Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats Win Big in 2006!

We won big yesterday and now we have enormous responsibilities to show that the Democratic Party IS the big tent party, capable of legislating for the middle ground that America truly lives in while keeping the more extreme elements happy with progress made on their behalf.

Could this be the end to extremism? It was perceived extremism that cost the Democrats their hold in the ‘80’s just as it was perceived extremism that finally cost the GOP theirs in 2006. I say “perceived” in both cases as, for the extremist, they are never extreme and it is the other side that sees them as extreme. From the ‘60’s through the ‘80’s the Democrats had, as much of America had, lost touch with much of moderate reality. The Moral Majority, followed by the minions of Newt Gingrich and then the Christian Right, energized their voters in retaliation to that perceived liberal swing of the nation. That strength of conservatism carried the GOP to euphoric highs where they started drinking their own bathwater, ignoring any sense of moderation, and the country was energized against them. The middle came out yesterday and made a difference.

Hooray for the middle! Our government is designed to be for all the people and the way to please all the people is to find the central ground that thinking people on both sides can agree to. This will upset the extremists on both sides, that is as it must be. The extremists have strong emotions about the issues they seek change on proclaiming them loudly whenever given a chance, they are the ones that in many cases lead change, but that change comes in smaller increments over longer times. To maintain control and truly to bring this country forward from the dark ages of political deception, the middle ground is that which must be trod.

These are the items from the Democratic Party agenda as stated on www.DNC.org:

Honest Government
National security
Energy Independence
Economic Prosperity
Health care reform
Retirement Protection
Protecting the Environment
Civil Rights
Election reform

Each of these items is of great importance but should not be considered as being in order of priority with the single exception of the #1, Honest Government. If the Democratic Party is to have a chance of turning 2008 into a referendum vote, we cannot suffer one single case of scandal in the coming two years. Not even the perception of a taken bribe, not even the thought of a sex scandal, not even a hint of dishonesty on any level. We must rise higher than the ground currently walked, we must build from the strength of openness, of honest compassion, and transparent governing that the public desires and deserves. Every elected official must do as they have promised – to serve their people in unselfish manner.

I have long said that the Democratic Party will be strong on national security and I believe it to be so. After 9/11 and the related bombings elsewhere in the world it is apparent that the world is being attacked by well organized, or at the least fanatically driven terrorists. They are in every nation and will continue their attacks. We cannot let up in our efforts to destroy them at every opportunity and we must seek those opportunities relentlessly.

Energy independence is key to many of the other issues. I was saddened by the loss of the oil extraction tax measure in California as it would not have increased the cost of gas here and it would have created the beginnings of the infrastructure needed to get us away from importing oil. Getting away from middle-eastern oil and into renewable, less polluting energy resources promises to improve our economy and the environment for ages to come. California could have lead the way, but people voted as only a $100 million campaign can lead them to – selfishly in the short term even if it wasn’t truly selfish, it was just stupid.

Economic prosperity will come in the form of the repealing of President Bush’s tax cuts to the rich and a spreading of those cuts to the lower and middle classes and in the form of an increase in the minimum wage, a reinstatement of funding for Pell Grants and a tax deduction for college tuition. A balanced budget will at some time be possible and that will truly be a day to celebrate.

Health care can be won for all. I go further than the Democratic platform in my desire for an all-covering national health care plan. Just as in Japan, Canada, and many other industrialized nations, we need a national plan that doesn’t just fill the gaps but covers every person. Will this require a special tax? Yes. Will that tax be more than offset by savings on that which we currently have ripped from our wallets for health insurance that works only for the highest paid anyway? Yes. I believe that a comprehensive health care plan is the difference between solvency for many of this countries largest employers. Health care reform ties to economic prosperity.

Retirement protection is a value that should not be lost on the GOP. My sense was that they wanted to walk away from Social Security primarily as a means of throwing a huge bone to the Wall Street investment firms. Social Security must be protected, retirement savings given greater incentive, and pension plans must be held accountable to the holders.

Without improvements to the environment nothing else matters. If we can’t breath the air and drink the water, if we can’t grow crops in a sustainable manner and maintain herds and fisheries to feed the population, we are lost.

Civil rights are the foundation of this country. No longer will one parties fundamentalist desires fuel lawmaking. Will civil union of gays become law? This is one that I lean to the extremist side on, even from my Christian perspective. I believe that if two people want to commit their lives to each other in a legal court, accepting all the responsibility that comes along with those rights, they should be given that opportunity. Are there other civil rights issues? Yes, and unfortunately now have a right leaning Supreme Court. That’s what we get for trying to grab so much of the left and losing. The middle ground is where progress can be made for all.

Election reform cannot be let up on simply because there weren’t any great problems in this election. A verifiable paper trail must be available for every vote.

I’ll add one more: campaign finance reform. I believe it to be the solution to the real problem politicians face – greed. Until we get the money out of politics the money will drive the politicians.

Finally – let’s not get complacent! We have two years to show America that this was a good decision on their part. Yes, the Democratic Party won large in 2006 but by thin margins in many cases. It won’t take much for those contests to fall to the other side in 2008. We must show that we have the firm resolve to accomplish our goals without the divisive nature the GOP has shown. We can move forward in the coming two years, but must using them to show what good and reasonable government can be will provide the Democratic Party with the best chance of gaining control of all three branches in 2008. To carry on from there, as good and reasonable government, will be the greatest test.

Congratulations, all. Carry your heads high, be humble and thankful, work hard for every person in the country, and know that your greatest tests are ahead.

May God bless America and the entire planet of people that needs Him.