It’s Time For A We Party!

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” Those are the opening words of the Constitution of the United States of America. Yet our two major political parties seem to have forgotten them. Instead of representing the citizens of this nation, the two parties – especially the Republican Party – seem to pander to the interests of the powerful, the well-to-do and the well-connected.

For years I was an independent, voting for the candidates I felt would best serve the nation’s interests. Finally, the Republican Party moved so far to the lunatic right, I could no longer envision myself voting for a Republican candidate. Now the Democratic Party has shown itself to be rudderless and gutless.

No, I’m not jumping on the “Blame It on Obama” bandwagon (although he’s at least partially to blame). I’m simply stating the obvious. The Democratic Party is filled with great candidates and great supporters. Unfortunately, it also has many self-serving candidates whose sole focus seems to be getting re-elected. And it is populated by impractical elitists who refuse to deal with the realities of working Americans. Moreover, the party is aimless. It has no concrete direction. No strategy to accomplish its agenda. And, when it comes to communications, the Democratic Party is utterly incompetent.

It’s time for a change!

I humbly propose that Democrats form a movement of practical progressives who are motivated to leave this nation in better shape than what we inherited from our parents. A group of committed individuals who refuse to accept what is and strive to create what can be. A group determined to change our government to better represent working families by improving education, improving the environment, making health care affordable for all Americans, bringing jobs back to the U.S., breaking our dependence on foreign oil, reducing the deficit, and reasserting control over the military-industrial complex.

We don’t even have to leave the Democratic Party. We simply must create enough of a groundswell to garner attention and force the Party to re-examine its direction and, hopefully, reinvent itself.

If a few thousand greedy, racist and mean-spirited teabaggers can impact the Republican Party, imagine what the millions of frustrated progressives can do for the Democratic Party. If you agree, please pass this message along to your family and friends. Perhaps you even know some individuals who are capable of leading the effort and organizing those of us who have had enough of the status quo.

Together, we can make a difference!

Who Do Republicans Really Represent?

As most of you know, the Republican mantra is “lower taxes, less government.”  But for whom?  The past couple of years have revealed the Republican agenda as never before.

Take the Bush taxes cuts.  Democrats want the tax cuts for millionaires to expire, which would save $700 billion over the next 10 years.  But Republicans have made an extension of tax cuts for the wealthy their top priority.  And Republicans are willing to filibuster an extension of unemployment benefits to get their way.

This past election cycle, Republicans and their phony Tea Party candidates ran as populists, claiming to represent all Americans.  Yet Republican legislative votes tell another story.Just today, Republican Senators voted against a bill that would provide health care to 9/11 responders.  They have consistently voted against extensions of unemployment benefits for those struggling in the recession created by Republican policies.Republicans fought against regulation of Wall Street.  They fought against health care reform that would limit the obscene profits of large pharmaceutical companies and giant health insurance while providing health care access to more than 30 million working Americans.  They fought against stricter regulation of oil companies following the Gulf oil spill, and even apologized to BP when the Administration held BP accountable.

Republicans have successfully fought to eliminate estate taxes on large inheritances.  They have fought to lower capital gains taxes on investments.  They have voted against closing tax loopholes on large corporations that ship jobs to other countries.  They have fought against regulations against large corporations that create P.O. Box “headquarters” in other countries in order to avoid paying U.S. income taxes.  They have promoted no-bid contracts for private contractors to take over military functions such as “security”, transportation and food preparation.

Republicans have reduced funding for public schools while increasing funding for private and parochial schools.   They have made it easier for corporations to clear-cut our forests, for large mining operations to remove mountain tops, and for large electric generating companies to pollute our air and lakes.  At the same, they have refused to support alternative energy that would create competition for Big Oil and Big Coal.

Republicans claim that all of these actions create jobs and reduce taxes – a theory that has been thoroughly disproven.  So why do working class Americans continue to support the party that has so obviously sold its soul to large corporations and the wealthy?

You tell me.

The Corporate Takeover Of America

It’s really nothing new.  For many years, large corporations have been given special privileges by our governments.  After all, it’s believed that they expand the tax base and fuel our economy.

But do they really?

The vast majority of jobs in the U.S. are created by small businesses.  And, while it is true that large corporations are responsible for large contributions to local, state and federal taxes, the contributions are largely the result of their employees’ tax payments.  Fact is, given the resources they consume, the pollution they create, and the expensive infrastructure they require, large corporations pay relatively little in taxes.

