Peter Townsend of The Who sings “We won’t be fooled again” and then closes with “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.
Does it really matter whether it is Abercrombie or Aiona? Will life change if it’s Djou instead of Hanabusa?
The answer is yes, it does matter. You see, politics is a team sport.
Duke Aiona and Charles Djou are on the Republican Team; the team of Carl Rove, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin.
Neil Abercrombie and Colleen Hanabusa are on the Democratic Team; the team of Barack Obama, Daniel Inouye, Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich.
Each team has values that are fundamentally different from the other. Because agendas, budgets and policy are all driven by the principle of “majority rules”, each team essentially “sticks together” and fights against the opposition to retain the “majority position”. This allows the team that holds the “majority position” to achieve results that support their core values. While imperfect I suppose, in theory this is how the system works.
While some in the public might believe there is not much difference between the two teams, a reasonably close look says otherwise.
Republicans believe “it’s every man for himself” while Democrats believe, “we are all in this together”. Republicans believe the “free market” is sacrosanct while Democrats feel compelled to protect against the abuse of the monopoly. Republicans believe that if you earned it you should keep it - all of it. Democrats believe that those that earn more should give more.
Depending on your perspective and degree of jaded cynicism – it often seems that both teams are driven more by money than by their core values. Both teams are essentially elected into office by money and then do their best while in office to “bring the money home” to their district and/or to their particular special interest (defense, education, environment, business etc). And yes, when it comes to “bringing home the money” sometimes it is difficult to tell the teams apart.
So if it is mostly “all about the money” what difference does it really make?
Because obviously - you want to make sure your team’s special interest gets the money.
If the Democrats win, the money is much more likely to go into health care, education and the environment. If the Democrats win, the tax structure is more likely to be “graduated” where those at the top of the food chain pay a higher percentage of their income than those in the middle and the bottom.
If the Republicans win, they will continue in their ongoing attempt to, as they like to put it “starve the beast”. In their zeal to limit the size of government, a classic Republican strategy is to steadily reduce program funding and then watch as vital public services and protections shrivel on the vine. Republicans in general favor reducing the percentage of income taxes paid by the very rich and large corporations, forcing the middle and lower income levels to carry a larger burden of the cost of core public services.
So yes, it matters which team gets elected. It matters on issues also of basic social policy. Democrats believe strongly in the separation of Church and State while celebrating diversity and honoring the civil rights of all. Republicans too often mock and disregard the value of diversity and are increasingly influenced by the theocratic path of the conservative Christian right. Republicans lean toward a “lock’em up and throw away the key” mentality, viewing the court system as an impediment to justice. Democrats understand the importance of an independent judiciary and the right of individuals to fair and equal treatment, whatever their social status, their religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Because these ideals are worth fighting for, you want control over the money and you want control over policy. This is why it is so important for the Democrats’ team to win.
It’s really that simple.
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