Friday, November 9, 2012

Demand to know who is speaking

The next time you go to the doctor, don’t worry about who he is or what his credentials are.  It doesn’t matter and he shouldn’t have to tell you.  Or, when you go to your financial advisor, if he keeps hidden that he is an employee of the fund he suggests when he leads you to believe he isn’t, he has a right to privacy.  Oh, and your baby sitter – not to worry that you are not able to find out who she is and anything about her past. 

If you think those are really dumb statements, I would agree with you.  But, when a clandestine organization goes on television with information about one of the constitutional proposals or a candidate; you don’t have the right to know who they are.  If you wouldn’t accept advice or trust people in your personal life that you don’t know, why would you trust a group that you know nothing about in your political decisions?
That is what has happen during the last election more than any other time in United States history.  Claims, accusations and downright lies filed the advertising of the political ads.  It should make honest, good people ill.  (Yes, everyone, before you get excited, both sides have committed this sin.)  But, we didn’t have the chance to evaluate their point of view because we don’t know who provided the financial support for the advertising. 

Additionally, people and organizations called “bundlers” skirted campaign laws and used them to hide the source of money for candidates and parties.  Many of us were upset when we found out that Romney said things in private that were difficult to support in public.  Romney himself even said that it could have been said better.  But, did any of us find out who was in the room that night (other than the host, a bundler)?
Is there anyone that thinks that the “smoked filled rooms” of yore where secret deals were made was the proper way to govern?  Well, of course not.  If your local politician takes money from an oil company then votes in support of their petition to drill in your neighborhood, wouldn’t you want to know?  Do black hooded people stand on the floor of the United States Senate and make a speech about policy?  No, because we all demand to know who is speaking.

Yet, we put up with Super PAC's and bundlers that raise, over the last election in this case, literally billions of dollars.  This money flows to candidate’s campaigns and their parties like water down a hill, filling the lowest ground.  In this case, the money fills the coffers of candidates that are willing to accept every last cent.  There are candidates that don’t accept the money blindly, demanding to know where the money came from.  But, many of them, I feel confident, feel great pressure to accept the money so they can compete against a foe that does take the money. 
Don’t be fooled.  When people go to the store to buy a stove, they want certain features and they want it to work.  No one, let me repeat, no one, gives a dime to any campaign if they don’t think they will get the results they want.  Give enough, your voice will be heard.  A little more, your plan will be enacted. 

The Supreme Court has ruled that money is speech.  It is an amplifier to your own voice.  This is true.  Also, people do have the right to assemble to combine their resources so that their voice will be louder – and delivered with force.  But, the voters, as the ultimate decision maker in any policy decision, should have all the information available to make an educated decision. 
Let's all cry, "Enough of this lunacy!"  In a Responsible Community, when someone exercises their right, they are to take responsibility for their action.  It is not a violation of someone’s freedom of speech to ask that they take the responsibility to say who they are.  

If it takes a new ruling from the Supreme Court to change the current situation, then let’s find a case to carry to their doorstep.  If it takes more than that, then let’s change the Constitution.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A shift in social attitudes

The campaign from the right tried to make the 2012 Presidential election a repudiation of President Obama’s economy.  The message was; there isn’t enough job growth, the economy is sluggish and the deficit is too high.  Many voters did buy into this message.  The electorate clearly moved to the right in this election. 

Most Americas it appears are fiscal conservatives.  In the past, when the economy was slow or sluggish, the incumbent faced certain defeat.  Votes may want their religion and their guns, but what they really want is a job and a future for their children.  There is nothing wrong with that.  After all, the thinking goes, without a healthy economy it may all be for naught.
With the blind confidence that the right’s strategy to focus on the economy was the correct one, many thought the voters wouldn’t notice the other ideas that the right would bring quietly with them to their elected posts.  But, those Republicans who could not be controlled by their party came out of the woodwork.  (Maybe a better word than “woodwork” might be “cave”.)  Most of the ideas from the most extreme Republicans were talking points from a century ago.  Birth control, rape, abortion, race, the rejection of gay rights, the role of government (or lack thereof) and many other old, tired ideas.  While the generation that came from those times may have been happy to talk about them, those from the last two generations rolled their eyes.

With an economy portrayed as being bad and an electorate that shifted to the right (actually, more like a shift to the center) should have been enough.  But, the social positions that the right holds so dearly brought it all back to focus.  It turned enough voters back in support of Obama. 
This represents a fundamental change in the social attitudes of the country, as slight as it may be.  In this election cyle, a president with a liberal social agenda won in what was portrayed as a sluggish economy.  Perhaps as many as four states (three for sure) supported marriage equity.  The voters want the financial reforms that came out of the crisis to stay in place.  They supported the continuation of the health care reform.  The right to choose will be left in place.  Gay rights will be supported by more and more people.  Also, many other ideas from the last two generations will now become accepted as part of a new life of freedom and security in the country.

If the Republicans continue with their current track of holding on to old social ideas they will soon be obscure.  But, if they change they may have a chance.  That of course, in the irony of the times, is actually what they are fighting against.