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By Ken Trainor
Big election coming up. If it isn't obvious to you yet who to vote for, here are some numbers to think about:
10% vs. 90% — Mitt Romney and the Republican Party represent the 10 percent, the ones who benefited almost exclusively from 32 years of increasing economic inequality. Barack Obama represents the bottom 90 percent. If you don't belong to the top 10 percent, the Republican Party doesn't care about you, except to try to bamboozle you into voting for them. If you do, you're voting against your own interests. Not smart.
3 — The three biggest job creators of the last 60 years were a) the interstate highway program in the 1950s, b) the space program in the 1960s and '70s, and c) the Internet in the 1990s. Where did all three originate? The federal government. The free market needs government much more than its promoters care to admit.
66% — The share of jobs created under Democratic presidents since 1961, according to an item in Investment News last month. In 23 years under Democratic presidents, 42 million jobs were created. In 28 years under Republican presidents, 24 million jobs were created. The source, by the way, is Bloomberg News, hardly a liberal publication.
28 to 12 — Recurring ratio of White House dominance by one party throughout American history in 40-year segments.
1968-2008: 28-12, Republicans
1928-1968: 28-12, Democrats (thanks to the Great Depression)
1888-1928: 28-12, Republicans
1848-1888: 24-16, Republicans/Whigs
Before that, the traditional parties weren't so clear-cut. In the last 164 years, therefore, we've had Republican presidents (if you count their Whig predecessors) for 92 years. We've had Democratic presidents for 72 years (counting Obama's term). Pretty lopsided. That means Republicans have named the lion's share of Supreme Court justices throughout American history. Since the Supreme Court is now effectively running our country, that's important.
5-4 — The Supreme Court split, conservatives dominating. Whoever wins this election will likely name at least one new justice. If the Republican candidate wins, since none of the conservative justices are likely to retire, the majority would be 6-3. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a member of the court minority, seems the only justice who might retire in the next four years.) The conservative majority has already thrown our election process up for grabs by making it easier for the wealthy to buy the outcome, thanks to the court's Citizens United ruling. They nearly killed the central provision of the Affordable Health Care Act. It's truly frightening to think what they would do with a 6-3 majority.
60 — The number of votes needed to get anything done in Congress because of the abuse of the filibuster by the Republican Party. So nothing gets done, which is becoming more and more dangerous, given the shakiness of the world economy. Bi-partisanship no longer exists and paralysis is not a viable governing philosophy. One party, therefore, needs a "governing majority," which means more than 60 votes in the Senate. We know what the Republicans will do if they get it — Cut taxes, cut government regulation and cut social programs. That put us on the brink of a Depression in 2008, and they promise to keep right on doing it.
What would the Democrats do with a governing majority? What should have been happening all along: Creating an intelligent and humane partnership between government and the free market, with each side serving as an effective check and balance on the inefficiencies of one and the excesses of the other, something the Democrats have always done better than the Republicans because the Democrats actually believe in government.
The Democrats, unfortunately, are diverse. They don't vote as a uniform bloc like the Soviet-style Republicans. So they need more than 60 senators (plus a majority of the House) to accomplish anything. The Democrats may be unproven (2009-2010 wasn't enough time for a fair assessment), but the Republicans are all too proven — as extreme obstructionists who have held the economy hostage with their refusal to compromise.
$25 — A second term for Barack Obama is our only chance for a viable future. Obama is authentic (as opposed to the completely inauthentic Mitt Romney). He's smart, has the courage of his convictions and has his priorities straight. He's done a remarkable job as president under extremely difficult circumstances. He and his party pulled us back from the cliff, saved the auto industry, single-handedly launched an economic recovery (with no help from the Republicans or the financial industry), and gave us health care reform. But to get re-elected, a lot of Americans need to start making $25 donations (or more) to offset the millionaires pouring money into Romney's coffers in order to buy this election. Even if you're not sure who to vote for, you should be donating to Obama. Romney doesn't need your money. He's got the 1 percent on his side.
If the choice still isn't clear to you, the last time we had a two-term Democratic president, the government ran a budget surplus and we enjoyed an economic boom unlike any in the last half-century. The last time we had a Republican president for two terms, terrorists blew up two of our largest buildings, one of our major cities drowned, we ran up the largest deficit in history and we very nearly ended up in a Depression.
We have only two parties to choose from. One doesn't believe in government. They've said so. When they were in charge, they proved it.
And anyone thinking of rewarding them with their vote isn't thinking very clearly.
4 — Number of months till the election.