Us vs. US Politics

Television talking heads are prone to impart a strange standard for Joe and Jane Public to use when weighing the virtues of presidential candidates: the “who would you like to have a beer with?” question.

Heck, I don’t know.

I believe a Texan named George W. Bush came out ahead of Al Gore on that key “likability” question in 2000. In a divided nation the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount, awarding Bush the presidency. Gore, the good of the nation in mind, bowed out without an extended fight. Well, how did that work out?

Two wars that changed hundreds of billions in budget surpluses into huge deficits. Real estate values, Wall Street stocks, Main Street businesses and the U.S. automobile industry all hit the skids; the resulting stimulus bills are still unpaid.

A thinking person would have to conclude that maybe the middle class and American workers were not the first thing on George W. Bush’s mind.

W., like his father before him, was a well-off Republican from Day One. My father, in contrast, chose to be a lifelong Democrat and he knew why. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932 to save the nation from a deep Depression. President Hoover proved unable to take the actions needed to get the country moving again, but FDR had bold ideas, plus the energy and Congressional clout to implement them.

FDR’s successor was Harry Truman, who ended the war in 1945 and defeated the GOP in 1948. Do you remember the Republican slogan in that campaign?

I do. It was on signs all over our Valley and asked this question: “Had Enough”?

In the GOP world view, no voter in his or her right mind could choose Truman in 1948. Getting the nation out of the Depression and winning the war, plus passing the G.I. Bill and integrating the Armed Forces against the advice of all the generals and admirals afloat wasn’t enough for some postwar voters.

Truman barnstormed the country. At one whistle-stop a supporter yelled, “Give them hell, Harry”! Truman ad-libbed, “I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.”

There’s nothing new under the sun. GOP prevaricators were on full display in Tampa. Well, their dour view lost in 1948. The thinking voters of 2012 will take note of Obama’s accomplishments in the face of implacable foes: Congressional Republicans.

Speaking of hearts and health care, and we should, I commend your attention to a letter to the editor of the Gazette on Tuesday. I don’t know Peggy Lucey of Northampton, but I like her style when it comes to defining the many differences between our Republican U.S. senator, Scott Brown, and his Democratic challenger – the creator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Wall Street nemesis, Elizabeth Warren.

Favoring a management style known as “walking around,” Lucey took her dog through her neighborhood, where the Brown lawn signs say “he’s for us.”

Using the Socratic method, Peggy’s missive questioned the use of the word “us.” Was Sen. Brown part of us when he voted against three jobs bills in 2011? Is it the seniors who would lose out if Obamacare is repealed by Romney, or when our grandkids lose health coverage now in place until age 26? How about women getting equal pay for equal work? Or will all of us be losers on Sen. Brown’s votes favoring Wall Street more than the EPA?

Lucey’s expositions are but a variation of Tonto’s fictional reply to the Lone Ranger’s battle plan, when they were under attack by Native Americans: “What do you mean by ‘us,’ Kemo Sabe”?

A great letter to the editor is one that makes people think twice before they vote.

As a senior who’s alive thanks to Medicare, I have many good reasons to be and to vote Democratic. The choice between pushing up daisies and enjoying them for many more springs seems obvious to me, but apparently not to all. I just reread my own Gazette column from July 1999. George W. Bush was still on the horizon and claiming to be a “compassionate conservative.” A comedian of the era wondered, “Why doesn’t he make up his mind?”

Thirteen years have passed, but the questions never seem to change. As the song goes, “Who can explain it, who can tell you why?”

The only answer is to go to the polls and vote your best interests.

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