I'm just going to skip the part about how I'm bad at updating this blog. That's a given. I am going to give a disclaimer that this post is going to talk about something uncomfortable to most people, politics. Sure, I've heard the trope about how you don't discuss sex or politics in public, but hey, I think people should talk about sex more in public. So I figured I'd talk about politics.
One thing that most anyone can agree on right now is that our current government is broken. Not the process itself, but the people and how they have perverted the whole thing. I supported Obama, I still do, but there is a huge lists of things I would have like to have seen done differently. But those idiots in congress, with a few exceptions, all need to be voted out. The Republicans for being idiots in general and constantly playing the "Screw you guys, I'm going home" card, and the Democrats for bending over too much and letting them.
Government is the art of compromise, in finding the middle ground that everyone is the least unhappy with. No one should get everything they want, because once you are elected, you represent everyone, not just a narrow band of people who voted for you.
I've had in my mind a fantasy for the past couple of years, and it goes like this. For whatever reason, I'm called to testify before congress. I've resisted the urge to tell them where to shove it, since the very idea that they hold some sort of authority is asinine, and went there. And I request (or demand) to make an opening statement. And in my fantasy, it goes something like this:
"Congressmen and women, before we start, I'd like to say, on behalf of all Americans, please, go fuck yourselves."
I expect I'd get in trouble, and cause an uproar, but I bet that would be absolute gangbusters on YouTube. And as we all know, there's far more democracy on YouTube than there is in Congress. It's not because they're corrupt, most of them probably aren't. But they all are in a basic CYA mode looking at their next election and not, in any way, giving a shit about Americans past their Fox News or CNN soundbites.
As a whole, our government, and for that matter, a lot of Americans, don't seem to understand how our country works. First, it's not democracy, it's a democratic republic. Second, blaming the President for unemployment, the deficit, debt, stimulus, or anything is more or less hanging a big sign over your head that says "I do not understand 8th-grade Civics and need to spend more time with School House Rocks." Third, and probably most important, the majority of Americans and far too many of our leaders do not know shit about history.
Take the Tea Party, for example, and Republicans in general, for trumpeting up the conservative messiah, Ronald Regan. Outside of the fact that he was, in hindsight, a horrific president, he was so far outside the ideals of current conservatives that he'd be hated more than Obama. And he was white, so they can't even hate him for irrational reasons. He raised taxes (after lowering them), invited the first gay couple ever to spend a night at the white house, basically invented non-wartime deficit spending, grew government by an outlandish amount (while screaming that it was somehow the problem), and propped up the military-industrial complex at the end of the cold war to consume far too many of our tax dollars, and gave us "trickle-down economics" which was thoroughly dismissed by economists (and led to the lowest growth of middle-class earnings outside of a recession).
In fact, the person they're probably thinking of was Dwight Eisenhower, the last republican president who could really be called "great," kept debt and deficit in check while giving a huge "socialist" push in civil spending. He also warned us against the runaway military spending that takes 25 cents of every dollar we pay in taxes. And the problem is no one seems to realize this, at least not anyone on Fox News, CNN, in Congress, or at a Tea Party rally. And sadly, not at the near-nonexistent Democratic rallies either, because for all the talk of Hope, we're a very uninspired bunch right now, but not nearly as pissed off as the other side for some reason.
Here's the problem as I see it. Feel free to disagree, as you'll see, that's kind of the point. Americans have forgotten what discourse is, and that it, and its cousin debate, are what made America great. Discourse is the act of written and verbal communication, the act of discussion. Not lecture, but discussion. The loud flavor-of-the-months like to champion the Constitution, but have seemingly never read it. And even worse, never read what made it.
The Constitution was not written in a vacuum. It was not some grand idea that was thrown out and everyone saw a revelation and agreed on. There was arguing, fighting, debates, and disagreements. They were there even once it was published. Want to know what our Founding Fathers were thinking, and since a lot of them weren't involved in the government once it was there, those who came after. Want to know about the debate between states and the federal government, go pick up the Federalist Papers (and the anti-federalist writings as well).
You will understand that all the stuff we seem to argue about has already been worked out for us. They debated and argued, because they understood that it was important to the process. The Bill of Rights was the ultimate form of compromise, and a strengthening of the Federal process. It wasn't arguing in Congress (though there certainly was a lot of that), it was through 85 essays that made their case, and in practice, made compromises. They believed that the discussion was important, crucial in fact, to the whole process.
Is the US a Christian Nation? Nope, the Treaty of Tripoli outlines that quite nicely () and that is the law of the land, as defined in the Constitution ("This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."). And that was in 1797. And yet that very question has divided our country for a few decades now, and there's no reason for it. There's not any purpose for it in what a government does.
Does the government have a right to provide for the public welfare? Yep. Were our founding fathers in favor of welfare programs? Some were, some weren't, but all supported taxes of some sort. In fact, that was part of the purpose of codifying the federal government, to be able to create taxes, levies, and tarrifs to fund and support trade between the states and other countries. Thomas Paine, the paragon of current conservative virtue, was in favor of an Estate Tax, higher taxes on the wealthy, wealth distribution to the poor, and even welfare (See his work Agrarian Justice if you're curious). Thomas Jefferson, who was effectively an anti-federalist, was against them, but he was also against mingling religion and government in any way, as well torn on Slavery (and released only a few of him many slaves). But they were more than willing to go and debate and discuss it, and in all cases, compromise.
We don't get that. We don't get the discussion. We get a bunch of children screaming and refusing to acknowledge that half the country doesn't believe the same things. We don't get compromise, we get some asshole who goes out there and says he wants to raise taxes on the majority of Americans to benefit the upper .1% (in the misguided idea that giving the super-rich leads to more jobs, which it hasn't in 10 years, they just throw it into their funds and sit on it). Ironically, that's a Republican that wants to raise taxes. He's the same person who felt they got screwed in the asinine debt ceiling debates because they only got 98% of what they were asking for.
On the other side, we don't have democrats that demand a debate, didn't fight for it, and just basically bent over and took it. Both sides are ignoring the people that voted them in, pandering to a small bunch with a lot of money, and making a joke out of our system and our country. We need to demand discourse, we need to demand compromise from both sides, and we need to demand for them to listen. Tax everyone their fair share, compromise on other issues, and stop mixing social and civil issues as if they were the same. End the war on women that they're waging, the bigotry and racism wrapped into the process, and have them do their jobs.
It's the discourse that's important. And the discourse that is missing.