The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

Summary: Let's tell our newly-elected officials that we're going to judge them on the job they've been hired to do: governance.


Let's get the basic housekeeping over with first, shall we? I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and I'm going to vote a mix of parties, based solely on which candidate is the least heinous.

Number two, I'm sorry. Figured I'd get that out of the way on behalf of all my fellow Floridians. I'm not sure how we're going to mess up this election, but this is Florida, and it's what we do.

So now that you know where I stand politically, let's discuss this election. This is an important election because our economy is still in the toilet and there's a lot of work that needs doing on a great many issues.

The last 22 months have not been fun. Virtually all economists say it could have been worse, far worse, but that's no consolation for how sucky it's been for most Americans.

Normally, when a governing cycle has been bad, we throw the bastards out and bring in their challengers. This time, the Democrats have had the majority. I won't say they've been in charge, because even with ownership of all governing branches of government, the Democrats have managed to chase their tails more than institute decisive improvements for America's well-being.

This is, of course, why the Democrats deserve to lose.

It's virtually incomprehensible how one party can have such a lock on the control of the government, but not even govern themselves well enough to agree on the major issues.

Health care reform is a good example. As I discussed over nearly a hundred pages in How To Save Jobs, America's health care infrastructure is badly, badly broken. It's not only hurting individual Americans, it's putting American industry at a deep disadvantage vs. every other nation.

But do the Dems decisively reform health care, institute a public option, or otherwise fix the problem with their uber-powerful majority? No, of course not. Instead, they foist a 2,000 page abomination on the American public with legislation designed to cater to the insurance industry -- the very industry responsible for the fundamental problem.

The Democrats' lack of performance can be chronicled ad infinitum. A stimulus bill too expensive to comprehend, yet too low to do anything. Going on vacation before passing a budget. And on and on and on.

So America is going to self-correct, throw the Dems out of power in the House, at least, and elect Republicans.

Oh, crap.

The Republicans, unlike the Democrats, understand the basics of how to run a unified party. Unfortunately, the Republicans have a tendency to miss the whole "governing on behalf of America" bit in their fanatical urge to win power.

In a recent interview, Republican Senator and current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

He did not say anything like the "single most important thing" is jobs, improving the economy, making America strong, or any other goal that implies caring about the country. Instead, his comment reflected the GOP's strategy of scorched Earth: win, at any cost.

This is where I question whether the Republicans deserve to win. Certainly, they've run a good political game, blocking Democratic effectiveness at every turn (not hard, given that they're Democrats).

But if the Republicans' singular goal for the next two years is to create an environment where President Obama loses, then it's completely in the GOP's best interests for the economy to get worse, for the jobless rate to increase, and, generally, for the next two years to suck as much or more than the last two years.

It's in the GOP's interest. It's in Mitch McConnell's interest. But having two more terrible years is absolutely not in America's best interest.

Here, then, lies the challenge for all American voters. Our first choice is to re-elect the ineffective Democrats who are unlikely to fix anything substantive over the next two years. Our other choice is to elect Republicans, who are likely to do whatever they can to dump more and more bad news onto Barack Obama's job performance reports for the next Presidential election.

Yep, we're kinda screwed.

So what should you do tomorrow? I recommend you do not just vote along party lines. Vote for whichever candidate has shown a tendency to be more reasonable, to work with the other party, and to put America before politics. Unfortunately, there are very few of these politicians running. Those who do put America first are often more comfortable as part of the lunatic fringe than they are with actually winning elections.

If you can't elect politicians who will put America first, at least choose the politicians who seem smarter, have a better grasp of business and economics, and seem willing to think, rather than just spout doctrine.

And, if you can't find either patriotic politicians willing to put America first, or at least smart ones willing to look at the issues from all sides, once you elect whatever jokers you're going to elect, be sure to spend the next two years holding your elected officials accountable for their job performance.

Write letters, call, protest, and otherwise keep sending the message that we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more.

Here's the bottom line: we are likely to elect a party whose primary mission over the next two years is to celebrate as America sinks economically -- because it's in their petty best interest for that to happen.

Once that party is elected, we need to constantly remind them that we will not give them a second win in 2012 unless they work with all the other branches of government to fix our current problems.

Let's tell our newly-elected officials that we're going to judge them on the job they've been hired to do: governance. We're going to judge them on how well they govern America in a divided Washington. If America is economically sound and operating smartly in 2012, that'll be what helps us decide that they're better at this governing thing.

But if they spend the next two years doing nothing but making it worse for all of us just so they can throw dirt on the President of the United States, then we're going to throw them out and start over with a new crop of leaders.

As Patton said, "Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way."

Go vote!

Update: Fixed Senator McConnell's title.

Topics: CXO, Health, Legal, IT Employment


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • No, they all deserve a steel toed boot in the a$$.

