Thursday, July 30, 2009
Right Idea, Wrong Reality
Candidate Obama was right when he said real change comes to Washington, and not from it, implying it was the continued strong demands of the public that might actually make things happen. The proof of how right he was is in his failure to get Congress to do anything meaningful. It's not his fault: they're a bunch of idiots, all of 'em.
On the right side of the aisle, there is not only willingness to lie and distort; it's the overt and admitted game plan. Is there a one of them that hasn't referred to Obama's plans for health care reform as "socialism?" Are they not all marching to the microphones and claiming under "Obamacare" the government will be coming to the doors of seniors and demanding that they die?
On the left, there is disorganization, disconnectedness, and displays of beholden to the same special interests as those of the right. For the life of me, I can see no reason to base "reform" on the same old system of private insurers sucking money out of the system.
One side cries "rationing" while ignoring the fact that it happens every day as people lose their insurance or are denied coverage of a particular illness. They pound the idea of "government bureaucrats" between you and your doctor, when there are now countless insurance bureaucrats who actually ARE there, and whose only concern is to avoid spending money on you. Your money, I might add.
Meanwhile, all the media go for the story of the minute and the faux media trots out mouth after orifice to claim Obama hates white people, is an illegal alien, and is deliberately trying to destroy the economy as some sort of "reparation." For the injustices done to him, I guess: forcing him into good schools, making him president, stuff like that.
In other words, despite his absolute accuracy in his electoral assessment, and despite the rightness of his ideas, it's business as usual in Washington. Everyone continues in their designated roles. Why? Because, in the final analysis, we are not as great a people as Obama's formulation would require. We're NOT -- not in enough numbers, anyway -- able to keep the pressure on. We're NOT -- and never were -- able to sort through disingenuous (to put it most kindly) rhetoric that distorts and ignores the truth of things. The Republicans do what they do because it works. Their decision to be the party of "No" is as clever as it is cynical.
In the final analysis, we the people are too scared, too selfish, too thoughtless to carry out any plan that's difficult. The desire not to rock the boat, to avoid hard choices, to believe in magic (tax cuts increase revenue, deregulation solves all problems, "the market" will do what's right, god is guiding us) is simply too much a part of who we are, and has been since Ronald Reagan. (Okay, he wasn't that into god, but he was happy to pretend he was.)
Obama bet on our inherent goodness and intelligence, on our willingness to come together when the times demand it. Congressional Democrats hope it's not true so they can play their usual games. Congressional Republicans assume it's not true and base their very existence on it, steal from us on it, retire to Argentina on it.
Barack Obama's mistake has been to let Congress have its way; he's too much of an optimist, I think.
I don't consider him perfect, godlike, a savior. I do consider him right. His concepts were our last best hope. We are facing unsustainable health care costs, destructive dependence on fossil fuels, accelerating climate change, and the worst economic meltdown in eighty years -- if, with all this going on, the most charismatic and intelligent president we've had in decades can't rally the people enough to force Congress seriously to address our problems, then no one can, at no time, under no circumstances. If he can't get us to rise above ourselves, now, of all times, in enough numbers to be meaningful, it will never happen. Period.
This was our only hope. And, in letting Congress off the hook, in becoming distracted by false arguments, in falling victim to deliberate lies and scare tactics, rewarding with airtime and giving credence to the lying liars, letting the majority party fritter, we've blown it entirely. I really believe that. We are becoming a failed nation and it's too late to do a damn thing about it. For a moment there, it looked like we had a chance. President Obama didn't fail us. We failed ourselves.
I've been to war. I've tried and failed to save people from diseases. I've seen the premature deaths of wonderful people in my own family. I've lost half my savings. These things weighed heavily, nearly too much some times. But nothing has depressed and disappointed me more than the spectacle of how my country -- not every last person, but enough to make the difference -- has responded to the crises we face. The parade of idiocy and deceit on the right; the incompetence on the left; the absolute dereliction by the press; the easy manipulability of citizenry. In crisis, we did not rise up, we fell back. To paranoia, to victimhood, to small-mindedness. Selfishness. Magical thinking. Ignorant ignoring.
We were called to greatness. But we left the phone off the hook.