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The same old…

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The good news: Michelle Bachmann isn’t running for reelection to her congressional seat.

The bad news: She’s running for president.

For the love of all things Norse, why is Minnesota (which hitherto had possessed a fine though somewhat pock-marked political history and pedigree on the national stage) being represented in this presidential go-round by two wing nuts who completely fail to represent everything that the state stands for?

Oh, I know. It could be argued that they’re popular enough to win their respective seats, but let’s face it: T-Paw never took over 50% of the vote–no governor has since Perpich; and Bachmann represents one of the most conservative tracts of land in the state–she’s the north metro’s equivalent of a Humphrey to the Iron Range, but even still, I don’t think she could ever pull more than 40% of a statewide vote…Most people in the state, whether conservative or liberal, hate extremism most of all, and there are few in state politics more extreme on either side than her.

Yet there they were Monday night, T-Paw and the unholy reincarnation of Ronald Reagan sharing a stage with a virtual Who’s Who of neo-conservatism to debate their fellow Republicans for bragging rights as to who could out-conservative each other when it came to President Obama’s policies.

Yes, kids: This is why I was sick for two days. And I didn’t even watch it.

It’s all because the election process, or at least the posturing by parties and groups and their appointed talking heads is now a 24-7 practice, aiming to constantly sound the drumbeat of negativity and spin in the hopes of attracting votes, for sure, but really, and ultimately, money.

I hate to do this, but I warned about it three years ago, right here, arguing that the Bush administration had perfected the art of dividing the voting public, and they managed to divide it using simplistic terms and concepts: for example, you’re either for or against the war on terror, regardless of your specific opinion and reasoning on the issue.

These days, it’s taxes and the budget–you’re either in favor of government spending and high taxes, or you’re against it. Well, duh. No one likes taxes because capitalism has beaten it into us that we must spend every freaking cent we make on things that we can’t afford: houses, cars, and 800 inch televisions that hang on your ceiling. Taxes keeps us from being able to spend even more on stuff. Oh, and taxes now are somehow the root of all evil, according to the neo-cons, because the only way to get out of our flagging economy is to get people buying again, not because they fund the government that was established, in large part, to protect, serve, and support its people.

Getting people to spend more ain’t gonna happen for a long time, kids, regardless of how much you give them back in taxes. Too many people have lost homes because of the promise that they could afford them and they were “investments,” when, in fact, they’re a place to live and that the only way they’d be an investment would be if you planned to sell and move into a new investment every 10 years or something. A bargain basement new car these days begins at $10k, and for those of us who need to carry more passengers than a goldfish, well, I’d be lucky to find a new, fully stripped minivan with only 5 cupholders, cardboard for carpeting and a really big rubber band as an engine for anything south of $19k.

Companies have laid off in order to keep making profits, not to ensure their survival or (gasp!) to help preserve the jobs of as many workers as possible. My own employer laid off an announced 4% of its workforce not because we hadn’t turned a profit (no, I’m still getting a bonus, go figure), but because the market is slowing down. Instead of trying to ride it out and ask the employees to cut back, maybe, or take another pay freeze, the shareholders had to be placated with the promise of future profits.

I’m sick of politicians talking about the little guy, or the “average American,” because regardless of how they try to frame their so-called understanding of the plight of that person, they don’t get it–they have no idea what it’s really like to be me and live my life…Assuming I’m a little guy or average American. T-Paw or Bachmann or Gingrich or Obama wouldn’t have a clue what happens in my life and what I need to deal with on a daily or weekly or monthly basis. Clinton claimed he “felt your pain,” but that was just BS. What he felt was the poll numbers jabbing him in the kidney, telling him to run faster and yell louder in his speeches.

Spending money, either by the government, or individuals, or companies, won’t get us anywhere. Not unless it’s served with an equal dose of compassion and real, fundamental social and class change. There’s no way that someone running a company can possibly do work worth millions of dollars in base salary and another pile of millions in bonuses if I’m told what I’m doing is only worth a fraction of that. And to those who tell we “average Americans” to work harder because that’s all you need to do to reach the American dream, well, don’t tell me that until you see how much work I’ve done to get to where I am. I, along with so many others who I know and love and care for deeply, have worked hard their entire lives and none of them are sitting in those corner offices getting paychecks with more zeros than a baseball scoreboard.

It’s just going to get uglier out there on the campaign trail, folks. And we still have over a year until the nominating conventions, and damned near seventeen months until the election. And if we’ve got gridlock two years into a presidential term, what’s going to happen if it just gets worse?

See you tomorrow.