On so many issues related to the state of our economic recovery, current notions of liberal and conservative don’t seem to apply.
For example, should we allow a real free market to work in our financial system?
Should we crack down hard on those Wall Street bankers who broke the law?
Should companies that want to foreclose on property have to follow the law?
If you’re in favor of real financial free market, tough law enforcement and following the law, are you conservative or liberal, left or right?
What you are is in the majority, and the most important political designation in the U.S. in 2012 – left out.
Your views are reflected only rarely in the political debate at all and never in the presidential debate. Sure, President Obama has repeatedly promised to get tough on Wall Street, most recently in the state of the union in January, but based on the results, those promises have little credibility. President Obama preaches for an activist role for government with the occasional populist flourish, but that impulse wilts if Republicans or campaign funders show the least resistance.
His opponent, Mitt Romney, considers any crackdown on Wall Street an affront to the beloved job creators to whom we should all be bowing down – even if they don’t actually use their wealth to create any decent jobs.
What we get instead of a real debate on how to get an economy that works for ordinary folks is a faux argument over the role of venture capitalist tycoons, between the candidate who used to be one and our president, who has relied on them a key source of campaign funding as much as Romney has.
What we get is the fiscal cliff drama about whether or not to shut down the government.
What we get is each side offering scary versions of what the other will do.
What we get are Mitt Romney’s assurances that if we just get the regulators out of the way, the wealthy job creators will get to work, regardless of whether anybody can afford to buy their products.
What we get is the president’s half-measures and handwringing. But it’s all political theater that doesn’t replace real jobs, real plans to revive housing and keep people in their homes and real accountability for bankers. It doesn’t replace a real debate about the role of big money in overshadowing those issues in our elections. Right now, both sides have left those out of their campaigns.
Politics is a team activity and our natural tendency is to root for our guy, downplay his flaws, and point out how much worse the other guy would be. But this election should not just be rooting for our team and beating the other guy. It should not be about rooting for our guy we’re so hyped up about how scary the other guy is.
It should be about who is willing to confront the big money, not bend to it.
It should be about who can really get people back to work, keep us in our homes, guide an economic recovery that’s not just for the wealthiest.
We should demand that we’re more than just a rooting section for our team, that our bread and butter concerns are not left out.