Yesterday Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States for a second term, the proverbial four more years. But four more years of what? That’s what likely to be decided in the next several months in Washington.
In his inaugural address the President talked about a lot of issues that America needs to start addressing these next four years, issues like jobs, climate change, immigration reform, human rights, gun violence, energy independence and more. Real problems, real issues, for which real solutions are needed. And what was the Republican response?
“I think all Americans would hope that President Obama, now that he’s not facing re-election, would actually sit down and honestly work with Republicans who are very sincere in our desire to fix these problems,” said Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin. “You’ve got to sit down in good faith,” Johnson added. “But I just don’t see that with this president.”
Here’s what another Republican, Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, had to say: “I’m surprised we’ve so abruptly noticed after this election we’re now managing America’s demise, not America’s great future.”
Coming from representatives of a party that did everything in their power to undermine and destroy Obama’s first term even if that meant greatly damaging America in the process, comments like these are rich. They should serve to remind us just what a poisonous force the modern Republican party has become.
In fairness I should say that not all Republicans reacted like these two twits. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), a man with whom I doubt I agree on a single thing, said that he didn’t want to criticize Obama on Inauguration Day. “He appealed to our better angels,” Cornyn said. “Any differences we have on policy, the president gets a pass on his inauguration.”
That’s the kind of attitude that I’m told formerly prevailed when a President was sworn in. But most Republicans who I’ve seen quoted took some kind of jab at Obama yesterday.
As someone once asked another Republican Senator years ago: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
Do you want to know what’s wrong with Washington these days? Look no further than Senator Mitch McConnell. Just two days before Obama was publicly sworn in, McConnell, in a frantic e-mail, telephone recording, and letter to friends and supporters back in Kentucky, had this to say about the President’s gun proposals.
“You and I are literally surrounded. The gun-grabbers in the Senate are about to launch an all-out-assault on the Second Amendment. On your rights. On your freedom,” according to The Hill
“[T]hey’re coming for your guns,” the email exhorted.
McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, is best known for something else he said a couple of years ago, of course: “The single most important thing we [Senate GOP] want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
Look, people, personally I think McConnell is wrong on the gun issue, but I can accept that he might have a different point of view than mine. What’s hard to accept is this effort to demonize anyone with a different opinion, to scare people with ridiculous claims, to fan the flames of fear and hate. We need a real debate about gun violence in this country, not a phony debate. Sadly, phony debates are the only ones Republicans seem interested in having these days.
Those of you who have followed this blog know that I am not President Obama’s biggest fan. How can you be enthusiastic about a President who not only takes it upon himself to be the judge, jury and executioner of Americans with whom he disagrees, but who refuses to even explain to the American people from where this power to kill other Americans comes? Nor do I think the Democrats are all that much better than the Republicans. Whereas Republicans seem brainless, heartless, or both, Democrats seem spineless most of the time.
So, no; even though Obama and the Democrats have done more for gay Americans than their predecessors, I am never going to roll over and play dead for the man or the party.
But I do think Obama’s inaugural address laid out some of the important challenges this country is facing in the next four years. And I also think the comments of Senator Johnson and Representative Sessions are indicative of the likely Republican response.
Instead of trying to address the real challenges America faces, it looks like Republicans may try to serve up another four years of phony fiscal crises.
Look, if you think debt and the deficit are a problem, the solution is real clear.
Pay your bills (and that means raising the debt ceiling unconditionally). Recognize that any solution to our financial problems is going to involve both revenue increases and spending reductions (because neither party can force the other to accept its preferred solution to the problem); and stop funding the government through a series of continuing resolutions that make rational management impossible (and that means stop using the necessary budget and appropriation bills to score political points and recognize them for what they are, a way of setting priorities).
There’s the solution right there, people. It isn’t complicated, but it’s probably hard and the only question that remains is whether Republicans are willing to do something about the problem or just prefer to keep kicking the can down the road to avoid the tough decisions.
Republicans claim they want entitlement reform, for example, which many people translate into shredding the social safety net. Okay, fine; I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. But they have to tell me specifically what that means. What exactly do they want to do to put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on a sounder financial basis?
Once they actually put something forward, I can respond and we can talk about it. In fact, Obama has even tried to go first with proposals I didn’t much like. But the Republicans did what they always do. They said what Obama proposed wasn’t good enough without proposing anything else in its place.
This is all bullshit, folks, and a lot of us are not going to put up with another four more years of phony Republican fiscal crises. It’s the only thing the idiotic media in this country may want to talk about. But some of the rest of us want to talk about other issues that are as important, if not more important, than phony crises that the Republicans will do nothing to actually resolve.
We want to know where our representatives and senators stand on gun violence, what they’re willing to do and what not. Climate change is real and it is with us now, people. What the hell are these people in Washington going to do about it? These and other critical issues cannot wait another four years. They need to start being addressed now.
So, excuse me, no, Senator Johnson and Representative Sessions. We want to see you start actually doing something to address real problems for a change, not just running your mouths spouting the same tired old bullshit that tired old white men have been spouting for the last four years.
Lead or get out of the way, dudes. We’re sick of rhetoric. We want action on real problems, not the phony ones you keep contriving and then refusing to address.
That’s why a few of us will be marching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument this Saturday (January 26) to support some needed changes in our gun laws. There probably won’t be many of us because this demonstration is being put together on the fly by people who’ve never done this kind of thing before and have no money.
But it’s a start, however small, and I encourage you to join us if you can; and if you can’t? You can do something. If you haven’t already done so, you can tell your Senators and Representatives to do something to address the problem of gun violence in America. Or to do something about some other issue you consider important.
But do something to make this country better for crying out loud!