Friday, June 30, 2006

Political Naivety

I’m coming to the belief that I really am politically naïve.

I’m naïve to trust that the US Government will, in spite of it’s clumsiness, govern properly, provide sufficiently and fairly, protect and defend competently and report honestly.

  • When I was in the Army a long time ago, I saw it’s insufficiencies and laughed at it’s stupidities. But, when all the training came together in a war game or a real action, it became an effective and fierce fighting machine. I added this to the other things I had learned that gave me confidence that our government was fair, honest and functionally effective.

  • When I grew up, my parents and their friends told me what happened during the 30’s and the war years of the 40’s – when the government stepped in and provided public service jobs, rationed goods, set prices, called for sacrifices – and reported regularly and inspirationally with fireside chats. They were proud of America and how the social actions of Roosevelt and the Democrats affected them personally.

  • As I studied government, I learned what it was commissioned to do, how it was divided to provide checks and balances so that it’s energies were maximized and it’s machinery was effective and honest.

  • And I learned – first at school and then during Watergate - what a free press was able to do.

Those experiences left me with a feeling of trust that this big clumsy governmental mechanism would, under periods of real need, come together and do what it was supposed to do.

I never EVER thought that it would all – each element of the whole system – deteriorate to the extent that I see it today. I just naively believed that the system would overcome the misconduct of the few, the financial and power temptations, the entrenched bureaucracies, the petty vanities… that it would cleanse itself.

But it hasn’t and I’m afraid that big, REAL issues – as we have now - won’t be resolved. I’m afraid that advanced political technique will continue to distract people from real issues and make them even more afraid and, as a group, manageable and longing for a leader to protect them – willing to vote against their own best interests and not see what is so plainly clear for all to see.

  • I recently listened to a series of talk radio shows that used inflammatory rhetoric to attempt to puncture any belief in the “facts” about global warming and the necessity to do something now. If you saw “fact” in those “facts” you were a Liberal, scare-monger or worse.

  • I saw – and continue to see – the effects of Katrina. The prejudices, the lack of progress, the ineffective dialogue, the simple unorganized generosities of plain Americans, the weak planning for the next cycle of possible disaster.

  • Traveling across the U.S. as I’ve been doing, I see how fear and terror are making us paranoid and cynical – and fearful of one another. We’re not the same sweet innocents we used to be.

  • Unlike when I grew up, most pulpits – of almost all persuasions - are presently being used to lobby their congregations for political purposes with encouragement to do so from eager politicians and canny political advisors.

  • And I see how distractions are filling our bellies and making us falsely content. We’re fat and fearful and distracted AND we don’t believe our government will function to our benefit nor represent our views, needs and wants - but we’re too full – too addicted - to do anything about it. So we eat and drink ourselves to distraction while our best and brightest are leaving the country for better pastures and our universities churn out fewer and fewer Americans.

I once had a course in the Fall of the Roman Empire. The similarities are many and many of the precursors to the fall are happening now in America (unfairness in the tax system, overstretched military, extreme disparities in the wage/payment system, ineffective legislators, and the rise of petty vanities and elitism). Worse, the negative momentum is likely to propel it further away from being our America.

We are spiraling out of control with no real leadership nor any real plan to get us back on track. No candidates are talking about the real issues nor have a plan of attack for even a single issue. Not one thus far is inspirational (except perhaps Al Gore). Instead, they all talk the talk while the spiral escalates and our country continues to descend.