Sep 262010
Authors: Samuel Lustgarten

The current breed of conservatives in the U.S. Congress are strategic geniuses.

Republicans introduced their “Pledge to America” last week, positing that Democrats and our democratically elected President Barack Obama are an “arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites.”

The Pledge lambastes the status quo, proposes permanence in tax cuts and lovingly wraps the message in “liberty.” The American populace has an inexorable need to vote for these qualities –– even when it rivals their own needs. This chicanery continues to sway elections and voters’ minds.

After nearly two years, Obama has muddled his quixotic message and failed to follow through with all of his talking points. But he isn’t a self-appointed elite. Obama was elected by a significant majority –– end of story. And when did an intellectual, Harvard-educated, individual become a pinata for vitriolic campaigns? When did an impressive education become negative?

The “Pledge to America” capitalizes on the country’s undoubtedly burgeoning debt, loss of jobs and talk of terrorism. With Democrats feebly making headway, progress hasn’t been made as swiftly as we’d hope, but it’s there.

The elected bodies were handed a recession, which ended. The job loss and debt has continued, but necessary steps have been taken. When it comes to national security, security has been threatened not by terrorists, but by the right wing. This last, libelous suggestion that Democrats are soft on terror continues to be unproven and dangerous.

Senate Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner is praying (not religiously) on this ensuing dysphoria. His party’s argument is that Democrats should be expunged from office with a short, two-year stint. Democrats were handed the aftermath of Bush’s era, and subsequently are held responsible. The idiocy of this malicious logic escapes me.

The Pledge becomes further befuddled saying they will save “us at least $100 billion in the first year alone.” If only 100 billion dollars in savings didn’t necessitate 135 years to pay off our current debt with zero shortfalls in the subsequent budgets. The math is perplexing. How can this proposal be a worthwhile assurance to America? The roughly $13.5 trillion dollars in debt is beyond my grasp –– humans aren’t meant to conceptualize such vast disparity.

Republicans are right, though. The budget must be balanced. But this concept of out-of-control spending is a generic term that simply means our budget has a deficit; we spend more than we take in. The Republican’s deep tax cuts and known contributors to our red balance sheet are juxtaposed with calamity.

There’s a tough solution that requires reforming the viewpoint of government and the class system. Back when Dwight Eisenhower imposed a 91 percent tax rate, tyranny wasn’t suggested. Nowadays, we’ve come to vilify the government –– the very body elected to protect us. Incomes are collapsing and the recession has taken its toll. The rich have proceeded to increase their net worth, while the working classes battle over scraps.

We need to turn off the commentators –– entertainers –– and read the news. Vote for your own protection and not for a party line that will proliferate until November. When proposed hikes in capital gains taxes and income for the richest Americans come up, we must stand united, make our voices heard and say “yes.”

If conservatives said, “We pledge to permanently abolish gay marriage; follow religious dogma; redact social security, medicare/medicaid; and lastly, any other entitlements that tax us further,” America would revolt. The rapacious Republicans would be swiftly outed as homophobic despots who pledge to remove the safety nets that prevent the lower and middle-classes from abyss. Sound bytes have replaced reality.

As a generation, we’ve cultivated a healthy skepticism of propagandist scare tactics since the likes of George W. Bush. Let’s employ this critical thinking to the ballot come November. Democrats have spent two, tireless years hacking away at the previous administration’s gift: trillions of dollars in debt.

The course must be corrected. This is not a time for intolerance and panic but rather for trust and patience in the current administration.

Samuel Lustgarten is a senior psychology major. His column appears on Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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