Sunday, April 25

Rejecting the RNC, sort of

I'm just going to say this: Michael Steele is a danger to the RNC, but, to be fair, no more dangerous than a host of other Republicans. What prompted this recent round of exasperation (and a return to blogging) is the most recent RNC survey, which is, I'd wager, a fascinating study for those who try to build surveys to gather actual unbiased information. . . if those truly exist.

I've marked up the thing and will return it though I know it will be rejected because I've written all over it. But I've decided to share some of my answers.

Question 1: Do you support the Obama Administration's efforts to eliminate further testing and deployment of an intercontintental defense system? I marked "undecided" because I don't know enough about it and would have to do some research on the position and its implications. But I applaud the RNC for a great first question that is clearly designed to stir up some emotion and attitude.

Question 2: Should Republications fight congressional Democrats' efforts to grant full unconditional amnesty to illegal immigrants? Wow. Well done. This questions draw several lines of demarcation and inflames all kinds of passions in one fell swoop, but it also overlooks a whole host of factors. Any self-respecting Republican running for office these days is bound to keep quiet on this issue if there is the remotest possibility of supporting such an amnesty program, which may or may not be so incredibly all-encompassing as suggested by this question. My answer? "No," and not just to be contrary, though mostly to be contrary.

Question 3: Do you agree with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi's efforts to impose massive tax hikes on the American people? And this is where I started hyperventilating. Really? I mean, they left out "Hussein" on this. And "massive" tax hikes?

Question 4: Do you believe that the federal government should maintain a permanent ownership stake in large auto companies? This question frightened me a little because it makes sense. And no, I don't want to own any auto companies.

I feel compelled at this point to remind people the American citizens are the federal government. Those people in the Congress work for us--and do need to be reminded of that. Anyone in government--let me repeat that, anyone in government--is paid by our taxes. Their health care--two-thirds paid for by the federal government (that's you and me) and one-third paid by the employee (that could still be you and me because our taxes pay them) and their salaries and their federally-funded travel and anything else that is federally-funded is paid for by our taxes.

Question 5: Do you support giving foreign terrorists full judicial privileges and rights that are granted to U.S. citizens? Oy. This is such a loaded question. Do I want foreign citizens who are guilty until proven innocent able to have their day in court? Yes. Do I want foreign citizens accused of military crimes tried in civilian courts? No. Do I think military tribunals are fair? I have no idea because I don't know anything about the laws that govern a military tribunal, but I do know that war is unpredictable and dangerous. And I do know that we further muddy the waters by expecting our soldiers who are placed in hostile territory and in battle to behave the same way they would in a civil and non-military situation. It is ludicrous to expect that non-combatants won't get hurt in war. It is absurd to think that in the time of a battle an individual is going to think or react beyond surviving, beyond instinctively behaving as they've been trained. There will be no "Excuse me, sir, I just need to make sure you're not a bad guy before I shoot you because this situation is a little uncertain to me and I think you might be a bad guy but I really don't want all the bad press I'll get at home if you turn out not to be a bad guy." Like he'd get past the first syllable if it really is a bad guy. But it's not that simple. It's never that simple.

Question 7 (Yes, I skipped the one about supporting drillng for fossil fuels off U.S. coasts because my answer is "no." Bad timing for the survey given the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico this week): Do you support the Democrats' efforts to create a massive new federal government bureacracy that would be run by unionized government employees and would have complete control of your healthcare costs and choices? This is the question that put me over the edge and it was at this point I started shouting at the survey. This is the point at which the RNC took off the gloves and just started getting mean and, I dare say, a little desperate.

How stupid does the RNC think people really are? My fear is that people are stupid enough to fall for this hyperbole because this question hits a lot of hot spots for many Republicans, including myself. And yes, I'm still a Republican, sort of.

I don't believe in big government. I am not a fan of unions. I do believe in fiscal conversativism though I don't always practice it myself. But I also believe that as human being we have some responsibility to help those in need, but to help them get back on their feet so they can stand on their own. So when I got to this question, I just threw down my pen in disgust. Seriously? This is how we're going to go into the midterm elections? This is how we're going to attempt to have any conversation? We're not going to try to be the grown-ups and attempt any reasonable conversation?

