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It All Began in 1988

Posted by Michael Zahara on Apr 11, 2010

Our Sunday Morning Analysis Series Continues

I was 27 years old and in Chicago at the time.  George H W Bush was the anointed GOP candidate despite strong primary opposition from the religious right in a year that saw that faction at their very peak of power; they would never again be as strong as they were that year.

We nominated the worst Democrat of the 20th century in Michael Dukakis and he chose Senator Lloyd Bentson as his VP who delivered a now infamous line in his debate with Dan Quayle.

Then Governor Bill Clinton delivered perhaps the worst speech in DNC convention history and was all but booed off the stage.  The head of my home CD’s massive 13,000 volunteer precinct army literally threw the arrogant Dukakis people out of our headquarters after they dared to instruct us how to go out and get votes in the neighborhoods!

Dukakis riding around in a tank with a helmet on ended the campaign that very day just as John Kerry’s windsurfing did in 2004, but the Bush team unleashed the ad heard around the world: ‘Willie Horton’, and he would never look back that year.

My progressive extremist friends howled at how ‘unfair’ the Horton ad was; how ‘racist’ is was, etc…but how does one sell a candidate that furloughed murders in Massachusetts?

I was an Al Gore guy that year back when he was the very conservative senator from Tennessee; today, that 1988 man is extinguished in favor of a Climate Fascist who has made a tidy living exploiting impressionable people while proving that nothing is staid or static in politics.

1988 was a turning point year for me too and I would never again ‘drink the Kool-Aid’, but would forever follow my instincts and pledged to ‘know my own voters’, not tow the national party’s company line.

Many of you have gotten that ‘know your own voters’ advice from me and I hope that you follow it because 2010 will be a watershed year for you newer people.

All the hard leg work of Dems this past decade will be for naught as the independent voters we worked so hard to cultivate, abandon us in droves; if we hold on to 20% of those in 2010 that voted with us the last three cycles, I will be surprised.

1988 was also the year that both parties went into their the intractable corners and defined themselves:  Dems solidified their being the party of abortion for 12 year olds without any adult knowing about it, and the GOP, struggling with the invasion of the religious folks, came to a ‘separate peace’ with them against their traditional small government, pro business roots.

If I had to choose a specific moment where the parties split permanently to their far extremist corners we see today, I think the confirmation of Clarence Thomas would be a good choice; we’ve never been the same since.

By the time 1992 came around, the right was disillusioned with Bush 41 and Ross Perot rode the wave of the Tea Partiers of his day to 20 million votes, ensuring the election of the faux-Democrat, Bill Clinton, who began his journey of lies to us with a infamous appearance on 60 Minutes claiming no infidelities.

Bill Clinton’s failed presidency would never recover, though he was re-elected despite losing the Congress.  We elected trailer park trash that sold the White House to the highest bidders, gave away state secrets to the Chinese and others, and sold the very soul of the Democratic Party to Wall Street; dismantling decades old laws designed to protect things like our banking system when they eventually ended laws like the Glass-Steagall Act.

The entire Nevada delegation of the day voted to end the Act, and the financial world will never be the same.  It will take us at least a decade to crawl out of this one and we closely resemble post-1980’s Japan Inc that was mired in economic sludge for nearly 20 years afterward.

Everything was for sale in the 1990’s; the Clintons were the most vulgar couple ever to occupy the White House, and the current Great Clinton Recession is solely the fault of the dismantling policies that the Clintons championed–Bush 43 just ran with the football that the Clintons left for him–and Wall Street went nuts with exotic instruments that brought the world to financial collapse with no one watching the store.

Clinton was also the first ‘Bubble’ president; creating millions of $10 an hour jobs with no benefits and shipping higher paying jobs offshore with failures like NAFTA.  Bill Clinton is the president that stewarded in the free-falling wages and falling buying power of what was once America’s now extinct middle-class.

Bill Clinton was the Democrats’ first Wall Street president.

No one can tell us what the SEC was doing for the last two decades either; it seems they were just showing up for work and reading the paper and sloshing coffee, but currently, Senator Chris Dodd is proposing new legislation that does not again separate commercial and investment banking as Glass-Steagall did, and he was quite candid in saying that his new bill won’t prevent another meltdown!

