November 8, 2012

Forward?

So, now what? Another election, another four more years of ... more of the same? Let's hope not. Unfortunately, after all the dust settles, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that little has changed. Obama is still in the White House, the Republicans control the House of Representatives, and the Democrats control the Senate. And over on Fox News, they are still searching for the next Ronald Reagan.

So the stage is set for the next big drama, the fiscal cliff. This plot has everything you could want: taxes, deficits, and big government. The players know how to hit their marks. Both sides have their well-rehearsed lines memorized. Republicans will continue to say "no" to tax hikes. The Democrats will insist that the rich pay more taxes as part of any deal. Both sides say they want to cut government spending, but the devil is in the details.

The irony is that the details don't really matter. What matters is the symbolism of a deal being struck. Main Street and Wall Street both want the same thing. They want certainty. It really is that simple. Something, anything. Just get it done and move on. That's all anyone is asking.

The American people have taken on the role of a mediator during a particularly messy divorce. In effect, they have ordered both sides back to the bargaining table. For the last four years, the Republicans have been governed by one overarching goal, preventing the re-election of Barack Obama, mostly by lock-step opposition to nearly every thing he proposed. The electorate has sent the Republicans a message: get over it. Republicans now have a simple choice. Make some sort of deal or continue the obstructionism and risk being swept out of the House in the mid-terms.

Don't think that's likely? Take a look at who for who in this election. Susan Page, writing in USAToday, summed it up this way:
On Obama's side this time: More than nine of 10 African Americans and nearly seven in 10 Hispanics. A solid majority of women and two-thirds of unmarried women. About six in 10 of voters under 30. More than 90% of Democrats and nearly 90% of liberals. More than six in 10 of those who never attend religious services.
On Romney's side: Six of 10 whites and nearly six of 10 seniors. A solid majority of men and of married women, and nearly two-thirds of white men. More than 90% of Republicans and of conservatives. He won high-income voters, evangelical Christians, and those who attend who attend religious services every week or more often.
So, let's see. Democrats appeal to women, Hispanics, blacks, and young people. Republicans appeal to white males (angry or otherwise), conservatives, evangelical Christians, and the 1 percent. You tell me which party has the brighter future.

My solution to the current political impasse: Let's bring in celebrity chef Robert Irvine of the show "Restaurant Impossible." I can see him now, his massive arms wrapped around the shoulders of Obama and Boehner: "All right, you two, here's the problem. There's no one in charge! The front of the house is not talking to the back of the house! The staff doesn't know who to follow! You two have got to get your act together!! Work as a team, and we can make this the success I know you want it to be. Don't, and you will fail."

It's as simple as that. And as complicated.

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