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Midterm elections: An echo, not a choice

By DOUG THOMPSON
October 8, 2010

Another election, another contract: Old ideas in a new package

Take back America.

That’s the mantra for so-called “grassroots” groups for this year’s elections.

But when voters walk into the polling booth on Nov. 2 do they really have a choice that returns control of government to the people — assuming, of course, that we ever had control — or is the choice simply replacing one version of the status quo with another?

Even if every Tea Party candidate on the ballot won a seat in Congress — which won’t happen — or Republicans gain control of Congress, those newly-minted Congresspeople will answer to the same brand of GOP leadership that ran Congress after the 1994 elections.

When you look back at all the promises that Newt Gingrich and his followers made to the American public in that purported “turning point” mid-term election you find the usual trail of broken pledges, shattered hope and business as usual.

Gingrich’s “Contract With America” promised many things but failed to deliver.

The promise to impose term limits was the first to fall by the wayside. Once Republicans gained control they deemed term limits an obtainable dream, which is political-speak for “we got the power now baby and we ain’t giving it up.”

Newt and the boys promised an end to “Christmas tree” bills packed with non-germane items and pork for the folks back home but the GOP-led Congresses set new records with lard-laden legislation.

Now GOP leader John Boehner — a Gingrich protege — has repackaged the Contract with new promises. The Tea Party has its own “Contract From America.” In reality, both are just more of the same and the results — if Republicans win control — will be no different than their last round.

So voters are faced with two choices: Democrats — whose list of real accomplishments might fill the inside cover of a matchbook — or Republicans — whose record matches that of the hapless Washington Redskins over the last few years.

For all of its hyple, the Tea Party is neither populist or grassroots. It’s the creation of political consultants and Washington lobbyists and its goal is to mask the GOP agenda as a voter-driven movement.

Which — stealing an old favorite line from satirist/songwriter Tom Lehrer — leaves the average American voter feeling like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.

This doesn’t leave the voter any real options. The midterm elections won’t be a game changer. It won’t change the direction of America. If every incumbent on the ballot loses — which won’t happen — too many of them will be replaced by former members of Congress or repackaged professional politicians who will snap to attention of party leadership and join the swamp of Congress.

Still, we have to vote. Not voting only makes the situation worse. We have to try and make a reasoned decision based on available choices and hope like hell that we did the right thing.

Then, once this election debacle is over, we have to look for ways to change the system that controls this country and start working towards a real, workable way to fix a broken system of governance.

The answer on how to do this is out there somewhere, waiting to be found.

We’re just not looking in the right places.

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12 Responses to Midterm elections: An echo, not a choice

  1. Almandine

    October 8, 2010 at 9:39 am

    “We’re just not looking in the right places.”

    Kinda like the guy looking for his lost car keys under the street light because he could see so much better.

    Could it be that getting people awake enough to even look is a big step forward? Getting them off the couch and out into the real world… banding together, spreading a message, engaging in actual thought and debate is provocatively positive? Turning members of the ruling cabal out of Congress and onto the streets is an empowering lesson?

    I asked you recently what was “the way forward” and, like me, you didn’t have a definitive answer. I still don’t have THE answer, but I’m not going to rag on the folks who are doing SOMETHING to try and make things better. They believe, and I’m inclined to agree, that they ARE working for a real fix to a broken govt.

    Why not cheer them on?

  2. Carl Nemo

    October 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    The refrain from a number of articles to this site have been; “it’s the system stupid!”. Since it’s obviously the very system itself particularly with the “tweaks” instituted over the years such as out of control lobbying, PAC’s, along with the time honored filibuster being shot down due to “majority rule” and a host of others that most of us are unfamiliar. Our Congress staffed by crimpol actors has turned into nothing but high theater to entertain the unwashed masses while they continue to strip the flesh off the bone of this once great nation with their continual stream of bum, citizen unfriendly legislation.

    My all time favorite bumper sticker is: “Don’t vote it only encourages them”.

