Critters Political

Election, please be done

Election 2010 is one of the most exciting mid-terms I’ve been through, and the one I want finished more than any other in the past. That the election has been ugly is the mother of all understatements. Add to this the anxiousness of seeing people I would expect to find living behind barbed wire with signs saying “Trezpassers will be shot”, amid hills filled with buried food and real metal coins, as candidates for national office, and I find myself wishing for an alien invasion from space.

Except the aliens wouldn’t be welcome in Arizona, and no matter their appearance, Sharron Angle would say they look vaguely Asian. It is that kind of fruitcake year.

The effect the Tea Party has had on the election is evident, and not just on the chosen candidates. The Tea Party folks said they were angry and that anger continued and solidified until we now have this sullen ember of burning, querulous discontent that is the antithesis of hope that marked 2008. That a campaign worker would stomp on a woman after she was knocked to the ground just doesn’t surprise us. That he would then ask for an apology from the women is no more than a head shaking moment. Worse, in all the foot stomping media coverage, no one asked the question, “Why was she knocked down in the first place?” She was neither armed nor a threat, and the only crime she seemed to be guilty of is that she wasn’t one of the people around her. But she was knocked down, and the police actually called and no one has said, “Wait? What’s up with that?”

Of course, this doesn’t surprise us either, as we’ve watched candidates literally fleeing from buildings and handcuffing journalists, rather than answer questions that should be asked, to get answers we need.

What’s most frightening though is knowing that there will be people who vote for candidates with staff members that stomp on a woman as she is held helpless on the ground or handcuff a journalist asking questions; candidates who refuse to answer questions and then display an unseemly pride in the fact. “We don’t answer questions from the liberal media”, they shout. When you look around, though, you quickly realize that all but a few are deemed liberal media.

What’s a little humorous, in a sad, shadowy way, is that here in Missouri, one of the birthplaces of the Tea Party movement, not one Tea Party candidate for national office made it to the polls. I’m not sure what that says about Missouri, other than it can be an exhausting place to live sometimes.

We do have our share of contentiousness, though. The Blunt/Carnahan race has been deemed one of the ugliest in the nation, and that tells you a lot when you consider how ugly the campaigns have been. We also have controversial issues up for a vote including Propositions A and B: The Earnings Tax Initiative and the Puppy Mill Cruelty Act. You would expect an issue related to taxes to be acrimonious…but puppies?

Early on, thanks to a rant from Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, it was thought that the Tea Party movement would move, as one monolithic body, against the puppies, but no such event happened. It would seem that the Angry Ones draw the line when it comes to their dogs. However, there is still plenty of hostility remaining, as the agricultural interests worked hard to ensure that they would be allowed to treat their animals however they wanted. It is none of our business, they tell us, if dogs live their lives on wire floors, in small cages that barely allow the dog to turn around, without a chance to run on the grass, sniff the air, or even chew a dog bone. One pet shop owner said in an interview that the dogs’ needs are met, and that we should be so lucky to live so well.

Unemployment is high, too high. Companies are actually doing well, but we’re faced with a new phenomena where companies having money no longer translate into jobs, as employees are expected to do more for less pay, or jobs are outsourced to other countries. Some say all we need do is lower taxes, but taxes are not the problem, nor are they the solution.

And yet, among all the anger and evasiveness, and cruelty and greed, the hope does still remain.

This last weekend, as a closed down factory farm breeder auctioned off 800 dogs, rescuers came from all over the country to try to save some of them. They managed to save 200, probably the ones that needed help the most. The other 600 went to commercial dog breeders, primarily the Amish who have taken to large scale dog breeding like ducks to water, but there’s hope for the dogs. There’s a change in the wind, and a growing awareness of what lies behind that cute little doggy in the window, and the days of these large, inhumane facilities are coming to a close.

Today, we also have a national health care plan. If all goes as planned, the majority of those currently uninsured will be covered in three years. In three years, no one need fear having to go bankrupt when they become ill; people will no longer be dying solely because they don’t have insurance. A need for a national health care plan has been one of the top concerns of every president since Harry Truman, and now that we have one, I’ll be damned if I’ll let someone tell me it’s a failure.

Unemployment is high, yes, but we have stopped that out-of-control upward spiral that began in 2008. We are spending a little more—not a lot, but we spending. There is no longer a threat of financial collapse, and people’s pension funds now look a lot safer than they were a few years back. People seemingly hate the stimulus fund, but it has provided jobs. They hate TARP, but it actually succeeded, and may even make the country money someday. We should actually be more hopeful today, if it weren’t for the incessant messages of doom and gloom— messages that reflect political and corporate motivation more than reality.

After years of watching consumer rights eroded, they’re back and even stronger with new consumer protection laws. The practices that triggered our financial meltdown have now been blocked and hopefully blasted into enough pieces so they can never surface again. The FCC came out with a report condemning the debt collection practices and urging states to crack down on abusive debt collectors. A state attorney general managed to convince the largest and most notorious arbitration firm to no longer take consumer cases—people’s constitutional rights to the courts have been restored.

Thanks to the new health care act, health care clinics in our state and others have received enough money to expand their operations; sick kids can’t be denied coverage; the ill can continue needed treatments; college students can remain on their parent’s policies, rather than trust to youth to keep them from financial disaster.

We’re gaining private sector jobs, not losing them. The Osage Bridge opened recently, and our beloved Eades bridge is getting a safety upgrade—just a few of the many stimulus-funded projects that dot the land and provide signs that something is working.

Considering how bad things were two years ago—how hopeless and terrifying the times—the fact that people now have the luxury to be angry is nothing short of a miracle. I have never been more proud of being a Democrat.

And this morning, 200 dogs now have a chance for a better life.

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