A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By C.D. Olano
Political seasons come and go, bleeding into each other. Sometimes, the season brings wild non-stop hurricanes. Sometimes, you get Earthquakes where you didn’t even know there was a fault line. Sometimes, it rains frogs. It was a system founded by impassioned men in the blood of a revolution. It was shaped by men like Thomas Jefferson who said, “from time to time the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of tyrants and righteous men.” That is America, a passionate political, sometimes infuriating, cacophony of tornadoes, storm clouds, lightning, blizzards, hale, and frog rain.
It seems that Republicans and Democrats are like two ends of a big stick, left and right. “Left wing liberal media” this and “vast right-wing conspiracy” that. The two parties are more similar than they would seem, they have even switched causes to gain this or that vote. Today, it is the Democrats who seem to vie for the black vote, but not so long ago, it was the Republicans who came into the newly liberated South seeking the same. Democrats, called ‘Dixiecrats” by southerners, were opposed to the things that the Democratic Party now holds dear; voting rights for African Americans, assistance for impoverished people, housing, money, food, land, education, and integration. The parties have flipped, flopped, and flipped again. A lot of the time, it’s about power and money.
The party controlling the country ebbs and flows. From generation to generation our wants and needs change. Sometimes, the country wants to toughen-up, and we get presidents like Reagan with slogans like “Just say NO.” Sometimes, we get presidents like Clinton who say “I never inhaled!” The American mindset is forever changing. Sometimes, we are all about women’s rights; sometimes, we are about the rights of the unborn. It is like a constant balancing act; each generation tries to find center after there has been a push this way or that.
The past six years of Republican regime were part of a large shove towards a “high” desire for morality. I say high because, in my opinion, you have to be high to think that any war-like action of this magnitude is a push towards moral center. Someone once said that wars are generally the result of a surplus of 18-year-old men in a society. Basically, this is an expensive means of population control. Let’s face it, folks, the world is getting a little stuffy in here, and we know how the moral majority hates it when we kill the unborn, so let’s send-off anyone poor enough to need to join the army for work or to pay for their education, logically.
We felt the need to push towards the moral center after the Clinton years. The economy was good, foreign relations were excellent, but he couldn’t keep his Johnson in its office. So, logically, since Clinton was a philanderer, we turned the house and Senate over to the Republicans during midterm elections. Then, we elected Bush into office, and he did whatever he did that has people giving him those horrendously low approval ratings. As a result, during the 2006 mid-term elections, the tides changed from Republican to Democrat inside the great walls of Washington once more.
The Democrats, who got in mainly on the growing disfavor over the police action in Iraq, have the power to declare the presidents time is up on his bombing rampage, but the results might be disastrous for many if this occurs. If a vote to withdraw troops leads to serious civil distress in the middle east, if there is another extremist terrorist attack here or abroad, then they may lose their chance to take the white house in the next presidential election. Also, they have their allies to think of. Where would it leave those backing us in Iraq if there was a sudden withdraw?
If Democrats start trying to reform welfare or healthcare, it will most likely be shot down by the executive branch. So the Democrats are doing what they can, flooding the media with exciting news of their presidential hopefuls; a young black man and a white woman wronged by her husband. They are setting themselves up as the friendly moderate voice of diversity and giving Bush and the others just enough rope to hang themselves. The 2006 election was a great thing for women everywhere because this shift produced the first woman Speaker of the House. I, being a woman, felt a great swell of pride as I stayed up all night and into the early hours of the morning, watching the votes come in. I watched history happen. Still, it doesn’t really make me happy that people get so excited about this or that ruling party. It’s not blue or red that matters, it is the people that those colors represent.
Everyone wants about the same thing; clean air and water, good schools, health, and a strong economy with no poverty or unemployment. Everyone needs to listen to the candidates, do research and refuse to simply accept party rhetoric. Or, you could keep voting out whoever is in office until satisfied with the government you have.
People tend to vote blindly down party lines or not vote. This generation seems especially bad at fulfilling their civic honor. Senator Les Miller said that people gave their blood so that we could vote. Someone once said that “someone who does not vote is no better off than someone who can not vote.” The problem is that I feel that casting my ballot has done little.
This generation has the burden of knowledge; we know that countless men have died on foreign soil for murky causes, we know that we have a failed healthcare system, we know about the prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex, we know how much money is tacked on to bills for causes that do not benefit the whole of society, we know how politicians line their pockets with the money of lobbyists and vote when we aren’t looking. Still, we are sold politicians like we are sold cereal, with cartoons and gimmicks. I try to give hope by saying that the greatest of changes take time and persistence. This is a sound byte, drive through, flip through the channels kind of time. This is a society that is driven by a cluttered manic media. It is Orwellian; the amount of pure propaganda and marketing that reaches us each day. It streams in over the radio, television, billboards, movies, news, books, newspapers, and magazines. We get a million thoughts a day, and just about all of them are more interesting than watching Congress in session on C-SPAN. We can not let ourselves be distracted, depressed or disinterested. We must make the effort to get involved in any way we can. Shift happens.