An ostensibly rhetorical question I read (and get asked) quite often these days is “Why bother?”
Why bother getting invested in politics?
Why bother reading all those papers and blogs and magazines?
Why bother wasting time since they are all the same?
Why bother voting?
Well, there are lots of good reasons, some of which are immediately evident to anyone who takes the time to be moderately informed and is aware of not-so-complicated concepts like cause and effect. That the policies of our former administration (and, more importantly, the power-to-the-powerful ideology that informs those policies) bankrupted our nation and –this is the toughest one to grasp– made us less safe is not a matter of opinion; it’s not debatable and there is no room for any possible nuance.
Also, there is only one type of Socialism being practiced in America today and it has been in effect for longer than one year. It’s Corporate Socialism. For evidence to support this claim, I submit every action taken by every Republican politician since 1980. Case closed, your honor.
To the haters, I certainly feel your pain, to a point. Yes, watching the Democrats try to govern is an often painful and occasionally pitiful spectacle (it’s amusing: Harry Reid is at once a man who should never, under any circumstances, have gotten involved in politics, yet he is, in the final analysis, the prototypical politician). Of course, in their defense, a reasonable person understands that actually attempting to govern is messy, difficult and frustrating. Particularly, as people like Andrew Sullivan regularly point out, our nation has become increasingly ignorant, self-absorbed and childish: we don’t want any government interference, we don’t want to pay taxes and we demand to see all of these pesky problems go away and take care of themselves (or even better, the stance of the Ayn Rand worshipping Libertarian-leaning bozos: just leave us alone and the world will govern itself, but if my house catches fire or a burglar breaks in or the roads need to be plowed or the country is attacked some non-tax funded enterprise better be at the ready to protect me!)
We have become a country of children who want to skip the main course and go directly to dessert, every meal, and then complain that we’ve gotten fat. And that in itself is a problem: that allows the Republicans to continue to frame the idea of shared accountability and responsibility as an inherently negative or intrusive notion. Let me be clear: that is, upon cursory inspection, a decidedly anti-American sentiment. The idea that paying taxes and supporting regulation of the food we eat and air we breathe is some type of burden implemented by a leering Big Brother is beyond moronic and borders on offensive. The idea that we can have no taxes, no regulation, no government involvement, unfunded wars and private interests in charge of everything is exactly the intelligence-insulting ideology that landed us where we are now. And, for the last time, and as Thomas “What’s The Matter With Kansas” Frank elucidated, vigorously endorsing the notion that the wealthiest .01% of the population should not pay any taxes is going to put exactly zero cents in your pocket and create precisely zero jobs.
So, in sum, yes it is discomfiting to watch the Dems go about their business. But then you look across the aisle and see the obstreperous opposition digging in with monomaniacal zeal to do nothing (other than obstruct, oppose and stymie any effort made to get us out of this mess). You have to hand it to them, though, stoking the “Tea Party” frustration, which is largely a result of the situation their actions put this country in (and, based on the virtual absence of a single minority at a single one of these gatherings, a rather unhealthy dose of old-school bigtory). That, of course, is a topic I (and many, many others more insightful than myself) have adequately addressed. For now, the prevailing issue that has cleaved the country in half is the topic of health care. If any further evidence was required (!!) about what is at stake and what the consequences of doing something (Dems) versus doing nothing (GOP) are, take a look at the invaluable Paul Krugman in today’s New York Times.
But for anyone still on the fence, or who can claim, at this point, to be genuinely ambivalent and/or persuaded that both sides are mirror images of one another, I point you to yesterday’s spectacle at CPAC:
Easy to appreciate the racist overtones there, huh? The comical association of “The Left” with Woodstock hippies, blah blah blah. That, of course, is run of the mill, Lee Atwater hogwash. Been there done that. Nothing to see here. Et cetera.
But to really get a sense of the farcical alternate universe these clowns inhabit, consider the featured speakers:
First, the rock star reception given to proud torture advocate, war criminal and suddenly outspoken former VP Dick Cheney. That alone speaks volumes.
Second, the dark lord’s daughter, Liz, who is racing at warp speed to find a new low in the apparently bottomless pit of political mendacity, gleefully ignoring reality and, following her father’s lead, doing her darndest to distort and malign, had this jaw dropper: “There is no polite way to put this: Obama’s incompetence is getting people killed.” Indeed, if he’s not careful, he may have an attack like 9/11 happen on his watch. But what more do you expect, and how deliciously appropriate (but not ironic, because the oblivious press and hapless Democrats will be predictably unable to connect the dots here) is it that the same week the party who likes to claim sole propriety on keeping Americans safe (the worst domestic attack in our country’s history notwithstanding) is upping the irresponsible rhetoric, we see the walking punch line that is Bernie Kerik sent to the slammer. Keep in mind, this is the same imbecile that self-proclaimed tough guy Rudy G. (Mr. noun, verb, 9/11 himself) ardently endorsed as our next chief of Homeland Security. Folks, the mind boggles.
Finally, we have the current ringleader of the so-called insurgent Right: Marco Rubio, the man Dana Milbank –one of the rare reliable voices from that ever shrinking pool of talent at The Washington Post,— geniusly calls the “Anti-Crist” in a must read, throwing raw red meat at the pack of insatiable hyenas. In admirable brevity, Milbank itemizes Rubio’s (and the current GOP’s) vision for how to get out of the mess they created: double down.
Rubio’s agenda: across-the-board tax cuts, lower corporate tax rates, and abolishing taxes on capital gains, dividends, interest and inheritance. Oh, and reducing the debt, too.
Denial of accountability? Check.
Denial of reality? Check.
Denial of actual measures required to help, and not hurt, Americans? Check.
This is why you have to choose sides. This is why you can ill afford (literally and figuratively) to let these cackling, wealthy and well-insured weasels lull you into a state of impotent rage or, worse, apathy. Because aside from the ceaseless corporate welfare they will fight for, their ultimate ambition is to render the actually literate and sentient amongst us fed up and indifferent. Without awareness, and with no resistance, they can more easily continue their unchecked assault on our collective well-being.