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Two weeks removed from national election, that re-elected President Barack Obama, the 2014 mid-term elections are “on and poppin’.”  I wonder if the Democratic Party has sufficiently learned from the debacle of 2010.

It is obvious that the Republican’s have not learned any lessons from this last election season, so the test is, will the Democratic Party stand by what they profess and force the Republican Party to stand by their failed logic, and their total disdain for the American people, and the election process, that returned the President to office, and gained seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for them?

At stake, for the Democrats, at the national level, is a possible re-taking of the House of Representatives and gaining a filibuster-proof Senate.  At the local level there are several “red-state” Governorship’s and State Legislatures in play.

From what I’ve read, the assault on women’s reproductive choices, by Republicans, has resumed with refreshed attempts around the country to try to circumvent Roe v. Wade, using the states as their primary vehicle.  The war on the uninsured and the poor is advancing with Republican Governor’s rejecting certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Provisions such as the “insurance exchanges” for entrepreneurs and small businesses with less than 50 employees, and refusing to expand Medicaid services for individuals and families living at or near poverty levels, and the poor.

Yogi Berra said it best, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”

As for the battle over reproductive choices, that’s a battle Democrat’s and Progressives should welcome.  A true conservative court will stand by the rights of the individual against the state.  A Republican court will not.  Chief Justice Roberts has shown, with his decision on the ACA, that he does not want his court to be branded as the “Republican Court.”  Notwithstanding some of the other Justices, it is my belief that the right’s of the individual will prevail.  We’ve seen that already with laws like “stand your ground,” and “open carry” laws, for guns.  We just have to be prepared, and willing to fight for what’s right.

Now, about the ACA.  Caught inside the Republican bubble, they believed that the President would not be re-elected, they believed that the ACA would not stand constitutional muster, they believed that their party would win the Senate and increase their majority in the House.  After the ACA was upheld by the SCOTUS, they believed that, when elected, a Romney/Ryan administration would repeal it, or at the least not fund or enforce it.  With this as their thinking, many of them simply did not prepare to commit to the exchanges by the deadline.  They also knew that the Federal government would step in and create the exchanges if they fail to do so.

As you know, the Medicaid expansion provision will mean approximately 17 millions people will receive coverage they otherwise would not have, and will mean the hiring or re-hiring of thousands of people nationwide, to handle the increased case loads.  The Republican Governors, as one of their excuses, claim they cannot afford to implement the exchanges or the expansion, though the Act will pay 100% of the cost for 2 years and 90% of the cost of the expansion for many years after that.  Another excuse is that they don’t want the Federal Government interfering in their state policies.  Their reticence means that millions will not be covered and thousands of jobs will not be made available, simply, because of their politics.

That being said, [this] becomes a prime opportunity for Democratic candidates as they begin their campaigns.  Many of November’s winning Democratic Party candidates ran on these very issues.  I wouldn’t wait another minute in these “Red States,” to force the Republican politicians, from the state legislatures to the Congress, to declare where they stand, on the record, about these issues, and challenge them publicly, about their stance.

These red states are among the most in need of the ACA and their Governor’s, State Houses, and Congressmen and women, should be forced to explain to their constituents why Obamacare is not being made available to them.  At the same time, the “Blue State Governments” should boldly tout the advantages of the Act to their constituents.  Their “red state” neighbors, seeing the benefits of the Act will challenge their leadership to comply, or opportunities will be created for Democrats to take over these State Houses and Legislatures, and to represent them in the Congress.

These are just a couple of the issues that will define this election.  There’s also Planned Parenthood, personhood, voter ID, state election laws, and much more.

We, Democrats and Progressives, must understand that we cannot relax.  2014 will be here before we know it and the race to the “mid-terms” has already begun.  It’s “ON AND POPPIN’.”


Saturday November 24th is “Small Business Saturday.”  I encourage every American to spend some time, and some “money,” at your local “neighborhood” retailer.  But, the more we look at what the large retailers, the “big box” stores, have done to our local enterprises, and our local economies, the more we should understand why small business Saturday, should be “Small Business Everyday.”

