Nov. 5, 2008: It Has Only Just Begun
(The first installment of older FB notes I had written that weren’t posted here.)
I see that many of you are rejoicing with the end of the election. Yes, we won’t see campaign ads anymore. We won’t see billboards. We won’t see people bashing one candidate and glorifying another. However, our collective attention spans should not stop paying attention just because Barack Obama is our president-elect.
President Bush is not the sole reason our country is where it is. The Republican Party is not the only reason our country is where it is. The reality is that we let it happen. We didn’t force the government to press the brakes before we went into Iraq. We didn’t make them definitively answer the question, “Why?”. Democrats and Republicans alike did not slow it down.
We did not ask, “Why?” when the Patriot Act was first passed. We didn’t demand an explanation when it was renewed.
We didn’t stop the government from nationalizing our banking system. We didn’t stop the bailout that will cost the United States billions of dollars. The Democrats control Congress and still didn’t have the courage to throttle it. Republicans and Democrats alike just tacked on more expenditures on it.
When President Bush reached across the aisle to deal with the immigration issue, the Democrats rebuffed him and the Republicans abandoned him. We still have yet to have a real answer.
Two years ago, when America had a chance to give a definitive change in momentum to the Democratic party, it didn’t. The turnout was poor when you consider how much turmoil we were going through in 2006, and the Republican party didn’t use this small life line as an opportunity to reach across the aisle.
We didn’t bat an eye when refineries across the United States were being shut down when we still needed production. We allowed ourselves to be manipulated by OPEC. Americans bought into Hugo Chavez’s nonsense. We didn’t look at the details. Venezuela has heavy crude with large amounts of sulfur. The world market buys light crude with low sulfur content. The only refineries in the world capable of processing Venezuelan oil are American refineries who are now not purchasing Venezuelan oil because of a tough economy. We didn’t shoot down these crazy claims like these and allowed speculators jack up the price of oil.
We complained about how partisan the candidates are. We complained they were polarizing figures. We complained one was too conservative and voted with Bush. We complained another was the most liberal Senator in Congress. Where are the moderate-rights and moderate-lefts? Where was the moderates of America when the primaries were going on?
When the Republican Party began to pander to the religious right to win the 2000 and 2004 elections, America didn’t stop it. They pandered to the religious right with pro-life and gay marriage. Has Roe v. Wade been overturned? Has gay marriage been stopped? The religious fear mongering about Islam elected a government that seemed “tougher” on terrorism.
The evangelicals and right wing Christians need to really think if President Bush and the Republican congress did anything for them. Because the truth is, they didn’t do anything. They just pandered and got elected.
We haven’t pushed our government to mandate higher MPG vehicles until recently. We don’t recycle at any significant level. We aided urban sprawl, built McMansions, and bought SUVs. We overspent our credit and went into debt we can’t possibly pay.
FEMA left New Orleans to rot, and our Democratic and Republican senators and representatives completely failed the entire state by being embroiled in controversy and corruption. FEMA also wasted billions of dollars on aid that didn’t even help Americans. We put people in trailers where hurricanes and tornadoes hit. We’re rebuilding homes in a swamp land behind a levee that doesn’t work.
Will Americans allow someone like Sarah Palin into high positions of power with absolutely no qualifications to do so? Even fast food workers are interviewed twice. Will Americans allow the Democrats rule with impunity with majority control of 2 branches of government? Will we occasionally stop them, ask questions, and make sure what we want to happen is happening?
We as Americans need to maintain our awareness of what our government does. I understand and appreciate the hope that Barack Obama’s election brings, but it does not end there. We are responsible for holding him and Congress accountable for the power our country has bestowed upon them.
You might have voted for a change, but are you ready for the responsibility of making sure that the change that will occur is what you want?
If it goes poorly, will you lose your pride in being an American? Will you not point the finger at yourself if it does go poorly? Because that is what Americans have done in the last 6 years.
If it goes well, will you participate and make sure it continues? Will you be willing to put forth the effort to continue the prosperity? Because that is what Americans failed to do after the economic prosperity of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
Government by the consent of the governed. Give your consent only in what you believe in and refuse to consent in what you don’t believe in.
For my friends who are bewildered by the election of Obama, take note. If he and Congress fails, you have your chance to right the ship in 2010. America has overcome difficult periods and poor leadership before. The Republicans took back Congress in 1994 after 2 years of Clinton/Democratic Congress. Even if the worst happens and that befalls the United States, you will have a chance to change it. Make your voice heard if you feel that way.
In the meantime, you should really appreciate the fact that America has elected a minority president. You should appreciate the fact that he is a figure that gives a lot of Americans hope. We all know a hopeful America is a strong America. You should be thankful that America gained instant credibility with many nations across the planet. You should also be thankful that for the first time in a few years that Americans will support the president.
The responsibility is ours because the government rules with our consent. The blame game needs to stop when we’re at least partially responsible for the mistakes.