We’ve all been there. Christmas as a kid, maybe, or a random birthday in your adulthood. Some kind soul offers you a wrapped gift, you open it and it is…terrible. Like, you want to say “what the fuck am I supposed to do with this thing?” terrible.
Yet, you make eye contact with the giver, you smile, and you muster up the most sincere “Thank you!” that you can; because like your Mom taught you growing up – it’s the thought that counts.
Yesterday, we Americans saw a considerable shift in power, yet again, from one of our two parties to the other. It wasn’t a surprise either in the moment or in the longer scope of history – six years into a sitting president, folks will always bemoan that there is still discord somewhere in the world and the Treasury hasn’t yet backed a Brinks truck up their driveway to shower them with cash, so they insist that we need a new direction.
In this latest incarnation, the Democrats lost and the Republicans won. I still cynically believe that at best, fluctuations in American economic prosperity are due to forces largely random and beyond our control – even more so in an increasingly global marketplace – with only tangential relationships to decisions of those in power now, and that at worst corporations control both parties, so this result really doesn’t matter financially for any of us, and neither will the next one or the one after that. Still, I identify and vote as Democrat to hasten social progress.
God knows the Democratic ranks are littered with fools and ineffective leaders. Like any other human beings, they make mistakes. When election season comes around, the GOP is quick to point out mistakes, but even quicker to gloss over the subtext – the fact that inherent in the failures was a desire to do something positive for a majority of Americans.
Was the rollout of the Affordable Care Act poorly executed? Absolutely. Is the Act itself heavily flawed and in need of significant repair? No question. Even putting aside the likelihood that much of that was due to obstruction by Republicans hoping it would fail, the fact remains that the entire ordeal was a sincere attempt to get as many Americans affordable health care as possible. Their heart was in the right place.
When Democrats want to hold firm or raise taxes on the highest income levels to fund infrastructure or social assistance programs – who do you suppose stands to benefit from that? All Americans to some extent, and the poorer classes of Americans to a great extent.
When Republicans want to reduce taxes for that same class of earners, who benefits from that? The wealthy individuals themselves. Let’s be honest: it all boils down to whether your outlook on the world is “It’s all about me” versus “I want to be part of a larger society.”
With economic policies that favor an incredibly small minority, the GOP is forced to find loosely affiliated groups to swell their ranks at the polls. Enter the Religious Right and the National Rifle Association. With their numbers, though, come the headaches they bring to a party leadership that in reality doesn’t actually care about their concerns at the end of day – headaches in the form of being forced to take stances anathema to what they claim their core principles are.
The Republican Party wants to shrink government and strengthen personal rights – yet wants to dictate what you do with your uterus and whom you can marry. They take this positions under the guise of adherence to sacred religious tenets – when the same religion they are claiming to advocate for opposes – more than anything else – the personal greed and disregard for the poor they legislate towards relentlessly.
For all the buffoonery and sloppiness of the Democratic Party, you can’t find any such obvious contradictions or thinly veiled ulterior motives in their platform. That doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes or head down the wrong path from time to time – Lord knows they will – but that doesn’t invalidate their driving desire to simply have as many people as possible be healthy, respected, and empowered.
Until they cease pursuing those ends, or until the Republican Party can present a cogent ideology that adds up to something more than a thinly veiled mechanism for the rich to stay rich, I’ll keep voting Democrat – because it’s the thought that counts.