Mutual Vilification in the best and worst of times.
I saw the phrase “mutual vilification” in the newspaper today, in a column by Robert J. Samuelson, who is some regular opinionator on the national scene. And it’s sort of true; the Democrats and Republicans, each by shifting further towards their supposed fringes, have become pup tents, rather than big tents, screaming at each other that the other is dooming the nation. On the other hand, the big tent theory was never quite good. As I have said before, there are really three or four parties in this nation, stuck with a two party system; we need to break up the two parties, rather than we rational middle choosing between the worst of two bad opposites at the outer banks of political discourse.
E.J. Dionne, Jr., another frequent commentator on the nation scene has a piece of opinion today headlined “GOP loathes government, compromise.” Well, loathing government is a national pastime, indeed, since the beginning we have loathed government; somehow I don’t think that’s all that bad to do. On the other hand, Dionne seems to think that only ever bigger government is good, and that to call for a bit less government, less rules, less spending, less taxes, less regulations, is somehow bad. I have yet to meet even a libertarian who wants no government; does Dionne think that Republicans are all for just wholesale getting rid of government?
And then there’s this woman, Kathleen Parker, another columnist, she calls herself, with “Hysteria legacy of 9/11 attacks,” about a supposed breakdown of America. Something about we need to “heal ourselves” and “get on the couch.” She says Obama can’t give a speech like Carter’s “malaise” speech, where he blamed Americans for not being, um, American enough, of the right kind of American, but which she says he needs to do; or he might lose the next election. Well, I’m thinking he’s going to lose no matter what he says. Presidents with economies like ours usually lose; though if a Republican midget gets the nomination, well, then, all bets are off, and he might win again.
It’s all rather weird, without a doubt, for there is all this talk of the end of America as we know it. Liberals and Tea Party are quite sure it’s all over if the other side “wins” or something. Well, this nation is not going to go away. We are a stodgy boring nation, where the vast majority of people just do what they do. We’re not heaving into revolution like Libya, or breaking out in revolt like Syria. The police and army here are not going to fire guns into rampaging crowds bent on overthrowing the current regime, for there will be no such mobs. No one is going to split off part of the nation, like Sudan was cut in two a month or so ago.
When I see calls for “diversity” – “we need diversity in the work place, and in schools, and in government,” and I think, don’t these people look around them and see the diversity? Everywhere I go in my city there is a mix of European-Americans, African-Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans – and I live in a smallish southern city. In NYC, Houston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, etc, the diversity is so apparent it’s invisible, apparently, and so we need laws and commissions to create the impetus for the diversity in which we live already, and thus by forcing it, mucking things up and pissing people off.
I don’t see some cultural clash between anyone, no “culture war.” Any one of us might hold the door open for the other at the local convenience store as we come and go. I chat and wave with my black neighbors as much as my white neighbors, and the little Asian kid always waves to me as he roller skates down the block. In every store I find utter comity between people; no arguing, pushing, shoving, nothing. I went to a pizza shop the other day, and the four black ladies and I had a wonderful time joking, to make our moment together a little nicer. The people I meet are astoundingly nice all the live long day. And I think this is so because none of us is talking politics or religion, but life and reality, and getting something practical done, like piking up a pizza.
And then, up there, in political land, there are two bunches, socialist and religious, which make an issue out of everything. Both of these groups seem to think that ever more control is necessary; and they’re the ones to do it! And these two forces are the ones vilifying each other; and the rest of us; with their incessant drumbeat of “crisis” and “we need a law!” and “government knows best” and “restore the nation to it’s moral values” and “make a better citizen!” and so we as Americans have come to loathe the political class. There’s not a person I know who is happy with any politician. Even partisans for Obama don’t like him anymore; and few Republicans seem to like any of their current candidates.
The reason I think this is, is that we rational “independents,” as some call us, or “tea party,” as others call themselves, or “libertarians,” as a few describe themselves, not to mention the apathetic, who don’t call themselves anything except maybe “fed up,” who now comprise 60% or more of the electorate, don’t want to know what some politician’s “vision for America” is. Americans don’t have a vision for America, we just live as we do, each with our own vision. This nation is not about the government or some political ideology making a more perfect citizen, this nation is about letting citizens pursue their own happiness. But it’s getting harder to do that in one way; for to do almost anything now, one must have the government involved. And yet it is easier to do, for we have the means and most people have no trouble with what the neighbor down the block does or thinks.
It’s impossible to please 300,000,000 people; but we have given the presidency so much power, so much authority, so much importance that we have forgotten that the president is supposed to make sure the government functions, and it clearly is not functioning well. He, (or any eventual she,) is not supposed to be issuing executive orders to make laws. He’s only supposed to give orders to bureaucrats to get the lead out of their butts. And cabinet agencies are not supposed to be making rules that counteract the laws that Congress passes. Still, the current president and all the candidates are operating under the assumption that they will be the next king in power to remake the nation to their vision, and those who don’t conform to that vision; well, perhaps woe to you. And the government is powerful enough to bring woe indeed.