    Trouble is, even an "Independent" majority may not be able to clean up the mess. The Constitution may need to be changed. And even if that were to happen I think the US is simply too divided to implement real and meaningful reforms. The world still needs a strong America but America is unfortunately not up to the task.

    PS. My complements for a thoughtful and well written blog.
    • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

      Its difficult to take seriously an article which claims that the insurance industry is to blame for the fundamental problems in health care, when its the federal government which refuses to even allow cross-state competition among providers to bring down prices. And says nothing about the massive regulations which distort the health care marketplace. And the illegality of most requlations, which violate fundamental human rights and are generally ineffectual, tending to reduce societal wealth and lifespans, especially among the poor.
      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

        You are absolutely correct. And obamacare refused to make this simple change.
      • The blog author is a prime example of the effectiveness of propaganda

        he has been told for decades that the most powerful force on this planet is a business, even though it is an entity that has no power to arrest, fine, confiscate, or imprison. He has, at the same time, been indoctrinated to think that the state, with all of the aforementioned powers, is the solution to all the ills in society, even though he knows it is filled to the brim with corruption.

        Thus his solution is never to throttle back the power of the state, but merely to lament and cry for purity in office. All while claiming that character is irrelevant to governance.

        Yes, it is insane.
      • Lots of blame to go around

        @pranavb99@... <br><br>Greedy insurance companies<br><br>Greedy doctors<br><br>Unhealthy Americans on bad diets and who do not exercise<br><br>Incompetent governments<br><br>A couple of facts are indisputable however:<br><br>1. The rest of the world has chosen different systems and is doing better with those systems, as far as cost and health outcomes are concerned.<br><br>2. Insurance companies have perverse incentives in this situation - to collect as much as possible and pay as little as possible. Doctors also have perverse incentives as illustrated below. <br><br>I will quote from a book on how diet can prevent heart disease (incidentally followed by Bill Clinton): A young interventional cardiologist was asked why he did not refer his patients for a nutritional program that could arrest and reverse heart disease and he replied with a frank question:"Did you know that my billed charges last year were over five million dollars?".<br><br>No wonder the US health care system is out of control.
      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

        @pranavb99@... the government refuses to allow cross-state competition? This is a result of insurance industry lobbyists writing the bill, you fool.

        >massive regulations which distort the health care marketplace. And the illegality of most requlations

        [Citation needed] Please supply some references that support this dumb-ass statement.
      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

        @pranavb99@... Cross-state competition will do *nothing* to prevent the companies from refusing to cover people on the basis of loopholes. That's the problem. If you think regulation is what violates basic human rights and hurts the poor, then you need to rethink your entire worldview. Regulation is the only thing that stops predatory for-profit business from making a killing of people who are vulnerable and sick. An unregulated economy is a social Darwinist world of the rich eating the poor and destroying society.
      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

        @pranavb99@... And how much money would you save with cross-state competition? Really? Have you looked at the numbers. What want regulations are illegal? What fundamental human rights have been violated? How is it that people in other countries with government-controlled health care live longer (especially the poor). Where are your facts!
    • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

      @Economister The only thing that needs to change are US, the idiots who keep electing bigger idiots into office, The republicans dont deserve to win, and dont throw the Tea party out there they are just rebranded republicans. I agree with Gabby Johnson, the Republicans single most important thing is removing 1 person from office, not making the country better, not anything other than getting Obama out, well you have 2 years before you can even start thinking about that, SO I have an idea, why dont we all not vote for Dems or Reps, vote indep or Libertarian, and if you dont have a choice write someone in. its time we showed the government who REALLY runs the country. Its US the people, NOT the senate, NOT the house, NOT the special interest, NOT the Supreme Court. NOT even the President, WE RUN THIS COUNTRY LETS TAKE IT BACK FROM THE MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES!!!!!
      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

        @nickdangerthirdi@... someone who actually realized that there are more then two political parties out there. For years the voters and the media have only looked at Republican or Democrat. We are in this mess because we think that the two major parties (or at least one of them) has a better plan. I haven't seen that in the past 40 years and I don't think it will be seen any time soon. It is our obligation to look at the other candidates, see who is out there, get off our fat asses and do some real research. But it is easier to just sit back and play the same stupid game.
      • seeing as you are aware of the firesign theatre...

        @nickdangerthirdi@... You must know full well then that "everything you know is wrong!"

      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

        @pgit@... Hello seeker! Now don't feel alone here in the New Age, because there's a seeker born every minute.
      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

        @nickdangerthirdi@... I agree, if there had been a viable third party to vote for, we wouldn't ping-pong back and forth like we do. Unfortunately, our electoral process and governmental configuration does not appear to support more than two parties, so the parties are coalitions under a single name. We'd need to run our elections more like some of the parliamentary systems in Europe where you vote for the party and they pick the leaders. But that's not going to happen as it would require a constitutional overhaul that would be both scary and, given our deep division (and lack of agreement even on facts) it will never happen in our life times.

