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I Want My America Back -- not the Tea Party's America

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When I was a kid and we were deciding what games to play and how to play them, our slogan was "the majority rules." That constant and lofty principle ranked right up there with "loser walks" after a touchdown in sandlot football. The bullies and the brats who stamped their feet to get their way did not make the rules. We carried the concept of majority rule into our adult lives and assumed it applied to government as well, but apparently that is no longer the case. Some of our elected representatives would bring down this country in pursuit of their own jihad. The majority no longer rules, and we are all losers as a result. When have we ever had a statute enacted when so many legislators voted their approval and simultaneously voiced their disapproval? The country is in a state of despair -- and for good reason. The stock market has obviously given the debt-ceiling "compromise" and the debate leading up to it a flunking grade as has Standard & Poor's.

Wiser voices have spoken about the consequences of the legislation saving the country from its credit default. I am interested and concerned with the process. The undisputed fact is that a minority of the country has taken over its control. Although the cabal may not share blood oaths or secret handshakes, they have their intractable pledges and fanaticism that makes them willing to destroy this country's and possibly the world's economy to achieve their ends. By holding up a vote on what had been a traditional rubber stamp for decades by both political parties to raise the debt limit, they sought to extort compliance with their own demands irrespective of the destruction that might ensue if their demands were not met. This conduct strikes at the very foundations of our democracy and the future of our country.

The same is true of the use, or rather the abuse, of the filibuster rule and need for a super-majority. The filibuster rule was enacted and reserved for those rare occasions when the minority was so incensed or outraged by legislation or appointments proposed by the majority or the president that it used this rule to defeat them. For years, an actual filibuster was required. Now, no one need stand in the well of the Senate and actually filibuster, the mere threat is sufficient, and the rule is used in a trivial manner to defeat or delay virtually all important legislation or appointments proposed by the majority. (I have previously expressed my ambivalence over the survival of 60 vote rule.)

Who can quarrel with noble and popular goals of less government taxes and spending, the reduction of the deficit and the elimination of waste? They are the "Mom and apple pie" of politics. But there is certain hypocrisy in suggesting that this pact not to raise taxes, end or reduce subsidies, loopholes or deductions for the very wealthy is the result of some "grassroots" movement by the public at large. In resisting efforts to raise taxes on the rich and eliminate their deductions, subsidies and loopholes, the argument is made by conservatives that the rich already pay most of the country's taxes. They argue that a large portion of the nation pays little or no taxes. Therefore, by their own admission, this intractable resistance to raising revenues from the wealthy is not some uprising of the people, but rather for the benefit of those that have rather than those who have not.

Apart from the early, classic Tea Party slogan, "Keep the Government out of Our Medicare," the cry was, "I Want My America Back". Well, I want MY America back too. Yes, the deficit must be reduced, waste eliminated, spending curtailed, and entitlements reviewed and probably reduced, but we need a government that operates by compromise not coercion. I want an America that builds bridges and hires workers to build them. I want an America that educates its children, feeds its poor, helps the unemployed, cares for its veterans, provides for the elderly and treats the sick who cannot afford it. I want an America that protects its environment, its food supply, its consumers and its borrowers. I want an America that is more concerned about the civil rights of its citizens rather the mythical invasion of Sharia law. What I don't want is to deny any or all of the foregoing in order to protect the wealth of the wealthiest among us. I want an America that cares as much about its people as it does about its corporations. I want an America that reflects the will of the majority in the decisions it makes and not some small, fringe group that threatens the country and its people in order to achieve its goals. I want an America that is not governed by bullies and brats who insist on making the rules. I want an America in which the rules that governed my childhood playground govern the country as well.

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