Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Mouse Has Roared

The people have spoken, and it's going to take some real leadership in Washington to figure out exactly what the people have said. Mostly, I think, the people are fed up. All kinds of themes emerge from this disgruntlement: smaller government, less taxes, poor economy, government overreach, take back our nation. I'm depressed, but if I were Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, or John Boehner, I'd be terrified. I don't think the government has overreached. I think our politicians have. The voters sent a message: change the way things are done in Washington. The conundrum is what do the voters want changed?

Our country is in for a lot of misery, two years of misery - maybe a lot more. The United States is in a different kind of recession, and businesses and people have lost confidence in the economy. This particularly hurts our consumer-driven economy, because people are saving more, spending less, and hunkering down for the long term. In short, personal responsibility is taking the economy to hell in a handbasket. For all the reasons that people voted in this election, this economic trend isn't going to change much in the short and medium term, not until the American people feel confident about their paychecks and their jobs.

Politicos are proposing solutions that aren't going to solve the economic crisis. Cutting taxes and reducing spending won't get the public to consume more. Instead, those two proposals will spread a lot more misery by removing an (already tattered) economic safety net from the very poor, and threaten programs meant to help the middle class. As for the government overreach charge, regardless of how voters feel about the bailout, it will be repaid to the Treasury, and the bailout did keep the finance system and the economy from collapsing entirely. Without government intervention, the calamity would have been a lot worse. I believe that cynical politicians know this, and that "government overreach" is a bogus argument that has confused voters.

Politicos want to repeal Obamacare. Beware. That really isn't what the voters want. When polled on various parts of the health insurance law, most voters agree with the provisions. But cynical politicians have twisted the law and scared the voters into thinking that the law will impose a socialistic dictatorship on America. Politicians sneer about "European-style healthcare." Irony is lost on our leaders. Most Europeans who are covered by a government-sponsored healthcare plan are really quite happy to have it. I'm much more frightened by our "American-style political discourse."

Rand Paul wants to take back America. He echoes many other newly-elected leaders on their way to Washington, DC. Who are these leaders taking America from? Is the level of discourse so polarized that those with whom we disagree are un-American? To the politicians who promise to take back America, I would offer this advice: look in the mirror. The American people want a responsive government. They want politicians who will work across party divides to find solutions. And the American voters will take back Capital Hill in 2012, if you don't make governing work. If that doesn't terrify you, you're already in trouble.