We often forget the world is a dynamic place. Instead of embracing its splendor, our senses are blunted by our own inventions and appetites. We have forgotten how to think deeply and make change. We abandon beauty for bad taste. A recent television episode for families featured a child who had lost his tooth. The kid remarked, now he could “suck his own blood.”
Despite the political bloodsucking, it is the time of the year when we celebrate our best and brightest, those whose youth or age has allowed them to bring opportunity to society, and to be recognized for their special gifts. Did these gifts make a difference? Or did they gain the attention of the public eye because we were told they should? In this category belong pre-scandal Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and any guest on Fox.
So ignore the national trends. Take a private inventory. Over the last year, who made a difference in your life? Why? How? In that same period, who did you make a difference to? How? Why?
The Tea Party hoped for a difference, but went into a rage of despair when they discovered that in the period between shutting down the government and passing the federal budget their influence had waned, and they still don’t understand why. They are busy making noises and plans to run against those members of Congress who abandoned their ideals. It seems more retribution than strategy.
I have never been sure what those ideals were, but apparently the Tea Party stood for closing the government. That action seemed their pinnacle of success. I remember the smiles and general glee, the joy of their words celebrating an achievement the rest of the world found unthinkable and stupid.
That act alone is a reason to “dig deep.” The Tea Party never seemed to understand that government is the legal structure that supports local business and global commerce, and maintains the social order, and aids the orderly transitions of generations. Their obsession with the balance sheet turns a blind eye to government’s real functions—the safety and security of our economy and our society, an expensive undertaking, but functions which create real long- and short-term benefits for all.
I think the Tea Party doesn’t like the “for all.” Definitely, it doesn’t like how we provide for the “all.” As best as I can tell, it plays favorites. It favors the wealthy who receive government help in greater dollar amounts than the poor, but the Tea Party seems to want to protect that part of the government balance sheet. Government helps the wealthy by removing its numbers from the balance sheet, so the transfer is not transparent and is also invisible. But big numbers posted in the budget before they go out seem to drive the Tea Party crazy.
But big numbers off the government balance sheet have no impact on their attention. Not one Congress member who proudly wears the Tea Party label apologized or was contrite that their action to shutter the federal government cost 120,000 jobs, and cost the economy $24 billion.
Will the mainstream alliance of big business, cronies, and Republican loyalists carry the day in the next Presidential cycle? Will the Tea Party, gaining skill at raising money and still popular as an assembly of anarchist-reactionaries, protect their turf?
Heritage Action, and the dark money the Koch brothers organizations provides, may make the difference. But will their support be enough to help the Tea Party hold its seats against a turning tide?
Democrats can point to a growing list of skilled politicians of exceptional merit. Going into 2016, really smart Democrats are focused on the state level and are building out grassroots organizations. New York State, with Gov. Cuomo and Senator Kristen Gillibrand, and New York City, with new Mayor de Blasio, are the ones to watch. Experienced, key operatives are coming into the state to put a progressive agenda in place, including expanding public education and higher taxes on the wealthy.
Sen. Gillibrand has been a real surprise among Senate Democrats. She deserves greater recognition for her no-holds-barred approach to arm twisting and her willingness to put principles first. She may be New York’s best Democratic female candidate for President. Continue reading Political Dynamics for 2014