One national survey after another tells us that the majority of American voters are moderate. For example, according Pollingreport.com, 62 percent of voters favor a 5.6 percent tax increase on incomes over $1 million and favor a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to fix the budget deficit.
Fifty-one percent of Americans think gun laws should be stricter; 31 percent say they're about right; 7 percent think they are too strict. On abortion, 77 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases; 22 percent say it should be illegal. A recent Gallup poll says 53 percent of Americans favor allowing gay marriage.
In addition, 71 percent of Americans say the EPA should monitor industry greenhouse gases in order to keep our air and water clean. A majority believes climate change is real, though they are still somewhat divided on its cause.
The majority of Americans don't believe taxpayer money should go to support religious or faith-based organizations. Only 25 percent don't believe in evolution. A mere 28 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party. A paltry 9 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Congress. A great majority of Americans say their top concern is the economy and jobs.
So why is there such a disconnect between what's being discussed in our national dialogue (the GOP debates, for example) — and what's being legislated — and what most Americans actually believe?
In Tennessee, the "small government" boys in Nashville spent the last session meddling in Shelby County's attempts at education reform and killing the county health department's Title X funding arrangement with Planned Parenthood. The county commission then gave the job to a religious organization that doesn't (or won't) meet Title X service criteria. The Republicans don't want government involved in health care — except when God tells 'em to do it. Oh, and they are planning to focus again next year on creating more "gun rights."
All this is the result of an unholy alliance between big business and social conservatives. They are pushing to eliminate any "regulations" that would put public safety ahead of profit and to put as much fundamentalist Christian thinking and Tea Party red meat into law as they can get away with. And it's working.
"Minority rules," anyone?
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."
The rain is coming down, slow and persistent from a low gray sky. It soaks the grass, fills the gutters, and falls hard on the flowers left on the Beale Street sidewalk outside of B.B. King's club ...