Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hooray for Massachusetts

I was particularly pleased that the good people of Massachusetts handed the administration a bit of an upset with the election of a Republican to the United States Senate. Let me explain why:
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I should explain that I am a life-long Republican. I was raised on apple pie and love of country, believing that the expression "Duty, Honor, Country" is more of a religious mandate than a clever sounding slogan. Having said that, I am not, nor have ever been, in particular "lock-step" with the Republican Party. Nor am I implying that Democrat's, Independents or any other non-Republicans are not good patriotic Americans. The simple fact is that in my time I have probably voted for as many Democrates as I have Republicans. That is because I was taught at an early age to take the right to vote seriously, believing that it is an important obligation and a right Americans should cherish and use wisely. As a result, I have always taken the time to study the candidates and issues and decide for myself how I should vote.

Towards the end of President Bush's term I was like many people and was starting to get fed up with the corruption and misuse of power we were seeing from the Republican Administration. When Barack Obama came along with his eloquent talk about change, transparency, fiscal responsibility and bipartisan cooperation, I admit that it sounded pretty attractive. I began to consider the possibility that a change in administration to Democratically controlled executive and legislative branches might be what we needed to get the government moving and address some very important and seemingly stalled issues such as the war, immigration, the economy, health care and energy independence.

The problem for me started because, after many years in leadership and management positions, I have always found it important to judge a person by what they do and not what they say or how well they say it. I have known more than a few people who were perfectly capable of selling you a 3 week Alaskan Cruise in a canoe -- and have you looking forward to doing the rowing. When I started looking at what, then Senator Obama, had been doing, instead of just listening to what he was saying, I began to have concerns that he was one of those people. I started listening more carefully and when I began hearing speeches in which he actually took 2 sides of the same issue in the same speech, separated only by 20 or 30 minutes of pure rhetoric -well, I decided that this was not going to be good for my country.

I was not surprised when people declared Mr. Obama the "Messiah of Change" and swept him into office with a strong Democratic majority in both the Senate and the Congress to back him up. After all, the Republicans had had their chance and had abused our trust and faith with corruption, scandals and excessive spending. On top of that, even after 7 years, President Bush, the leader of the free world, supported by the largest, best equipped, best trained and best manned military the world has ever known, had not even been able to catch or kill that evil Islamic extremist responsible for the murder of 3000 Americans. Enough was enough, it was time to fire the bunch and bring in a new team.

Well, we began seeing the quality of the 'new team' right away. Instead of the promised shining example of freedom and liberal doctrine with it's concern for equality and individual rights, we began seeing the darker side of Chicago style politics, complete with secret deals, out of control lobbying, bribery, name calling and dirty tricks, carried to the extreme. All the while ignoring the growing anger of a very well informed and thinking public -even when the anger was loudly expressed.

The leaders of the Democratic Party seemed completely impervious to, and ignorant of, what was happening. It was almost as if they thought they simply could not loose their new found power. They behave as if they think they have been appointed, not elected. As if, no matter what they do, they can just tell the American people it is for our best interests and we will believe them and, in the end, we will just go on voting to keep them in office while singing their praises.

I do not know about you, but I have gotten increasingly angry this past year as bills have been rammed through Congress even when the polls have shown clearly that the majority (sometimes the substantial majority) of the people opposed them. I hated it when I saw people, who were finally taking their obligations as citizens seriously, becoming informed about the issues, attending rallies, town hall meetings and political events, being dismissed out of hand and called "hired thugs", "astroturf" and even "Nazis". The angrier I got, the more I looked forward to the midterm elections (November 2010) because I hoped that would be a time when these Democratic liberal demigods would start realizing there was a crack in their Ivory Tower.

That brings us back to the good people of Massachusetts. Now, I knew that there was going to be a special election for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, but it just did not occur to me that a Republican would stand much of a chance for a seat held by the Democrats for over 3 decades and in a state whose other Senator is a Democrat and where Obama carried the state by 26 points in the last election. ---I had forgotten the lessons of history. I forgot that this was the home of the first "tea party" where the people threw crates of tea into the bay rather than pay unfair taxes without representation. I forgot that Boston was the place of the Boston Massacre when angry citizens were gunned down for protesting. I had even forgotten that Boston was where Bunker and Breeds Hills saw colonists fighting the first major battle against the might of the English Army and Navy. I should have known the good people of Massachusetts would not take kindly to being ignored by a government they helped put in power. In this special election, the good people of Massachusetts took the lead and told the Administration that change is indeed coming. The people want better, more effective and more responsive government. The change they voted for in the last election has not happened - but it will and when it comes it isn't going to be quite what President Obama and the Democrats had in mind.

So I say: "Hooray for Massachusetts" for giving us that!

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