Will people who hate the government get increasingly pissy and eventually dismantle the whole grand experiment? They have nothing to gain by helping government to be successful, because their entire point is to prove that it’s a wasteful, sucking, harmful, intrusive machine. The more they make that true, the better they look. It’s like negotiating with a recalcitrant four-year old, who, when you try to take a walk, get’s all zombie-legged and whines, “But I can’t. My legs don’t work….” And of course it becomes true, because for legs to work, the person attached to them has to be willing to try.
The democracy idea assumes that reasonable thoughtful people will honestly show up at the negotiating table ready to listen, learn, understand, compromise, and stand firm when that’s the right thing to do. Who would have envisioned that we’d elect a bunch of nay-sayers who just want to stop everything?
Will the tea-partiers, who claim to have “Christian values” demonstrate even more blatantly that they couldn’t give a rat’s ass about their neighbor, especially if he has ever been down on his luck, or worships a different (or no) god?
Do they truly not get that government is the only way to provide things we all rely on, like highways, a justice system, fire protection, roads, safe drinking water, disaster planning, healthcare for senior citizens, parks, and free public education? When did all of that get such a bad name?
Besides the ignorance, bullying, and lack of commitment to the truth, I think it’s the hypocrisy that bugs me the most. (That, and the bad hair. But let's leave that out of it for now.) Have these people ever had a relative on social security? Would they accept unemployment if their job ended? Of course they would.
Have they ever used a medical treatment or a pharmaceutical that was funded in part by government research? Or had a car accident that was less severe than it could have been due to those intrusive seatbelt and speed limit laws? Of course they have.
Did they care when Bush wracked up the debt through unwarranted war? Um, no, it didn't seem to be a problem when Bush doubled the national debt, or Reagan tripled it.
I get worked up over all of this, but then I succumb to outrage fatigue. How long can we sustain anger at the extreme hypocrisy of the right-wing without wanting to just switch the station, crack open another beer, listen to some music, focus on something a little more positive and hopeful?
Because it’s just so maddening. The people who want Obama to fail don’t care who they take down with him, even if it’s the entire, reasonably successful dream of a democratic government that’s actually done pretty well for 230+ years. They aren’t interested in dialog or honest negotiation. Collaboration has been labeled “weak” (didn’t that used to be called statesmanship?), changing your opinion based on new information is called “waffling”, and science has become a pansy-assed pursuit of the Ivory Tower intellectuals who have no relevance in the real world. They purport that evolution hasn’t been proven, scientists are still debating climate change, and all government spending is a waste of money.
Fine then. Go sit at home in the dark eating tainted beef and reading the federalist papers. Just don’t call me a liberal hater because I’m okay with being regulated, and I actually believe that government is the only entity that can and should tackle certain aspects of our health and well-being, and can make even the tiniest dent in leveling the playing field so that people who weren’t born into good circumstances can still have a crack at a decent life.
Seven percent of the population in the US is employed by the government. Besides the obvious (those people have jobs, pay taxes, buy stuff, hire consultants, contractors and service people), they’re also paid to care about things that you don’t have time for, like groundwater decline and massive flu epidemics and contaminated soil and fair working conditions and how to number the streets so that 9-1-1 can find you. Things that the right twists to sound all weird and golden gavel-ish, because to study anything scientifically, there are a many dead ends, or a few things where the practical application doesn’t become understood until later. That’s what science is. If you already knew the answer and where you were going, they’d call it the bible.
A weird sidebar: there’s a new resident at Lake M. who’s been shooting at beavers from the shoreline of their giant new house. They are undeterred by kids swimming in the water nearby. Picture the Clampetts, but without the baling twine belts. Why am I’m bringing this up here? I don’t know. I guess since I’m already on a tear about ignorance, I might as well mention them.
I’m just wondering how the hell everyone suddenly got so weird and ignorant. Seriously, you buy a lakefront home and then shoot the wildlife that lives in the lake?
Maybe I’m getting old. But I remember thinking as a naïve little kid, “wow. All this is free. This is pretty cool.” Then I learned about all the other stuff, like corporate greed and corrupt politicians, but still, it seemed like a damn good system, because Nixon freakin’ resigned. Right? Not that no one does anything wrong, but the system works. Of course it’s not perfect, and there are a million things wrong with the way government does business. But it’s a start, and it's a system that allows for self-correction.
I don’t think I had a green grape until I was out of the house, because my mom did whatever Cesar Chavez said to do for the workers. At least there was something to do, even if it was just not eating grapes.
Now, I can’t think of a single thing to do. This rabid group isn’t interested in data, facts, reason, hearing another side. These are people who don’t think evolution should be taught in schools, because they don’t “believe” in it. What’s to believe in? We can watch it happen. Think penicillin. There’s no discussing stuff with people who think that the fossil record was placed by god to test the strength of belief. Really? If there is a god, why would he/she give us these great brains, put out a giant puzzle, and then punish us if we assemble the pieces to understand an exquisitely consistent, remarkable story -- the history of the universe?
Can we change this mean-spirited culture? Sure. Remember when it was normal for people to smoke inside private homes and restaurants? Or when recycling was just something that weirdo tree-huggers did? But now, people would be pretty embarrassed to get caught tossing a can out the window. Maybe we can make it that awkward to hate the government.
I’m going to, in my own tiny way, remind people that we’re pretty damn lucky to have a government that we get to vote for, that has a bunch of excellent programs that work. Every day, as much as I can slip it in, I’m going to say, “wow, that’s good government.” Because a million times each day, that would apply - - buying safe food, getting a book from the library (any book, even if it’s about overthrowing the government!), being able to look at a map online of meth labs or superfund sites, having someone to call when the neighbors are taking potshots at the beavers with a handgun, having the school children safely transported to the free schools. Maybe people have forgotten what we get for our ridiculously low taxes. Maybe people will start feeling embarrassed about complaining, and instead, would see the problems and engage in solving them, because what else is there to do?
That, and contacting your congressperson about the Jobs Act.
End of rant. For now.