Day 653 Wednesday October 31, 2018 928 Days to Go
An experiment that I hope is coming to an end.
Last night I listened to Chris Mathews’ Townhall Meeting with Beto O’Rourke at the University Of Houston. This was a real townhall meeting, not the phony kind that the Republicans have been pulling. By that I mean people got to ask Beto questions directly. In the “townhalls” that Dave Brat has held (and I’ve been to all of them) you don’t get to ask him questions directly. Rather, you get to submit them on a 3”x5” card and then someone chooses which one he’ll answer. In that way he gets to one) not answer difficult questions and two) not be directly confronted by a voter telling him he didn’t answer the question.
O’Rourke took question after question from the audience. He was authentic. He was genuine. He got asked all the questions I would have expected to be asked and more. He didn’t duck a single question. He didn’t blame others. His was a message of inclusiveness, of “we are better than that.” I haven’t heard anyone that inspiring since Bobby Kennedy.
He said he campaigned in every county in Texas, because he intends to represent everyone in Texas. Boy, what a breathe of fresh air.
This is the same message that Stacy Abrams is making in Georgia and Abigail Spanberger is making here in Virginia. They campaign throughout their respective political area. They say Republican, Democrat, or Independent if elected they will represent you – everyone.
Compare this to The Republican messaging: there is a caravan of invaders coming, we must stop the liberal agenda of Nancy Pelosi, they will raise your taxes, they will allow terrorists into the country, they must be stopped.
Dave Brat is so fearful of his own constituents that he does not let people know where he is going to be for fear of being confronted (“paid protestors!”) Abigail Spanberger has held over one hundred and thirty meet and greets since she’s been campaigning. Dave? Zero. Abigail has real policies laid out on her website. You can go read what she stands for and what she will do. Dave? Not so much. There are vague statements and lies.
When I went to the debate between the two the thing that got me was the way Brat tried to slide stuff by. He has voted repeatedly to get rid of coverage for pre-existing conditions in health care plans. Yet at the debate he said something vague about pre-existing conditions. If I understood him correctly, what he said was you would have more money in your pocket so you could pay for whatever pre-existing condition you had.
My wife’s health care costs went up 500% this year. The insurance plan she picked she did so because it covered medicine she needs. Halfway through the year the insurance company stopped covering that medicine. They are allowed to do that. Are you allowed to switch medical plans? No.
Brat has said that he wants more competition for medical health care plans in Virginia. Of course, he omits the fact that he and his Republican colleagues sat on their hands for as long as they could about various coverage options based on the ACA prompting one of the biggest providers of health care plans in Virginia to pull out and thus limit the options people had, which in turn drove up health care premiums. This was all part of their plan “to let Obamacare fail” instead of strengthening it, which they had been begged to do.
“We will let it fail on its own and then bring in people who know what they are doing and start from scratch,” is what they kept saying. Who exactly they would bring in was never made clear, and they did everything they could to try and force the ACA to look bad. It’s interesting that the things they said they didn’t like about the plan were the things they insisted be put into the legislation.
Spanberger supports the idea of using the bureaucracy already in place for Medicare for people to use and pay for when they can’t get good medical insurance. This is what Brat and the Republicans think is so bad.
The Republicans and their right wing buddies been listening to each other so much they believe what they are saying is true and more incredibly that it is what people want. All of a sudden an election is coming up and they have discovered that people like, really like, the idea in Obamacare that folks get covered for their pre-existing conditions (you know like pregnancy). What to do? No problem. Lie. You were for pre-existing conditions all along. As long as you are in office you will make sure pre-existing conditions are covered. Those votes you took specifically against that? Don’t pay any attention to that. (Of course, you won’t be asked that question because you never meet with your constituents.)
Sorry got distracted. What I wanted to talk about was what O’Rourke, Spanberger, and Abrams are all saying and doing. They are saying they want to represent everyone in their area, not a few or a narrow slice.
I remember when this started to change. It started with Reagan. He made it clear he wasn’t representing everyone. He went after unions. He started to change the rules so that certain folks would benefit more than others. I don’t remember exactly when the next step happened but I remember when I heard on the radio that lobbying was made legal. That you’d have to register if you were a lobbyist. I though at the time that would be a good thing because we’d know who they were. What I didn’t realize was that there would be an explosion of influence peddlers. It was at about that time that Microsoft, who had stayed away from government, decided it needed to get involved.
I find it amusing that Paul Ryan makes everyone in his lily white staff read Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead: not realizing that he and his colleagues are doing the exact things that Rand was so opposed to, and that is getting government to change the rules so that you could cheat your competitors.
The next thing that happened was Newt Gingrich. Cameras were put in the House chamber and Newt used it to go on camera and rail against the Democrats. People didn’t realize that most of the time no one was in the chamber. Newt used this to gain notoriety and for the first time in decades the Republicans took control of the House and immediately started to dismantle the government. Newt’s mantra was a scorched earth policy, no compromise. Grover Norquist gained influence. He wanted everyone to make a pledge that they wouldn’t raise taxes. If they did he went after them in elections to get rid of them.
Norquist’s idea was that if you could reduce the size of government to next to nothing then great things would happen. (Could never quite follow the logic there.)
At the same time all this was going on the evangelicals were getting more of a voice. They have this idea that Jesus will come again, and there will be an apocalypse, and we’ll all be taken up to heaven by the lord. Great. What if it doesn’t happen? “You gotta believe!” Sorry. No.
However, this belief and folks like Nancy Reagan who, like Hitler, believed in fortune tellers and charlatans have led our country astray.
In the backdrop of all this are the very rich super conservative who want to eliminate taxes and keep all their wealth. They see taxes as a way to rob them of their hard earned money. The fact that many of them didn’t earn it but inherited it, doesn’t matter. The only thing they want the Federal Government to do is to protect them form foreigners or the raging mob that might show up at their door. Otherwise, they want to have government at the state level where it’s easier to control. They can use the state government to put down local uppity town counsels and the like. Take Flint Michigan as an example.
I am hopefully, silly me, that we are seeing the end of this kind of politics and that we will elect politicians who want to represent all of us. Heck, then maybe we’ll look at real problems and try to solve them.
I know. I know it’s a big ask.
Fortunately, our president has sent 14,200 people trained in how to kill people to our southern border to stop the ragtag group of people nine hundred miles away who are seeking asylum from the terror, violence, killing, rape, and robbery in their home countries. What could go wrong? Beto pointed out that the last time we did this sort of thing a young boy got shot in the back because the military is not trained what to do. Oh. Bummer.
Meanwhile, the president is trying to redefine words.
Sorry, Donald. As Andrew Gillum said of his opponent, “I’m not saying you are a racist. Racists say you are a racist.” The word “Globalists” is used to mean “Jews.” The word “Nationalist” is used to mean “White Nationalist.” You can claim not to know this but all you have to do is to ask your son Eric. He seems to visit sites of White Supremacists or at least he repeats their memes, slogans, and sayings. You’ll find it there Donald – Trust me.
I hope this election will return people who want to represent all of us. I hope the decisive, scorched earth policies of the far right that have been brewing for so long are finally coming to an end. I hope.
928 Days to Go
PS Someone looks pissed off and determined. “The Woman” by Dieter Hacker, 1982, at VMFA.