Thursday, November 9

The winners' to-do list.

Just because I'm a loving granny of six doesn't mean I won't smack you lopsided.

So, like, the election.

I could write some long, gloaty rant about the election results and rub the Republicans' sweet faces in all those smug quotes from right after the 2004 election about the "permanent majority" they were working toward. I'm sure I'll get around to mocking specific right-wingers eventually, but for right now, more than anything else, I'm just relieved. Relieved that something's finally going to be standing in the way of the Bush administration just basically doing whatever the hell it wants. Relieved that my voice finally matters again on Capitol Hill, or at least I can feel like it does.

Perhaps it's true that the Democrats didn't so much win this election as the Republicans lost it. But I don't want to let that overshadow two things: One, we had a terrific (and diverse) slate of candidates, and two, we finally had competent people running the show. The slate of candidates included men and women, different religions, different races, different stances on issues like abortion and gun control where the GOP has tried to paint us as rigid ideologues; the party really bolstered its reputation as being the "big tent" party this year.

Heath Shuler: gun owner, pro-lifer, Tennessee Volunteer . . . and as a Democrat, I only have a problem with one of those things.

And I have to give props to the people who were directing traffic, too. The Republicans tried to demonize Nancy Pelosi and all but come right out and say she'd be performing gay Muslim marriages in the House chamber, but she (and the voters) didn't let it stick. Howard Dean, too, is another person the Republicans have badly underestimated up to this point. Even while weathering lingering jokes about the "Dean scream," he put together a true 50-state strategy that fielded candidates and reached out to voters in districts the old-school running-scared DLC appeasement wing of the party had thought (wrongly) they could get away with ignoring. Get it, Republicans? While you were making fun of HoHo, he was busy grabbing seats out from under your nose in Arizona, Montana, Indiana, even Kansas. Disrespect him at your own peril.

Anyway, however they got it, the Democrats have been handed a golden opportunity to be everything the Republicans said they were going to be but failed miserably at: the party of ideas, the party of accountability, even the party of fiscal sanity and the party of better security policy. So I hope that whatever else Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and the rest of the presumptive leadership do between now and January, they don't spend a lot of time patting themselves on the back, because there's a lot of work to be done. President Bush boasted about all the "political capital" he had right after the '04 elections, and he squandered it in a hurry. We can't make the same mistake.

If you'll forgive me for reverting back into football metaphors for a second, the Democrats would do well right now to heed the lessons of football teams who have built a lead and then "played not to lose" -- they almost always lose anyway. (Just ask, uh, the Georgia Bulldogs right about now.) The Republicans got a bunch of power and it only took them 12 years to start playing only to keep that power, not to use it to make any kind of actual progress. Doing nothing: That's what they paid for this past Tuesday, and that's what the Democrats will be paying for two years from now if they do the same thing. And they'll deserve to.

Now that the Democrats actually have control of something for the first time in 12 years, it's time to break free of the timidity that has characterized the party ever since Bush got elected, and actually do something. Do things that will benefit the American people, rather than just the wealthiest 1 percent or the big corporations, and force Bush and the Republican minority to be against it. Raise the minimum wage. Show the world that fighting terrorism doesn't have to involve randomly invading other countries: Start paying attention to the security risks here at home that the Republicans have neglected. And don't be afraid to have a conversation about how we can make the health-care system better. Sure, there'll be people who start whipping out the old "socialized medicine" trope like they did back in 1993, but there will be many, many more people who will be glad that someone's finally addressing the problem.

As Ol' Dirty said, gotta get up and beeee-eeee somebody.

And don't just use the next two years as a get-back opportunity. Yes, investigations need to be held into intelligence failures and the like, but that can't be the only thing that the 110th Congress is about. This term isn't about 2000 and 2004, it's about 2008 and everything that comes after that. Give people a reason to believe what they already suspect deep down: That Democrats are the ones who know about, and who give a shit about, making the government run properly.

So let's do that, OK? Let's do the people's work. Unlike the Republicans, we're not so beholden to the radical Christian right that we have to waste a lot of time making fatuous shows over irrelevancies like gay marriage or flag-burning. Let's do the people's real work and do it fearlessly. Let's make intimidation from the right wing take a back seat to responsibility to the citizens. Let's put our heads together with the rest of Washington -- Republicans included -- and find a way out of the mess in Iraq.

And above all, let's prioritize all those things above hanging on to power. The Republicans didn't do that, and they got nailed for it. But now that we've seen their example, there's no reason we have to follow it.

Now go out and do good.

Added, just for curiosity's sake: Somebody answer me this -- why is it OK to slander Nancy Pelosi and her "San Francisco values," but dare to make an off-hand comment about Mississippi and you're all but marked for death? Anybody want to help me out on that one?


Brett said...

Did you see the Pet Shop Boys on Dancing With the Starst Wednesday night? They looked old......

Congrats on the election have exactly two years to unfuck things...

Anonymous said...

One nice thing about the 50 state stratagy was that it forced the NRC to spend money defending supposedly safe seats. I work with a bunch of folks who were saddened by Ford's senate loss to Corker, but point out to them that the 35 million spent beating him could have been spent instead in Virginia, Missouri and elsewhere.

