By Chuck Bloomquist
Since Harry Truman stunned Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential election I have been a hard-core Democrat. For the same length of time I have been a practicing Contrarian.
In high school I wrote a paper arguing for the merits of “socialized medicine,” one of Harry Truman’s many enlightened initiatives. In my small Iowa town of rock-ribbed Republicans the paper was not well received, even though I had quoted the town’s only socialist in favor of the proposal and the local pharmacist who was vehemently opposed.
While in the Marine Corps I strongly supported Truman’s decision to sack MacArthur. This decision was wildly unpopular especially among the military and my fellow Marines. MacArthur very much wanted a clear-cut victory no matter what it took. Truman’s policy was to drive the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel and call it quits. I discovered only recently, in Max Hastings book The Korean War, that MacArthur had a list of 26 sites in North Korea, along the Yalu River, and in China proper, that he wanted to attack with atomic bombs to “win”the war against the Chinese Communists. Thank goodness the contrarian view prevailed.
In 1948 I was too young to vote. In 1952 I was still too young to vote, although I had been in Korea for ten months. In the 14 presidential elections since I have voted in 13 of them and always for the Democratic candidate. In retrospect those were all good votes. The only election in which I failed to vote was the 1968 contest in which the Democratic convention forced the nomination of Hubert Humphrey in spite of the delegates won by Eugene McCarthy, who was the primo antiwar contender. This was a grievous mistake on my part. The criminality of Nixon’s reign has led inexorably to 40 years of Ayn (according to her, pronounced ‘swine’) Randian politics.
But we may be on the verge of, to quote one of my least favorite presidents, “a new morning in America.” Right now we have the best Democratic president since FDR. Unfortunately, he has been thrown into the worst political and economic situation in my lifetime. He inherited two unwinnable and unjustifiable wars at a time when our nominal allies could barely stand us, when our infrastructure resembled that of postwar Korea, when our health system was one of the worst in the industrialized world, government regulators were in the pockets of the regulated, nurses and teachers were excoriated as being greedy puppets dangling from the strings of their unions, and the global environment headed for almost certain disaster.
And then, to top it off, the entire world economy was on the brink of collapse thanks to the greed and arrogance of the worlds’ financiers.
Now, in this situation, one might think that everyone would do their best to support the president as he tried to deal with this myriad of problems. But no. The Republicans through the minority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, among others, announced that their primary goal was to make sure that he was a one-term president. To this end he was to be denied any success, however small. They fought him at every turn and by using the filibuster in the Senate were able to deny him most everything he attempted to do. And his fair-weather friends castigated him for doing too little to solve the problems left after 30 years of Reaganism and eight years of Reaganism on steroids.
In spite of it all Obama keeps trying He may be the smartest president since Jefferson and the best politician since Lincoln or FDR. He did manage to pass the Affordable Care Act, a down payment on “socialized medicine,” which extended medical coverage to millions. In spite of Republican ambushes he ended the war in Iraq, is drawing down the war in Afghanistan, and has whacked Osama bin Laden. He has ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, passed Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation, and pushed through financial regulations to deal with the most egregious violations of the banksters. He rescued the auto industry, which put millions back to work and raised fuel efficiency standards in the bargain. Imagine what he might have done with a bit of help from the other side of the aisle.
To top it off in California we have in Jerry Brown arguably the best governor in the United States. After Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey referred to him as “an old retread” Brown responded by challenging Christie to a three-mile run. Brown has cut the state’ budget deficit, overseen two on-time budgets, reformed the state’s worker compensation system and implemented pension reform. With Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein we have two of the best United States Senators in that body, and a House delegation including Henry Waxman and Janice Hahn. Locally, we have a hardworking and intelligent mayor in Antonio Villaraigosa, a reasonable City Council president in Eric Garcetti, and our own energetic City Councilman, Bill Rosendahl and our beautiful and competent Venice Neighborhood Council president, Linda Lucks.
I suspect that most people think that they could do a better job than those named, or at the very least, could tell them how to do their jobs better.
As a life-long contrarian, I disagree. In spite of their peccadilloes and political maneuvering, we are lucky to have each of them. And as a life-long Democrat I urge you all to vote for Democrats every chance you get and to support them to the extent that your purse, energy and conscience allow. It is in the final analysis votes that win elections, not money.