When Mary-Frances asked if I would like to provide a blog for her about the election, I quickly agreed. It didn’t seem like it would be too difficult: I have strong opinions, I’ve written about them for some time: How hard could it be?
It turned out to be much harder than I anticipated. This election is presenting me with some challenges that I just don’t recall any previous election presenting. I know who I am going to vote for, but it seems woefully inadequate, woefully irrelevant. Let me explain:
I find the big social issues to be a continued source of disbelief: You mean, after the Civil War, Woman’s suffrage, the passage of the 14th Amendment (with its Equal Protection Clause) and the 15th amendment on voting, we STILL insist on attempting to segregate people from general equality based upon some aspect of their lives? We STILL insist on attempting to force conformity to one particular set of religious beliefs, even as those beliefs are undergoing internal revision themselves and don’t speak for all of us? Bah.
So, it has been easy for me to vote against the party that continually comes down on the discriminatory side of things – that somehow eschews calls for equality and advocates against women frequently, against a gender-blind definition of marriage. Add to that their almost fanatical support for increasing the means to inflict violence, and its a no-brain-er.
2008 was exciting. Here we had an articulate black man who voiced concern for those who don’t get a fair shake; concern for those who face injustice and inequality; and who, more than anything else for me, was willing to advocate for a restructuring of our out-moded and poor system of health care that costs all of us too much and denies coverage to many, specifically many who need it.
He did exactly that, too. Once President, Barack Obama continued pushing to reform the system of health delivery, striking bargains to make the result palatable to Republicans, Democrats, the Insurance and the Health Care Industries.
Of course, what we got represents all sorts of compromises, and in a spectacular play against the nation and for the furthering of their own interests, members of the Republican Party unanimously voted against it – voted against a remodeling that looked surprisingly like plans put forth by their own party 30 years previously; a plan that strongly resembled a successful State Plan enacted in the previous decade.
In the intervening time since then, President Obama has come out in favor of Gay Marriage, and has allowed the Pentagon to repeal their nefarious ‘Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell’ policy.
So, here we are in 2012. There is a new gorilla in the room, but nobody is talking about it. Neither Republican candidate Mitt Romney, nor re-nominated Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Both, in fact, seem bent on side-stepping THE major issue of this election (and perhaps our lifetime and more), turning the whole processes into a frustrating side-show of irrelevancies.
Mr. Romney, following his party (actually, almost re-inventing himself to be crueler and more prejudiced against practically anyone who isn’t wealthy and white and male than was evident during his tenure as Governor) has brought up the old, tired drudges about taxes and spending and jobs, as though we won’t see through it again. His running mate, true to form, has sponsored a non-sense budget that panders exclusively to those who extract rent from the economy, and imposes austerity on those who work.
The gorilla, of course, is the outsized (over 40% of our economy!), enormously detrimental Financial Sector with its reckless debt creation, speculation, and extractive activities that drove us to the brink of ruin four years ago, and its continued existence in current form which will only repeat the cycle. The financial sector has driven debt creation, both private (which we, as a nation, are wallowing in), and public (as the falsely strong dollar elicits large trade deficits, piling on government debt as foreign traders recycle their American dollars in Bonds).
I want a champion who will go to Washington and take on the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) sector without concern for re-election, without concern for the opposition by the malefactors who daily steal the real productivity of the masses. I want a hero who will advocate a return to a true, classical economy, where debt is used to finance manufacturing expansion, where the unearned, ‘free lunch’ asset appreciation gains (Capital Gains) don’t drive the economy nor contribute to outlandish awards to some.
I want a Neil Barofsky, or an Elizabeth Warren, or a Bill Black to go. Each has shown the fortitude to stand tall on this issue; each has worked in their way to raise awareness or to gain a foothold to battle it. Each has clearly demonstrated that they understand both what is happening, which of many possible solutions might give the best outcome, and the urgency with which this is needed.
Alas, outside of Warren who is running for the Senate, the others are not on the ballot. So, that leaves:
Mr. Romney, of course, who earned his fabulous wealth through this very means, borrowing and then saddling others to pay it off, while extracting a fortune from that very same debt. It is inconceivable that a Romney administration would promote the dismantling of the outsized banks and a return to a stable economy based upon real labor, real production, where real people perform real tasks to earn a real living.
President Obama, who has shown only a superficial awareness of this issue, and has so far backed away from any real attempts to address it or even communicate that he is considering it.
Hence, the lackluster feelings I have for this election. I will cast my vote for Obama, recognizing that my political participation will have only just begun at that point. That in order for us to gain any leverage, for us to stave off the austerity measures that the financial elite are cooking up for us, we will have to continue to participate, continue to advocate, continue to Occupy the public spaces.
“Lee Hesseltine is a computer programer, father of two and has grown fascinated with politics and economics over the last 6 years – he blogs at http://unmaskingperception.blogspot.com/. He advocates local participation especially in education, having served two years on his children’s PTCO (and his wife has volunteered at the school for the last six, helping in the classroom reading to students).”