Post-Election Blue

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OK, I admit it. I’m still high on the election results – and not just because Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana use. (As a professor friend in Florida noted in an email, “Spring Break may move west.”) I’ve also spoken with enough Republican friends to feel their pain. So I thought to offer up a few post-election reflections in the hope they will help smooth the path into the next four years that we all must walk together.

So for the conservatives who are thinking of moving to Australia: Would you really be happier there? Australia has gun control, has abolished the death penalty, permits evolution to be taught in schools, and has openly gay judges and politicians.

And its female prime minster is an atheist.

You may not have the president you hoped for, but do true patriots flee for presumably greener locales? One of the images from the campaign that has stayed with me is that of Mitt Romney in his impeccable sports shirts, the sleeves carefully rolled up, Time to get those shirts dirty, as in working together toward the solutions to the problems besetting our country.

I’ve also heard from people who challenged my previous column on biblical values and politics. To clarify, I have nothing against living by the values found in the Bible. Like many voters, however, I resist the GOP’s claim to be the party of biblical values. For one, it’s inaccurate – biblical values encompass far more than those few in the GOP party platform and include many of the values espoused in the Democratic party platform.

I also find it arrogant when one faith claims to have a lock on good moral values to the exclusion of other faiths and people of no faith. Besides, I believe one’s faith is a personal journey and should never have been politicized.

The head of one evangelical activist organization is now rethinking its approach, according to the Los Angeles Times: Jim Daly, of Focus on the Family, “believes, for instance, that the Christian right lost the fight against same-sex marriage in four states in part because it is on the losing side of a cultural paradigm. He says the evangelical community should have been considering immigration reform years ago, ‘but we were led more by political-think than church-think…. If the Christian message has been too wrapped around the axle of the Republican Party, then a) that’s our fault, and b) we’ve got to rethink that.’”

How about simply following Christ’s command to serve the poor, Religious Right? The millions of dollars raised and spent on political activism would go far toward honoring Christ’s simple command.

About the passage of Prop. 30: As I said in an earlier column, this proposition is simply a Band-Aid for the funding of education. The way to effect substantive long-term change in the state’s dysfunctional funding process is to address our addiction to propositions. When I spoke with Republican Allan Mansoor, whom we elected to represent the 74th Assembly District, he said: “The propositions are a mixed bag, some good, some not so good. But they make it more difficult to move funding around to where it’s needed – that’s why I’ve always advocated local control.”

Mansoor agrees that Prop. 30 is a Band-Aid.  “Tax increases alone aren’t going to solve all of our education problems,” he added. “Without meaningful reform [of public pension funds, for example], we’re not going to get very far.”

I suggested that addressing the fallout from Prop. 13 would also be helpful, but Mansoor sees that as a potential tax increase. “At this point I’m not supportive of tax increases.”

Which brings us to the long-time impasse in Sacramento. The Democrats now look to have a super-majority in the Legislature, which means they can raise taxes without negotiating with the Republicans.

“We’re still going to have to work together,” Mansoor maintained. “And there are Democrats and Republicans who want to work together.”

Time will tell whether the moderates elected via the recent redistricting will be able to facilitate that. But two thoughts come to mind. First, Republicans like Mansoor, who signed the Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge, must rethink that position. Why should local politicians be beholden to an East Coast lobbyist who stated last weekend on CBS-TV’s “This Morning”: “The president was elected on the basis that he was not Romney and that Romney was a poopy-head and you should vote against Romney.”

Isn’t it time to move simplistic thinkers like Norquist out of our local political discourse? So no fair, Republicans, sitting on your hands (and your tax pledges) and refusing to budge. You’ll get better results by being open to negotiation; it’s how politics used to be done.

Second, the Democrats’ super-majority imposes a huge burden of responsibility upon that party. It’s up to those of us who voted Blue to be fierce in holding them accountable: Make sure the Prop. 30 money funds education in constructive ways. Make sure they combine tax increases with meaningful pension fund reform. Make sure they govern for the long-term rather than the quick fix.

In short, Republicans and Democrats: Compromise.

You won’t find it in the Bible, but there’s a beatitude I’m reminded of when things get edgy. Now seems a good time to quote it: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”

 

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