Why are so many people angry - Tea Party people, liberal and conservative media hosts, Senators, me - when, for most of us, life is good and we know that it makes us less fun to be with?
First, fear is a rational emotion when faced with waves of incomprehensible change that Obama's acolytes may believe in, but most of us don't understand - joblessness (initially not his fault, but also not a priority), a scrambled health care system, pending inflation (destroying retirement plans), wild stock market fluctuations, and reduced liberty (due to terrorism and an expanded socialist government.) And that's before scrambling the energy system, the immigration system, and the tax system and moving on to nuclear disarmament and a more equitable world order.
Fear plus powerlessness leads to anger. The ineptitude of the Republican Party has gotten us to the point where self-identified conservatives outnumber liberals two-to-one, but the liberals control the government. And a year of highly public congressional efforts at health care and financial reform have demonstrated that this is definitely not government "of the people, by the people, for the people." Any health care cost containment gets shredded by deals to buy support for universal health care coverage; and the bipartisan power of Wall Street money...!
So, should we just go out and work on our golf game as a psychiatrist friend of mine suggests? Maybe after November, if the public cannot channel its anger into political change that we can believe in. First, lets find some candidates that we can vote for, not just against.
In sifting through California candidates, I've found a moderate Republican advocacy group that does not believe the Tea Party movement is real; a prominent Democratic state senator who doesn't care that his constituents are angry, just that he has low name recognition; a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate who is clearly from the privileged class and doesn't seem to understand what government "by the people" means; and a bunch of other undeserving riff-raff. I've enjoyed being with the people in the Tea Party movement, and have good regard for Republican/Libertarian John Dennis who is running for Nancy Pelosi's seat - but his odds are about like buying a lottery ticket. (Beyond matching San Francisco's warped ideology, Pelosi delivers billions in earmarks.)
So, what does one do to get away from the negative? Thank you Tom Campbell. While Campbell's even-money chance of beating Barbara Boxer would be incentive enough, the larger point is that you couldn't design a better senator - five term Congressman from Silicon Valley (named the most fiscally responsible member of Congress by the National Taxpayer's Union); Harvard Law; University of Chicago Economics PhD (under Milton Friedman); dean of the Cal Berkeley Business School; social moderate - a broadly qualified Senate counterpart for the House's Paul Ryan. Californians who want to channel their anger in a positive direction can take a big step by supporting Campbell in the June 8 Republican primary. (The Republican primary is also open to the 20% of voters registered "Decline-to-State".) For the rest of the country who would like to defeat Barbara Boxer, money is welcome.
The risk is that our attention span is short. Last week's financial hearings become this week's oil spill, Times Square bomber, and Greek riots. Note to self: Stay focused. November 2.
This week's video provides good perspective for those who have a hard time grasping Obama's budget.
Bill Bowen - 5/7/2010