Sunday, February 22, 2009

An Old Song in a New World

How ironic that Barack Obama became the president at a time when the country is perhaps as divided as it has been since the Civil War. Anyone willing to seriously look at the implications of the advances in technology and rising populations can see that the Reagan paradigm regarding the government as a burden to its people is mortally flawed. The old song of "cut taxes and reduce government" is obsolete. We need governance that is smart, effective, and ENOUGH. Look at what LESS got us in terms of our financial institutions. How will LESS handle the impending health care crisis? How does it address our need to educate our workforce? What about the our neglected infrastructure (bridges, roads, transmission lines..)?

Now that we truly require a governing system that can handle today’s complexity, having those who despise government in the government is deeply problematic. The Bush administration amply demonstrated how those who hate government govern. The obstinacy of the GOP nay-sayers in Washington points to the frightening possibility that they would prefer to be scorpions on the frog rather than face the notion that their ideas require new thinking. The hard copy days of typewriters and paper filing would not have prevented some of the recent financial shenanigans, but without question the current economic meltdown, in particular the credit swap fiasco, would be far less extensive had it occurred back then. Now the country needs the most competent and intelligent government in history.

Unfortunately, it appears that Republican leaders will not lead, follow, or get out of the way. They condemn but offer no tenable solution, no new concepts, no fresh perspectives. Lacking a single creative idea, mechanically chanting like an LP record mindlessly stuck in its groove, "Tax cut, tax cut, tax cut," they bring nothing to the table. Eli Blake’s post One Page Playbook captures it. If aliens land in New York and capture Washington Square, Republicans in DC will call for a tax cut. Over at Blog for AZ, AZ Blue Meanie's Cognitive Dissonance notes the GOP hypocrisy of benefiting from governance while denying the need to fund it.

To be effective, those struggling to move the country forward must not only find votes, but also craft the lens through which the nation understands the issues, the answers, and the political wrangling. The art of framing is difficult. Cerebrally challenged W predictably chose the bullying language of the tyrant, "You are either with us, or you are against us."

Sadly, I think the GOP in Washington still operates in such a mindset. Some GOP governors assert they will decline unemployment insurance for their own unemployed constituents. While I am not delighted with the stimulus package, in particular the rescue of people that over borrowed to over buy, no one has produced a more attractive alternative. One productively counters a less attractive solution with a more attractive one. I don’t have one. Neither does the GOP.

Obama has a challenge in shaping the nature of the unfolding conversation. While I am sure a better angle exists, I have a first draft for his consideration. When it comes to our members of Congress: They are either part of the solution, or they are part of the problem. Sometimes getting out of the way if one has nothing better to say is quite the contribution.

I know how to classify the broken records moaning the same old song.


Blogger The Navigator said...

I completely fail to understand how anyone can think that "less government" is a solution given the challenges we face.

As you said, we need smart government.

I wonder what it's like.

2/22/2009 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Cindy said...

Now that we truly require a governing system that can handle today’s complexity, having those who despise government in the government is deeply problematic.

What a brilliant distillation of the Red / Blue bifurcation. The GOP consists of those with the arrogance to think they will shine just fine in a "survival of the fittest" gun toting every man for himself world. They feel this way because nothing has happened to shatter this illusion.

Perhaps after they are laid off, have a sick child their insurance refuses to help, or discover they have cancer because their employer exposed them to toxic substances, they will alter their perspective.

You do realize that no matter what happens, period, the GOP will trash Obama. America seriously needs to change the system. I wish I knew how we could.

2/22/2009 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed that x4mr consistently referred to Washington Republicans. That makes sense because some of the governors (Schwarzenegger) in larger states get it.

How does one advocate less government in the face of increasing challenges and problems? Perhaps they are like the ostrich who thinks that if they bury their heads in the sand, the problems will go away.

2/23/2009 9:48 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

The GOP is just hoping they will stumble upon their next Newt Gingrich and a "Contract with America" that will repeat 1994.

They figure that if the stimulus fails to do anything for the economy that they destroyed, "We Opposed the Stimulus" just might get some of them back into the House and the Senate in 2010.

They are struggling for their theme and they have nothing other than to be contrarians and hope for failure or the perception of failure.

It is repulsive to watch them. They are both morally and intellectually bankrupt.

The best thing they could do would be to get out of the way, as X4mr states, but they think they see political capital in criticizing and pretending to stonewall whatever the Democrats try to do to revive the economy.

I guess they figure it's easier than expelling the rot and filth at the core of their party, and getting started on their long overdue reform movement.

2/23/2009 12:57 PM  
Blogger Policon said...

What's with all the GOP hysteria? Dems have controlled congress for over two years and won the presidency 100-days ago. Their crack team of tax frauds is on the job at Treasury, they passed their own trillion dollar spending bill, will be nationalizing healthcare and the banks, and now that paragon of precision, Joe Biden, has been appointed to oversee all the spending. It's time for Dems to answer for their own actions and stop the bashing.

Excuse me for a natural skepticism of the oximoron "good government;" I live in Tucson, where the Tucson Citizen reports today that the M&C will balance its budget by imposing a $12,000,000 tax on low income renters. Let 'em eat cake, eh? "Won't this help you up the hill if I hop up on your back?"

You can fantisize all you want about government curing your cancer and getting you a new job, but I will always trust self-interested business owners, families, and religious communities over your big-brother utopian government.

2/23/2009 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"your cancer"

Excuse me? Where was your criticism when nimrod W and his bitches in Congress racked up the greatest national debt in history?

You trust self-interested business owners. Why? They've done so much for us lately.

2/23/2009 11:31 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

The Dems passed a "spending" bill?

What was that thing your favorite president passed last fall? Bailout? What happened to all the money? Where was the oversight? What did it accomplish?

Just asking....

2/24/2009 6:00 PM  

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