So what’s the point?

And people wonder why the populous had no faith in our political and government institutions?

That’s what’s fueling the current Tea Party surge; no faith and zero trust in those we entrust.  They are an extension of previous third party efforts dating back to at least Huey Long and George Wallace.  The difference today is that the federal government has become so huge, our debt so crippling, that their resonance is striking a chord with those independents both parties need to win national elections.

Unfortunately, President Obama did not bring us ‘change’, he brought us a super-expansion of federal spending that no one wanted when he needed to stabilize the country’s structures and institutions first.  He has grossly expanded every single Cabinet level department, every federal bureaucrat has gotten raises, and thousands of new employees added on, and no one in his administration ever thought that cutting federal salaries and freezing spending and expansion would at least send a symbolic message to the country and to those independents who control everything these days.

It was recently reported that over 2,000 staffers of the House of Representatives are now earning in the six figures while 22 million Americans struggle to find work.

How tin-eared can a political party be?  The Republicans are no better; they are Democrat-lite.  Please, tell me any discernable difference in either party today!

And they dismiss the Tea Partiers?  That’s what’s fueling their movement; the disconnect between Washington and ‘fly-over’ country is the widest gulf I have seen in my lifetime and we are seeing an ever growing surge in people referring to themselves as ‘independents’ that I first noticed in North Carolina in 2000.

Obama won them in North Carolina in 2008, but will lose them in 2012.

After the 2000 fiasco, I wrote that I didn’t think we would ever again have a two-term President or long term party control of either House of Congress–then came 9/11, and Bush 43 consolidated his control, expanded his majorities.

We’ve never fired a President during wartime.

Since 1988, we’ve all become very demanding of instant answers and solutions fueled by an explosion of the Internet, blogs, and cell phones, and the first Gulf War which brought us instant coverage as the bombs were falling.  I remember watching CNN with my buddies thinking how cool it was that we were seeing the war in ‘real-time’–what I didn’t know then was how destructive this Instant Gratification Complex we’re all in would be to the Body Politic.

We’ve become a nation of an archipelago of 306 million tiny little islands of self-importance; zero patience, zero delayed gratification, and two parties that can’t stop spending because we want all of our civic enjoyments without any of the responsibilities to pay for them.

‘Cut the other guy’s program, but don’t dare touch mine!’, is the rallying cry of all of us these days.  What the current Tea Partiers are ignoring is that they’re failing to address that which is our biggest problem across the political spectrum: our own self-interests and self-indulgent behaviors.

I can find no economic modeling to get ourselves out of the place we’ve dug ourselves into.  In about 10 years, our debt will be consuming close to 100% of our GDP and no one seems to want to acknowledge that, much less acknowledge that we may lose our nation’s credit rating, actually default and go bankrupt, and become a fiscal banana republic of hyper-inflation and no value to our currency.

Peronist Argentina will seem like a picnic in the park comparatively.

We are very much a nation of spoiled pre-schoolers demanding our milk and cookies from someone else without realizing how expensive that milk and those cookies really are and that we’re all on the hook for their real costs.

I had hoped that 9/11 would change our arrogance, but six weeks later, we were back to normal and back to our respective corners of self-interest.

And so the 2010 elections will change the faces in Congress–in a nation where more than half of those eligible fail to register and vote–leaving the majority of the country not even participating in the civic processes.

I can’t say that I really blame them; look at the hot mess both parties have left for all of us. 

I think we’ve got to first admit that we’ve all enabled them toward our current collapse of confidence. 

There’s got to be a better way.  There has to be.  I wish I had the answers for you, but I don’t.  I wish I could tell you that the new GOP majorities after the elections will make a difference, but they won’t.

We’ve been convulsing for at least the past 22 years with no signs of anyone willing to stop the insanity to save the nation.

This is the primary reason I’ve always supported Term Limits across the board for all office holders at all levels.  At least we’d see some new blood and maybe some new ideas and approaches too; because the Founders must be weeping over what we’re all destroying today.

Mike Zahara Siganture

Mike Zahara