    Obama & Co’s in our face duplicity has really soured me on politics. I’ll continue to vote on levy issues etc., but to be quite honest I don’t know these people personally. Candidates are sold to us like products every election. My local freeway entrance and exit ramps are loaded with the campaign signs of local yokels that want ballot box enfranchisement so they too can get their snouts in the public trough. The majority of politicians are lawyers by profression evidently looking to do better than chase ambulances. Are there any questions folks? / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. woody188

    October 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I guess I’ll just vote anti-incumbent or third party where they are available and hope for the best. Not like they count the votes anyhow. As the great Homer Simpson once declared concerning vote rigging, “This doesn’t happen in America, maybe Ohio, but not in America!”

  4. Warren

    October 8, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    We have an interesting ambiguity in progress. Recent polls show that most people, on the order of 60%, don’t like either major party. In most federal races and many local races there are 3rd party candidates on the ballot. Yet, the polls show on the order of 5% are willing to vote for someone other than a Republican or a Democrat.

    The reasons? First, voters believe that only the Republican or the Democrat can win, and the 3rd-party candidate doesn’t have a chance. Thus they vote for the lesser of two evils while ignoring a possibly better choice.

    Further, they wonder what difference a lone 3rd-party representative could make in a forest of R’s and D’s. That answer is that one voice *can* make a difference. Some of the lone wolves in Congress have been able to dramatically sway pubic opinion and so apply pressure to the other party-line representatives.

    If voters would understand that if they each voted for their idea of the best candidate instead of the lesser of two evils we’d have a significantly different congress.

    —W—

    • Carl Nemo

      October 9, 2010 at 12:19 am

      Nice, spot-on thoughts Warren. : ) People really do get the government they deserve or don’t based on their research and populist friendly activism…no?

      Carl Nemo **==

  5. Joe Keegan

    October 9, 2010 at 9:36 am

    “We’re just not looking in the right places.” What’s are the right place? Considering that DOJ refused to prosecute New Black Panther members for voter intimidation, it should be interesting to see their response to voter fraud in the upcoming mid-term elections.

  6. DejaVuAllOver

    October 10, 2010 at 4:56 am

    You may not want to publish this and if so, fine. The truth is, if we vote Republican we get the neocons manipulating us into senseless, expensive and depraved wars for Israel. If we vote Democrat, we get the neoliberals, banksters and socialist-Bolsheviks forcing us into a police state, stealing our freedoms, resources and forcing us into an uber-controlled state for God’s Chosen, all the while fighting depraved wars for Israel. If we choose the Tea Party, we get the Koch Brothers’ ultra-twisted Jerry Springer blame-the-guy-doing-the work, constant noise, endless brawls and depraved wars for Israel. Anyone picking up a pattern, here?

    • Almandine

      October 10, 2010 at 5:29 pm

      It’s all in your mind.

  7. Alfred J Supe

    October 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    As has been said, “We have the best government money can buy.” It’s the Golden Rule, folks. He who has the gold makes the rules.

    Also, the “Contract with America” and anything remotely like it is really a “Contract ON America.”

    Al

    • Almandine

      October 10, 2010 at 7:59 pm

      Naw… the Contract with America, writ large today, would rein in things like we must do. To believe we can go forward without regard for our solvency is begging for a fall.

  8. Barry

    October 14, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Doug,
    You have lost touch with real people, your paranoia is kind of like your hubris when it comes to the tea party. Put on by big government? You seriously cannot believe that polemic…

  9. b mcclellan

    October 15, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Newt had the twist we must arm ourselves gainst, it’s called self awareness as related, and told with the same lies unwinding towards half truth fooling the considered to be less than foolish.

    Latest version of, who’d a thunk the tubes would haunt ?
    The Delaware OOOOOOOOOODDonnell debacle.

    Might be the Editors point, shake hands and get to know what is grease and what most certainly is shinola all the while using that depth of perception to cast all doubt into your next sea of fishy handshakes.