Sunday morning (12-11-11), the New York Times opinion section featured an article that starts off with this question: “CAN God take credit for the victories of a thick-set N.F.L. quarterback who scrambles in a weirdly jittery fashion, throws one of the ugliest balls in the game, completes fewer than half of his passes and has somehow won six of his team’s last seven games?” At first blush the question seems out of place. Since when does religion of any kind and sports have anything to do with each other?
The article goes on to discuss the fact that whether you believe it is “god” or “God” or some other form of deity that is the cause of the success, the point is that the Broncos are experiencing success due to the level of optimism and “belief,” or “faith” if you will, that they can succeed. That is all fine and good, but it begs the question, “Why don’t the Democrats display this same level of belief with regard to their ability to shape this country and hold the destructive forces responsible for their actions?” After all, if faith in a leader, or belief that they are worthy of success is enough to bring a team like the Broncos from a 1-4 start to a current shot at the playoffs, why can’t this optimism be applied in other areas of American life?
One of the reasons we don’t see that level of belief in politics is that the base element required for such a strong emotion is conviction. I would be hard pressed to support the idea that any of our current “leaders” actually contain the power of conviction within their elected roles. The exception to that statement is, occasionally, President Obama. The conviction might actually exist in the hearts of many of our leaders, but the evidence is sorely lacking in their actions.
Let us consider for example, the budget issue that tied up every member of Congress for the majority of the session in July. The right thing to do was (and is) to increase taxes on the top 1%-5% of the wealthiest members of the nation. As Paul Krugman put it, “The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further. Pay no attention to those who invoke the confidence fairy, claiming that tough action on the budget will reassure businesses and consumers, leading them to spend more. It doesn’t work that way, a fact confirmed by many studies of the historical record.” In spite of overwhelming evidence that this will not help the deficit and will not help the economy, the President keeps caving in to the Republican threats. “He surrendered last December, extending all the Bush tax cuts; he surrendered in the spring when they threatened to shut down the government; and he has now surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion over the debt ceiling. Maybe it’s just me, but I see a pattern here.”
So here we see that it is the Republicans that are making bad choices for the country, convinced of their moral superiority and employing the “gospel of optimism” and the Democrats, the chosen protectors of our nation, elected officials given all the backing they should ever need – that of the PEOPLE – constantly having their conviction and confidence giving out under pressure and conceding to the Republican demands.
Why? That isn’t with the PEOPLE requested when they elected President Obama. That isn’t what the PEOPLE desired when they handed the Senate majority over to Democratic officials. So what has happened to the Democratic conviction, confidence and optimism? Some would suggest it is because Democrats are “godless”. I highly doubt that is the case since even atheists have proven they can be optimistic and maintain their own moral convictions without a “god”.
Unfortunately the conclusion that keeps surfacing over and over when pondering this question, is that the reason our Democratic leaders are unable to take a stand on topics that matter most to their constituents is that there must be a greater influence in their decision making paradigm. Is that influence fear? Is it money? Is it power? Is it ignorance? Is it corporate support? Does someone have naked pictures of them doing something they shouldn’t be? Does someone somewhere hold their friends and family as hostages?
It is ironic really that the “winners” of the 2008 election have been less reliable and less able to hold to their pre-election statements than the “losers”… which begs the question, “Did we actually win?”
I am not sure how that question could be answered, but what I do know is that we the people have a chance in about 9 months to express our own conviction and optimism in the future (hard to believe I actually have any at this point, isn’t it..). We have the ability to express to the country that those who represent our views, desires for the country, and convictions and have proven that they are able to uphold those convictions with their own, deserve our support. Elizabeth Warren is one of those.
In fact, there is evidence that the Democratic people have their own “gospel of optimism”. As reported by Daily News Transcript, “The moderator asked the audience to quiet down and the candidates to come up on stage. Three men took their places, smiling and shaking hands, to no particular notice. Then Elizabeth Warren came up and the crowd went crazy. The auditorium at Stonehill College was packed with enthusiastic Democrats. They are fired up over the state of the country and eager to knock Republican Scott Brown out of “the people’s seat” in the U.S. Most of them were excited about Warren, whom the national media, national Republicans and deep-pocketed organizations assume will be the Democratic nominee.”
So Democrats, let’s get with the program. Let’s engage our optimism and conviction and make it know to our elected “leaders” that they need to start reflecting OUR desires and OUR convictions if they have none of their own.
As Tug McGraw says, “You gotta believe!”
Image: The White House