Now that the elections are over and the Republicans are flopping around squawking like wounded seagulls on a beach and the Democrats are strutting around with puffed out chests like dodo birds, we the people are at risk of being left in the dust once again unless we pay attention and act.
The Democrats now have a super majority in California and, left to their own devices, will return to their usual posture of spineless capitulation to special interests, whacko legislative proposals and their run for re-election in two years. If we allow this to happen, we will have missed a historic opportunity to change the course of the state and, through example, the country. We simply don’t have the luxury of retreating into our familiar and comfortable complacency. We must figure out a way to tell our elected employees that there is no time for flopping around or strutting and arguing over inane and distracting legislation. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for another election cycle to throw the bums out. If they are made to do their job, perhaps they won’t become bums. We, ourselves, must be willing to make sure that they get that message every day. Write letters and emails, join a political group, march into the capitol and demand to see your representative. Why should a lobbyist have more access than you do? If we are asked to make the hard decisions through the initiative process shouldn’t we also demand to have a non-partisan citizen’s oversight committee to oversee the implementation of our wishes?
Words are very powerful, and it might be useful to do some re-definition and replacement of terms. For instance, the term “liberal” conjures thoughts of irresponsible, anything-goes anarchy, whereas “progressive” suggests an active consideration of future possibilities. Conservative indicates a more cautious “let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water” approach. In the past, both sides of this beat-up old coin have dropped their ideological differences to overcome manufactured and natural disasters because they had to. What would happen if we chose to combine the might of true conservatives and progressives and to hold our elected employees’ feet to the fire and demand the solutions that we all know are achievable. It’s not a matter of possibilities. It’s a matter of will.
Unfortunately, the term conservative has been usurped by regressive and hysterical pundits. They use emotionally stimulating terms as effective tools. For instance, they use the term entitlement to redefine Social Security, which is a popularly imposed and paid-for insurance policy without which millions of Americans would be destitute today. It’s the same with Medicare. Should these programs, bequeathed to us by our ancestors be examined for fraud and misuse? Of course. As should corporate tax loopholes and legislative waste! So who should do the examining? Certainly not the fox that is currently guarding the hen house. Perhaps we should take a clue from the citizen’s redistricting committee, whose excellent and fair action caused some of our legislators to try to nullify its decisions.
Many of our economic problems would dissolve if everybody paid their fair share. After all, freedom isn’t free. Lying, cheating, stealing and unfair advantage should be eliminated, not regulated, and global warming or not, we need to stop soiling our own bed. President Obama and congress will do what they will do in Washington, and we should pay attention to that, but here in California, we have a unique opportunity to directly affect legislation and create a fair, balanced and equitable blueprint for the future. We’ve done it before.
John Keane lives in Grass Valley,