The first president I remember was Eisenhower. The first president I loved was JFK. The first president I hated was LBJ.
Ever since, I’ve been joyously happy, apathetically bemused, or down right disgusted administration after administration. Yet, in the end things never got as bad as I believed they would be, but they were no where near as glorious as I anticipated. Mostly they didn’t change much at all.
You’d think I’d have learned. I had become fairly apathetic overall, realizing that the clumsy and looming bureaucratic nightmare that is our federal government, means that nothing much gets done. Things change in tiny increments that have little impact on individual lives. One measures change over decades and multiple administrations if at all. Unfortunately, to date, things seem to get marginally worse over time, not better as I recall in my youth.
Yet, true to the human spirit, hope springs eternal. I wrote my little fingers off last year for a good nine months, hoping that my words had some impact on someone out there who was undecided about how to vote. Obama turned me into a renewed believer that indeed things could change. Albeit he was going to work through the Democratic party, I saw a determination and will that things would not remain the same. Sanity and logic were returning to American leadership and we could all stand a little straighter.
Alas, nothing has really changed. And I don’t say that as someone who doesn’t realize that this administration is still barely out of its infancy. Yet, they seem, inexorably to have fallen into the same ruts as usual, and the wagon train is bogging down in the swamps of Washington.
I’m constrained to wonder if our great Constitution is designed to deal with the 21st century. It’s easy to claim it is not, and easy to conclude the contrary as well. But there seems to me to be a point where “public interest” fell by the way side, and party power became the definer of winning.
How else to explain the inexplicable remarks of various Republicans who have publicly announced that beating Obama on health care will be the death knell of his presidency and will set them up to make great gains in the next election. How else to explain that my own Grassley claims he probably won’t vote for a “good” bill if not supported by his party. How else to explain the blatant lies about various house and senate proposals in the name of scoring points and turning the ever wackier electorate to “our side” at any cost.
Polling suggests that most Americans change their mind based on the last sound bite heard. Most seem to have no clear understanding of the difference between journalism and punditry. If they did, I assume most everyone would be watching PBS.
Democrats are no better. It seems that regarding the men of the party, there is not one good set of cajones among them. I don’t have a similarly glib metaphor for the women. With clear majorities in both Houses, they are singularly unwilling to step up with a bill defined by the President and push it through and live by the the consequences. Instead, they are so desirous of being not being held “liable” for any mistakes, that they will sell away everything in the name of getting a few Republican signatures on the damn thing.
The Republicans are getting this, and are nickel and diming the Dems to death. From single-payer to public option, to co-ops, and still the GOP crosses its arms across its collective chest and says “NOOOOO!” We will have NO health care reform until the bill arrives saying, “Be it resolved, that the Congress thinks health costs are too high, begs the industry to see if it can take a tiny bit less in profit, and agrees to allow ten people that they usually deny coverage, actual care each year.” They will vote for that. The health industry has given them permission for that.
I look about me and see that people like Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber, Michelle Bachmann, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and a parade of other extremist/pandering/self-absorbed/users play to IQ-less, powerless wannabes with increasing success, and I wonder, why bother?
It’s not that they don’t deserve what they get, they do. The problem is, I gotta live with it too, and I have to live with the utter shame of seeing my country being defined by this fringe of folks who likely respond to the question: “Who wrote Handel’s Messiah?” with the erudite response, “I don’t read books!” (Yes shamelessly stolen from Jay Leno, but God Almighty it’s true enough!)
The only solution I’m convinced will work at this point, is a serious and viable third party. One that can sweep in and gut the poison that inhabits the heart of our system. No amount of threats or pleas will suffice to the current parties. They are so deeply embedded in the process, that nothing short of a nuclear weapon can dislodge them. They must be swept out of the place along with their special interests.
And while we are at it, what is so special about the interests of business to make money without restraint? Government was formed to secure the life, liberty and prosperity of the people. It is by, for, and of the people. It is not by, for, and of business interests, special or otherwise.
I’m not calling for a taking up of arms or revolution. That’s the way of the right wing bug-eyed fanatics. I’m calling for calm sit-down, stop the presses reform. I’ve been fooled just one too many times. The shame is now on me and you and us. Stop the insanity.