Thursday, February 24, 2011

Speaking as an Independent

What the Media and the Tea Party Get Wrong

I can speak with some authority on this topic even though many people do not like clergy giving commentary on politics. My authority comes from the fact that I have been a part of choosing the past several presidents and determining the make-up of congress. How can I make this bold claim, because I am an independent voter, you know, one of about 20% of the population that carries the swing vote in our country.

For example, I could have told Democrats why John Kerry would lose the election against George Bush when many of both parties thought the odds were on his side. I would like to point out that nobody asked me, but the bottom line would have been “show me that you can have a better plan than Mr. Bush in how to handle Iraq and Afghanistan and you have me vote.” He did not, and they did not, so I voted to stay the course even though I was not happy with the course.

Since the last election, the Tea Party folks who have a vested interest in convincing us that they are the way of the future, and the media, who should do a better job of asking “us” have tended to come to the wrong conclusions. Here is their message. In the last election, the voters have reacted to the spent thrift polices of the Democrats, panicked over the health care reform, and have converted to fiscal conservatives who now want, more than anything else, less government, less taxes and a balanced budget. This is why we will have to vote the rascals out in the next election, and prove again that many in the media simply do not get it. Further, I will predict that if Republicans in general make this their cause in the next election, President Obama is assured of a second term.

If they had asked, here is what I (and lots of independents) would have wanted them to know.

1. We are disappointed with the Democrats. They had a majority in both Houses and the Presidency and yet were unable to give clear direction for the future and to bring about the kind of creative change that the President promised. Do the words “immigration” and “Afghanistan” have meaning here?

2. The President spent one year working to reform health care. What we got was some good, and a typical governmental action that is completely incomprehensible to an ordinary citizen. Does the phrase Tax Code clarify what I mean? Hence. I wanted a course correction.

3. There is an almost a 10% unemployment rate in our country. I know many affected by this. Jobs and the economy are my primary concern. I lost confidence in believing those in power in Washington (read Democrats) were doing anything constructive about unemployment.

4. I am concerned about a growing deficit for my children and grandchildren. I believe this deficit is the price for fighting two wars without raising taxes to pay for them. I am willing to pay the price for good government and things to improve our collective life. I do not want to pay for an endless war in Afghanistan especially by funding a corrupt bunch of politicians stealing the money mean to improve the welfare of their country.

5. I do not think government is too big or too costly. I do believe that being big it wastes money and this should be under constant review. Along with this, I am offended by so called “ear marks” except when they benefit North Texas. (Hey, I did not say independents are always reasonable.)

If I am right, and I am, at least about most independents. Those who promote the idea that the Tea Party, balanced budgets at any cost, and the reversal of the Health Care Bill are our top priorities (along with stopping President Obama from serving a second term) are wrong. They have interpreted what we meant as a “course correction” for a revolution. They are listening only to the strident voices. If this leads to shutting down the government, pursuing a balanced budget to the determent of our economy and employment, and counting our votes as the wave of a Tea Party future, they will receive a shellacking in the next election. They, Republicans and Democrats both, should have asked. The media should be asking now.