#446 – Dick Bernard: 2012. What if the radicals win?

A few days ago, at a political fundraiser in St. Paul, a 3-term Congressman told us that “Congress” as an entity has a 12% approval rating. That is about as close to zero as it is possible to get. I knew this number from earlier reports, and I’ve always observed that we Americans, who select Congress, after all, must really be fools.
At about the same time as the fundraiser, I read a fascinating column by Steve Benin in the Washington Monthly about the American Congress and the U.S. President in the year 1983. It is here. The nub of the article was this: 1983 was a productive year, as such things go in Washington. There was a Republican President; the House of Representatives was heavily Democrat; the U.S. Senate was majority Republican but well below the 60 vote threshold needed to avoid possible filibuster. (You can see makeup of U.S. Government in recent history here: Congress 1977-2011001
The government composition in 1983 was essentially the opposite of today…but government worked, because the representatives of the two parties respected each other and worked together. Sure, they fought. But it was genteel compared with today.
There was no single-minded determination to destroy the opposition, to make the President fail, or to win by refusing to compromise, as is true with today’s radical leadership.
It is no secret that today’s Republican Party is different from the long ago versions. The current version is a take no prisoners, win at all costs, just say no, bunch. This is true in states as well as at federal level. (On the other side of the aisle, consistent criticism of President Obama has been that he has persisted in trying to work with the opposition – a la 1983 – rather than fight fire with fire.)
As we speak, there are many efforts around the United States to reconfigure legislative and congressional districts, and make it more difficult for people to vote, to bring about Radical Religious Republican nirvana: a Permanent Republican Majority.
I recently wrote to my two Republican state legislators saying “your party’s strategy of making the Democrats a permanent minority seems to be working – state and national. The sole Republican programs are to defeat President Obama, and refuse to raise taxes or support any recovery initiatives that work – these will just help Obama, they reason.
People have no clue about consequences they face with Norquist/Rove as their model long term.

Of course, the Republican long-term strategy won’t work…long-term.
Probably, it won’t work short-term, either, even if the evidence (Republican President, Republican House, Republican Senate, Republican Governors in all State Houses, and Republican legislatures universally, and de facto Republican Supreme Court majorities) come to be in 2012.
It doesn’t take a genius to compute that the new era will not be ushered in by strains of kumbaya.
“As you treated others, so will you be treated” is an axiom that comes to mind.
An accomplished radical Republican dream will be a nightmare for everyone.
Even if they prevail in 2012, their dream of permanent dominance likely will not happen. If it does, refresh yourself on the American Civil War, 1861-65.
At another source, in the last few days, I read that in 2010 only 41% of Americans even bothered to vote. That means, of course, that of every 100 voting age Americans you come in contact with in an average day, 59 did not even show up at their polling place in 2010. It was a recipe for national disaster in 2010: the angry voters prevailed.
(The Congressman we saw on Wednesday described well the unreasoning anger. It goes something like this:
“You people have to cut wasteful spending.” (Government as “them”, not “us”)
“Fine. What do you suggest we cut, specifically things you benefit from.”
Here’s the difference between good things happening and (in my opinion) horrid.

Be informed. Find out the rules for registration in your state, and help people get registered, and help them become informed about what is at stake if even more of the same we’re now experiencing is the aftermath of 2012.
NOTE: I’ve written frequently about political behavior, most recently here on Sep. 29, and expect to continue this practice, perhaps once or twice a week. Scroll down in the right column of this blog, and there is a category titled “Politics” which archives what I’ve written (and will write) on the topic.

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