You can probably see by my whiskers that I’m a child of a slightly different era.  It was a time when a bell rang when you pulled into the corner gas station and an attendant came out to pump your gas.  You actually had to ask to pump your own.  I remember them asking if I wanted them to check under the hood.  They noticed if your tires were a little low.  They cleaned your windshield for you, without you asking.  The big store in our neighborhood was the A&P.  It was located in a little “strip mall” not a mile away.  Walking distance, even with an arm full of groceries.  Along the way their were several markets, dry cleaners, and several other small businesses.  In that particular strip mall was, along with the supermarket was a 5 & 10 cent store (S. S. Kresge’s), Mrs Silverstein‘s clothing store, and Cunningham’s Drugs store.  There were others, sorry, but memory fails me.

Along that route were two stores that stand out in my memory.  There was the “Mapleview Market” and “Gus’.”  The street corners they sat on would only be important to those who lived near them at that time, but most of us, from that time, will have memories just like them.

What’s important to remember is that these stores shared a space in time.  Yes, they competed, but they shared a common resource.  The neighborhood.  At different times growing up I must have worked at each of them.  In fact I remember working at the Mapleview Market when the butcher ran out of bologna and he had me run up the Gus’ market and get a roll.  You remember those large, log looking rolls, wrapped in red.  I never knew what that red cover was, and I didn’t want to, so I never asked.

The thing is, there was a social thing going on.  Not socialism. that feared word.  But social in the sense of a shared circumstance, and ultimately a shared outcome.  In many instances the store owner or manager lived right there in the neighborhood.  We knew each other and we benefited from that knowledge.

Another benefit was that the “money” resource stayed right there in the neighborhood.  It would be impossible to calculate just how many times a dollar bill circulated within the area.  I know I saw the same dollar, with the same writing on it, many times.  The same quarter, with the dye on it from the laundromat or a vending machine.

But, times changed.  Cunningham’s was bought out,  Kresge’s became K-mart, A&P’s became Farmer Jack and then disappeared, at least from the old neighborhood.

Now some will say that, well, that’s just progress.  And to the extent that change can be called evolution, and evolution can be called progress, maybe that’s so.  We grow and we change.  But what have we  become?

Much has already been written about the impact of “Big Box” stores, and large chains on neighborhoods and even small towns and cities..

The large chains come into areas and began to buy out many of the existing businesses.  Right away the impact was felt as the resources no longer circulated as much through the neighborhoods.  As businesses are consolidated, or absorbed, jobs were lost and the social structure begin to crumble.  The small businesses that remain, unable to compete with the per unit cost for products, of the larger stores, are forced to close.

As the social structure changes so do relationships and attitudes.  The connectivity begins to erode.  Where people were in touch with each other, passing each other, smiling, greeting, shaking hands, we are now in our cars (those that have them), off to where the stores are, taking our resources with us.

These are my personal thoughts and memories.  I’m providing some links to several sites that offer further comments on this subject.

You can find more by searching:  “effect of big box stores on neighborhood businesses”

I also found an excellent tool for evaluating the possible of effect of the encroachment of large chains and big box stores to different size and demographic locations that, if you are considering one for your area, or if one is pending, you might want to use.

(If you are unable to click on these URL’s, copy and paste them to your search box)

It’s hard not to notice what is happening at the Wal-Mart stores.  I’m posting this because I know things don’t have to be this way.  All through the election season, all over the news, there was talk about “small business.”  Small businesses are the job creators.  They are the saviors of the “middle class.”  It’s time to pay more than lip service to their survival.  Small businesses, for the most part, buy their products from other small businesses.  Their growth supports the growth of neighborhoods and cities.

They and we are the “middle class.”  Our survival’s are inextricably connected.

So let’s strive to make “”Small Business Saturday,” Small Business Everyday!”