At times, I forget that not all of us share that same political history. Being in my mid forties, I remember coming of age politically in 1980. The year of Reagan and Carter. For some of you, you were in your mid forties when that election occurred. I am constantly astounded that many of my friends and co-workers were not yet born in 1980. It is a sure sign I am now, officially, old.
Many of my younger friend's knowledge of politics starts at Bush vs. Gore, and some only started paying attention with the Obama campaign. Getting involved in politics at a young age is kind of like dating in junior high. You are all emotion, everything is new, and you believe most of what you hear. Then, you get your heart broken, you gain a little experience, and the next time out, you look before you leap.
Many Americans, having felt anger at George W. Bush and the Republicans, turned to Barack Obama and the Democrats. A year later, they have taken a new stance on politics and politicians. A pox on both your houses.
Like Mercutio, in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet-after paying the ultimate price for two quarreling families' disagreement-he cries out three times, a plague o' both your houses! In our modern vocabulary, it would roughly translate to this: to hell with all of you politicians.
So where does that leave us in 2010?
For me it comes down to a simple question. Whichever party understands it, and answers it correctly, may not only win this election cycle, but also win control of Congress for a generation.
The question is this. Why do we live in one world, while Washington lives in another?
In our world, we are told when money gets tight; you cut back, sometimes way back. Sometimes when things are terrible, you lose things you worked very hard for, your new house, your new car. Sometimes you have to get down to the bare essentials in order to stay afloat.
In our world, we are told that if we work hard, come in early, stay late, give more than is expected, we will be rewarded. Sometimes we skip that family vacation to get a work project finished on time. Sometimes we work on our own time at home to make our job easier for everyone at the office. Sometimes we go to school at night in order to finish that degree, to work our way up the ladder.
In our world, we are told that we need to follow the rules, at all times. Sometimes we have to put off buying a needed item, from a washing machine, to a new service truck, or hiring a new employee so we can pay our quarterly taxes on time. Sometimes we deal with mountainous stacks of applications, forms, regulations, impact studies, frivolous lawsuits, inept bureaucrats and endless agencies with their hands out when we try to start or expand a small business.
Then, there are the folks in Washington DC.
In Washington DC, they tell us when times get rough, they are going to borrow and spend their way back to prosperity. Sometimes they just crank up the printing press as if it were Monopoly money. Sometimes they borrow trillions of dollars from foreign countries, money that will be have to be paid back by people who are not even old enough to vote right now. Sometimes a draconian cut, just means they are going to reduce the amount of increase in that spending program.
In Washington DC, they tell us the rich need to pay their "fair share." If you take huge personal risks, start a new business, work 60 hour weeks for a few years, hire employees, plow every penny back into your company, you are now "rich." Your reward for your success? Higher income taxes, more government regulation and maybe even a brand new carbon tax.
In our world, when you do not pay your taxes, your assets are seized and sold, but you do get three square meals a day, in prison. When the DC crowd does not pay their taxes, they are reelected, or they get a cabinet position.
The rules that we live by out here in our world: live within your means, work hard, be honest, do right by others, are so far removed from the thinking in Washington DC, and Sacramento for that matter, it’s as if we are speaking a different language. This language has found its voice in the Tea Party movement.
Those in leadership positions of both parties, who dismiss the Tea Parties across the nation as just a bunch of malcontent, right wing extremists, do so at their own peril. You don't understand them because you don't speak their language. You may be in need of an interpreter, let me help.
The language is very similar to English, it goes like this.
When they say stop spending, they mean stop spending. When they say we are taxed enough, they mean we are taxed enough. When they say they don't want a government takeover of the health care system, they mean don't want a government takeover of the health care system. When they say they are they are tired of politicians talking one way to get in to office, then doing the opposite when they get to DC, well, you get the idea.
Whichever party understands that Washington needs to be brought back into the real world, wins. The party that understands the solutions that work out here, will work in Washington, wins in November. It also helps if you understand the new language being spoken by the electorate.
Will they get it? Stay tuned.