Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Dangers of Warm and Fuzzy

We had an edifying session among Hampton Democrats the other night. One of us played a Bill O'Reilly, Newt Gingrich, you name it, the generic Republican, spewing forth the Republican Party babble: "Democrat Big Federal Government Regulations are discouraging the Job Creators from creating new jobs, and wasteful government spending is killing the economy and driving up the deficit which our grandchildren will be paying for," and so forth, and various members of the Democrat club tried to respond to this tripe.

At one point, someone said, "You know, when I hear this sort of stuff, I know it's just no use. That person has made up his mind."

Another said, "It is just so demoralizing, I feel badly just having to reply to this."

But that is when I thought, "Qui Tacit, Consentit." He who remains silent, consents. Or, silence implies consent.

Someone pointed out, when Clinton was President, he had George Stephanopolis on TV refuting every one of these insipid Republican talking points, point by point, and firing back with aggressive assertions of his own, and eventually, the accepted truth was not simply the Republican truth, but people began to question all of this Rush Limbaugh braying.

It's exhausting, but it's necessary. It requires persistence, but it's essential.

And it requires a taste for confrontation, which some people simply cannot stomach. But that's what war is.

I heard Newt Gingrich tonight and I listened to Bill O'Reilly and if I closed my eyes, I could not tell one from another, the Republicans have read so long from the same prayer book.

One of them, maybe Bill O'Reilly, was talking to Jon Stewart about $16 doughnuts ordered for a meeting of government "nitwits." (It turned out this dunce had it wrong, the $16 per person covered breakfast, the rental of the room etc., but when has reality ever mattered to demagogues?) And he went on about how he wouldn't mind paying higher taxes, a 40% tax rate but he knew the government would waste his money on $16 doughnuts.

And Jon Stewart pointed out that even if that $16 a person was wasted the total cost came out to about $800 and how much did those Wall Street wild men, those champions of the private sector, who the Republicans so admire cost us?

O'Reilly pointed out he employs dozens of people and if he stopped working, all those people would be unemployed.

Stewart, patient, methodical, confrontational demolished each absurd thrust. Are you really saying you would simply stop working because you would take home not $3.5 million but only $3 million?

That reminded me of an interview I heard with a professor from the Wharton School of Business who was talking about the Republican line you hear constantly that small businesses are the main drivers of employment. Most jobs are created by small businesses (who, the Republicans say are afraid to hire because of federal government regulations.) But, asked the professor, how do you define small business? Below 500 employees. Well, that's a pretty big factory, he said. And then he observed the real small business is a doctor who has maybe five employees, and he cannot hire more, not because of regulations, but because the size of his income stream cannot sustain more employees.

And real innovators, a business start up with ten employees, fail with great regularity, so they are not job creators but job destroyers. They create briefly, then destroy. So that image of the small businessman swamped by government regulations is a false image.

Who exactly are these small harried businessmen? They are always a single person Michele Bachmann met while campaigning in New Hampshire who told her a story, right after the lady who told her the story about her daughter being struck with mental retardation after a government mandated vaccine.

They are the imaginary friends of each of these Republican dupes.

We have to confront the monster.

We have to man up.

One of the Democrats at the meeting told of her brother, who does not read the newspaper, but goes to the bar or turns on the radio and listens to Rush Limbaugh, and he repeats what he hears there and she has to confront each assertion with reality, and it's draining.

But, as unpleasant and draining as it is, it is work that has to be done.

And we can't be too nice about it.

Obama tried that, until he discovered the people he is opposing don't play nice. They see nice as a sign of weakness.

And we should be aware of this. When I hear a story about reforming the prison system, and I hear an advocate start talking about moving prisoners from state penitentiaries to local jails so they can be closer to their families and to rehabilitation facilities, I just shake my head.

That woman's brother who listens to Rush is thinking, there ain't no way to rehabilitate these low lifes. He has no sympathy for them and as soon as you show you're sympathetic you are a bleeding heart.

What you can say is we cannot afford to keep non violent offenders who were locked up for drug possession in state penitentiaries.

Let's stop advocating for the needy, who Joe Sixpack thinks are undeserving. Let's just attack and attack and attack again. We cannot afford being seen as being too sympathetic. The Republicans base their appeal on their own lack of sympathy. We have to show we are just as hard hearted, but we are smarter. We know government is necessary and can be a positive force to rescue us from economic disaster.

We hav e to show it is the Republicans are the wimps because they are paralyzed, unable to do anything. They keep waiting for the phantom small business Job Creator heroes to magically appear and rescue us all. Democrats are the active champions who say, move ahead or move aside. But if you can't lend a hand then get out of the way.

Or, as the bard once said:
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled.

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