A Texan alter ego and America's future

A writer from the British Isles employs his Texan alter ego to wonder at American politics. With the two big parties in mind he says, metaphorically, we now have two radical tails wagging our political dogs

Now that's a Texan alter ego
Robin Mitchinson
On 4 January 2014 14:02

Predictions about the new year in the USA from political and economic perspectives read like the Farmer's Almanac views on the weather. Tech stocks are showing every sign of an enormous bubble with some, particularly social media stocks, at incredibly low stock price to value ratios. 

The biggies, Microsoft and Apple are sagging as evidenced by slowly, but steadily, falling share prices. Meanwhile, the middle class continues to take a beating.

Top columnist Charles Krauthammer noted yesterday that the middle and upper middle classes will bear the brunt of Obamacare costs. He says the program is like a tax on the middle class resulting in serious income redistribution as they are paying higher prices for health insurance along with higher deductibles while the poor and statistically higher cost patients are accorded government subsidies.

Moreover, it takes a lot of healthy people paying into Obamacare to offset the cost of sick and elderly patients. So far, the threshold for equilibrating these costs remains far away.

We now have 2 million signed up against a goal of 7 million by March. There are solutions to this problem, but I personally doubt anything meaningful will happen other than increases in premiums and deductables.

Pundits argue that Obama has about six months remaining to achieve his presidential legacy or anything meaningful for that matter before the campaigns begin for the 2016 presidential election.

Once they begin, both parties will fiercely target each other and will accordingly block any legislation that could yield political credit to the opposing party.

Everyone agrees that our extended campaign season is ridiculous, wrong, unproductive and even cannibalistic, but nobody is able to resolve the issue.

Hence, the campaign season will become even longer and unquestionably more expensive which means the winning candidate will be progressively indebted to his or her financial backers, e.g. big business, the defense industry, pharmaceutical companies, insurance groups and so on.

Some predict a landslide for the Republican candidates at this year's senate, house and gubernatorial elections. The primary reason given is the havoc created by Obamacare; namely its rising costs, its denial of access to the best hospitals and its broken promise that participants could keep their own doctors and medical care centers.

The intensity of this trend is sufficiently great to do electoral harm to Democratic candidates who, in order to survive, will begin to repudiate Obamacare. Then again, this prediction may be heavily weighed by wishful thinking on the part of the Republican Party.

As for the latter, members continue to eat each others flesh as the rivalry between the traditional fiscal and social conservative base is threatened by the ultra-conservative, Tea Party, fundamentalist challengers.

Only recently did the traditionalist Speaker of the House, Jon Boehner, call the party's highly vocal minority on their resistance to joining with Democrats to pass the latest spending bill. The motion was passed, Boehner got some much needed political merit points, and the fundamentalists went away in a huff. I doubt this is a trend, but it does highlight the need for Party unity among the Republicans.

Much the same trend is apparent among the Democrats with a radical left wing doing their best to institutionalize the nanny state. One commentator recently noted that America is beginning to look like a four party nation with the extreme left and right wings crystalizing into meaningful political entities at the expense of the traditional Democratic and Republican Party stalwarts.

Metaphorically, we now have two radical tails wagging our political dogs.

The impact of political events on the masses has yet to reach a boiling point. Hence, rich and poor, right and left, male and female all continue in a state of inertness. Little interest is shown in things political, although the disdain for people political is manifest.

Most people hate every politician other than their own. The national pastime is still watching television; playing electronic games is coming up fast. The 'must have' Christmas present for the population aged 50 and under this year was the X Box, a $500 item that is cutting edge technology for people who play electronic games.

Then there is Colorado, a formerly staunch Republican state that allowed itself to be taken over by left-leaning activists whose latest caper was to legalize the use of marijuana. While not the first state to do so, Colorado has placed fewer restrictions on the drug's production, sale and use than the 15 or so other states that permit its use.

To many, the Colorado experiment is just that, a test to determine the extent to which marijuana adversely affects social intercourse including driving and public misbehavior, i.e. public nuisance. Once the jury of public opinion convenes and decides on this issue, the future of marijuana as a freely accessible drug will be determined.

That too might provide fertile ground for some interesting metaphors about the future of America.

Robin Mitchinson is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former barrister, he is an international public management specialist with almost two decades of experience in institutional development, decentralisation and democratisation processes. He has advised governments and major international institutions across the world

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