All posts tagged Democrats


Start Thinking America

It is a new year, and with the exit of the 112th Congress (one of the worst in our history) and the political haggling of the first of many ‘fiscal cliffs’ now over, America seems to be facing a new and potential hazardous future if it chooses to stay on the same destructive course. With the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama for his second term, the newly sworn in 113th Congress, and three new fiscal nightmare scenarios looming, we once again stand at the precipice of doing what is necessary, versus what will suffice the status quo and political power grabs.We often get caught up in media cycles and do not look at the big picture.  Sometimes what is necessary is for a look in from the outside, such a view sometimes puts things into perspective.

 

Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent

 

With that in mind everyone interested in the future of the U.S. should read Edward Luce’s Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of DescentLuce, who is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Financial Times and a former speechwriter for former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, outlines the problems facing the U.S. as the rest of the world continues to grow and our economic, and political, strength continue to diminish. He outlines the social, economic, and cultural decline that the nation faces– mourning the decline of American pragmatism which has seen the nation push through past crisises and threats of decline.

This time around he, as well as a litany of other experts he cites, are not so hopeful. In the New York Times review of the book, Jonathan Rauch summarized some of the main points outlined in the book. Summarizing Luce’s arguments, he states

where does that leave the country? Not in a great place, if Luce is right. Jobs are disappearing, median household income is declining, skills are in short supply, health costs hobble competitiveness, outsourcing and offshoring and automation marginalize working-class men, and through it all political leaders either sit by helplessly or actively oppose remedies. And that’s just in Chapter 1. Later sections bring us dysfunctional schools, demoralized government, burdensome debt and deficits, failing innovation, hidebound regulation, crumbling infrastructure, a paralyzed Congress, a broken campaign-finance system and more, much more.

Though the book does a great job listing all the doom and gloom scenarios facing the U.S., its best asset is that it illustrates that our decline is relative. It is relative to the rest of the world which is still struggling to find its bearing and inherit its newfound political and economic power. We have time to adjust, to make the necessary changes, and to adapt the U.S. for a new decade and century before it is too late. The book highlights some of our largest threats and challenges of the past century– the Cold War, the emergence of Japan in the 1990’s, and now a globalized world and the emergence of China.

The U.S. has weathered the same alarmist voices which speak of America’s decline for decades. What the book does is raise the alarm against absolute decline. Winston Churchill once said that America always does what is necessary when it has exhausted all other options, yet again our backs are against the wall and our leaders must act to reemerge from a financial crisis and political paralysis.Before the fall of the Soviet Union, Georgi Arbatov, Gorbachev’s close aide told the U.S. “We [the USSR] will do a terrible thing to you; we will deprive you of an enemy.” This time around America faces the worse enemy in its history– itself. Over a century ago Abraham Lincoln envisioned this decline from within when he stated  “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Luce makes a number of good points, raises a number of valid questions, and offers some pragmatic solutions for the future of the U.S. Let’s hope someone is listening. Reading this book would help.


Herding Elephants

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The past two articles dealt with my views of the Republican Party, their problems, and some potential solutions. Today’s Morning Joe panel had a great discussion about the divergent trends  happening within the GOP and how they can counter the Democrats. In the discussion, they cite a great article by liberal columnist for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof. In the article Kristof challenges liberals for inadvertently promoting a culture of dependency reliant on government programs. Though these programs  seek to assist those in need they sometimes have a reverse and adverse affect. He states

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

I highly recommend that article because it highlights the deficiencies of both parties, and ideologies, in tackling our daily problems with pragmatic and positive solutions. Both parties intend to do well, but unfortunately sometimes their solutions do not work in the real world where ideology is tested and sometimes fails. Read more…


The Elephant in the Room

( This is part 1 of 2 of this article. To read the second part “Prescriptions for an Ailing Elephant” go here)

There is an elephant in the room. Look in the mirror, Republicans: It’s you. There is no one to blame but yourselves, and it’s time to get your act together. This past election made it clear: President Obama and the Democrats did not defeat you, you have been defeating yourselves for the past twenty years. This past election was a culmination of a ruinous policy, and trajectory, that is of your own making. The primary purpose of a political party, or any organization, is to achieve their policy, and in order to do so you must win. The goals of the Tea Party and the religious super-right are sacrificing electoral success for ideological purity. That is the surest formula for self-defeat and the GOP has mastered that formula. Dogma does not win elections, and as long as you choose to be a political party rather than an ideological movement, your goal is to win elections. Having a candidate who shares most but not all of your ideals is better than not having a candidate win at all. Somehow, somewhere, the party has forgotten this fundamental principle.

