future catastrophe of warring with Iran?
Or the Democrats…
- Who are equally opportunistic, equally susceptible to scandal?
- Who fear the Republican press and propaganda machine more than they fear losing, not just elections but democracy itself?
- Who haven’t the courage to get behind a single original idea to save their political skins?
- Who silently and uncannily blend into the Congressional woodwork while the majority party gives away the store?
- And who cower from any discussion of the plight of the aged poor, the uneducated, the uninsured, and the dispossessed, those unfortunates who once were the heartbeat of the party?
Today, both parties appear to take orders from the same boss. No, not we the people, but corporations that value their own profits far more than they value their own country.
Lose Medicare and Social Security?
Where’s a third-party superman like Teddy Roosevelt when we need him? Unfortunately, our two major parties have made third parties all but impossible in this country.
If we decide that status quo is as good as we can get, we must prepare ourselves for completely privatized Medicare and Social Security, for a likely attack on Iran while Iraq and Afghanistan fall into a pit of death and sorrow, and for further “inalienable” rights to be suspended for the duration of an unending war.
And somewhere down the road, we must steel ourselves for a calamitous economic collapse when China and others (we even owe Mexico!) demand repayment of debt – all that money Congress has been squandering wildly these last six years for wars, tax cuts and corporate favors.
The other day, I asked a friend who is active in the Democratic establishment what the heck was wrong with his party. He responded, “The Democrats lack heart, lack vision, lack leadership and, in my view, lack a coherent plan of how to maximize their resources.”
That’s not promising.
The Republicans, on the other hand, are unexcelled at winning elections. Problem is, we can’t expect a party to govern well that is cynical toward democracy – witness recent unabashed gerrymandering and election tampering – and dead-set against the power of government to help folks.
One thing is clear. The party in power is inept. Like a favorite old aunt who no longer can be trusted with money, we must take away their checkbook.
If the Democrats win power in both houses of Congress, they must quickly find their groove. They must realize that they have to perform like the patriots they once were or risk losing everything in 2008.
So what should one do? We all know the stakes, the choices. We can hold our noses if we must, but we can’t not vote.
Personally as a registered Independent who over the years has voted Democratic, Republican, even – and as a person who has closely watched seniors’ and others’ rights dwindle over the last six years – I’ll vote for change.
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