I have managed, on this blog at least, to keep away from the political. I have heard often enough that you do not discuss politics and baseball at parties, if you want to have a fun time. So this post will not be telling you who I think you should vote for and it will not be a commercial for anyone, promise. I want to talk about our political system instead, because even though I have lived in this country my whole life, and I went through years of education on the topic, I still have a lot of questions about it. In fact I probably have more questions now than ever, since as a mature adult and an unrelenting news-junkie, I read up on stuff like a hungry bear (and those who know me know how I get when I’m hungry). So here goes, and feel free to educate me privately or publicly if you know any of the answers.
First, when did our government become a sport with soap opera leanings? Are you on the red team or the blue team? If you are on one team, you spend your time tearing individual members of the other team apart, in the political, social and personal realms. You look for ways to humiliate your opponents, and shame them into either backing off or quitting all together. If you are on one team, you will NEVER agree to anything the other team comes up with, even if you yourself proposed it years ago in your own state, and even if it will solve a lot of problems and you know it. You support members of your own team, even if they suck. You lie, cheat, deceive, feint, fake, coddle, make empty promises you have no intentions of keeping, coo at babies, anything it takes to persuade the public, who wear their colors proudly on bumper stickers and in often vehement conversations. You woo constituents like a small company looking for grant money and funding; your smiles, which don’t rise above your nose and resemble a shark’s grin, are meant to give one message: vote for my team.
Second, when did our politicians stop caring about the humans they supposedly represent? Our government, I thought, is meant to act like a parent in a family. Those in charge of laws and the parsing out of money (money we give them, ahem, our money), I thought, are supposed to listen to the needs of the rest of us, and work to meet those needs. We vote (although many of us don’t- which may be part of the problem. A topic for another blog post…) to put in the men and women that we think will keep us at the top of their thoughts as they wade in to battle and debate what our government should do. And yet, a huge percentage of those we put in office wind up spinning their wheels through their terms, and then, donning the cape with their team colors, stomping for our votes for another few years to do…nothing.
Third, when did money become the deciding factor in everything the government does? Incredible, unbelievable, unfathomable amounts of money are spent enticing politicians to protect industry and union groups and the uber-wealthy. Honestly, the money that is spent in this endeavor could probably, in one year, get us a good way to fixing our $16,172,090,758,745.71 debt (as of yesterday, according to the National Debt Clock). When did those lobby groups lose sight of what is important? I do understand some of where they are coming from, okay? People in this country have opportunities like in no other country in the world. However, there are many pockets of places in our country that resemble the Third World, in poverty and lack of jobs and poor housing, etc. There are economically depressed towns (and whole states) sprinkled throughout this country, that are quite literally dying for some help and are being ignored. I don’t mean hand-outs kind of help; no one really feels good about taking handouts. I believe most people want the opportunity to become self-sufficient; the “I can do it myself” attitude that is prevalent in most two-year-olds gets destroyed in these sad locales by the time the kids are ten or twelve. It’s a vicious cycle and it needs some intervention. Imagine if we could go in there and help these people find ways to proudly make a buck, and enough to feed their families. Oy, I’m starting to sound like a John Lennon song.
Someone please help me understand how “the greatest country in the world” got to the point where the stars and stripes hide an ugly underside- the struggling, forgotten masses of dreamers who want, need, and deserve a chance to do well in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. I am proud to be an American, but I am also ashamed, embarrassed, disgruntled and confused. And I am here now using my First Amendment right to free speech to announce it to the world. Anyone who thinks questioning our government is unpatriotic had better read the constitution, and our relatively short history as a country. Questioning is how we were created, and it is the only way that we will continue to exist as a democracy. When we people stop thinking, discussing, protesting and making our wants and needs clear, we have truly lost our way.