Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Elyria and the Presidential Debate

Americans, of the common, down-home variety, are confused as all get-out by these presidential debates and I don’t blame them. It’s all about smoke and mirrors and the incredibly powerful forces that adjust them.
by Charlie Leck

The first time I drove into Elyria, Ohio, I wondered about the community’s name. Later in the same day, in Cleveland, I mentioned to friends that I’d been to Ē-lye-rēēēa (pronouncing it with all long ēs). That drew hearty laughter all around the room. Though I was significantly embarrassed by my mispronunciation, the town itself was, from then, forever etched into my brain and memories.

Today, in a New York Times on-line edition, I came upon one of the most extraordinary journalistic presentations I’ve ever seen and you really ought to take a look at it also.

“The dateline is Elyria, Ohio, a city of 55,000 about 30 miles southwest of Cleveland. You’ll know this town, even if you have never been here. A place buffeted by time and the economy, a place where the expectations have been lowered, but not hopes for better days to come. A place where politicians, in this election year, say the American dream is still possible.”

What you’ll find is that Elyria is just a town like dozens and dozens of American towns in trouble and you can look into a number of the lives of its residents, if you wish, and you’ll find they are just like people from your town. Some of them are still struggling and trying to recover from the great economic crash of 2008 – forever a part of the George W. Bush legacy.

I think America knows about Elyria – even if they’ve never ever heard of the town. Elyria is a town in your state as well. Elyria is the constant reminder of how grand business promises can let us down. It is a reminder of what happens when we relax regulations on big businesses and big financial institutions.

Go to Elyria and meet some of its people. Sit down in Donna’s Diner and have a cup of coffee and listen to the buzz. You’ll hear the familiar questions you’ve heard in other towns: How did we get here? What happened? Why couldn’t they see this mortgage crisis coming? Who let the banks get this big? How could this happen in America?

The debate last night was about Elyria
The big debate last night (I rose early and watched a recorded version of it) was about Elyria – about all the towns and all the places in all the states around America. Listen! Listen!

There are two versions of how to save Elyria…
1.     Trust again big business and believe them when they tell us they need
to be deregulated, freed-up and allowed to expand and grow and put
America back to work again (as George W. Bush and Richard Chaney
promised us first in the political campaigns of 2000).

2.    Check the power of big business and those in the mega-wealthy class
and keep them under control so they can’t do this to us again, letting
the one percent grow rich beyond imagination, while the middle
class is broken and shattered and wondering what hit them.

I’ll tell you true, the promises of Mitt Romney sound mighty tempting. He can spin a line with the same smoothness of an exprt trout fisherman casting into a rapidly moving mountain stream. But, is it true? Is the way to American recovery through favors again for the very businesses that brought us down?

Mr. Romney, last night, sang the praises of small businesses and told us how important they are. Aren’t these the same small businesses that have been crushed by the unregulated growth of America’s big businesses? How many corner stores and village hardware stores have been crushed by those big discount stores on the edge of town – the Walmarts and the Targets? Why has the town pharmacy disappeared? You know why!

Who stomped on the dreams of small businesses in America? Wasn’t it the huge manufacturing firms that figured out they could save 11¢ on every widget they manufactured if that work was done by some totally deregulated company in Asia or India or Mexico?

Don’t forget for a second that this economic crash that we are building our way out of, in even and regular steps, was given to us by politicians who fought for deregulation of America’s financial industry! Do you think we wouldn’t be further down the line to recovery if President Obama had not been fought at every turn by a Republican Party that has controlled the House of Representatives – and the essential 60 vote requirement in the Senate, too, for that matter – a party that has had one goal only for the last four years and that is that President Obama would be a one-term president.

You want to visit Elyria? There’s one near your hometown – one not very far away from you at all.

Here’s the real, frightening question of the debate:
Has control of the American dream of democracy been lost to the plutocrats? It isn’t the Tea Party that will beat President Obama if he loses! It is a small segment of our population that has grown so powerful that it will be a challenge for future historians to describe the immensity of that power.

Take Note
A book, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election, by journalist Greg Palast, just crept on to the NY Times Best Seller List. Here’s a very, very brief review of it. I’m downloading it on to my iPad and I’ll be reading it off and on today.

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