What large coporations and their executives do contribute are donations to the political campaigns of those who will give them what they want – government access, influence and power.  And those donations have paid off handsomely in recent years.

Despite the fact that government deficits have increased dramatically over the past 30 years, corporate taxes have routinely diminished.  Indeed, city, county, state and federal governments have bent over backwards to attract and appease large corporations.  For example, cities have provided Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) to large corporations, allowing them to avoid paying property taxes on large buildings.  And when the TIF expires, another large corporation purchases the building with the help of (you guessed it) Tax-Increment Financing.

Counties and states often provide no-interest loans and exemptions from regulations to attract large corporations.  And the federal government often creates tax loopholes to the benefit of corporations.  Many have been given tax breaks for setting up a P.O. box offshore to create a new “headquarters.”  And many have been given tax breaks for exporting manufacturing and tech-support jobs to other countries.

So how have large corporations repaid these favors?

They routinely pull up stakes at the first hint of increased taxes or regulations.  And they fund political campaigns against any elected official who has the temerity to oppose them.  Of course, corporate meddling in our political process will only increase now that the Republican-controlled Supreme Court has ruled that corporations enjoy the Constitutional rights of individuals (a startling decision given the fact that a corporation is little more than a piece of paper that creates a corporate “veil” protecting its founders from creditors in the event of failure).

Minority Is The New Majority.

After Democrats were swept into office in 2008 on a tidal wave of anger and frustration toward the Bush administration, the Republican part was pronounced virtually dead.  “It would be decades,” political pundits said, “until Republicans can regain control of the House, Senate or White House.”

Yet, in last month’s mid-term elections, Republicans took back the House and narrowly failed at gaining control of the Senate.

How did they accomplish such an amazing turnaround?  Simple.  They said “No.”  Not just to a few key pieces of legislation, but to everything.  They blocked hundreds of Presidential appointments.  They voted against the Democratic stimulus plan that saved millions of jobs and lowered taxes to the lowest level in 50 years.  They voted against loans for General Motors and Chrysler which saved, by most estimates, nearly 10 million jobs.  They voted against health care reform which will give health care access to more than 50 million Americans.  They voted against extending benefits to the unemployed.  They voted against regulation of Wall Street (the very people who caused the Great Recession).  They voted against regulation of off-shore oil drilling despite the worst oil spill in history.  They blocked ratification of the START Treaty which will provide oversight of all nuclear weapons.  If President Obama and Democrats were for it, they were against it.

And, in reality, they voted against the vast majority of the American people.

So how did American voters punish them in the mid-term elections?  They put them in charge of the House.  So now Republicans are in an even better position to block any initiatives by the President and the Democrats.  Republicans will now control House committees and the budget.  And they will still be able to block any Democratic initiatives in the Senate through the filibuster.

So what’s the outlook for the next two years?

Senator Mitch McConnell has already stated that Republicans’ primary goal is to ensure that Barack Obama is a one-term President.  That means Republicans will continue to block any of the President’s attempts to further improve the economy and lower unemployment.  And since their tactics worked before, what’s to stop Republicans from continuing to lie, block and delay?It certainly wouldn’t be a sense of conscience or concern for our country.

The New Tone Of “Bipartisanship”.

So, after the mid-term elections, both parties talked about a new effort for bipartisanship.  To facilitate that, President Obama invited leaders from both parties to the White House for the so-called Slurpee Summit.  Unfortunately, Republican leaders had “conflicts” with the original date.  (So what else is new?  Haven’t they had conflicts with everything President Obama has proposed since his inauguration?)

After the re-scheduled meeting, Republican leaders in the Senate almost immediately announced that they would block all legislation for the rest of the year until after a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts and a new Congressional budget.  In other words, “Don’t even think about bringing up a vote on the extension of unemployment benefits, the START treaty, DADT, the Dream Act or anything else unless we get our way!”

Great way to foster bipartisanship, don’t you think?

Yet when House Democrats scheduled a vote on extending the tax cuts for all but 2% of American taxpayers, the Republican leadership howled that Democrats have “undermined the tone of bipartisanship set in yesterday’s summit.”

I guess Republicans have forgotten the road to bipartisanship goes both ways.