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Election Day Or Groundhog Day?




By Stacey Roberts


Here we go again.


Election season is heating up and it’s all starting to look familiar. Even if you don’t pay attention to the news or politics, you’ve probably heard of most of the presidential candidates.


You may have heard of the people running to be your Congressman or Senator, but probably not.


Don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter. The same people as last time are running again.


“Impossible!” you say. “What about that new guy with all his fresh ideas? There’s a woman running for President! This is nothing like the last election!”


If the Republicans win the White House and even one chamber of Congress, you know what we’ll get: tax cuts, abortion restrictions, healthcare decisions getting made by for-profit corporations, and immigration policies that don’t acknowledge the complexity or root causes of our immigration problem.


If the Democrats win the White House and even one chamber of Congress, you know what we’ll get: free college, climate legislation, loosening of abortion restrictions, healthcare decisions made by for-profit corporations, and immigration policies that don’t acknowledge the complexity or root causes of our immigration problem.


The tax cuts, abortion laws, free college, and the climate stuff won’t pass, or the final bills will be so watered down there’s no point in voting on them.


The national debt will go up. There will be at least one debt ceiling showdown in which America’s credit rating will be in jeopardy. Congress will investigate the President. Someone will suggest impeaching somebody.


Your taxes will be sliced out of your paycheck with all the finesse of those criminal gangs who drug you and take a kidney and leave you passed out in a bathtub full of ice.


Nothing that matters to us will change.


Why?


Because our laws get made by the Congress and the Congress doesn’t work for you.


Congress works for the two major parties and whoever gives them their money. America’s policies are mere partisan agendas, and those haven’t substantially changed in decades.


In the last thirty years, we got a President who promised “change in Washington.” (Actually, more than one). We got a President who promised us healthcare reform. (Actually, more than one). We got a maverick President untainted by Washington politics who was going to clean house and get America back on track. (Actually, more than one).


But somehow the resultant legislation, with some slight exceptions, were all the same. Taxes, immigration, abortion, climate, college, unaffordable healthcare.


The national debt went up, we had a few tense debt ceiling standoffs, and Congress investigated the President.


Your tax money, like your left kidney, kept coming, leaving you out in the cold.


Money wins elections. The parties figured it out, and they got it. Fifteen billion dollars a year or so. If you want to run for elective office you need a bunch of cash and the parties have it. So you have to do what they and their big donors want or you can forget it. And if you want to stay in office, you better toe the party line or all your campaign money will go to the guy who’s going to beat you in the fall.


We think we’re electing generals, but all we get are foot soldiers following orders.


Nothing changes if nothing changes.


So…shall we do this again? Will we choose between the choices that have already been made for us and cross our fingers and hope that this time it will be different? Will we pledge our partisan loyalty only to get scraps we might want but nothing we (or the nation) truly need?


Will we let the candidates tell us what this election is about or can we at last summon the unity and patriotism to tell them what we want? Instead of the tired old tropes, how about we make this election about term limits for Congress and the elimination of corporate money from politics? Anyone who’s for it wins. Anyone who opposes it loses. Simple.


If the American people can set aside bitter and pointless partisanship, if we can remember that we’re the ones in charge, we can, in one election, get all the change everyone always promises but no one ever delivers.


Or we can just have the same election we had last time. And the time before that. And the time—


You get the idea.


Nothing changes if nothing changes.


Time to vote.



Stacey Roberts is the author of “No One Left But All Of Us” and the founder and executive director of the Valley Forge Project. He can be reached at stacey.roberts@valleyforgeproject.org.

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