On August 1, House Republicans protested a move by Democrats to adjourn Congress for an August recess before voting on a measure to open land to domestic oil drilling. Democrats refused to let the matter come to a vote. The lights and microphones were turned off, leaving a small group of Republicans remaining to voice their objections to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat's hasty retreat. More damaging, C-SPAN's cameras were switched off and reporters were told to leave.
The Republicans bashed the Democrats for not allowing the vote, which they said would provide relief to beleaguered consumers who are paying high gas prices. The chaotic protest, which involved visitors coming down to the floor, lights being switched off and on and a round of "God Bless America", demonstrates just how screwed up and uncivil government is.
The Democrats didn't want the vote, but instead of having it, they shut the lights off, left the chamber and gave the Republicans the opportunity to look strong. It doesn't matter if the Republican protest was a smear-fest against Pelosi and her ilk. What this shows is a genuine lack of accountability by a legislative body whose approval rating is in the teens and twenties depending on the source.
This episode demonstrates the divide between the left and the right and the disconnect the American people have with their elected representatives. In the end, Congress doesn't care about the will of the people. Politicians don't serve the average citizen - they have and always will serve the interests of their political parties. In the end, it isn't about left or right, liberals or conservatives. It's about factions, money and power and whoever is in the driver's seat commands the civilization.
Society's primary role in America isn't a loving democracy where citizens vote and participate and have their say. Such a system would lead to breakdowns and anarchy. No, America's social order is based on conformity, capitalism and fear and the political system fosters this.
A majority in Congress are baby boomers - people born in the years of or shortly after World War II. Their politics were influenced by two factions during their youth - the establishment and counterculture. The practical conservatives and idealistic liberals. Their personal views of what society should be became the driving force of where they stand politically. Compromise and doing the right thing for society's sake takes a back seat to winning an argument. No wonder why Congress seldom accomplishes much - their whole agenda is a 40-year old pissing contest over Vietnam, equality and re-making a social order based on feel-good slogans.
This isn't to say their contribution to America have been for naught; equality for women and minorities altered America's social landscape forever. But at some point, you have to put your idealism aside and work with practical realities. You have to compromise and meet people half way. You can't remain a recalcitrant, self-righteous liberal dipshit or a pig-headed, rigid conservative asshole all the time.
Okay, so maybe you can.
With the baby boomers in control, everything is fucked up. It's the virtue and family values crowd versus the if-it-feels-good-do-it bunch, the crewcuts versus the longhairs, Fred MacMurray versus Abbie Hoffman. Instead of creating a homogenized society, politics factionalizes and marginalizes groups. This division is deliberate, because without scapegoats you can't make the electorate fearful. It's not about drawing people to you out of respect, admiration or confidence - it's about scaring the shit out of them so they'd vote for you.
Candidates do this Machiavellian dance every election cycle, demonizing opponents and manipulating the public, who consume politics like products. Political parties are nothing more than brands that spin doctors advertise as the latest cure-all panacea for your social ills. Gas prices up? Then you need to buy a Republican. Tired of the war? How about switching to Democrat? And while the pundits spin and partisan hacks blather in an American mosh pit of political discourse, our freedoms, rights and liberties, once viewed as sacrosanct by the Founding Fathers, are slowly disappearing.
I don't know what the solution is. I write about what I see and feel in my gut. I love my country, but I hate how it's being run. The baby boomers of both parties dwell in the past and only talk about the future because those sound bites sound great on the news. The people running this country have bred cynicism and scorn from those who haven't imbibed the red, white and blue Flavor Aid like a majority of good patriotic cultists. Those who are awake or are paying attention know everything's fucked up.
Baby boomers battle over what they think their own utopian vision for America should be. We, the people, are lab rats trapped in their experiments. Except lab rats aren't subjected to inane slogans or warped policies.
My generation sees things differently. Generation X has its rootless anger and violence, its knowing manipulation by Madison Avenue and Hollywood and its acquisition of status symbols and technology. We were jokingly viewed as apathetic and distant slackers; a jaded, forlorn generation raised on grunge music, MTV, and video games. Yet in our 30s, we're more like our grandparent's generation - practical, hardworking and, dare I say it, optimistic about the country. Yes, optimistic that all the bungled bullshit our parents supported and the mess we're in will one day cease.
Baby boomers were raised with fears of mushroom clouds and nuclear armageddon. They were indoctrinated and nursed on fear and propaganda. My generation is skeptical of government and the media and this is a good thing, because when you scrutinize everything and think for yourself, you develop a keen knack for siphoning through the bullshit. I think Generation X is good at separating fact from fiction and bullshit from good government.
The pissy stunt the Democrats pulled by shutting off the lights and leaving the chamber and the so-called protest made by the the Republicans is bullshit, each an orchestrated display of unadulterated partisanship made for the cameras - when they were switched on, of course.