Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sleepwalking Through America

           At 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, the federal government shut down after the Democrat-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House of Representatives clashed over a federal spending bill.

The House and Senate reached an impasse, when House Republicans passed their version of the spending bill which contained an amendment delaying enforcement by one year of the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” requiring all Americans to buy health insurance.

The legislation also appointed Republicans to attend a Senate budget conference, which Democrats previously requested.

The Senate flatly rejected the proposal, requesting the House pass a bill absent of the provisions. Democrats called for the passage of a “clean bill”, absent of Obamacare provisions. The Republicans flatly refused, saying Obamamcare’s healthcare exchange marketplaces, due to open Oct. 1, would usher in a thousand years of darkness, cause baby Jesus to weep and break up more marriages than Internet porn.

In less flippant, cynical times, such posturing would be met with a bare-knuckle scrum at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial, where Senators, locked in death-embraces, rip each other apart like wild dogs.

Today, we’re the victims of an omnipresent media, turning its nattering pundits loose across the airwaves, ramping up the spin-machine and mass-producing bullshit.

Now the finger-pointing.

Now the incessant carping.

For this, the hoi polloi are rewarded with no functioning government.

We’ve passed the threshold of kindness, America. We’re plummeting off the deep end, hurling down a bottomless chasm ringed with ads for Taco Bell, Crocs and Duck Dynasty.

This country is becoming more and more like a trailer park, but not the fun kind of trailer park with immaculate lawns, happy-go-lucky neighbors and friendly grandmas who leave warm apple pies to cool on the windowsill. No, it’s the kind of festering trailer park inhabited by shifty, inbred rednecks staring blankly at you with narrowed eyes and tilted brows while polishing their shotguns and guzzling cheap beer.

In his farewell address in 1796, George Washington said “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent energies, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Washington’s dreaded premonition is our current reality.

America is a happy dystopia, populated with unwitting dupes too apathetic or lackadaisical to challenge the entrenched oligarchs who blithely gobble every last morsel of freedom from the people’s plate.

Politics has grown nasty, a blood sport akin to bear-baiting or bull fighting. It’s gladiatorial combat with thousand dollar plate dinners, where the same trite partisan hackery and rhetoric passes for insightful wisdom.

It’s not so much the blind leading the blind, but the blind who think they can see, leading people who are only nearsighted.

It’s like sending out a bunch of invitations for a celebrity dinner party and having only Charles Manson and Pauly Shore show up. The only ones who appear are deluded, bloodthirsty maniacs or complete nincompoops.

Hate speech isn’t so much a crime but a national pastime. Political campaigns, unrestricted in the amount of donations they receive, are free to engage in duplicitous behavior, hurling accusations against opponents and perceived “enemies”.

In short, our leaders are assholes.

Assholes with power are the worst kind. Both parties are power-hungry in their pursuit of domination, even subverting the Constitution to get their way.

The last concern a politician has is for his fellow man. Chiefly paramount is his own welfare, the strength of his political party and how he can gain an advantage over the secular, the intellectual, the free-thinker. His goal is to cause dissention and strife, to reap a whirlwind of shit and dismantle all unity in favor of chaos, to drive the hopeful into hopelessness and the secure into insecurity.

In short, his goal is to win.

The shutdown is not a coup de grace. It’s not a win for Republicans. Not a victory for stalwarts who “made a point” by closing the federal government’s operations.

It’s a failure for all the smug, conceited, Limbaugh-listening, round-gutted, Hummer-driving conservative stereotypes who use Obamacare as an excuse. Congressional Republicans tried killing the law over 40 times since it was signed in 2010. Despite being as jumbled as a dyslexic spelling bee, Obamacare is the law. It's a clusterfuck, but it's America's clusterfuck.

Instead of accepting the law's inevitability, instead of educating the citizenry on the Affordable Care Act's specifics, our leaders gave us fear-mongering, outright distortions and disinformation.

The absence of true leadership leaves a vacuum, one filled with ugly attacks.

Blame for the shutdown rests squarely on the Republicans. It’s bad political theater, complete with histrionics, posturing and nutjob pronouncements of a party in its early death rattle. It’s time to admit the batshit craziness of the Tea Party subverts any good the GOP once had. For the long-term survival of the party, it’s time to cut these guys loose and return them to the shack in the swamp.

Slash and burn tactics are desperate. Both parties claim moral ground, yet their desire to reject compromise shows how ineffective they are at working together to solve problems. Instead we're burdened with acrimony and stubborn representatives willing to carve a name for themselves in blood from the well of the House Chamber.

Washington D.C. used to be a town where the future course of the nation was established, where men clung to their principles, espoused creeds and prayed for wisdom. They cherished liberty and the gift freedom affords us. Now it's is a playground of vindictive tyrants, K Street lobbyists in Battistoni wingtips, gawking sycophants tapping on Blackberries, and alcoholic corporate journalists banging out their latest screeds on their MacBooks.

Not so much a shining city on the hill, but a ghetto of Section 8 housing with high-class escorts and an unprincipled spending habit.

What did America do to deserve such a collection of incompetent, recalcitrant hucksters, thieves and con-artists?

It’s like every school bully you knew growing up entered Congress, where they proceeded to torment America with wet-willies, wedgies and swirlies, before confiscating our lunch money.

Now it’s not their fault they’re so damaged and botched, these egocentric sociopaths devoid of scruples. It’s not inherently in their genetic makeup to behave so irrationally with no regard or empathy of humanity. It's not their fault they succumb to the temptation of  campaign donations and are led on a leash by their corporate masters.

It's not Congress's fault they have abysmal approval ratings.

It's our fault. It’s because we let them get away with it. When you see something wrong and don’t report it, chances are it will continue.

Congress’ bad behavior, its partisan bickering, vile rancor and outright naked greed is all our fault.

We allowed these botched villains to run the country through our indifference and apathy.

By supporting either Democrats or Republicans, we enable their gridlock. By paying their salaries, we allow their shenanigans to continue. My advice: change the management. Vote out all incumbents and start fresh.

Until then, we're just a nation of somnambulists lurching slowly towards the precipice, lost in our own dreams. 

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