Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On The Margins

We all know or have heard of people who live on the margin: it might be by circumstance or by choice, but they tend to live a hand-to-mouth existence, or carefully marshall their resources to survive, day to day, paycheck to paycheck, but turning their backs on society.
I thought about this as I read a follow up to the California budget crisis I discussed yesterday:

As California Senators were literally locked in a budget debate overnight, the chamber's Republicans overthrew their leader because he had agreed to a budget deal with billions of dollars in tax increases.

Dave Cogdill, R-Fresno, was ousted as Senate leader in favor of Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murietta, who made it clear he opposes raising taxes to balance the budget which is more than 15 weeks overdue.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, made good on his promise to lock senators inside the Capitol after another vote on a budget compromise fell a vote short again overnight. Steinberg said he is prepared to keep the chamber in "lockdown" as long as it takes to approve a budget.

If it lasts long enough, California will soon have a second major fossil discovery. But I digress...
It's been interesting to watch the GOP return to the same failed stance that got us into this mess in the first place: cut taxes, cut spending, and find some way to hope the deficit doesn't balloon while praying this time the economy will boom. Meanwhile, companies across the land are struggling, homeowners in every state in the union are having a really tough time making ends meet, and the worst is yet to come.
After all, if you thought the mortgage crunch was bad, wait until consumer credit hits the fan. Give it another couple of months, I figure.
Now, you know the Republicans have some people who actually have a brain, if only a few, and those voices, while probably being ignored for the grandstanding going on, have some weight somewhere in the smoke-filled rooms of not only Sacramento, but Washington, DC and every other political power center across this land.
So the question is, in the face of the worst economic meltdown in history (not yet, but I have little doubt it's going to happen) and after an election in which they were all but run out of the nation on a rail, why would the Republicans suddenly stiffen their backs and start throwing reason and caution to the wind?
It confuses me, frankly. Yes, you can make the case that the GOP is beholden to the Limbaugh-cheesers, who stink up the place while adding little flavor to anything they touch. But look, even George W. Bush, a man who was about as conservative as they come, considering how he was cheered on by the same knuckleheads who are determined to sink the ship of state(s), repudiated the ultimate conservative playing card: let this shit stink the place out, while the roaches take over.
Even Bush couldn't stoop that low. Even he saw his legacy in peril. Even Bush saw the degradation of a once-great land at the hands of people like Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh and the frightened reactionaries of the Republican party, and stopped short of going there.
The grace of American politics is it runs top-down: things that happen at the Federal level tend to trickle down to the states and then the counties. A repudiation in Washington of failed policies and mean-spirited political hackery will eventually make its way to the rest of us.
Too little, too late, as they say.