You post is dead on. I think also that Rahm Immanuel deserves alot of credit for finding guys like Shuler and convincing them to run. My opinion is that Immanuel was the biggest winner of the night, other than working class people.

Holla said...

Isn't there something wrong, though, with this whole idea that government's job is to "do things"? But I get your point, Doug, in that Repubs actually were doing things--they were supporting ill-reasoned wars, spending more money while cutting taxes, etc. I suppose you mean when you say that the Dems have to "do something" that they have to do something good. Though, of course, every political party thinks they are out to do something good.

As for the minimum wage, I'd be curious to hear your response to the economic arguments against it. Namely, that all things being equal it raises unemployment, thus hurting those workers who are only marginally productive in the first place--i.e., the poorest Americans.

Anonymous said...

Long term raising the minimum wage creates jobs as it puts more money into the base of the economy and creates more demand for goods and services.
I find it odd that folks that want the rest of us to beleive in the Laffler curve (as if anyone is buying that bullshit anymore) can't understand this basic economic principle.

Holla said...

Bill, I'm not an economist but a philosopher. I try to follow the ideas behind the various theories as to how an economy works. So, technical discussions about laffler curves (whatever that is) might lose me a bit.

I'm not sure what "basic economic principle" you are referring to. Are you referring to the argument you just made that the minimum wage creates jobs as a "principle"? Or do you mean the "principle of supply and demand", which is a basic economic principle but is subject to a little more analysis than what you seem to have given it here?

The money that goes into the base of the economy is coming from somewhere: namely, the employers from whom it was appropriated, and probably also the consumers who pay higher prices for goods and services to cover the higher wages. If my wages go up, but so does the price of soap and chicken sandwiches and many other goods and services, then I'm not necessarily better off. And, the people who are in the best position to meet the minimum wage workers' new higher "demand" for goods and services (if there is any higher demand left after the higher prices have taken their toll) are the producers, enterpeneuers, and investors who we just took resources from by forcing them to pay higher wages. In other words, the people best equipped to meet a new higher demand are less able to meet it.

And, can I take it that you admit that a rise in the minimum wage will indeed cause unemployment in the short term?

Anonymous said...

I think any hit to employment is miniscule and short term at best. The health of the economy is not measured by the wealth of any particular strata but by the flow of value thru out it. Basically the movement of money and goods/services. Now you take a fellow working at minimum wage. He has no excess availible and spends everything he makes; he has to. If you give him more to begin with he will still be spending all of it. The guy at the top has excess, and provided he came by it honest I have no problems with that. But excess that is not invested, ie moving thru out the economy, is waste. It is just sitting there creating nothing. When the guy at the bottom spends more, he has to spend it on the goods and services sold by the folks above and beside him. Give him more cash and we all eventually prosper. Give the guy at the top more cash and he has the option to invest it or sit on it. What he sits on helps no one.

So if you want to stimulate an economy you do it from the bottom up, not the top down.

A raise in the minimum wage creates more jobs that it destroys. And if a company can only pay minimun wage, do we really want them around?

Holla said...

Money that is saved is not "waste". It is money that is being deferred for use/investment at a later time. It is money that can, when it accumulates, can be used for massive capital projects that are also necessary for any modern economy to move and shake.

Your last paragraph is contradictory. On the one hand, you claim that a raise in mw will create more jobs than it destroys. But then you take away with one hand what you just gave with the other, by indicating that some compnaies will indeed go under with a higher mw, and "so what" you say. But if some companies that employ these lowest-wage workers are going to go under if we raise the minimum wage, then that means we are losing jobs for those lowest-wage workers.

Besides, companies don't have to go under for mw to cause unemployment. The company might stay afloat, but cut some workers.

Right now, there are x number of people making minimum wage. Raise the mw to whatever you think it should be. Will all those x people keep their jobs? Of course not--hence, mw causes unemployment.

But, seriously, screw it. Go DAWGS!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I can see where you could read it as contradictory, but I don't think any companies would go under as a result of a minimum wage increase. I was paraphrasing FDR (the father of our modern economy) who said if a company can only pay X we don't want them. But I don't think the rise in the minimum wage will put anyone out of business. It may slow hireing at the entry level, but I doubt even that.

I was useing "waste" as a noun, not a verb. Anything sitting in storage not being used is waste in the economic sense as it is not being put to it's best use. Think of it as land beside an exit ramp that doesn't have a BP and a Jiffy Mart on it. It's just sitting there not being productive. Cash that is just sitting there is much the same. Now when it is in the bank being saved the bank is investing it, when it is in the market then companies are capitolizing with it, when the IRS has it Haliburton gets it.... well, skip that one. The point is that if you tie it up in something non productive, like being held for stock options on previously unissued stock and it is exchanged for the labor of one guy that sits at a desk, it is better used paying a higer wage at the working man level. Again, this is because those guys, millions of them, will go out and buy lots of shit with it, where as the one guy will just roll it over into more stock options. The guys buying lots of shit are creating demand. The guy getting stock options is just routing play money from the company, to him, back to the company, which produces little, if any.