Have you voted yet? If not, why?
It's true the American mid-term election has been the nastiest in recent memory, fueled largely by hateful, hysterical rhetoric from a couple of windbag talk show hosts and a "news" channel that gives journalism a bad name. Citizens United also has a lot to answer for, as the court ruling enabled vast amounts of nefarious - and often corporate - money to be funneled into campaigns, under the cloak of secrecy.
In the lead-up to this election, the supposedly independent US Chamber of Commerce was revealed actively to be funding right-wing GOP candidates. Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox "News," the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post donated at least $2 million to the Republican party, a clear bias and conflict of interest.
Meanwhile, the Republicans continued their curious lurch to the radical right, propping up unqualified "Tea Party" candidates with checkered histories and challenged intellects. (I'm looking at you, Christine "I am not a Witch" O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Joe Miller and Tom Tancredo, among others).
Many of their campaigns have been run in a furtive manner, trying to stem information about their pasts and soften their most extreme views. Angle and Miller both have attempted to block the media from investigating their past actions. Alaska reporters had to go to court to get Joe Miller's previous employment records released. The delusional Angle - who is so extreme, even Republican leaders in Nevada have said they support Democrat veteran Senator Harry Reid for re-election - arrogantly said she won't talk to the press "until she's elected." Early in her campaign (before her GOP handlers tried to silence her) Angle said she's in favour of abolishing the Department of Education and Social Security, among other alarming ideas involving armed insurgency against the government.
In California, Meg Whitman has spent more than $160 million of her corporate wealth trying to buy the governor's race. She also wants the woman who worked as her maid for nine years deported. And Carly Fiorina, who was fired after running Hewlett-Packard into the ground and later dropped as a corporate spokeswoman for John McCain - after making too many racist gaffes - has run a heavily-negative campaign for Senate. (You won't be surprised to know as a California voter living abroad, I voted absentee for Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer).
The divisive tone in the elections turned to violence in Kentucky, when a Rand Paul supporter went beyond name-calling and stomped on a woman's head (he has been arrested for assault) and later demanded she apologise to him!
Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Saturday in Washington, D.C. encouraged cooler heads to prevail amidst the media onslaught and election mania. Reassuringly, about 250,000 peaceful people turned out to show that the majority of American citizens remain civil and (mostly) sane.
Four questions for Republicans
If you're a Republican, I'd like to know what's happened to your party? Why has it morphed beyond civil discourse and conservative ideas to the belligerent Party of No??!! Don't tell me you haven't noticed.
And here are excellent questions for you, from Jed Lewison at Daily Kos:
- What was the average monthly private sector job growth in 2008, the final year of the Bush presidency, and what has it been so far in 2010?
- What was the Federal deficit for the last fiscal year of the Bush presidency, and what was it for the first full fiscal year of the Obama presidency?
- What was the stock market at on the last day of the Bush presidency? What is it at today?
- Which party's candidate for speaker campaigned this past weekend with a Nazi reenactor who dressed up in a SS uniform?
Answers (in case you didn't know):
- In 2008, we lost an average of 317,250 private sector jobs per month. In 2010, we have gained an average of 95,888 private sector jobs per month. (Source) That's a difference of nearly five million jobs between Bush's last year in office and President Obama's second year.
- In FY2009, which began on September 1, 2008 and represents the Bush Administration's final budget, the budget deficit was $1.416 trillion. In FY2010, the first budget of the Obama Administration, the budget deficit was $1.291 trillion, a decline of $125 billion. (Source) Yes, that means President Obama has cut the deficit -- there's a long way to go, but we're in better shape now than we were under Bush and the GOP.
- On Bush's final day in office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 closed at 7,949, 1,440, and 805, respectively. Today, as of 10:15AM Pacific, they are at 11,108, 2,512, and 1,183. That means since President Obama took office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 have increased 40%, 74%, and 47%, respectively.
- The Republican Party, whose candidate for speaker, John Boehner, campaigned with Nazi re-enactor Rich Iott. If you need an explanation why this is offensive, you are a lost cause.
"The moral of the story is this: if you vote Republican, I hope you enjoy Election Day -- because you're not going to like what comes next."
On your bike: please vote! It's important. And those who don't participate in democracy have no right to complain about it.