It is being called "A Wave" that swept across the nation. The complexion of Minnesota's legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives changed from majority Democratic Party to majority Republican. My DFL Congressman in the Eighth District Jim Oberstar lost his seat after 36 years in Congress to an airline pilot who has never run for elective office.
"It's the Economy, Stupid," was heard from the Clinton Presidential campaign back in 1992. Most pundits today agree it is the "Economy" again this Fall that has submerged more than 60 Democratic seats in the House of Representatives. With official unemployment stuck around ten percent and actual unemployment more like 15 to 20 percent, for voters it didn't feel like the Great Recession was over. Millions have been tossed out of their homes or are now facing foreclosure.
Banks and investment houses committed fraud and trickery in the housing market by offering mortgages and securities that were indeed "too good to be true" to careless buyers who snapped them up. Now the buyers stand accused of poor judgement, while the perpetrators have walked away with obscene riches. When the resulting housing bubble burst the overheated economy collapsed. Its rescue has been difficult and expensive. So, blame the victims and blame the political party in power for the downturn.
Enter the Big Money from the businesses that have profited by the government's stalemate. Oil, Health Insurance, Finance, and Pharmaceuticals. With the First Amendment right of "free speech" given them by a 5-to-4 Supreme Court, these corporate, moneyed interests have mounted a no-holds-barred effort to poison the name of "government". Using this anonymous money, newly-organized "Tea Party" demonstrations have been conducted in courthouse squares across the land (Aitkin, MN, included). "Take back our government!" the demonstrators cry.
This Navy veteran helped to defend our citizens for over 17 years, and believe me, as an election judge for the past 12 years, nobody has snatched away our freely-elected government in this neck of the woods!
But an issue which does concern me is "war." We have been fighting two wars, for nine years in Afghanistan, and seven years in Iraq. The mid-term election campaigns were silent on this issue. The prolonged sacrifice of "other people's sons and daughters" by our leaders, who fought both wars with borrowed money, needed to be examined and debated.
After all this time, what are our objectives in the Middle East? Did we continue to fight to control Iraq's oil fields after deposing of its ruler? The attack on the Twin Towers came from al Qaida in Afghanistan, which is currently headquartered in Pakistan, our "ally."
Spending on two wars, and on the increase in armaments and personnel for the past decade, has driven us deep into debt. Cutting taxes for the very rich has deepened the hole we are in. Republican cries for smaller government, lower taxes, and balanced budgets make no sense in our present predicament as we bind up our veterans' wounds and pay off these risky overseas adventures.
I look for the Democratic President and the Democratic Senate to keep on changing these war policies and getting at the real causes of our financial failures and our fiscal irresponsibility. Plus we have the urgent unfinished government business of Immigration Reform, Global Warming, and Alternate Energy Development.
So let the American democratic republic continue to "respond to the people."