The desire to get what one wants, right now, or instant gratification, has been part of our character for many years. While prevalent among children, it is pervasive among adults too. We sacrifice good nutrition for fast food. We read less while we take advantage of on-demand television and music. We use e-mail and instant messages to communicate tersely instead of writing a well-thought-out letter. We forfeit affinity and privacy to incessantly post our activities on social media sites. Corporations sacrifice long-term investments in order to post better short-term quarterly earnings.
Unsurprisingly, our desire for instant gratification extends to those whom we elect as our leaders. Polls are showing that the Republicans are poised for big gains in the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-term election, chiefly due to the dissatisfaction with the state of the economy. What short memories we have! It took George W Bush eight years to drive the economy to the brink of disaster, and the same voters who put the Democrats in office to fix that problem are dissatisfied that we haven’t been able to fix it in 15 months.
Despite Democratic majorities in both houses of congress, the GOP has taken parliamentary chicanery to new heights by killing or delaying every initiative of the Obama administration, even those that the Republicans proposed and once supported. If the polls are correct, and the Republicans take the House, John “Hell No You Can’t” Boehner will become the Speaker. This would guarantee two years of gridlock from the Party of No that would make today’s political machinations pale by comparison.
We need the leadership of Nancy Pelosi in the House, and that will require the Democrats to maintain the majority. Demonized as a left-wing radical socialist from San Francisco by the GOP, Ms. Pelosi has proven herself as an accomplished politician who has successfully driven middle-of-the-road compromises across the diverse base of members from her own party, even while the Party of No shut themselves out of the debate.
The Democrats are far from perfect, and are almost as adept at political stunts as their adversaries. But if one can generalize, there are more Democrats who genuinely want to do what’s right for the people, especially the poor and middle class who are the backbone of our economy. But like most good things, this will require hard work and persistence. Fixing an economy that was ravaged by special interests and greed will take time, so gratification will be far from instant. We are on the right track, and finishing the job will require more time and a Democratic majority.