I’ve been having that feeling for the past week now, and I’m not happy with it. Usually in our recent past history, Washington politicians have come to their senses and done the right thing by the nation rather than agree to a tailspinning disaster. I just don’t think that’s going to happen this time. Republicans seem determined to cause hardship and misery for millions for the sake of an ideology that only the Tea Party fanatics believe in. Do they really think that bringing down the US economy will win them the White House in 2012? The Democrats aren’t much better. They’ve all decided that cutting everything will be good for the country. Oh yeah? And what, exactly, do they mean by that? Good for whom? Those who are already rich and getting richer by the minute? Do they care about the millions who have already lost their shirts, literally? If they do they sure do not seem to, and meanwhile the Danny Hartzell’s of the US and the world multiply.
Calling the battle over the debt ceiling “a contest between grown-up sobriety and juvenile righteousness”, George Packer, writing in the New Yorker sums up his view of Washington behavior and Danny Hartzell’s plight this way:
Nor does it leave much hope. President Obama, responsibly acceding to the reality of divided government, is now the leading champion of fiscal austerity, and his proposals contain very little in the way of job creation. More important, he no longer uses his office’s most powerful tool, rhetorical suasion, to keep the country focused on the continued need for government activism. His opponents’ approach to job creation is that of a cargo cult—just keep repeating “tax cuts”—even though the economic evidence of the past three decades refutes such magical thinking. What does either side have to offer the tens of millions of Americans who have settled into a semi-permanent state of economic depression? Virtually nothing. But if responsibility were fused with conviction—if politics were a vocation in Washington today—the Hartzells would be represented at the negotiating table.
If the plight of Danny Hartzell so vividly described by Mr. Packer were the only case in sight or even one of an exceptionally small number of people, maybe it wouldn’t be quite so appalling for the politicians to ignore them. But there are millions of similar cases. We all know people who are out of work and have been for months or years, and who have also run out of benefits, lost their homes, moved in with relatives or friends with no way to care for sick children. There is no sane reason for this move by all toward the radicalism of extreme right wing conservatives. It is a surrender to those who yell the loudest, who repeat the same nonsensical lies until they have finally silenced the opposition. Seems to me a similar thing happened in Germany in the late 20’s and 30’s, but I forget – nobody studies history any more. They just make it up to suit what they believe has to be true according to their ideology.
The job loss map at Slate is terrifying, and it only shows the years between 2007 and 2009. Imagining what it would look like today is nightmarish. Go take a look, and remember that all that red indicates the losses of individuals, most of whom have worked hard for most of the lives and many of whom will remain unemployed for the foreseeable future all because of minority of fanatics in Washington.