Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Damned Either Way

No doubt about it, most Americans can't stand the Democrats. And with Democrats currently controlling both houses of Congress and the White House (not to mention both houses of the legislature and the governor's office here in Wisconsin), most in the political class are figuring lots of them are going to be sent packing in November.

Problem is, if the latest polling done by The Associated Press is to be believed, the Republicans are even more hated than the Democrats.

Spooked by the parallels between present-day America and the fall of the Roman Empire, even mainstream political observers like Tom Friedman are left to ponder whether we have reached a point when the existing two-party arrangement is no longer sustainable. He quotes a Stanford University political scientist stating the obvious, that we "basically have two bankrupt parties bankrupting the country."

Friedman seconds the motion, observing "our two-party system is ossified; it lacks integrity and creativity and any sense of courage or high-aspiration in confronting our problems."

No kidding.

We are all enduring what will most assuredly prove to be the most expensive midterm election in history. And the least transparent election of any kind in anyone's memory. Thanks to the Roberts court for that. Outside interest groups are pouring vast sums of carefully laundered money into television advertising, get-out-the-vote campaigns and other electioneering efforts. Some analyses have Republican front groups outspending Democratic groups by as much as 6 to 1 on TV ads.

It's hard to feel sorry for the Democrats on this, though. Before Ted Kennedy's death, they had a filibuster-proof majority in Congress and failed to take any action to alter election financing. They eventually adjourned and hit the campaign trail without passing the Fair Elections Now Act or the DISCLOSE Act or the Shareholder Protection Act.

It was the same story at the state level. The Democrats had majorities in both the Assembly and Senate as well as Jim Doyle as governor, but failed to reform the way their elections are paid for. Oh, they passed public financing for state Supreme Court, but pointedly refused to do the same for their own elections. The Senate passed major campaign finance disclosure legislation, but despite the fact the votes were there in the Assembly to put it on Doyle's desk (who promised to sign it), Democrats in the lower house closed up shop and went home without acting.

Obviously they wanted the bed made this way. So now they must lie in it. Even if it winds up being their death bed.


pvl said...


Of all of the people in my life, I know only a couple who are not hugely discouraged and alienated from the process of influencing our governance.

That cannot be healthy.

The "loyal opposition" is loyal, but does not stand in opposition to anything of substance - we are clearly a corporate-run state and anyone who dislikes it is seen as a nut-case.

I had hoped that my children would inherit a nation and culture that was stronger than what I was born into. As it stands now, my hope was a pipe-dream.

jed said...

I agree pvl except for one thing. The 'loyal opposition' has been consistently disloyal, at least to people like you and me. Or put another way, any loyalty they show has been directly opposed to the best interests of most of the people. Maybe thats what is meant by 'loyal opposition' these days.