In the leadup to this week’s election, I very much wanted to blog about the worries I had concerning the irregularities and difficulties that were being reported with early voting, both here in Ohio as well as other states like Florida. Those problems continued through election day, and I was deeply worried that they would lead to an effective hijacking of the electoral process by Republicans, enabling them to seize the presidency, and possibly the Senate as well, leading to further voting roadblocks that would all but guarantee they would win future elections for years to come. The relief I felt as election results came in Tuesday night, and it became clear that no amount of post-election manipulation would swing things Republicans’ way, was almost overwhelming. I proudly voted for Jill Stein, and I still disdain the Democratic party as a whole, but I would rather have a lifetime of spineless Democrats in power than one more minute of Republican rule in this country.
Now that it is all over, I find myself looking ahead to the next four years, keeping in mind that there will be a pivotal midterm election in two years where the Democrats will have to defend the Senate seats they picked up in the “blue wave” election of 2008. If I was forced to pick major party nominees for 2016 I’d go with Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton, but this early in the process, when we’re still catching our breath from the last election, those kinds of predictions are all but useless. I do have hopes for what will come out of this election and all the absurdities that have surrounded it, and it’s probably even more absurd for me to think that these wishes will come to fruition, but I still feel compelled to put them down here for public consumption.
For Republicans, I would first like to offer some free advice. Get comprehensive immigration reform passed now to give you at least a modicum of hope that you can increase your support among Hispanics, without whom you may doom your party to a 2016 loss before the campaign has even begun. (No, putting Marco Rubio on your ticket will not magically fix this problem.) Don’t fight the next raising of the debt ceiling. Let Democrats permanently extend the tax cuts for the first $250,000 of income; Obama gave all the Bush 43 tax cuts a two-year extension after your victory in 2010, so this reciprocating Obama’s move after your party suffered a big loss is only fair. Just like that extension, get these things done during the lame duck session of Congress coming up. Your obstructionism had its benefits for you politically, but that’s clearly over now. Holding the country hostage until you get your way is no longer politically tenable because your philosophies were roundly rejection earlier this week; bend now, and then get together and figure out how to sell yourselves for future elections.
Given that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are already talking like voters still want your radical agenda, though, I must assume that we’re in for more obstructionism from you. If that’s the case, can you please talk more about how women’s bodies have ways to prevent them from getting pregnant from rape, and if they do get pregnant then it’s “God’s will” that it happened? That should go a long ways towards making sure we have fewer of you to deal with in government in the coming years.
To the Democratic establishment: For twenty-eight years you’ve had this mantra that Democrats can never ever campaign on raising taxes in any way because of what happened to Walter Mondale in 1984. You just ran a candidate who promised to raise taxes on rich people and he won. Forget the 39.6% top tax rate under President Clinton; what about the 42% top tax rate Clinton had before the Republican Revolution of 1994? What about the 50% top tax rate under Nixon? How much could that revenue help fund critical social safety net programmes and pay down our debt? If the rich continue to revolt and say that they’ll fire people if they have to pay more taxes, fund initiatives to stimulate new small business growth. It’s time that the so-called “job creators” learn that their wealth does not entitle them to hold everyone else hostage by depressing wages and employment until they get their way. If they don’t want to follow the rules that the rest of us vote on, then they can stick their money where the sun doesn’t shine, and those of us who have a sense of responsibility will create the goods and services the public needs.
For that matter, can we please put to bed this idea that we need a CEO-type as President? That was one of the main selling points of Bush 43, and look how that turned out. Business and government are supposed to be two separate elements, and now that Citizens United has given business the power to spend unlimited sums of money on elections, it’s more important than ever that we draw a sharp line between business and government and make sure that government has similar powers to keep business in check. If you want to help business then go into business, not government.
Speaking of Citizens United, a constitutional amendment to limit, if not eliminate, the influence of corporate money on our politics should also be a top priority. This was the case as soon as the decision was announced, but right now is the perfect time to jump on this while people still have a bad taste in their mouths over the glut of political commercials that all that money paid for. (It’s still continuing; even after the election I’m seeing ads on YouTube about cutting social spending before the “scary Chinese” take us over.) Even if the lack of success of conservative super PACs to influence key elections this year has been enough to drag the phrase “epic fail” out of mothballs for a few days, that may not be the case in future elections, and it may take just one successful election for Republicans to erect further roadblocks to removing the influence of big money in politics.
One last note to big businesses, particularly the CEOs of those business who funneled so much money into these conservative super PACs to no effect: If you had taken that money you gave to Karl Rove and the Koch brothers and their ilk, and instead used it to improve your products and services before the government is obliged to step in and regulate you to protect its citizens, you would have at least gotten something out of your money, not to mention that you’d have fewer people like me watching and criticizing your every move. Heck, use your money to champion socially-conscious business practices and you might even get some of us on your side.
Jill Stein doubling Cynthia McKinney’s vote total when she ran as the Green Party candidate four years ago is kind of blunted by the fact that Ralph Nader didn’t run this year, and Stein didn’t even pull half the Nader voters to her this year. The Green Party could use a recognizable name and face, although we were mostly in agreement this year that Roseanne wasn’t what we needed (and thank Goddess for that). We need a progressive with a national profile and sound ideas, as well as proven success as a candidate for public office. I have someone in mind, but unfortunately she’s about to become the junior Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, and I don’t think she’d be amenable to changing party affiliation so early in her political career. Gary Johnson doubling the Libertarians’ vote total from 2008 is also commendable, but future Libertarian success may be dependent on Republicans continuing to put out comically flawed candidates — gee, looking at it that way, the Libertarian Party could be a viable party national party sometime in the next decade.
Finally, if the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado isn’t enough reason to trigger a real national conversation on marijuana legalization, I don’t know what will. Once we get that conversation started, can we also start one on legalizing prostitution? That would be an interesting talk, and, well, it would help me sell a certain novel I’m trying to get published. Just a thought.