Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) On The Role Of Government


As I've said before, when Democrats and left-leaning independents decided to show their disappointment in Obama's timidity to fight for working families and their anger with DEmocratic acquiescence for going along with right-wing framing that benefitted the ruling elites over ordinary Americans, dozens of conservative Democrats-- including more than half the slimy Blue Dog Caucus-- lost their careers. That wasn't a bad thing. Unfortunately, the tsnami also took down a handful of progressives who had been standing and fighting. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) was one of the good ones we lost. NH-1 is a 50/50 swing district and last year, New Hampshire swung way to the right. A worthless Tea Party sick-up, Frank Guinta, beat her 121,655 (54%) to 95,503 (42%).

Carol has originally beaten incumbent Jeb Bradley in 2006, also a midterm, with a close and unexpected 100,899 (52%) to 94,869 (48%) vote. In 2008, in a rematch with Bradley, Carol won reelection with 176,435 (52%) to 156,338 (46%), Obama winning the district with 53%. If you look at the numbers, what you see is Democrats and left-leaning independents staying how. BIG mistake. Republican turnout from 2008 dropped off by almost 35,000 votes, better than normal for them. Democratic fall off... fell off the cliff-- down almost 61,000 votes for Carol. Voters made their point but it was like cutting off their noses to spite their faces. The New Hampshire legislature is a far right extremist operation now that is horrifying voters (and stay-at-homes) and Guinta has been a lockstep, anti-family shill for Big Business, Cantor and Boehner across the board.

Carol is running for the seat again. You can contribute to her campaign here. This week she did an OpEd on the virulent and hihilistic Republican Party attack on government itself. Please take some time and read what a dedicated public servant-- unlike Rick Perry, Carol hasn';t enriched herself while working for the people-- has to say about the legitimate roll of government in the lives of American citizens.

Our Government, Ourselves

by Carol Shea-Porter

While political discourse has taken a dive in terms of civility and substance, actually something far more sinister and frightening is occurring. There are people who are attacking the basic structure of our government and our faith in it. A few are even talking openly about secession because they truly do not believe in our government and our way of life. (We have always had those people, but they were not politically powerful until now.) But most are being absolutely irresponsible, trying to foment--and gain from-- a deeper anger.

In our past, most politicians for office publicly supported our system of government, and believed we could stand together and solve severe problems. Candidates tried to inspire, or at least tried to be careful to attack the opponent or the platform, not the government.

That has changed.

The attacks are damaging an already fragile trust, and many Americans and the world have responded by becoming increasingly convinced that America’s best days are behind us. Confidence and faith in our ability to solve problems are absolutely essential if we are to move forward, but we have irresponsible politicians (and some media and special interest groups) tearing at that faith and trust. Incredibly, a couple of them are running for president.

Here are some examples of how leaders in the past talked about our country and our problems. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said at his First Inaugural, “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper … The only thing we have to fear is fear itself … which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

It was a buoying remark, a call to hope and patriotism, helping people through the dark days of the Depression.

Remember George W. Bush’s talk to the nation after 9/11? “We have seen the state of our Union in the endurance of rescuers, working past exhaustion. We have seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the giving of blood, the saying of prayers-- in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people …”

On Jan. 9, 1961, President-elect John F. Kennedy said, “Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us-- and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state, and local, must be as a city upon a hill-- constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.”

Are these current politicians and influential public figures “aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities?”

One of New Hampshire’s members of Congress told the tea party that the federal government was taking away all their individual freedoms. And two tea party presidential candidates also have made inflammatory remarks about our government.

The Hill reported that Michele Bachmann “likened America to the sinking Titanic,” and said, “We have gangster government.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, “When we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation … And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.”

This is not responsible leadership. These are outrageous comments, meant to denigrate our federal government.

The interesting thing is Bachmann has sought and received earmarks and Stimulus Act money from the “gangster government” (that would be U.S. taxpayers) and Perry brags about all the jobs in Texas that came from United States Oil and United States defense dollars.

There are other reckless leaders. Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, got almost every single Republican in Congress to sign his no-tax pledge even though he was clear about his intention to hurt our ability to administer this great nation. “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

How can this great country recover and grow with this kind of attitude? How can we pay our bills and invest in technology, infrastructure, and medical research with this blind vision? How can we handle natural disasters like Katrina or attacks like 9/11 if we drown our government? How can we educate or defend ourselves, if we drown the major sources of government funding?

Harry Truman said, “No government is perfect."

We the people have to keep striving, but we need leaders who encourage progress, not defeat, and confidence, not despair.

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