        By the way, I like your screen name!
    • It's simple...


      All we hear from those in office is "bi-partisan". They want to keep the rules in place such that it's a zero-sum game.
      The fact there are two Independents in the Senate somehow doesn't qualify because they "caucus with one party or the other." <sigh>
      They're able to figure out where they always stand. It has become a "majority rules" method of election.

      Are they afraid of a plurality? (Yes, 2 will still fall into that).

      They're afraid to sit down and play - to steal from the business world - an oligopoly. If they can't p!ss off one opponent, they will another. That'll make them a bit more cautious with the poo they fling.

      Clinton tried to get an Independent to drop so the Democrat would win. Again, what's wrong with a plurality? It makes Tuesday nights something more than Patch Tuesday.

      The fun example in the tech world is browser usage/stats. It wasn't any fun when it was just IE and Mozilla/Firefox. Opera & Safari were cute, but once Chrome jumped into the orgy, things become interesting.

      Here in Indiana, the primary county (Marion/Indianapolis), I'm grateful for being in the next county, one sheriff candidate has defended one son who was nailed on possession that that son shouldn't get any preferential treatment as his kids know where he stands on behavior, then turns around and points out the hero his son became because he was shot in the line of fire. Add Dad's 29 years of experience, and what do you have? Is this sophistry? non sequitur? shenanigans?

      The opposition uses members of a different force as a group to huddle around him and claims the problem (candidate above) is just bad politics.

      On the good side, we have someone running who was on a state-level ethics commission which only deals with people who approach them for advice. In the course of a particular situation, he started negotiating with the utility in question and doesn't live in the area he wants to represent. On the other hand, his opposition (I don't even remember which party is which) lists the things he's done within the area (small businessman, volunteer fireman, ... and the only activities he's done outside of his region he wants to represent is when he was in Iraq.

      You can guess who is leading. (fortunately)
      Mihi Nomen Est
      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

        @Mihi Nomen Est
        Clinton tried to get a Democrat to drop out in Florida so that an independent could win.
    • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

      @Economister The US political system has worked for a long long time but in the last few decades it has become a crippled system in that every two years there is a lame duck President or a lame duck congress. No wonder you are in the mess you are in (I am not an American). Maybe time for a change in the sytem would bring the US back to a well oiled and well governed nation as it was in the past. Moreso now given the emergence of China and its long term view of its development, unlike the US where the long term view is 18 months.
      David...I am usually a not so friendly critic of your security editorials but this one is very good, and the advice given is right on.
    • Booting


      Perhaps it's time for term limits.

      What I love hearing the incumbents face it, they say, "there would be a power vacuum because people who don't know "how the system works" would screw everything up. We finally got rid of a KKK member (Byrd), a horrible Liberal (capitalization to add emphasis vs. liberal) Biden, only by making him VP. What was the saying? "The 3rd-most Liberal senator selected the 2nd as VP" ???

      What I was disappointed in was the Tea Party not becoming a party, but a gold star next to the Republicans who fit their criteria. Should Palin run for the Tea Party? heck no. But she got the movement going and that might be the most important contribution to create another. Perhaps they'll get bolder for 2012 and stir things up a bit.

      No, none of this indicates my position. I just want to see someone put a stick in the beehive and liven it up.

      We've got one for president. (And speaking of which, should we change the presidency from 2 four-year to 1 6-year?
      Mihi Nomen Est
    • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

      America wake up! Fighting among yourselves only produces losers. And losers we all are. You have a great country and great leadership potential for the world, but you are so preoccupied with acting like bullies in your own playground you are seriously self-destructing. Look at the bigger picture. In Canada we have universal health care, our banks are among the strongest in the world and we are like you, but we don't use political weapons of mass destruction and we stay within the boundaries of reason and dignity. If you want to regain the prestigious leadership role that you have become so accustomed to, then start acting like leaders. Right now you appear to us like aimless rebels without a cause and on the road to your own downfall. We need you strong so please... wake up!
      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?


        Don't care how we appear to you or the rest of the world. A man doesn't run his life by worrying about what his neighbors think of him; he acts on principle, period. We are struggling to regain our manhood in this respect. It's going to be an ugly fight, because the socialists are so close to turning us into another (non) utopia that they're fighting visciously (and typically, dirty) to continue progress.

        Sorry if you don't like watching it, but sometimes a fight is necessary. A knife fight in a phone booth may be an ugly thing to watch from the outside... just hope the right side emerges victorious, if bloodied.
      • RE: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

        @UsuallyWrong thanks for the encouragement, but I fear we are doomed to fade into painful obscurity as we fail to pay for the infrastructure and general welfare needs of our country out of a pathological fear of "socialism".