Plenty of Progressives, Greens and other Democrats don't much like President Obama, partly because when they pulled the lever in 2008, they'd thought he was more their kind of guy. It's not hard to find some who say there's really no difference between him and Mitt Romney -- that they're both corporatists taking this country to the same place.
Stuff and nonsense, I say. This country can't afford any more Republican governments steering the ship of state on the rocks. That goes double if they refuse to discuss the past -- as if ignoring the past didn't condemn us to repeat it.
So here are two great reasons to vote the straight Democratic ticket in November, whether or not you feel Obama's problem is that he doesn't measure up to your best hopes.
First: Three Supreme Court Justices turn 80 in the next 4 years. The next president will appoint their replacements. They'll either set the right wing agenda in cement, or fight it. Do you really want to look back on Citizens United and Sheldon Adelson as the golden age of participatory democracy and judicial restraint?
Second: Based on his behavior so far, President Mitt Romney will be entirely in the grip of the most extreme elements of the right wing, and will double down on the agenda that's brought America to the current pass. He's said so. To paraphrase Antony in Julius Caesar, Romney is an honorable man -- so are they all, all honorable men.
And while right wingers always change the subject or deny it when it's raised, the truth is that what's brought the ordinary American's life to its current state has been 30 years of Republican-sponsored, right wing ideas about government, taxes, society, and what's good enough for the average American. They don't have to like it. But the facts remain.
The question isn't the facts. They're what they are. The question is how any patriotic American could keep endorsing the policies that created them.
Here they are. Between 1980 and 2008, the median American family's income barely budged, but their buying power fell by more than half. In 2008 dollars, that family income was $44,059 in 1980, and $50,303 in 2008.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index went from 86.9 in 1980, to 215.2 in 2010. So beginning with Ronald Reagan, your typical American family got a pay cut of 59.63%.
In the same period, US gross domestic product per capita in 2010 Dollars grew from $12,180 in 1980 to $48,442 in 2011. This was made better -- or worse, depending -- by the fact that the American population in 1980 was 227.2 million, but 311.6 million in 2010.
Somebody got that money, and it wasn't the typical American family.
In that same period, the percent of households below the poverty level grew from 13.3% of all households in 1980 to 15.1% of all households in 2010, while according to the arithmetic, the number of those households grew from 10.7 million in 1980 to 17.2 million in 2010. There were 80.7 million households in the US in 1980 and 114.2 million households in the United States in 2010.
In other words, beginning with Ronald Reagan, and in the 31 years in which Republicans and their right wing allies had, at a minimum, a strong -- some would say decisive--influence on America, the economy grew, but so did poverty. No trickle down benefit for typical American families, or poor folks either.
You would think that an honest man, looking honestly at figures like that and wanting the best for the whole country, would suspect there might be some connection between those facts and tax policy.
After all, cutting taxes was supposed to make life better for everybody, since 2009 Americans have been paying the smallest share of their income for taxes in 60 years, and more people than ever are struggling. That suggests lower taxes don't mean general prosperity, and that honest people might want to change their minds about how great low taxes have been for America.
But that's not where Mr. Romney and his friends come out. He says he'll cut taxes another 20%, and won't tell us how he'll make up the deficits that would create. That is, he won't just keep the Bush tax cuts, but double down on them.
Well. According to a recent study released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities -- admittedly, a group not backed by the Koch Brothers -- just keeping the current tax policies in place would create $1 trillion annual deficits for the next decade.
."...in fact," says the study. "the economic downturn (which began under President Bush ed.), President Bush's tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years... (and) the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will account for almost half of the $20 trillion in debt that, under current policies, the nation will owe by 2019."
That's under current policies -- not cutting taxes another 20%.
The prospect of President Romney offers other reasons to vote for Obama, of course -- foreign and domestic policies writ large are only some of them.
You have to ask yourself, for instance, what sort of encouragement a Romney Administration would give to the plans of states like Louisiana, which, under the aegis of Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, wants to allow its charter schools to teach children that slavery wasn't that bad, ditto the Great Depression, dragons were real, and that they don't need to learn modern mathematics.
It's still your country. If you can keep it.
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