Friday, August 7, 2009

Discourse, Datcourse, Politics, Shmolitics

What has happened to political discourse? We used to discuss issues, right? Nowadays, we have two groups who define themselves as being opposed to the other. If the Democrats put out a law, the Republicans will oppose it on principle, and vice versa, regardless of the quality or tenor of legislation being introduced. They hate each other, and this is all rooted to a cheap shot some campaign strategist made thirty-odd years ago, accusing the opposition of being a "Washington insider" for actually living in DC despite serving a state or district that was somewhere else.

Today, most congressmen live in their home states or districts and commute to DC, where they put in their three or four days a week. Consequently, they don't know each other, don't lunch with each other, don't have barbecues with each other. They are so concerned with not appearing as "Washington insiders" that they are all, in fact, outsiders, answerable only to their constituents and not to their colleagues.

No wonder they hate each other. No wonder it's so difficult to pass anything but the most toothless legislation. There are, of course, a few exceptions, but they are growing rarer and rarer, and I believe that the situation has gotten substantially worse in the last thirty years or so. Think about it, our entire infrastructure is thirty-years-old or more. You could never build a highway today. You couldn't wi-fi or fiber up the country--it would take too long. Power would change hands before it could get finished and the project would get scrapped completely or bastardized into someone else's pet project.

Government has grown ineffective, and if a viewpoint can't be summed up on a bumper sticker, it doesn't count. And then there's the lies...

Look at the discussions on health care. Town hall meetings have devolved into shrill shouting matches. Seniors are convinced that the Medicare that they subscribe to is completely divorced from socialized medicine, and that the Obama administration is going to ask them how they want to die. Really? Someone is telling these lies. Someone is telling frightened, elderly people that their president intends to preside over their deaths.

What kind of person makes up a story like that for nothing but political gain? The same people who called Bill Clinton a murderer, who accused John Kerry of firing on his own troops.

We were the paragon, once. We were a shining city on a hill. We have become despicable. God help us all.


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