Is Anything ‘In The Bag’?

‘It’s in the bag’ is an old expression that means ‘with all due certainty’ or ‘as secure as being in one’s possession’.  That’s an expression that no political party should use when it comes to feeling sure that any vote cast is going to be in their favour.

Let’s face it: the way groups of people vote has been taken for granted for a long time;  that goes for the U.S., the U.K. and many other countries.  In this country it is often the case that one political party expects to get support from the economically disadvantaged, those who believe in science, progressives and those who are socially liberal — while the other major party tends to get strong support from social conservatives, those who believe in near unlimited power and an ever increasing budget for the military, and that corporations should face little (if any) regulation and pay little (if any) taxes.  In other words, po’ folk, smart folk and folks who think that what goes on in the bedroom is nobody’s business vote one way — while the ultra religious, folks who think government should play no role in people’s lives (at least until they’re in need of emergency relief funds or controlling a woman’s right to make choices about her own body) and those who think corporations are people tend to vote the other way.

In the U.S., the next Presidential election takes place in 2012.  With the current crop of Republicans running for office, it’s not exactly a challenge to see why the Democrats feel like they have votes in the bag…they shouldn’t.  Many issues are still unresolved (though most rational people didn’t expect that 30 years of bullshit would be solved in half a term) and the economy is still in the loo.

The lockstep stance of the Republicans appears to be anti-poor, anti middle-class, anti-union, anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-immigration, anti-public education, anti-health care, anti-women’s reproductive rights, anti-infrastructure development, anti-progressive tax reform, anti….(OK, my hands are getting tired typing out all the stuff the ‘Party of NO’ is against! DAMN…it must be exhausting to be that flippin’ negative!!).  Now, having said all that, just because they’re doing little (or nothing) to address the concerns of a large number of people it doesn’t mean that that they should be allowed to completely forget about those needs because they’re assuming people will vote for the other side.   Just because they haven’t addressed concerns held by the opposition it doesn’t mean that they are not supposed to: whether they are the majority or not doesn’t mean that they govern over ONLY the people who vote for them.

And what about the Democrats?  What the Democrats need to remember is that there is a third choice — not another political party…that idea hasn’t really had any traction for years.  That third choice is one that people exercise often:  they become disgusted and they stay at home.   That would be a disastrous outcome for those who want to push for a progressive agenda.

Giving an example, The DREAM Act, which is a bill designed to create a path to citizenship, i.e., conditional permanent residency, for some children who were illegally brought to the U.S. if they either honourably serve in the armed forces or get a formal education has been, once again, blocked by Republicans.  Big freakin’ surprise.   Here is the problem:  the discussions among some supporters of this Act now include whether or not they should support Democrats in the 2012 elections.   I get it — being told ‘wait’ and ‘let’s see how this goes’ is, understandably, extremely frustrating — especially when lack of passage of this Act  leaves many families in limbo and separated from one another.

…but there’s the other side.  Here’s the thing that I can’t help but wonder:  Do supporters really believe that they will get the help they need to address immigration reform from the Republican side of the aisle?  Spreading votes around to the right-wing side of the aisle certainly didn’t help on civil rights issues, women’s issues, middle-class issues and, clearly, it hasn’t done a thing to really further immigration reform for years.

Sometimes, whether we like it or not, the choices are limited and we have to, as the old Texas saying goes, ‘Dance with the one that brung ya’— i.e.,stick with the one who brought you to the party.  Chances are that the one who brought you to the party is more likely to see your value than those who never asked you to attend.   Is it possible that the others can realise our value?  Yes.  But how likely is that — especially if we don’t have adequate leverage to force others to see the value we bring?

While it’s never a good idea to put all of our hopes in just one place, we must remind the one who brought us that s/he isn’t allowed to step on our toes — but staying home isn’t always the best option.  For those who insist that both parties are the same (…well, in many respects they are) they should check the voting records of those party officials and realise that while the one who didn’t bring them to the (Tea)party has been downright shameful in its disregard.  When you’re seen as ‘other’ or the ‘opposition’ your needs aren’t at the top of the priority list.

Many officials continue to show unwillingness and inability to make decisions that will move the country forward.  The question for the rest of us is what are we willing to do to make sure that our concerns aren’t lost among all of the distractions?  When do we realise that it’s in all of our interests to make sure that important issues finally get a real chance to be heard and resolved?

What’s your opinion?