October 2010 Archives

Open Letter on the Eve of the Elections

Dear Friend,

Today I passed a newsstand and saw the current Newsweek magazine, which parodies Shepard Fairey's famous Obama "Hope" portrait, depicting instead of the President the presumed next Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

For the corporate media, the elections have been a foregone conclusion.  You've already heard it a hundred times:  Democrats will forfeit the House and maybe even the Senate.  Why?  Because in their twenty-one months in power the Dems haven't succeeded in bringing the economy back to normal after a ruinous eight-year budget trashing by Bush-Cheney.  

So the answer is to bring those people back?!

I'm deeply suspicious of the "enthusiasm gap" the media is touting so confidently, even smugly.  Come election day, I believe that Democrats will surprise the nation with a higher level of turnout than the polls are predicting.  

But if anyone reading this is really thinking of sitting out the election because of dissatisfaction with President Obama and the Democrats, consider what the next couple of years will be like if the Republicans regain control of Congress.

Remember that atrocious period in the late 90s when the Republicans were out to bring down President Clinton by any means possible?  According to recent reports, something similar is in store for President Obama if the Republicans get their majority.  Here's how Norm Ornstein lays it out in an October 13 Op Ed piece in Financial Times:

"[The first part of the plan] is to reverse the Obama health reform plan by cutting off funding on Medicare and trying to repeal key portions, including the cutbacks in spending required to make the bill fiscally sound.  The second is to flood the White House with subpoenas to investigate scandals, whether real, exaggerated or imagined." ("Obama's Grim Future of Stalemate")

This is an agony our country absolutely doesn't need to be put through for a second time in twenty years, the spectacle of a vindictive opposition party trying to destroy a president.  We have pressing work to do, not only to rescue our economy but our democracy too, under grave threat from the deluge of corporate money pouring into the current elections, thanks to the Supreme Court's profoundly anti-democratic decision in the Citizens United case.

As a writer for the Truthout web site has said, the current election is, more than the referendum on the Obama administration the Republicans have tried to make it, really a referendum on the call to abandon democracy altogether in favor of plutocratic rule by the highest bidder (not excluding, as we've seen, foreign governments).

The fact is that the Obama administration has made several moves in the right direction, if not far enough.  Most economists agree that without the measures the administration took, we would be in a global depression, with unemployment rates nearer 25% than 10%.  We didn't get into this mess overnight, and no one can get us out of it as soon as we'd all like.  Eight years of reckless deficit spending by the Republicans on unnecessary wars got us in our present sorry state.  Those same Republicans think the public with its short attention span has forgotten all that by now.

Here in Wisconsin, Senator Russ Feingold, one of our very best, is in the fight of his life against a patently unqualified rich man who has poured nine million dollars of his own money into buying Russ's Senate seat.  This fight is mirrored in states and districts all across our country.

It is therefore incredibly important that no one sit on the sidelines this year.  We all need to make our voices heard as forcefully as possible, now while there is still time to prevent the irreversible loss of representative government to government by corporation and shadowy, unidentified outside forces.

In grave concern,