 

Lets highlight the losses that Republicans have inflicted upon themselves, both in the 2010 mid-term election, and in this year’s election. Read more…


A Righteous Read


As some of you may have noticed I have a ‘What I’m Reading’ section on my sidebar. These books are on my bookshelf and I am currently educating, or entertaining, myself with. Currently, I just finished is The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. Haidt is a social psychologist at the NYU-Stern School of Business and in this stellar book he confronts human morality, where it comes from, and why people differ on an array or issues especially politics and religion.

For anyone interested in morality and why we act in certain ways, and think about things the way we do, this is your book. Reviewing the book for the New York Times, William Saletan sums up major themes of the book. Read more…


Costly Problems

With the Thanksgiving holiday now behind us, and congress back in session, the impending fiscal cliff will be dominating the news and the markets. This clip by Fareed Zakaria, from CNN’s GPS, gives great insight and a real look at what the real issues are and what we could do to adress them and perhaps fix them. Read more…


It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid

 

It’s demographics.

The Republicans would like to make every excuse possible to explain the drugging they received in last week’s election. The excuses have varied from ‘Mitt Romney was not a stellar candidate,’ to the president and his campaign painted the Republicans as out of touch (which they are), as well as every other possible excuse except the simple numbers of it. This was not an election of ideas, popularity, or the economy, as the Romney campaign would have had us believe. Or anything else. Plain and simple, it was demographics.

The Republicans have been governing over an ever increasingly shrinking coalition since the 1990’s and it finally took this election to make them realize it. Based on some delusional hypothesis from conservative pundits and analysts, the GOP thought it was going to win the presidency and perhaps re-take the senate. This is wishful thinking at best.  In this article by Chris Cillizza, of The Washington Post’s TheFix, he argues

The numbers paint a very clear picture: Republicans now face the same low electoral-college ceiling that Democrats confronted for much of the 1970s and 1980s — needing everything to go right to win the presidency, much less break the 300-electoral-vote barrier. Read more…


Four More Years, of the Status Quo?

First and foremost, congratulations to President Barack Obama on winning re-election yesterday and on a well run, and tremendously successful, campaign.

Despite all the punditry and right-wing news and media projections it was not as close as anyone had expected. The Obama campaign was well organized  thanks to the incredible work of David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and Jim Messina, who I believe will go down as the best campaign organization in the modern era. Their ability to turn out the vote using all methods of traditional media and modern technology, along with a strong grassroots political machine, ensured a decisive and quick win for the president. Read more…


Country First, Candidates Second

Today  is election day. Both parties and presidential candidates have been campaigning for months and it will finally culminate today. Regardless of who wins this years election, it is set to be the most divisive in American history. If Barack Obama wins, he will do so with the lowest percentage of white voters in history and if Mitt Romney wins he will do it with the least amount of non-whites ever recorded. This just illustrates one of the numerous ways this election is being decided through a divided prism of opposing voters such as: whites and non-whites, married women and single women, pro-life and pro-choice, tax cutters and revenue raisers, those worried about the debt and deficit and those not, small-government and big-government believers, pro-Obamacare and anti-Obamacare, pro-gay marriage and anti-gay marriage, pro-gun control and anti-gun control, and the list goes on dividing us up…

However, despite all the negativity and constant rhetoric, we are fortunate to have two well-qualified and dignified men running for the highest office in the county. Though they may not be many peoples first choice, and there are many more qualified people, our political process has nominated and chosen these two men and that choice is a blessing in and of itself. Today, the United States continues its growth and living history by adding a new chapter and a new leader. What we should hope for is true leadership not just from the winner, but from the loser as well. Read more…


Finally, a Two Person Debate

If you need a debate recap to tell you that President Obama beat Mitt Romney this past Tuesday you need to take a couple lessons in debating. Obama made strong points, looked in control and comfortable, whereas Governor Romney was aggressive, tried too many gotcha moments, and instead of enjoying his past performance and building on it reached too far. Read more…


Market Variations

Despite the conventional wisdom that Republicans are the party of big business and Wall Street, this infographic clip from The Economist seems to show the contrary when comparing the growth of the stock market under Democratic and Republican administrations.

For the corresponding article, click here.