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Trying To Bend Both Ways

by Sudhama Ranganathan Friday, Aug. 06, 2010 at 5:56 AM

There really isn’t any way to say you stand staunchly against a position if you hope to remain credible for long - not in the eyes of the public. It’s like a person claiming to be fasting from food for the greater good passionately and openly, but then getting caught feasting on barbeque spare ribs and lo mein at the Chinese restaurant on the opposite side of town. It’s like the person claiming to be against drugs getting videotaped selling crystal meth. It’s like the human rights activist businessman getting caught using child labor. Whether to the right or the left of the political spectrum no one likes it.

Trying To Bend Both ...
tryingtobendbothways.jpg, image/jpeg, 500x375

Whether an Independent, a Democrat, a Republican, a Tea Party Republican or a member of a third party this year Americans are looking for political leaders they feel will stand for what they say. People are tired of the same old elected representatives who say one thing but do the opposite. That’s nothing new as people fell that way every year it seems. But, this year there is an underlying anger fueled by an acute awareness of the position we find ourselves in as a nation right now.

It’s nothing enviable, but it isn’t the kind of position we thought we would be in almost decade ago. After 9/11 we found ourselves pulled together by a common cause. We all hated what we saw and wanted justice. We wanted to feel safe again.

Our leaders at the time did a great job of making us feel the situation was being addressed. We would go after who did it and find the way back to safety. They were on the job and there was nothing to worry about. Things did not stay that way. Soon things publicly deteriorated and we became more and more disillusioned with the once seemingly unimpeachable image we had of the Bush administration in the days directly after 9/11.

People watched as piece of evidence upon the next kept piling up and after a while it just didn’t matter what party a person belonged to. It was ugly and nasty and some of the most stomach turning behavior to come out of the White House since Watergate. It felt like bad food being digested painfully slowly. We had to live with it until it was time, and then we made our move and voted for change.

Since then we have searched for sincerity, honesty and reliability. Though we always seek this starting with the 2008 elections and moving straight through to the present people continue to seek a fix for what is rotten in Washington. Among the things we seek to change is the ‘say one thing do the opposite’ tradition of the status quo.

Both main parties and really the nation have been split. The right has said we will only be this and won’t budge and the left also dug in although slightly less so as they need votes to pass their measures. Nationally, the right centered base has requested much more from their party and conservative leaders have entertained them claiming to stand firm on certain issues. That response is a good first step with follow through needed right after it.

One of those core issues has been regarding the stimulus. Despite wide support for the previous administration’s stimulus, TARP, from conservatives on both the left and right in Washington and beyond almost all stood against the current president’s furthering of the measure and voted against it. In fact only three in the Senate did so and none in the House. They have been saying it was and will be ruinous for our nation.

But, the whole time many who voted against the measures were blasting out such rhetoric at a Spinal Tap 11 on the volume dial, many have been back home touting projects, businesses and other stimulus related successes as things they had a hand in. Huh?

What happened to being a changed conservative presence in Washington? What happened to the party that has reformed itself and is now about core conservative principles? What happened to RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s conservative litmus test?

Whatever party we go to this election season we want them to be people who stand for what they say and will do so staunchly. We don’t want the same old stuff. People took to the streets all throughout this year and last as a symbol of protest against that. Haven’t they been listening?

Examples come from conservatives both Democrat and Republican and are really astonishing given everything the public’s been demanding this year. Take “Democratic Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California, who brands himself a ‘fiscally responsible legislator, who delivers results for the Central Valley,’ opposed the spending bill. But when President Barack Obama signed it, Mr. Cardoza said he was ‘pleased to have been able to secure’ nearly million worth of projects.”

Or “Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R., Calif.), who denounced the stimulus bill as wasteful, soon announced that it provided a .2 million grant for her district to prevent families from becoming homeless. ‘This funding will provide much-needed assistance,’ she said.”

“Rep. Cliff Stearns (R., Fla.) voted against the spending bill. When it passed, he announced that he had ‘secured’ .7 million in the legislation for a citrus-research project and a mental-health program.” (

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “You do have to wonder, though, whether the stimulus has had any impact at all.” However, “the same day he asked for Recovery Act money to be diverted” he “toured a construction site at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County, Kentucky.” This was a project which would not have existed were it not for ,876,000 in stimulus funds. He said, “this is going to be a source of significant employment. At the peak, we could have up to 600 people working on this, and we believe the substantial majority of those workers will be Kentuckians.” (

In fact even House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) released a statement saying, “I’m pleased that federal officials stepped in to order Ohio to use all of its construction dollars for shovel-ready projects that will create much-needed jobs.“ ( Hey guys, what gives?

So why the lies? Why the fire and brimstone speeches about all the doom that is going to befall us? If you really believe it is wrong then stand by that. That is what people want to hear – the real truth as you see it. Which is it in you actions or your rhetoric? You’re starting to come off like that 90’s bumper sticker with your karma running over your dogma.

People are tired of empty rhetoric and are ready for real change. Hot air is what we want less of sincerity is what we seek more of. All the empty talk no matter the svengali adds up to the same nothingness we’ve always had – we’ve always felt. The thing Washington keeps missing is it’s getting tired, old and unable to land the kind of blows necessary to really keep things moving. So close guys, and yet so far away.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to

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