The results of the election of Tuesday, November 4th, were more than the elevation of a singularly talented, skilled, and visionary statesman, Barack Obama, to our highest office; more than the ultimate display of the progress this country has made towards civil rights and justice; more than a victory for the Democratic Party. It was a genuine repudiation of Republican Party politics and policy. In three major areas the American people told the Republicans, “Enough, already!”
The neo-con foreign policy of “exporting democracy” by force, preventive strikes, belligerent anti-diplomacy and profound arrogance has turned our once admired country to the object of loathing and scorn worldwide. Barack Obama’s victory was celebrated not just in blue state America, but all over the world. People around the world seem to know this change ushers in a new day of renewed confidence in the United States of America and its relations with the rest of the planet.
Republican attack dog Karl Rove’s vicious smear tactics have run into a road block of national resistance. Like the boy who cried wolf, Republican condemnations are no longer taken seriously. McCain’s and Palin’s characterizations of Obama as a “socialist”, a “pal to terrorists” and the “re-distributor in chief” fell on deaf ears. As did the constant TV ads proclaiming Obama as “too radical, too risky” played on every commercial break on every channel right through Election Day. Elizabeth Dole’s attempt at a Rovian style attack on her opponent’s religious beliefs backfired and cost her the senate seat she held.
But the most significant rejection of Republicanism is on the economy. The current economic upheaval with the housing crisis, the stock market crash, the failure of several major banks and the insecurity of America’s financial health are a direct result of not just 8 years of Bush-a-nomics, but 28 years of Reaganomics. Few Americans know of Milton Friedman, the chief architect of the supply-side, “free-market”, trickle-down economic theories the Republicans have taken to heart. The theory goes when and where the markets are left alone with little or no regulation (laizze-faire) and taxes for the wealthy and corporations stay low, the markets will somehow magically adjust and everyone will share in the prosperity.
In actual practice, Friedman’s philosophies have always resulted in the rise of income and wealth for the well-to-do and greater levels of unemployment, poverty and misery for the working class. In effect a “re-distribution” of wealth upward at the expense of working people. Ronald Reagan experimented with a form of Friedman’s theories when he cut taxes for the wealthy and then later had to raise taxes on the middle-class. George W. Bush has performed like Reagan on steroids with his tax cuts for the wealthy, his privatization of governmental services and his deregulation mantra. In all cases, domestic and internationally, where the “free-market” system has been implemented it resulted in tremendous borrowing (mostly from foreign sources) to make up for the loss in revenue, a weakened national currency and a massive increase in national debt
Milton Friedman died in 2006. His economic theories need to be buried with him. The “free market”, trickle-down system quite simply has never worked and never will. What has worked for this country was FDR’s “New Deal” of the 1930’s. That “bottom-up” recovery brought sustained prosperity and stability to the United States financial system for almost 50 years until Reagan started experimenting with Friedman’s theories; cutting taxes and then having to borrow to keep the economy afloat.
John McCain did not lose the election. Nor did Sarah Palin lose the election for McCain. The Republican Party and its ideology and tactics caused the loss of the election for itself. Neo-con foreign policy is dead. Rovian smear political practices are dead. “Free-market”, laizze-faire, trickle-down economics is dead. R.I.P.! America, we have a new direction; new hope; renewed optimism about our country and what we can and will accomplish. We are the greatest country on earth. And we just proved it.
Eric Ekstrand is a professional musician and entertainer living in Eagle Rock. He is a pianist, vocalist, orchestrator and leader of “The Eric Ekstrand Ensemble” and “The Eric Ekstrand Trio”. For the last 7 years he has been performing with his trio and hosting the Monday night jam sessions at Colombo’s Restaurant in Eagle Rock. He has been a progressive Democrat all his life.