Saturday, May 07, 2005

It's okay with me if you get serious . . .

Care to get serious, Senator?

Senator Reid said of President Bush, while the President was out of the country, "The man's father is a wonderful human being," Reid said in response to a question about President Bush's policies. "I think this guy is a loser.

Mr. Bush won the last two presidential elections.

I don't think I'm alone in kind of expecting the Democrats to do a lot better in elections. But I don't see how saying silly things can help their chances.

I'm also probably not alone in thinking that the Democrats could do better if they were to propose one new idea. Just one idea that hasn't ceased being fresh and current since 1965.

President Bush and his party are carrying a lot of unpleasant baggage with them, but there was that one new idea in the strategy in the war against terror. That is, that while we try to kill terrorists, we also try to democratize the territories where the terrorists live and receive support, using military force to accomplish it. It was a new notion, quite contrary to the accepted wisdom that Islamic societies just aren't suited to democracy and will always go for the ruthless strong man type of government.

What's the result of the President's new notion? Pakistan, home to the Taliban and other assorted nastiness, is more helpful than France. (spit) Pakistan and India are exploring the possiblity of peace between them. The Afgans and Iraqis voted. They voted in Palestine. Egypt is about to have an election that looks a little more like an election than the elections they are used to. Syria has withdrawn from Lebanon, where the burkas are being discarded to reveal hot protest babes. Kaddafi has started to play nice, including giving up his program for atomics.

And the mighty holy warriors of the jihad are hopping around in front of video cameras praising Allah and beheading the odd unfortunate infidel that they happened to snatch, but mostly they are now concentrating on blowing up fellow Muslims. I suppose the thinking is that vulnerable infidels are getting harder to come by, and there's all those Muslims running around not actually killing infidels at the moment, and well, close enough. But I'm sure this pastime of blowing up cars to kill and maim Muslims standing in a line to get a job in the new police force is the kind of thing that makes a feller (fellahin?) look all desperate and pathetic. Dangerous, but pathetic. Definitely not charismatic.

So I say, give President Bush credit for having and implementing a great idea. Kick out some middle eastern repressive regimes and stuff democracy down their throats. It is working.

But there is still all that Conservative/NeoCon/Evangelical baggage. On the strength of the one good idea, I fear a whole lot of unpleasant ideas are going to be implemented. (Actually, one and a half good ideas. It turns out the tax cuts may have kicked the economy into some improvement such that recent tax revenues were much higher than expected and the deficit is being reduced much more quickly.)

I look to the Democrats to come up with better ideas. I think they should give President Bush credit for one good idea -- give him credit and support the war on terror They are looking like weenies denying what is increasingly obvious -- that Iraq and Afganistan are triumphs of American values. But then, and this is the important part, the Democrats should find some other serious ideas to run with. Name-calling just isn't serious.

It isn't as if there is a shortage of ideas that the Republicans aren't using. Here's some for free:
  • Atomic energy. The Japanese do it, and they should know about atomic energy. Even the French do it. (spit) We had just the one accident with atomic energy in this country, and it proved that the safeguards work. It's time to build some modern reactors in this country -- we are building them for other countries. Luddites be damned, even if some of 'em are my friends.
  • Prescription medicine. The single greatest cost of prescription medicine is the cost of compliance with government regulations. Of course, drug companies are cold and greedy and would mark up a beaker of talcum before they sold it to their thirsty mother. But the problem is government. If the Democrats worked up some kind of plan other than socialized medicine, they could run on it and win.
  • Conservation. Once one comes to recognize that environmental activists usually have no real involvement with land and resources, but are merely acting out some "noble savage" sophomoric idealism, one can then see that those most affected by and sensitive to environmental matters are farmers and ranchers. Land and resources in the hands of private enterprise probably does a better job than statist or socialist solutions, like zoning and punitive regulation or allotments. When a farmer has a reasonable expectation that he can pass on the family farm to his children and eventually to his grandchildren, he will damn sure take care of the land.
  • Money and banking: C'mon, don't get me started. Big banks are buying up little banks that maybe don't charge their customers all that the traffic will bear, just to get the little bank's credit card business to raise the interest rates to make more money, which is used to buy more little banks. Using our money. Feh. If it keeps going this way, pretty soon we won't be able to spend cash because there won't be any. There will just be a credit card with the bank. Just, The Bank. Only one.
  • Education. If "we're number one" in sports, why, with a population just under 300 million, do we have to import scientists and mathematicians? Oh, I know. We mostly teach values and self-esteem. These subjects are now being taught by people who, in their turn, weren't required to do much math and science, but were themselves nevertheless blessed with values and self-esteem. These are the ones who are squawking the loudest about the viciousness of competency tests for the students, as they occupy their allotted class time supervising their students in cutting out pictures from magazines to paste up collages about world peace or global warming. Well, those teachers and the parents of the students who can't pass the competency tests because their parents pulled them out of school for three weeks every year to go on a family vacation. The system is broken. The Democratic party has been supported by those who broke the system, the educationists. Education can be fixed and there are plenty of teachers who could tell you how to do it.
  • Local government. Democrats could build an unbeatable base on local government reform. Hell, they did it for years and they weren't even any good at it. And they are still doing it in a lot of cities despite being not very good at it. And I don't mean reform of corruption. I mean reform of incompetence. What would happen if the party dedicated itself to the proposition that government fundamentals are fundamental? That is, no funds should be spent to beautify the city by planting petunias and posies, until every damn pothole was first filled. No money should be spent trying to lure or keep major league sports franchises until there's enough emergency people available so a 911 call will have emergency people on the scene within three minutes of the call. A lot of Republicans would vote for them, I betcha.
Okay. Don't like all these ideas? Well, I wasn't really trying very hard. I was trying to show that it isn't all that hard to generate ideas that might make a positive difference. Pick one, or come up with one of your own. It would only take one!

But get serious. That means, stop saying silly things that appeal only to the marginal base, and start saying serious things about how to actually do things to make a positive difference for most Americans. The radical extremes of both the right and the left, no matter how highly energized they ever may be, are not enough to win a presidential election. A party has to appeal to the middle with a proposal of action, if it is to be taken seriously.

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