Saturday, November 11, 2006

Political Observations By A Resident Of Who-ville

"Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against."

-W.C. Fields

Sometimes I feel like "Little Carly Who," resident of Who-ville. I know that my voice, and my little blog, probably amounts to a little bit of "Who-dust," but I can't help but put my questions out there for consideration anyway. Shrug. Last Tuesday, as I was watching to political tide in America turning, I couldn't help but think of a certain member of the Bush administration. A man named, Stuart Baker, who is the Director of Lessons Learned. Do you suppose that Mr. Baker will remain in his current post? Do you think any lessons have been learned and if you do, which ones? Were they learned prior to, or after, the election, and who learned them? Will we see real change now that we have both the senate, and the congress led by democrats? Is there any such thing as compromise? Or does it become simply the lesser of two evils? Will we see anything change? I am asking these questions now, as opposed to at the end of my post because I want you to consider them while you read on. I have a few observations, so feel free to share with me what you think about what I have to say.

I want to share a first for me, I voted for a Republican governor. Yes, Carly the democrat, did indeed vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold made a huge mistake a year ago, by holding a rather ill-advised special election. The polls told him it was a bad idea, protestors told him it was a bad idea, his wife told him it was a bad idea, but he went forward with the election full steam ahead. Bad idea. California voted down every single initiative on the ballot, and sent him a clear message. As a result his numbers sunk in the polls, and it was predicted that his political career might be over. But instead of lashing out, or threatening or focusing on partisan politics, he stood up, admitted he had made a mistake, and looked toward the future. He kept his promise to move ahead, and to work with California lawmakers in a spirit of bi-partisanship. He did two things right. He owned up to his mistake... and he kept his word to work with the democratic party, for the better of California.

I think the national Republican party could learn a lot from his example. The Republican party lost their majority seats not because Americans switched camps, no they lost their seats because of the rigid "all or nothing" policies of the Bush White House, and their failures in Iraq. But make no mistake, the Democratic party shouldn't get too comfortable with this win, because it wasn't about folks voting pro-democrat, it was about voting against Bush. It was a shame to see folks saying that on the one hand they might be happy with a senator or congressman, but voting them out anyway, so that there would be a chance that the overall picture could be improved. That's a tough pill to swallow, and boy did that take courage.

There has been a couple meetings this week at the White House, in which both sides met and seemed agree to cooperate with one another, but that was expected. Isn't that always at least initially attempted? Unfortunately, I found it disheartening that Bush made, what I considered to be a sexist comment, to the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, in his Wednesday afternoon news conference...

"I shared with her (Pelosi) the names of some Republican Interior Decorators Who can help her pick out the new drapes in her new office."
-George W. Bush, October 8th, 2006 -White House.

Do you suppose that he would have made that same, flippant, type of remark had things gone his way in the election? If it had been a man in Nancy Pelosi's position, would Bush have decorating on his mind? And what do you make of his admitting that he, at the very least, mislead the voters to the fact that he had plans to oust, Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, prior to the election? Isn't this just more of the same type of misleading and half-truths that inspired some Republicans to vote for a clear and decisive change in American politics?

I wonder if Stuart Baker marked that down in the book as a "lesson learned?" I suppose time will tell. Believe it or not, I am always prepared to hold an open mind, although not much has happened to make me believe that anything will change. After all, we can't force Bush to do anything he doesn't want to, even with the house and the senate in the hands of the Democrats. America can try to follow the example of those of us who live in California, and send Bush a message they way we did Arnold Schwarzenegger after the 2005 Special Election. We can answer polls, and protest, and maybe even send emails indicating how we feel, but if no lesson was really learned by the mid-term there any chance for bi-partisanship?

According to the National Journal, the Director of Lessons Learned, Stuart Baker, makes $106,641 per annual salary. The minimum wage in America hasn't been raised in eight years. One of the top priorities on the new Democratic agenda, is to see it raised from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. They also plan to put more money into education programs, such as the Pell Grant, so that more of our high school graduates will be able to afford to attend college. The "No Child Left Behind" act has received $16.4 billion less then promised by the Bush administration, which has meant that some children were indeed left behind. And there are plans to hopefully fix the complex, and confusing prescription drug plan, by making it easier for seniors and persons with disabilities to use. Fixing these problems, and many others, by both sides working together, will lead me to believe that lessons have been learned. It's about time that we have some balance, and that there is more accountability and wider representation.

Your turn. Tell me what you think.

"Nevada State Legislature"
Carson City, Nevada
October 26, 2006


Cynthia said...

Excellent post. A few days before the election, on the campaign trail, Bush had made a comment that some Democrats were already ordering curtains (that they wouldn't need, in his point of view) for the offices they planned to inhabit. I thought that it was just another one of his tacky, ill thought out remarks, so I'll cut him the teensiest bit of slack for his comment to Pelosi. I think the curtain remark was more a referral to his own foot-in-mouth campaigning against any Democrat, rather than sexism directed to the new Speaker.

Carl said...

Great post!
I like your point about Schwarzenegger in particular.
To often Republican leaders lose touch with little guy, my local State Representative just stepped down, but while in office he had an attitude of arrogance when disagreed with on issues and would attack the source rather than truly discuss the issue. He also really looked down on the youth in our community. Thankfully he is being replaced by a more humble Republican man.
The Republicans can win in 2008, but they need to fix these problems first:

This is my opinion what the Republicans need to change:

• Lose the arrogance.

To often Republican leaders lose touch with little guy, my local State Representative just stepped down, but while in office he had an attitude of arrogance when disagreed with on issues and would attack the source rather than truly discuss the issue. He also really looked down on the youth in our community. Thankfully he is being replaced by a more humble Republican man.

• Image is not everything, in fact it should be number 3 or less:
Often politicians and businesses put image first (real common in our area). Truth should come first; People should come second (or first); Then maybe image (yes image does sell, politically and professionally).
Voters (and consumers) also need to honor those who do put truth and people above image. In my business, I have dropped major accounts do to poor treatment of my employees I have sent out in the field, I also have tried to sell only what I know works based on my testing in my maintenance business. But sadly I see politicians and businesses get rewarded for image and not honesty.

• Stand up for the Truth:
Sadly many politicians will not take a stand for the truth or at least what they believe is right. Joe Lieberman stood his ground against his own party and paid for it in the primary, but not in the general election. I do not agree on the majority of his views, but I have to give him credit here.

• Admit to not always being right:
Unfortunately Republicans are not always right (I sure make mistakes, wish I didn’t). Admit to mistakes.

• You cannot have it all:
This is where the Christian right gets into trouble, they will insist on 100% or nothing, such as no abortion-ever. Start with what you can get, such as a ban on partial birth abortion.
Governor Schwarzenegger is a good example of this, many Republican would not back him do to some more liberal views, but in my opinion, he was vastly better than the alternative.

Carl Strohmeyer