News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 16, 2013

Blame fellow liberals for America's mess

Sam Pollak
CNHI News Service

— I blame the liberals.

Yes, for the putrid, polarized, paralyzed state of politics and governing in this country, I blame the liberal Democrats.

Hey, this isn’t coming from some anti-abortion rights, pry this gun from my cold, dead hands, Rush Limbaugh “ditto-head.”

No, fellow liberals, or progressives, or whatever it is we’re calling ourselves these days, this is coming from a member of the family — mishpucha. C’mon, I’d be a card-carrying member of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood except that I’m not much of a joiner.

But, gee, isn’t it the far-right-wing conservatives in Congress who won’t pass any bill that President Barack Obama would want to sign? Hasn’t it been said about Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “If the doctors told Sen. McConnell he had a kidney stone, he would refuse to pass it”?

Well, sure.

And isn’t it the conservative majority on the Supreme Court that opened the gates for billionaires to spend millions to elect the candidates whom they feel will help make them trillionaires?

Absolutely.

But whose fault is that?

It says here that it’s all the fault of liberals who can’t be bothered to vote when it’s not a presidential election year.

And yeah, some of the blame goes to the moderate, middle-of-the-road Democrats and Republicans who need directions to their polling places because they haven’t been there for four years.

Meanwhile, all the gun-loving, abortion-hating, Obamacare-loathing, “you damn kids get the hell off my lawn”-shouting, tea party “patriots” would find their way to the voting booth even if they were in an iron lung.

That’s to their credit. They’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re not breaking any laws. Quite the contrary, they’re exercising their rights as Americans. They’re voting.

As for the liberals, when it comes to casting ballots, like the lilies of the field, they toil not; neither do they spin. And neither do they vote.

If the last two presidential elections proved anything, it’s that there are more liberals and moderates than right-wing conservatives in this country. If everybody comes out to vote, Democrats do very well.

But let’s go back to the 2000 presidential election, when liberals didn’t feel threatened, and their asinine “let’s send a message by voting for Ralph Nader” gave us George W. Bush as president.

Does anybody think Al Gore would have nominated John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, clearing the way for the Citizens United ruling to tear down spending limits on elections? Would Gore-appointed justices have denuded the Voting Rights Act? I blame the liberals.

But it got even worse 10 years later, creating the main reason why our republic is in such a mess.

In 2010, the liberals and moderates stayed home while conservative Republicans voted and gleefully took over statehouse after statehouse. Because it was a Census year, in state after state they redrew district lines and gerrymandered things to their advantage.

That’s why in last year’s elections, even though Democrats cast more votes for their congressional candidates than Republicans did for theirs, the GOP easily held onto its majority in the House of Representatives.

Republican-dominated state legislatures and governors then did some nasty stuff in the way of voter suppression and taking away workers’ rights.

In the House of Representatives, in the snuggly warm knowledge that they have little to fear from Democratic Party challenges, some Republican members will say the most ridiculous, climate change-denying, secession urging, Obama impeaching tripe without any worry about re-election.

Their only worry is an even more rabid right-wing conservative who may go after them in a primary. The same goes for senators in such solidly Republican states as Texas or South Carolina … or Kentucky.

Case in point is the aforementioned Mitch McConnell, who is the Babe Ruth of filibusterers. He’s employed a record number of them to see that hardly anything the president wants becomes law.

Yet, there’s a serious GOP primary challenge coming McConnell’s way in Kentucky from a tea party conservative.

This guy says that if the majority leader doesn’t agree to shut down the government in a vainglorious, doomed attempt to get rid of Obamacare, he’s not conservative enough. McConnell has a competitive Democrat to face in the general election, but you can bet he’s a lot more concerned about getting “primaried.”

He knows that most moderates won’t be voting in the primary and many Democrats won’t bother in the general election, so he has to move as far to the right as he can to appeal to the "base” voters who will most surely show up.

Thus, nothing gets done in Washington because those “base” voters consider “compromise” to be a dirty word.

The conservatives vote and the liberals don’t.

I blame the liberals.

Sam Pollak is editor of The Daily Star in Oneonta, N.Y. He can be reached at spollak@thedailystar.com.