As a liberal, I’m still trying to figure out what happened last November. I don’t want to be one of those people who repeats the past because they forgot what happened. What happened, of course, was this: almost 63 million people preferred a misogynistic, ethically challenged, inexperienced braggart to a seasoned politician.
Think about what that really means. Hillary Clinton had her drawbacks, no doubt, and for many of us, they paled in comparison to Trump’s. Yet tens of millions of people trusted someone with no experience in government over someone with years of experience in government.
This wasn’t solely just a factor in the presidential election. Republicans have a majority in the Senate and in the House. Just a few short years after many of us thought changing American demographics would doom the Republican party, or at least severely minimize its effectiveness, they’re in charge – dominantly. I’m trying to figure this out.
Of course, I have a theory. I wouldn’t be writing about this if I didn’t. It comes down, as the Republicans love pointing out, to one thing: money. Citizens don’t trust the government to do what it’s supposed to do. As I’ve said many times before, it’s not a question of big government or small government; it’s a question of efficient government. And citizens don’t see that – probably because it’s not there. The government spends billions on homelessness – and there are still homeless. The governments spends billions on law enforcement – and there’s still crime. The government spends billions on transportation – and there’s still gridlock.
Even a liberal like myself can easily come up with examples of how the local, regional, and state governments routinely misuse my money.
Item: One Saturday in our cul-de-sac, a tree branch fell. SIX city workers showed up to analyze and rectify the situation, all of them probably on overtime. The branch needed no more than two people to deal with it.
Item: Several years ago, the county spent billions of dollars building a light-rail transportation system – except it didn’t go to the airport; it was deemed too expensive. No one remembers the part about the money now – they only know that they have a public transportation system that doesn’t work vert well.
Item: Just this weekend, we were on a state highway and saw a caution sign reading, “Left lane closed ahead,” following by one communicating the same sentiment graphically. There was no lane closed. The road workers had either forgotten or were too lazy to remove the signs, which caused a slowdown while drivers prepared for the imaginary merge.
All of these are just everyday, ongoing reminders that government (like corporations) are really only out for themselves. If you had a contractor who’d bungled a job and then came back and asked for more money, you’d throw him out on his ear. And that essentially is what American citizens have done. They’ve looked at the Democrats and decided that the party has never seen a government program it didn’t like. They’ve concluded that because the extant government programs don’t seem to serve the public, there’s no reason to believe that any new ones will. So they’ve turned to the party which – even though it has some rather bizarre and contradictory notions about things like say, keeping the government out of private lives and outlawing abortion, which is as private as it gets – promises to save them money.
What’s the answer? In my mind, it’s for government has to stop acting fat and sassy and start being more productive. Start serving its constituents first. I’m not saying it should be run as a business – that’s not possible. I don’t want to have to call the police department the same way I call United Airlines, with my credit card handy. Governments need to be more accountable. They need to start explaining a little more clearly what they’re doing, why we’re doing it, what it costs, and show some tangible evidence that yes, they’re actually trying to budget and disperse taxpayers’ money as if it were our own.
That is the only way liberals can overcome anything the Republicans throw at us, from gerrymandering to voter restrictions or anything else. We have to create something that runs so well, people stop noticing it, like a great movie soundtrack. Then and only then will citizens stop listening to the people who want to starve government and start listening to the people who want government to be a healthy contributor to everyday life.