Down the Ballot

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Legislate. Don't Hesitate.

The late Senator Ted Kennedy once said,

Senator Ted Kennedy
To those who hesitate to begin the journey because the road appears too difficult or success too distant, I reply that not within my lifetime have I seen such extraordinary opportunities for change and progress on so many fronts as I see today. The strenuous efforts of those who went before us have opened many doors. The torch of leadership is passing to a new generation. All you have to do is pick it up and help guide the way.

You will see many wrongs and evils and injustices on your journey. These flaws in our society and in the world have been caused by human beings, and therefore can be resolved by human beings.

I urge you to nourish these qualities—timeless virtues like courage and compassion, justice and integrity, involvement and concern. These qualities are tools that will not fail. They are waiting for your use and you will find they are more powerful than any weapon of oppression or resistance.

These words may have been spoken in the 1970s, but they are timeless for many of us. Not within my lifetime have I seen such extraordinary steps taken to secure the general welfare and promote the good of all citizens of the United States. While it has not been a perfect first two years for President Obama and the Democrats and other forward thinkers in Congress it has been productive. Many small victories and even some 'big F'ing' deal victories have been secured for the American people.

Examples are ample of Democrats leading the way to a better America. The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, and don't forget all those tax cuts Obama passed through. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 90% of the American people received some sort of tax cut from the Obama Stimulus. For a full accounting of all the cool things Democrats accomplished in the last two years you should check out whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar besides having a funny title it pretty much tells you what exactly he's done with the help of Congress.

There is a lot of anger out there this year and it is directed unfortunately at President Obama and the Democratic Party. The party in power usually takes a hit during a midterm. Senator Kennedy was right, you are going to see some injustices and many wrongs on the journey that awaits tonight. One of the most ardent defenders of personal liberty and freedom (yes I'm talking about Russ Feingold) may find himself out of a job in Wisconsin. We can only hope that the folks of Wisconsin return one of the best passionate and reasonable voices to Washington DC (where that voice is desperately needed). We in Oregon are fortunate that our senior Senator Ron Wyden will more than likely get to continue working hard for all of Oregon.

What this anger will manifest itself into after the election should be of great concern to all of us. Will we see a dismantling of the efforts made by President Obama and the Democrats during the last two years? Will we see a gridlock occur between the Senate, the House and the President? Will a divided government force the Republicans to actually participate in the governing process? So many questions.

Over the last year since the Tea Party has grown more prominent and a new level of rancor and discontent has engulfed politics in Washington DC there have been concerns that it has become too partisan of a place. So many people have come to think of Washington DC like this that over 130 former members of Congress have called on our leaders to be more civil to each other. Has Washington really become as bad as people make it out to be? Hard to say. Some might argue that year by year Washington DC has become more civil. In the early days it was unwise to annoy some members of Congress for fear of being canned like Charles Sumner. As Obi-wan-Kenobi once said, "Washington DC: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious". Oh no wait that was Mos Eisley spaceport. You get the idea though. We must be cautious in DC and never forget why we send folks like Russ Feingold and Ron Wyden there.

It is not all doom and gloom in DC. When we put our heads together the most amazing things can happen. This last year it was getting access to health insurance for nearly every American. It is by no means perfect, but it is a start. Don't believe what the Tea Party says about it either. It is not socialized medicine. We still operate in a for profit system run by the health insurance companies. Millions of young people get to stay on their parents health insurance plans until they are 26, insurance companies cannot deny you coverage because of preexisting conditions. It was a big step for this country.

It was just proof that 'courage and compassion, justice and integrity, involvement and concern' are just the tools we need to solve these problems. Now it is time to help guide our leaders forward again. It won't be easy, but governing never has been.
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