Optimism for a new decade
By Leo Canty
Published: Thursday, December 31, 2009 12:09 PM EST
I can’t let a new year pass without the usual “eat right, exercise, lose weight, and stop cussing” commitments that last about a week. But here’s a few New Year’s resolutions I can keep. They’re easier and focused on a lighter, brighter optimistic new decade.
It’s a good time for optimism — pessimistic bitterness and anger have been around for too long.
To start, I will laugh more.
Opportunities to laugh are still few and far between, so humor needs to be found in different places. For instance, when I hear senior tea-baggers screaming “Keep government off my back, and don’t touch my Social Security or Medicaid” I won’t shake my head or roll my eyes.
I’ll laugh and optimistically assume that person is joking and really knows Medicaid isn’t a gift from the HMOs.
Next on the list: More music; less Limbaugh, Hannity, and Vicevich.
These three miss my targets anyway, but I feel the need to listen and be more informed about all perspectives. The broadcasts of these anger jockeys have become bitter, propagandistic blather, where it’s hard to disconnect issues and policy angles from blatant propaganda that riles up the resentment junkies.
A couple of generations ago Spiro Agnew labeled his liberal detractors “nattering nabobs of negativity.”
It seems like the anger jockeys have absorbed the nabob role quite well.
Now that’s funny.
For the rest of the new year I need to speak up more about things that need to be said starting with this: Chris Dodd is one of the most effective, committed, and helpful U.S. senators our state has ever had working for us. He is a decent human being with an incredibly deep understanding of what the people of our state and nation need. He has acted valiantly on our behalf and stands squarely in our corner.
Ted Kennedy spent his entire political career looking out for us. The Kennedy family had a genetic disposition to be fighters for equity, justice, and helping those in need. I’ll miss that. But while Dodd has no Kennedy descendency, he is guided by the same moral compass and disposition in his advocacy for all of us. He will fill the void left by Kennedy’s passing — something our nation desperately needs.
Dodd has a huge record of accomplishment. Most recently he led the charge for health-care reform, assuming the HELP committee leadership role as Kennedy became too ill to see it through. Dodd is taking on big finance and fixing Wall Street, banks, and credit cards. He led efforts for the Family Medical Leave Act, Combating Autism Act, and firefighter safety. He pushed for the National and Community Service Act and AmeriCorps, along with Connecticut jobs and funding for state projects that helped boost our economy. And a lot more.
When Vice President Joe Biden was in Connecticut recently he said Dodd is the Senate’s go-to person for getting things done.
Dodd serves as the chair of the Banking Committee and is moving reforms that have been stuck for years. He is a key leader in the Foreign Relations Committee, especially on South and Central American issues.
Dodd is a leader in a venue where it takes 20 years to reach maximum effectiveness and it takes 60 votes to win on any significant issue. He is where most new senators can only hope to be and he’s mastered the skills needed to move issues that matter. He’s in a better position than he’s ever been to help Connecticut and all working families.
Many of the things that need to be heard, such as how much Chris Dodd has done, have been drowned out by inane angry shouting. Maybe the next year, or even the decade, will be filled with less shouting and brighter lights shining on things that really count. I’m optimistic.
Leo Canty is a labor and political activist. He lives in Windsor.