Professional politics is not my bag. It’s a field in which I have NO academic background and ZERO professional interests. But it’s also been catapulting my blood pressure numbers into the social stratosphere over the past 12-years in particular.
As another political writer put it—I’m paraphrasing—the die-hard partisans (BOTH sides) have been in a seemingly perpetual gridlock death march on “Do Nothing Hill,” and they’ve been marching all the while to an incessant cadence of “our-way-or–no-way.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the nation’s president the day I was born, and I was a pimply-faced teenager when Harry Truman left office. But I didn’t have a thing to do with either of these men being elected; I didn’t become eligible to vote until I reached the age of 21—it was the law back then.
But since reaching that age, I have voted in every election—federal, state, and local. And, while I’m always registered with a particular party for any given election, I’m not married to any of them whenever it comes general election time.
In other words, I change party registrations at the drop of a pin, depending on what’s at stake at the local PRIMARY level. But once the primaries are over, I’m a rabid Independent, no matter what it reads on my voter card.
However, the fact is that, back in my heyday, both main parties (Republican and Democrat) were distinctly different, and there were no doubts about what each stood for, either.
The Republicans believed in a lean effective central government that held sway, as feasibly as possible, over unemployment, inflation, and national defense. But they weren’t opposed to a regulation or two aimed at keeping the free market honest.
They believed in keeping federal taxes at a minimum and keeping deficit spending at zero except in cases of extreme emergencies.
And, as they were a smaller party than the Democrats—they still are—their prime directive was party cohesiveness and getting ELECTED.
The Democrats went in the opposite direction; they believed in a much larger central government footprint.
Theirs was—and still is—a larger party loaded to the hilt with differing factions, any one of which would rather lose an election than agree on a uniform platform aimed at winning an election. And absolutely nothing has changed in this respect.
I have always considered myself a socially-conscious voter in possession of a fiscally-limited pocketbook. Reasonable trade-offs have always been in my social preponderance.
However, the federal government is not so restricted; these folks can print money. And they do! And it doesn’t matter which party is in control.
So, the primary difference between the two parties has been the fact that for the Republicans, the prime directive of old was—it’s not any longer—fiscal restraint, and for the Democrats the prime directive was—it still is—social conscience. But there’s no balance anymore.
The Republican prime directive of old is not the today’s prime directive. The new prime directive is tax cuts. But the problem is that the Republicans of today deficit spend just as much as the Democrats have ever done it.
And the fact that it doesn’t work means nothing compared to a horde of elected officials—BOTH parties—REACTING to an insatiable electorate clambering for “LESS SPENDING, just NOT on MY stuff.”
And so, here we are with absolutely nothing getting done and a seemingly clueless electorate—or at least the ones getting all the press—blaming everyone and everything but THEMSELVES.
Now it boils down to one side proposing legislation, while the other side declares it dead on arrival, and thus the “games” begin.
The cable network partisans arrive right on schedule; they immediately reduce everything to nothing more than undebatable partisan pissing contests.
CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News parade their “experts” before the TV cameras to pontificate on the “good” and the “stupid” of every issue before the nation.
And finally, the voters weigh in—not the ones who have any intellectual clues, or even the few who are simply misinformed, but the abjectly stupid ones; the ones who don’t know but have no idea that they don’t know.
Now everything’s a huge partisan political brouhaha; both sides arm themselves to the teeth with speculation, innuendo, and sometimes outright lies—Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, and Al Sharpton come immediately to MY mind.
And the media plays its part as well. While nailing politicians for substantive lies and other idiocies has always been a favorite past time of investigative reporters, the substance part has been replaced by meaningless points.
We’re in desperate need of modern versions of the lates Edward R. Murrow and Eric Sevareid.
These were not pretty boys in $3,000 suits and impeccable hairdos. Nor did they care one bit who liked or disliked what they wrote. They always made it a point never to interview public officials; they INTERROGATED them.
It’s become too easy for us citizens to blame the government for everything and ourselves for nothing. But the fact still remains that we citizens are, in FACT, the government, and we get exactly what we deserve.
God notwithstanding, life is a general crap-shoot. Humans, however, possess the ability to reason, and thus control outcomes to a great extent.
But we’re also gullible as hell, given our apparent refusal to believe that the likelihood of EVERYTHING going right is vastly trumped by the greater likelihood of SOMETHING going catastrophically wrong.
And making matters even worse is the ever perennial fact that generally speaking, people tend to accept facts as truth ONLY if the facts agree with what they already believe.
But given the hissy fit climate between the parties and a seemingly insistent stranglehold that stupidity has on the extremes in both Houses of Congress, issue-oriented talk radio/TV, and hoards of voters who make up their minds based on what their favorite pundit tells them to believe, things aren’t going to change for the foreseeable future.