Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Told You So

I hate to say it but I told you so.

As we come upon the dog days all the pieces are falling into place for another Republican-engineered debacle. Once more the used-to-be routine business of running the country is about to be hijacked by a band of radicals bent on bringing our society to a grinding halt unless they get what they want. Or at least unless they prevent the people they dislike from getting what they want. And what the radicals want is the dismantling of the one entity that keeps us from becoming an epic Technicolor wide screen version of the Balkans: our duly elected federal government.

We used to be the envy of the civilized world. In the aftermath of the city-razing catastrophe of World War II that rendered almost the entire European continent a dazed refugee camp, we brought the planet back from the edge of social and economic disintegration. After the wholesale destruction and deadly havoc resulting from unrestrained conflict between ethnic and political groupings our wholly disparate yet united states worked together to forge a new economic engine that rebuilt a devastated hemisphere and eventually spawned a global economy. And we did it by ensuring that everybody had a stake in that progress. We created a social contract that included everyone from a geographic and ethnic jumble that made the Europeans look homogenous.

On the one hand we had the Free Market: Capitalists unfettered by any centralized direction of their resources and innovations. And on the other we had liberals who made sure the progress they made was regulated to prevent over exploitation of resources and included opportunities for all participants at every level of the ladder. When confronted with our greatest inequities we expanded that contract in the 60s to include people of color, women and the handicapped. All of this managed through the Federal Government and its resources.

Then came 1980 and our President, the “great communicator,” informed us that with everything confronting the country our one big “problem” was this same government. Now we’re being manipulated and controlled by his disciples whose only goal is to take the one government that inspired the Western world through thirty years of the Cold War and “drown it in the bathtub.”

We worked our way to the top of the heap from the forties through the sixties, leapfrogging over the Soviet Union by hammering out compromises and accommodations between owners and workers, unions and management, lefties and righties, whites and blacks. It wasn’t all kumbaya and group hugs. We never felt we had to like each other but just acknowledged that since we had to live together we might as well minimize the conflict and make deals. In fact, growing up in the fifties and sixties I got the impression that that was the “American” way: Tolerance, acceptance, respect and cooperation.


Now we’ve got a major political party whose single fundamental principle is that the other side has no right to incorporate their own beliefs as a component of their citizenship. Since the 80s, Republicans have been tapping into right wing loathing and paranoia by demonizing Democrats and Liberals, characterizing them as having no legitimate say in governing the country. While this may have been a winning strategy in the short term it has finally backed them into a corner: How can you compromise with "the devil" and remain true to the believers who sent you to Washington? This isn’t rabid frothing at the mouth from the fringe any more, it’s become the official party line. And since the election of the black guy, this extremism has gotten outright dangerous.

They have fashioned a perennially winning strategy — there are always angry people out there willing to vote for someone as angry as they are — but at the same time they've rendered themselves incapable of governing, a process, again, that requires tolerance, acceptance and compromise.
When you add this to the fact that the Bush presidency exposed the self-aggrandizing ineptitude of a sustained "governing" program built solely on excluding your political opponents from meaningful participation, it's to be expected that when one of those opponents begins to effect positive change the reaction will be shrill hatred and mindless opposition. 
"Governing" as we've always known it has been corrupted by more than just money and poisoned by more than just racial bigotry. I listed the American values I was raised with above. Which ones are these avowed “patriots” holding the rest of us hostage to?

No comments:

Post a Comment