This election is the most important of our lifetime because America has reached a tipping point. Four years ago,we voted for hope, change and bipartisanship, but look what happened.
Although President Barack Obama inherited a horrendous crisis, he prevented our economic meltdown, saved the auto industry, stopped millions of public-servant layoffs, invested in infrastructure, reduced everyone’s taxes, cut small business taxes 18 times, reversed job losses and reduced high unemployment.
He drew down two devastating and unfunded wars, killed Osama Bin Laden, passed affordable health care for all Americans, saved $716 billion in Medicare waste and reinvested it in health care, passed Wall Street and credit-card reform, passed equal pay for women, strengthened college loans and submitted legislation to create millions of jobs, rebuild infrastructure and reduce the deficit.
Republicans, on the other hand, opposed virtually all of that and said defeating the president was their No. 1 priority. Blocking America’s critical recovery and crucial job growth for four years actually bordered on treason. Now they’ve nominated Mitt Romney to lead that same charge.
Romney is running on his business record as CEO of Bain Capital. Bain often looked for a sick company, bought it with a huge loan and special tax breaks, transferred the debt to that company, sold the assets to pay investors big dividends, walked away with millions stashed in the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes and left the hollow carcass to go bankrupt. Is that what we want for our country?
If so, the Bush administration already set us up with the huge debt. What’s left is to sell our assets, outsource defense jobs, outsource education, entrust health care to insurance companies again, undo Wall Street reforms, replace Medicare with vouchers, privatize social security, dismantle the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, increase big-oil subsidies, ship jobs overseas and walk away.
Will we put our faith in a presidential candidate who doesn’t consistently stand for anything specifically and in a campaign of proven lies about the economy, foreign policy, government growth, job creation, tax reductions, health care, workfare, the deficit and credit downgrade? Are we comfortable with a party that rails against government intrusion, except in our bedrooms, bodies and churches?
Will we allow a party to buy the election with secret, unlimited, corporate funds or steal it by suppressing the votes of elderly, minorities and students? Do we really want an elitist corporate fox guarding the henhouse? Will he be working for the chickens, or is he just a pawn of global predators, loyal only to their corporate profits in a dog-eat-dog world of money?
Are we heading for an oligarchy like Russia, where only the rich and powerful rule?
Republican strategy is based on the assumption that Americans are too stupid to pay attention to barefaced efforts to steal our democracy. Will we succumb to distortions, lies, pageantry and false patriotism? Will we vote against our own interests, as the Romans did right before their fall? Are we really so dumb and complacent that “that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall (indeed) perish from the earth?”
Think it can’t happen here? Better convince your family and friends otherwise and make your voices heard because we may find out on Nov. 6.
David Estey is a fine-arts painter in Belfast and a retired IRS regional manager of public affairs for five Middle Atlantic states and Washington, D.C.