As some of you may have noted, the Popular Progressive blog has been quiet in the last few months. This was wholly unintentional, but it is symptomatic of where the author has been with regard to the body politic. To press for progressive ideals is not a non-contact sport and it has become somewhat brutal when faced with the likes of the Tea Party and right-winged firebrands who cynically believe that we have become too progressive in Iowa and elsewhere.
Nonetheless, during my time away I have been taking in the voices of gloom and doom and they have given me some pause to reflect. As a person who works with trends and looks at them with a eye that wants to be able to explain what it all means, this is what I can conclude: we have come to the end of the age of quick fixes and easy answers. And had we actually been paying attention, our President, among others, was telling us from the day he was elected and since.
Unfortunately, many people have the mind set that all problems should and can be solved in an election cycle or else, throw the bums out and try again. That type of magical thinking works marginally well with sports teams (although as a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, I can assure you that it doesn't always work). The President and Congress are dealing with the economic carnage of two wars, as well as banking and housing financing fiascoes that broke down the markets (caused by egregious policy/practice mistakes of the past--and yes, there is blame enough to go around for both parties, the industry lobbyists who convinced them it was good politics, the Gordon Gecko wannabes who recited the greed-is-good mantra to underlings who made it so, and the simple-minded consumers who accepted this false largess as their birthright). Add to this an emotionally charged "fixing" of an ailing health care system that is still some time from being realized and is it any wonder that people are questioning their allegiances?
Fast forward to the election that will occur about a month from now. With the pumping media storyline that Republican and particularly right wing voters are being "energized" to vote and lefties and Democrats being "disenchanted"--it would seem that results are already in and we'll go from having a party of "No" to a nation of "No."
And what do we get in return for our buyer's remorse, a promise to bring back the failed policies that created the deep hole that we find ourselves in. Like all efforts to turn the economy around, we have to remember that it is not like a family budget and it is more like a million headed hydra that generally works best if investment is occurring. If the private sector really is the answer, why is it so reluctant to step forward and lead us out of the recession? Is it that those who have feasted during the "good" times are still too bloated to stand up?
Instead, the spotlight has been shone on the one sector that is actually investing in helping the economy to reinvigorate itself. Unfortunately for it, but fortunately for the democratic process (and unlike a Fortune 500 company--where the CEO gets what they want)-- our elected CEO doesn't call all the shots. Opposing forces (and by this I mean members of Congress from both parties who are holding out their hand to interests who care not a whit about "the average American")count on these failures to weaken the position of those shaping policy and, while opinions may legitimately be different, real people are hurt waiting for the promised "trickle down" to happen.
Regardless of the outcome of the election, there is some serious work that needs to take place in this country:
1) People holding the purse strings need to pony up--if it is a business that isn't investing in its next generation or a billionaire who is sitting on his or her money, get off the dime. The government should not need to give you an incentive to invest in the country and the people who have gotten you to where you are today. There is something very patriotic about investing in solving your country's problems.
2) Gasbags, whiners, and blamers need to shut up and roll up their sleeves to give back to this nation what they have been fortunate enough to get out of it.
3) Regardless of what party or ideology you belong to, we are in the midst of a crisis of confidence in each other. United we stand, divided we shall surely fall. Find something that you can do in your hometown or state that can make a condition better--that was the pioneer spirit that created so much good in this land.
4) Reevaluate what is really important. Instant gratification is expensive as we have literally taxed our planet's limited resources to death. What if the measure of wealth was not how much you have, but what you do with what you have?
5) Reimagine the future for your family, town, country and help to create the plans that gets us there.
I do not doubt that we are bigger than our problems. I do believe that our short attention spans have clouded our ability to believe that things can and will get better. I close by repeating these words that Paul Wellstone said, "If we don't fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don't really stand for them."