After this question, I started marking "yes," "no," AND "undecided" because I don't have enough information and some of these questions are not simple binaries. Should we normalize relations with Cuba? I don't know. What does that mean? What are the pros and cons? Can the RNC give me an objective answer with the pros and the cons and some reasonable argument one way or the other?

Do I believe Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have the best interests of you, your family, and your community in mind? Well, actually, I think they do. I think they are in many ways misguided and I think Nancy Pelosi is arrogant and condescending and represents far too many politicians of both political persuasions who think the majority of the American people are too ignorant to take care of themselves. Which is absurdly ironic on so many levels.

One of my favorite questions is this one: Do you agree that President Obama and Democrats in Congress seem more concerned about passing their liberal pet-programs than creating jobs and getting the economy going? This, my dear RNC, is a very dangerous question. This is very much a situation of the pot calling the kettle black. Shall we review the Republicans' efforts to pad bills with their own entitlements? Shall we look at Republican attempts for earmarks, for pork? Shall we look at Republican efforts to attach potentially unpassable bills to those that are more likely to pass? Do not get self-righteous. That is a very, very dangerous game to play and will come back to bite you. Hard.

Here's another favorite question: Do you believe that this nation's Founding Fathers intended for the federal government to micro-manage state and local functions such as healthcare, child care, and unemployment assistance? Seriously? You asked this question? With a straight face? Get a grip, RNC. Your hysteria is running you amok. First, our Founding Fathers likely never imagined such programs as health care and unemployment. Ben Franklin was raised in a time when there were still apprentices. There was a far greater sense of independence in the Founding Fathers, I think, and a far greater belief that human beings were capable of reason, of rational thought, of balanced discourse. They lived, after all, in the Age of Enlightenment. I think this nation's Founding Fathers would be appalled by both the Democrats and the Republicans and wonder how the heck we managed to get everything so very wrong.

The last question of the survey is a doozy: Do you feel that total Democrat control of both chambers of Congress and the Presidency will make our nation more prosperous, safe and free? Talk about another loaded question. Let's ask the inverse: Would total control by the Republicans be any better? Nope. Basically total control by either party is a bad idea and would make our Founding Fathers roll over in their respective graves. Would a Congress of men and women who are willing to work together for the good of the country and the good of the people make our country better? Hard to know, but I think men and women who work together and respect any others' opinions and who are willing to compromise toward the good of the country will make our country far better than it is now. I think that politicians who think they know better than anyone else; who demonstrate the hard, ugly side of intolerance; who have let their sense of power go to their heads--and that's on the federal, state, and local levels (I'm talking to you, Michael Madigan)--are dangerous.

I think both Democrats and Republicans have reached new levels of low. I think:
  • both political camps and all of their spin-offs are too often deliberately misleading, attempting to the damn their "enemies" without offering any actual solutions;
  • the media doesn't help but creates even more ridiculous drama by failing to be objective;
  • think the American people are overwhelmed by the multitude of channels from which they can get so-called information and are no longer able to differentiate fact from opinion;
  • all of the political talk is mostly white noise any more;
  • the RNC remains in danger of being reactive, divisive, and unproductively chasing the wrong things and generally behaving like a bunch of junior high kids (and I mean no offense to junior high kids); and
  • the general purpose of the survey was to indulge in hyperbolic and misleading rhetoric for all of the wrong reasons.

What we are witnessing in Congress right now is an after-school fight. The political parties have adopted gang mentalities and the American people are the innocent bystanders who are going to get caught in the crossfire of this ugly and unproductive battle of the egos.

I wish I knew of a good way to mitigate this, but I'm not sure how electing anyone else is going to solve the problem unless we manage to elect some reasonable grown-ups who are not motivated by one-upmanship or by a false sense of power. Until the people in Congress and in legislatives roles at all levels remember they are public servants, we will remain a desperate, dying democracy gasping for air.