Just in case you can’t tell from looking at the image above, this is going to be a political post. It isn’t that I have stopped obsessing about my sadly empty nest, its just that this is an election year. (You knew that, right? Even those of you raising toddlers?) And I am hopelessly addicted to news shows, political blogs and the POTUS radio station on Sirius/XM. While most Americans at this point are desperately trying to avoid any more information about the dysfunctional circus so laughingly referred to as “The US Government”, I find myself reading and listening with increasing intensity. I am absolutely wallowing in information, and the more I research and read, the more disgusted I become.
Why am I disgusted? Well, I am a long time liberal. And when I say “liberal”, I mean the old fashioned kind of progressive thinker, like those lefties from the sixties. I have a somewhat “bleeding heart”, if that description means a person who believes that history will judge the success or failure of a society by the way that it treats its most vulnerable members. I believe that it is the duty of all of us to care for and support each other and I believe that it is the responsibility of government to protect the people; from foreign attack, from poverty, from want, from ignorance and suffering. I believe that government derives its power “from the consent of the governed” (to quote the Declaration of Independence). I don’t see anything like this kind of government in my country any more. I don’t hear any governmental leaders talking this way any more.
I am disgusted because when I teach fifth graders about American Democracy, I tell them all about those who fought a Revolution so that they might create a nation based on the belief that “all men are created equal”. I talk to them about the power of voting and the ability of citizens to shape the government, to influence the government, to be a part of the government (you know, “of the people, by the people, for the people”). I teach them all of this, because these ideas are the way it is supposed to be. Nowhere in any textbook, reference book, children’s history web page or primary source document do I ever find a mention of the rich buying influence with the government. There is no mention anywhere of the Founders planning for the role of lobbyists, PACs, SuperPACS or think tanks.
I am disgusted with the political situation in the United States today because what I see now are two huge political parties which spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to prevent each other from ever accomplishing one single thing. I see them both changing their minds, twisting and warping the truth, refusing to acknowledge any good idea if it wasn’t their own. What could be more frustrating and demoralizing than watching the Republicans scream in outrage over the healthcare reform act which was conceived by the very conservative Heritage Foundation and based on the universal healthcare law that “severely conservative” Mitt Romney created in Massachusetts? How is it even possible that anyone believes them?
I am hugely disgusted because BOTH of the major parties rake in millions of dollars from corporations and industries which then go on to shape the laws and “regulations” that are theoretically supposed to control them. Rules that are supposed to protect us from their greed and corruption. BOTH of the major parties are so dependent upon these dirty millions that they are literally unable to curb these corporations or the people who run them in any way.
It is no longer any exaggeration, it seem to me, to say that the US Government is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, Madison Avenue and a handful of multinational corporations.
Worse still is the fact that I now see the entire government, all three branches of it, as a closed system, like an elite club, which is determined to keep out anyone who refuses to play this corrupt game. If you are a candidate for public office, but you are neither a Democrat nor a Republican, you won’t get on any debate stages, no matter who you are. You won’t get interviewed by CNN, or MSNBC or FOX. The New York Times and Washington Post will act like you are invisible. You want to join the club, get the millions and get some headlines? Join one of the big parties and play by the rules. Don’t even think about anything as outdated as the truth. Don’t even whisper the word “compromise”. Oh, and once you get elected, your main job will be to keep sucking up to the money machine so your team can keep its power (or get more). While doing this, it is also vital that you say anything you need to say to make voters think that every good idea is from your team, while anything suggested by the other team is dangerous, treasonous and/or insane.
I am disgusted because what we call a fair and open election is really an incredibly expensive battle between two groups who have only one objective: Beat down the other side and get more power for us. Any pretense about governing in the best interests of the electorate is long gone, from what I see.
So what is a cynical patriot like me supposed to do?
I have many friends on both the left and right who vote for the party which they feel is “less corrupt” than the other. I’ve done the same thing (my votes for Bill Clinton come to mind), but I can no longer take this path. The ball just keeps passing back and forth from Democrats to Republicans and back again. Neither side is standing up for the kind of liberal ideals that I so strongly believe in. Neither side is able to disentangle itself from the clutches of big business; nor is either side expressing any real desire to do that!
For me, the only choice now is whether to vote Socialist or Green Party.
Oh, and I will join as many anti-corruption marches as I can find.
Just call me one of the 99%.