I increasingly feel like an outsider to both political parties. I am not a Democrat and don't identify with their most vocal advocates. But I scarcely identify with the Republicans I see on TV these days either (Bainer and McConnell). I skimmed the Pledge to America put out by the GOP yesterday. Here were some of my thoughts on the first 6 pages:
1. "We pledge to honor precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
I wholeheartedly disagree and so would Abraham Lincoln. This is backward looking and a clear sign that old South-North issues are at work here. The Civil War settled this 150 years ago. The future is global, not tribal.
This part of the Constitution is a layer from 1791 and goes back to a time when the states were just beginning to meld after having been independent of each other before. It was transitional legislation that became increasingly moot the longer we existed as one nation and particularly after the Civil War. To emphasize this amendment is like emphasizing the right of Wesleyans to own a machine that runs on alcohol, insisted by Luther Lee at the founding of the Wesleyan Methodists because he had a patent on such an engine and didn't want the fact that Wesleyans didn't drink have any implications for his patent.
2. "We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values."
This is Calvinist code for--we insist on making those who aren't Christians conform to our values. The concrete manifestations of this sentiment are not only unconstitutional, they are not even the way God operates in the world, who currently allows people either to choose or reject Him freely. It reflects the inability of American Christians to distinguish between America and ancient Israel. It reflects the ongoing impact of dispensationalism on American fundamentalist culture. Christians in other parts of the world (and in other times and places) do not think like this.
3. "Washington has not been listening."
The Tea Party didn't win the last election (what, is it 30%). The party that was elected has tried to carry out the values of those who elected it. Elections have consequences. The stalemate in getting anything done, for good or ill, has been caused by an unprecedented filibustering by the Republicans in Congress. Perhaps it was for the better. But what has most annoyed Americans about Washington these last two years is not the Health Care Bill but the refusal of the two parties in Washington to work together. The voice of the people right now is primarily an anti-establishment vote, not a pro-Republican one.
Nevertheless, if Americans elect a new majority in Congress, then the shoe will be on the other foot, and the Democrats will have to decide whether they are going to filibuster too. The President will have to decide how often to veto. Elections have consequences. We'll see whether a Democratic minority will be more noble or cut from the same cloth as the current Republican 40.
4. "We will rein in the red tape factory in Washington, DC by requiring congressional approval of any new federal regulation that may add to our deficit and make it harder to create jobs."
What does this mean? We're a big country with a lot of people. The precise mix between regulation and deregulation is an art, not a simplistic thing. In effect this sentiment puts another layer of red tape on regulation. Sometimes it could be good, or will it simply make it easier for special interests and big business to muck up restraints that could really help people? That's really what this is about, right, making it harder for Congress to regulate Wall Street or reform health care?
5. "We will also prevent Washington from forcing responsible taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior by ending bailouts permanently, canceling the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."
This one scares me. Anyone who thinks that the bailouts did not save the world economy is someone I want far away from Washington. The bailouts were a Bush and Obama--by-partizan--thing and they saved the world. This is the scary, scary thing about the Tea Party. They don't understand 21st century math. Which is better, for example, to have a GM that is still afloat, has paid back its loans, and still has thousands and thousands employed or if it had gone under and all those people were among the unemployed right now, dragging the economy even further down than it is with them employed?
The question of whether it's fair is irrelevant and those who think it is simply a fairness thing should be far away from power. It's a world survival thing. This is very, very, very dangerous thinking and those who think like this are not smart enough at 21st century math to have control over the economy. I guarantee you that whoever had been in power, including any Tea Party candidate right now, would also have bailed out some of these banks because there's a point at which you realize the world is at stake, and you have to ignore politics and those who don't know the details of what's going on. I guarantee you, anyone who had been in power two years ago would have taken the advice of their economic advisors and bailed out some of these banks.
It may very well be that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need reforming. They probably do. But make no mistake, it was the unbridled derivative trading of housing debt on Wall Street (=21st century math) that precipitated this economic crisis, not some African-American defaulting on a $20,000 house.
Those are my opinions. I am open to being convinced otherwise, but you'll have to be right to do it...