Out Of Tune Quartet
by Marc Pascal
The Governors of South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas have decided to reject some of the federal stimulus funds, particularly those geared towards increasing unemployment compensation and the numbers of people who are eligible. In Arizona, the Republican Governor and the Republican-controlled legislature have maintained their sanity and will push for all the federal stimulus money available while they deal with a systemically broken state government and tax system.
While most Democrats and many independents hold different opinions concerning what is rational and compassionate economic policy, there probably is a need to maintain some national opposition to the President and the Democratic Congress since the remaining Republicans in Congress are so ineffective and clueless. These 4 states can be testing grounds for an alternative response to this severe recession. They need the flexibility to “do their own thing.” These politicians may pay at the 2010 elections and beyond, but it’s their choice.
At least they provide endless fodder for pundits and comedians.
The unemployed in these 4 Southern states are the ones who will be hurt the most over the next 2 years. Unfortunately there are many people looking for work but are trapped by a house they cannot sell, or they simply do not have enough money to actually move elsewhere. There may be some comfort for these trapped people in knowing that so many others are losing their jobs across the nation and in every sector of the economy, and will likely do so for the next 18 months. However, staying put in a dying region of the country is not the best solution for unemployed individuals and their families.
The core of the Republican Party is now found in and around these 4 former Confederate states – geographically, culturally and politically. This country’s intense partisanship didn’t end with the election of President Obama – it has merely intensified. The minority is now a very angry and vocal group, sometimes screaming absolute nonsense and making completely untrue claims. They probably need to throw this tantrum and exorcise their demons. How long this process will take is anyone’s guess.
After the debacle of the 1932 election in the middle of the depression, it took 20 years for the Republican Party to elect a President in 1952. It is very debatable if the rabid extreme that controls the party would find the moderate President Eisenhower satisfactory today. He had the vision to warn us in 1960 of the dangers of the “Military Industrial Complex.” The victorious commanding General of AlliedForces in Europe during World War II might not recognize the Republican Party of today.
Demographically, the American electorate probably moved past the party of conservative, rich, old white guys and their shrinking minions in 2006. Even smart moderate Republicans leaders in Utah, Florida, and elsewhere are shifting economically, politically and culturally away from the party’s increasingly exclusionary, reactionary, and lunatic base. When your party’s entire political philosophy is dictated by conservative radio and television entertainers that never have to campaign for office, then proposing practical and moderate economic and political positions is not a high priority.
Does the American electorate have the patience and wisdom to know that we are in such a huge mess that it will take years to turn things around? Will it suddenly throw a temper-tantrum because immediate results are not produced by November 2010? Will there be any viable alternatives offered to the current democratic policies in 2010? What unusual events will transpire during the next 20 months that will again significantly alter the economic, political, cultural, environmental, and international situation?
After the Nazis took power in Germany during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, they started to repeat many falsehoods frequently and long enough until enough people ended up believing them. Then that country and millions across Europe had to pay the ultimate price for such rabid and misdirected hatred.
Today in this country, public opinion is made in part by our 24/7 media circus. It is no help that some of the prominent financial swindlers on Wall Street during this recession have been Jews. The Nazis falsely blamed Jews for the depression almost 80 years ago. On the political right in the U.S., there are some closet bigots whose long-time dislike of Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Gays, Immigrants, Liberals, Jews and a whole litany of other new “traitors” has been simmering just below the surface.
My biggest fears center on the following: Often people who are out of power and who have lost control over their thoughts and emotions are prone to do crazy and dangerous things. There are some on the extreme right who have amassed arsenals of private guns — and if the flames are fanned one of them could start using them against fellow citizens and elected officials with whom he/she disagrees. On top of that, unemployed people often have way too much time on their hands and they might start following their darkest impulses. Finally, those who think they have little to lose and no control over anything in their lives may do anything rash in a fit of rage.
I hope the entertainers and commentators in our 24/7 media circus pursue civility and moderation, and do not foolishly add fuel to some of the insane fires smoldering in this country. Too often the voices who espouse the most outlandish and extreme positions get the most media and public attention. I understand there is a First Amendment to be respected, but falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is not protected speech.
Everyone needs to “vent” their frustrations and anger from time to time. We just have to know when to stop the poisonous vitriol in our public discourse and thereby all work to prevent senseless and misdirected violence from erupting against our fellow human beings.
Marc Pascal obtained his undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, business and law (B.A., J.D. & M.B.A) over 15 years ago from a respected university in Ohio. Between 1986 and 1998, he served for several years as the in-house counsel for 2 large public corporations, and he also periodically practiced law in Cleveland, OH. Between 1991 and 2006, he started and managed 4 different new business ventures in the Midwest with various friends, all of which were a lot more fun. Since 2006, he has been an independent management and business consultant serving various private enterprises in the Phoenix area. He resides there with his spouse of 11 years and their young son. He regularly guest posts, comments and blogs on TMV in order to exorcise his demons since his consulting business has shrunk considerably during the past 3 months.