Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Must Come Next

It would be very easy to see the current conditions in Washington, D.C. as symptomatic of a general combativeness between Americans of different political persuasions. If you walk down any street, however, you would generally be hard-pressed to look at any number of people and determine that they are in conflict. People walk together, commute together, work together, recreate together, and in almost all cases, whatever political leanings they have are their business and no one else's, and besides the occasional T-shirt or bumper sticker or yard sign, we do not know where any American we choose stands on the issues of the day. We have various levels in every dimension imaginable, and it is hard to pigeon-hole an individual person as “that.”
What is clear from what transpires in the capitol of our nation, is that there is a magical divide between the real America that we live in, and the “real” America that politicians perceive within the Beltway. What politicians have become adept at is trying to impress their version of America on their constituencies and bases of power. In some ways, the two Americas are similar, but they diverge when the rhetoric comes out, and more often that not, politicians of both major parties paint pictures of the country and their opponents that are in stark contrast to the actual situation. Such is the reign of the talking point, a concise and encapsulated obfuscation of the true nature of a situation, that glosses over inconvenient facts and rampant inconsistencies, to portray the speaker as being more knowledgeable than they are, and more likely to do what the audience wishes. The talking point is the artillery shell of the campaign, fired in volleys intended to straddle and obliterate a target with rhetoric and hypocrisy.

Politicians can do this, because their audience, the American people, has disengaged itself from the operation of the nation. Perhaps through inertia, maybe through hubris, or blissful ignorance, over the span of our nation's independence, as the nation grew, our interest in its inner workings waned. Now, we are easily mesmerized by the bright lights and big guns of party politics, so enamored of the rock stars of the Federal government that we often cannot look critically at the difference between what they promised us and what they gave us. No campaign is ever about the facts of what a campaigner did or does – it always about how the “other guy” is a bum. They want to steal your chickens, rape your daughter, burn your house, flood your town, marry farm animals, and call down the wrath of the universe upon our heads with their “sinfulness.” No matter that the speaker giving the dissertation is as likely to be coated in the film of iniquity – it only matters that a tiny grain of a fact wrapped in several thick layers of hyperbole, and coated with a fine dust of prevarication can be lobbed amongst the unwary and cover them in party ichor.

They insult our intelligence every election cycle, doing so because they know challenges will be few and far between, and because their armories are filled with artillery, financed by the vested interests which they truly serve. Occasionally, like a wildebeest migrating across the Serengeti, one will be culled from the herd, but there are always others to take the unfortunate victim's place, steeped in the same ichor as their fellow party comrades. Sometimes, segments of the population will rise up, and cast down the yes-men and panderers, but it never lasts, because miracles never occur, and the schemers simply wait until memories of the past have waned, and then return themselves to the halls of power, riding an opposing wave of disenfranchisement, a kind of political “I told you so.”

It is safe to say no one likes taxes. It is safe to say that the military is important. It is safe to say that we want our roads repaired and our children educated. It is safe to say we want affordable health care. It is safe to say that we don't want government regulating every single portion of our lives, or limiting our freedom unnecessarily. But the battles fought on Capitol Hill and in the White House and before the Supreme Court are not battles over the solutions to our problems, but over who should get credit, who should be blamed, and who will win the next election. A problem, any problem, is solved through analysis of the factors involved, a cataloging of the resources available, the creation of a plan to deal with the problem, the financing of the necessary agencies to carry out the plan, and oversight to ensure the plan is carried out efficiently and cheaply, and can change as difficulties are encountered. This is not what happened in Washington, D.C., or dare I say, many governments on many levels in our nation. Instead, government has become a sandbox to be fought over, not to be played in and shared. Scoring political points and burning political capital is the name of the game now. Once an election is over, planning for the next one begins, and the posturing takes the place of governance. We watch both sides gird for battle, attack each other mercilessly at every turn, and suffer as national government fiddles while the nation burns.

The change we have received of late has turned out not to be the true change we were promised, but that should come as no surprise, given we never bothered to change most of the players, leaving those we did change hung out to dry. It is not enough to sweep out some of the chaff – it is imperative that we begin the process of breaking Democratic and Republican power, tearing down the artifices they have created to control the nation and its government, replacing them with competent people, capable of reason, compromise, and action. We must plan for a D-Day invasion of Washington, D.C., to rout the vested interests, lobbyists, and sycophants, and restore our democratic Republic to its former stature, running the enemies of progress back from whence they came. It will be bloody, it will be costly, and it will be a struggle, but one that Americans have always been up to whenever called upon, whether in separating the Colonies from England, or driving back fascism, or defending freedom. The liberty and freedom of our nation is surely worth the price of opening our eyes, our minds, and our hearts.

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