Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Random Thoughts Turning Into the Home Stretch

Couple of errant matters:

I am still just absolutely dumbfounded that there are any Americans who want to re-up with Bush let alone almost half. Even those that say they plan to vote for the President seem to struggle to come up with any reasons, other than he seems tougher on terrorists and that the economy is improving. Apparently, the encroaching fascism doesn’t seem to be a worry.

I can’t help but think when this guy gets in and introduces 1) national flat tax that just kills the middle class, 2) privatization of Social Security (that so unbalances the system that we will have a budget deficit approaching a billion), and Syria/Iran (Iraq 2.0), there’s gonna be lots of Bush supporters who are going to plead either that they didn’t know he was gonna do these things (even though he says he is), or two, no one told them what bad news this guy was. Oh, and a whole lotta, “Gee, I’m sorry I helped trash freedom and democracy. Whoops! My bad.”

Then the grown-ups will have to take over and clean up this God-awful mess.

I sometimes think that the Dems aren’t really ready to take back the reins of power. So much of the Democratic rhetoric is essentially an attack on the Repubs and Bush, and so little (too little?) is on the vision for the future. With a bit more time, we will certainly bring many more Americans over to our world view of hope and optimism, but right now an awful lot of us still seem utterly trapped by fear and hatred.

The Dems have not quite finished sharpening their message. If we do regain some element of power, we will still have before us the hard work of articulating and selling a basic message. Everyone knows the right’s message: the liberals are tax and spend, big government types who have no God and are completely amoral. But the counterpart from our side is still not fully gelled. The Repubs are heartless robber barons who could give a fig about working class people, and will screw the little people every chance they get. While this seems clear to me, it’s not “soup” until it becomes an unspoken premise of The Media’s thinking.

Plus, that’s just the negative side. On the positive side, everyone knows the Repub vision: smaller government, lower taxes, um…OK that’s about it. But everyone knows it. On our side, we’re still carrying the negative image the Repubs paint of us, and haven’t yet articulated our own vision. In other words, we’re still busy fending off the false attack of the right that what we really want is Big Government and higher taxes. The idea that what we want is better healthcare, schools that work, tax fairness, incentives for businesses to innovate, etc., is still only penciled in.

The right is unified by a single big idea: that the private market place is more efficient than government programs. Our big idea is still a bit murky: it’s something like the government has a useful role to play in correcting the injustices of the market (like only rich people being able to afford health care). But to me, at least, it’s still not there. Somehow or other, I think our big idea will have to take off from the idea of the government as value-adder.

On a related note, from my own perspective, I think the job market remains rather depressed for all but the most low-level jobs. I see precious little hiring of anyone other than customer service types and salespeople. I still don’t see new corporate spending on anything really new. Cowardice reigns! Spend on sure things only – nothing else. Risk is for the poor, not those with means.

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