As Dickens said, we live in the best and worst of times. Never before in human history have so many been so wealthy and healthy; and the concern that we’re all poor and dying so paramount. Never before have more people of different cultures ever shared one country as we do here in ours; and the diverse people concerned that we all don’t get along. Never before has such brilliance come forth so that on little Star Trek gizmos we can find the world at our finger tips; while we all bewail the break down of knowledge and communication. Never before have so many people been so well fed that obesity is a concern, and not starvation as pretended. And all of that came about by this great enterprise of a nation, which most other nations have sought to emulate, but none have come close to catching up with us, precisely because most people just get up in the morning and do what they do.
Yet, by shifting all decisions to Washington now no one in the nation may do anything without approval of that place. At this http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2011/09/changing-world-of-employment.html is a fine explanation of the way technology has simply reordered the way people are employed. I recommend to young men I know, “have three or four part time jobs; lest one goes away, for you will have three others.” I tell people, “you can’t tax 50% of a man’s income away from him and tell him you are helping him live.” I also say, “if the liberals were in charge in 1900 we’d still have candlestick makers, for those were good jobs, and who was the electric bulb manufacturers to destroy the candle industry?” Stop worrying about the “macroeconomics” which is all the aggregate information, but none of the details.
Here, http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/2011/09/obama-energy-crisis-youve-never-seen-it is a good article that shows how the Department of Energy has been busy stopping the production of energy; while everyone bewails our “importing Mideast Oil” when we don’t, we get the vast majority, some 90% of our oil, from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil, Angola and Nigeria, we’re not bringing in Saudi crude, except for the most specialized of products, for the chemical signature of that oil is different than the other oil we have.
But for the next 14 months, as we head through the happy harpy season of the presidential campaign we will hear from two sides that they have the one and only answer to the problems the nation faces, which aren’t nearly as bad as the problems faced by any other nation. The nation doesn’t need more laws; we need to weed out the more absurd ones we have; simplify others, and streamline the rest. The nation doesn’t need a new stimulus and spending programs, it needs to get rid of agencies and programs that everyone has identified over and over again as pointless, and cut the spending accordingly. The nation doesn’t need to tweak the IRS, it needs to so fundamentally reorder it so that the 76,000 pages of tax codes are reduced to oh, 760, OK, 7,600 if you must.
Nor has this nation lost its moral values, and we are not in need of some national preacher to save us from perdition. We are in need of recognizing that everyone is actually rather moral indeed; and that the president should concern himself with dismantling outmoded agencies, breaking up ossified bureaus, removing laws, rules and regulations, in a sort of Great Dismantlement. For it is obvious, in every nation on earth, the bigger the government is, the more it spends, the larger portion of the economy it consumes, the more laws there are, the more power in the hands of a few people, the worse off that nation is. And our nation is no different. But we are on this dangerous road to ever more intrusive government, whether by socialists or theocrats, each who have seized the party machinery of the two parties. And they mutually vilify each other as they each clamor for control.
And the rest of us can be likened to frogs in the water as the temperature is raised slowly, and eventually we’ll be cooked. It remains to be seen whether any Republican contender isn’t just a rehash of Obama – some guy who thinks they can wholesale change America so that everyone is on the same page. Well, from what I can tell, none of us are reading the same book, never mind the same page. Stop with the same page stuff, and tell us what you plan to do. Not bromides of “restoring America” – how will you do so? Not platitudes like “our people are our foundation,” or something; what is your plan? And I have seen precious little details, for the press is mostly filled with whom might be up or down in the “polls” which are based on emotion laden mush from political campaigns and few actually know what a politician will do, for they don’t seem to want to discuss details, for everything is now a “third rail” in politics.
Nothing might be touched, or changed, or altered, or the other side vilifies the change, and so what we will have is five more years of doldrums, or “gridlock,” as the two fringes fling muck at each other for destroying the place, and the rest of us try to live our lives as best we can; which is pretty good, when you look at it. Of course it’s “gridlock” – each side wants to so radically alter the thing that there’s no way just making it work right can happen, and each side of the political class is fearful of the others, as if the Terror will be instituted and the guillotines put to work. And so nothing will change, which means more of the same; which is both good and bad. Egad, it’s a mess. And what the nation is waiting for is for the politicians and religious figures to get out of the way, so we can get back to the business of America, which is business, as Calvin Coolidge said. Current candidates and the current president might well emulate Silent Cal, and just shush already. Stop giving speeches, and start dismantling the worst of our overgrown government.
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