Monday, September 10, 2012

Reflections of a Political Cynic

Before you read, a caveat: this is not an endorsement of any candidate.  In fact, it’s sort of a gripe and a petition at the same time.  But, as you can see from the title, I don’t expect it to do any good which means it’s probably not very helpful.  And because cynicism is kind of catchy, perhaps you’d be better off to stop reading right here, but that’s up to you.  You’ve been warned. 

Well, the general election is in full swing.  I can certainly understand why people call this “the silly season.”  The conventions are over; the fact-checkers have informed us that both parties have a hard time telling the whole truth.  Negative ads have already been rolling and will probably only get worse.  Like many elections, by the time we go to the polls, we may find that we have to hold our nose, if we’re not holding it already.  Who can be sure what to believe?  The spin machine on both sides is spinning out of control.  America is in trouble.  And in the meantime, on one side we have a Senate minority leader who (in likely speaking for his party) says his number one goal is to make Barak Obama a one-term president.  (I wish his number one goal was to help Americans find work or fix the economy.)  On the other side we have a president and his party who apparently live in an alternate universe, telling us how things are better and how the private sector is doing fine.  And we have members of Congress who fear voting their conscience if it goes against the party line for fear they’ll be shunned or left out or cut off or underfunded in their reelection campaigns.  Good grief!  No wonder these people can’t and won’t work together.  They love power and they hate each other.  That should come as no surprise, really.  It’s usually always about the power and who has it, more than it’s about anything else.  God, help America, please!  Pretty please!  Forgive us for our sins.  Forgive us for our neglect of you and your ways.  Forgive us for our hunger for power and our lack of appetite for you.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear the president say, “Look, I’ve obviously made some mistakes in my first term.  I can read the numbers.  We’re in trouble, and I can’t find a way out of this mess by myself.  I need help from everybody who has good ideas.  I don’t care if the person is a Republican or a Democrat or an independent.  If we don’t get this ship turned soon, we’re all sunk.  So let’s pull together, work together, ignore all ‘political’ considerations, not give a rat’s behind about who gets the credit, and fix this thing.  It’s not going to be easy.  It’s going to hurt.  It’s going to take sacrifice on the part of us all.  It’s not going to be popular.  A lot members of my party are not going to like me.  And I may never be elected to anything again in my life.  But this problem is bigger than me and it’s bigger than political parties, so for at least a season, let’s work together, and God help us get this thing done.”

And wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear Romney say, “Ditto!  If I’m elected, I’m going to adopt that same approach and attitude.  And if it costs me re-election in four years, then at least it will be in a good cause.”

And wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear Congress say, “At least until we get these massive problems solved we don’t have ‘both sides of the aisle,’ we have no aisle.  We are in this together.  To heck with party goals and special interest groups and political action committees and lobbyists!  We’re going to think America first and party not at all.  And every one of us is willing to lose our next election to get these problems fixed.”

But, of course, we won’t hear this out of the mouth of either candidate or the Congress.  They’re too beholding to ideologies, too beholding to their political parties, too interested in power, too worried about re-election and campaign contributions.  I have no doubt that both men and most reps and senators want to do good and right by America.  But I fear they’re too blinded by their ideologies and their quest for power to humble themselves, think for themselves, swallow their pride, take hands, exercise a little personal courage, and actually do what the American people elect them to do.  Can’t they fuss about social issues later, and work on righting this economy now?  I know there are important foreign policy issues at stake.  And I know we all want to fight about abortion and gay marriage and who’s going to pay for whose contraceptives, but the economy is an issue that must be resolved and quickly or we’ll be crushed by our mountain of debt.  It’s time for all the would-be Neros in Washington to quit fiddling and start putting out the fire that could potentially burn our nation down to the ashes of history.  Yet, the fiddles play on.

I can hear you now: “McCallum, you’re a political cynic.”  You’re right; I am.  “McCallum, don’t you understand that all this posturing and filibustering and lying and smearing and distorting and voting the party-line, is just the way the game is played?”  Yes I do.  And that’s precisely the point: this is not a game.  It’s real life.  It’s affecting real people.  And the nation is on the brink.  Anybody who can work basic math can see that our current economic situation is so dangerous to America’s future that it’s as if our nation is the Titanic and instead of 2012 it’s 1912.  Surely someone in Washington, someone with the power to do something about it, someone with their hand on the wheel, can see the iceberg dead ahead.

God help us all!   

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