A Challenge for Democrats

November 7, 2012

Okay, you won the election. You can’t complain about the Green Party spoiling the election, because it didn’t. So, time for you to actually put your money where your mouth has been: for the last month, Democrats have been saying, in effect, vote for Democrats, they’ll do good things this time, we promise, not like the last couple of decades. So: act on that. Here’s a list of stuff you could try; I’m betting we won’t see more than one taken up with any seriousness.

Actually investigate the systematic voter fraud the Republicans were undertaking in multiple states, and follow it up with punishments for those involved and legislative action to prevent it from happening again. If that means a national code, then so be it. You have two years before the next election and four before the next presidential election.
Reason it won’t happen: the Democrats don’t want to get too far into subversion of the vote, or else they would reveal how they tied up with the Republicans to exclude any and all third parties. Oh, and since it was Republicans doing it this time, Fox News will squawk if anyone investigates, and Democrats are too chickenshit to actually brave that out.
Either eliminate the filibuster in the Senate or require that filibusters actually involve non-stop talking as the popular imagination has it. This will let you actually accomplish things in the Senate, even if the House is still screwed up by the Republicans.
Reason it won’t happen: the Democrats need an excuse for why they aren’t actually doing anything. Being able to blame their own lack of action on the Republicans is perfect for them.
Shut Gitmo down. According to our own military, about ¾ of the prisoners there are innocent. We have actionable evidence against the rest. There’s no reason whatsoever to keep this blot on our reputation around.
Reason it won’t happen: the Democrats have been complicit in keeping it open so far; to admit they were wrong will draw attention to this. And Obama loves authoritarian measures. Besides which, Fox News will squawk.
Break up the “Too Big To Fail” banks. They’re just disasters waiting to happen (again).
Reason it won’t happen: Obama is in the pocket of the banks, along with about 90% of the other national-level Democrats. They contribute a lot of money, and are instrumental in ensuring that retired politicians always have lots of good opportunities. Obama would sooner put his wife in jail than your average bank executive.
Put an end to the “faith-based initiatives”. They are mostly likely unconstitutional, they are fairly controversial, and everyone who has examined them in detail has concluded that they actually do a worse job of helping people than ordinary secular government programs.
Reason it won’t happen: Fox News would claim it was persecution of Christians.
Drop marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances. The science shows the stuff is vastly less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes, it has legitimate medical applications, we could get huge tax revenues out of it, keeping it illegal is filling up prisons for no good reason, the ban helps destabilize other governments, and by making marijuana as illegal as other more serious drugs we give dealers a reason to push those other drugs — which are more profitable — on drug users, which does more damage. Pretty much every aspect of the whole thing is bad policy. (And, incidentally, I have never smoked marijuana. I also don’t drink or smoke, not that that’s relevant. I have no horse in this race, beyond a hatred of transparently bad policy.)
Reason it won’t happen: Obama loves authoritarianism, remember? And, of course, the prison-related interest groups are among the strongest in American politics. They control a lot of votes and a lot of money.
Pull America out of Afghanistan, plus all the other countries where Congress hasn’t approved deployment (which is more than you would think). We don’t even have a clear set of conditions for what it would mean to “win” in Afghanistan; it’s just a money pit. If you’re concerned about the people left to the Taliban, offer all the women a ride to the U.S., a decade-long pension, and citizenship. It will still cost less than the million dollars per soldier per year we’re paying to stay there right now.
Reason it won’t happen: no president is ever willing to end a military occupation, because the opposition will claim that they were the reason we “lost”. Unfortunately, that’s the only lesson American politicians learned from the whole Vietnam debacle.
Actually cut the military budget. And by “cut” I don’t mean the usual weaseling “we’re still going to raise the actual dollar amount of funding, but by less than we thought we would”, I mean actually lower the dollar amount year over year, with no post-budget debt-based appropriations bills. A nation which is shutting down schools and letting people starve has no business spending trillions on the military.
Reason it won’t happen: Obama loves the military. He loves having command, and he fully approves of authoritarianism and curtailed civil rights. He’s actually deployed the armed forces to more countries than Bush did. And besides, Fox News would squawk if the flow of taxpayer money to rich military contractors started to shut down.
Build concentrating solar power stations across the country. (Not high-tech photovoltaic cells, which are filled with toxic chemicals and involve power storage problems, concentrating solar power.) It’s a remarkably safe technology, it would create lots of jobs, it definitely works, it has no carbon footprint, the stations don’t wear out or turn toxic, and it keeps generating power when the sun has set (unlike photovoltaic solar systems). We could generate enough power for the whole country’s power grid using a total surface area which was a fraction of the wasteland in west Texas; spread out, the land usage would be almost unnoticeable.
Reason it won’t happen: Democrats don’t actually want to solve global warming. Not when it’s such a great rallying point. Besides, no doubt Fox would come up with talking points against it, and the whole “chickenshit” thing comes up again.

I may add some more in the coming days.

As I said: even though these are all good ideas, my firm belief is that the Democrats won’t even try to do most of them. At best, there may be some action on one or two. (Probably the vote fraud thing, because it endangers their ability to get elected. But they won’t take the investigation all the way to the top, just put a few small fry in prison.)

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