Post 2.11 - The Decline

I have been trying to identify political topics to discuss for this blog, and I have been enormously discouraged and depressed about what I have found. It isn't just a question of my own personal politics, but the patterns that have emerged from our government and the electorate. The facts are out there, if you can find anyone willing to report them on a larger scale; but even if people are presented with incontrovertible evidence, they continue to vote for the same candidates who successfully manipulate them, usually by pandering to a "hot" issue or worse, simply lying.

And no matter how bad things get, people still don't get the message. Obama may have beaten McCain in 2008, but he should have won by a much wider margin, if anyone was paying attention. And the only conclusion I can come to -- as much as I hate to say it, or some might find it cliché -- the electorate is stupid.

The men who designed our government were concerned about this, also, but because the electorate was uneducated and uninformed, not necessarily stupid. The hope was that professional politicians, often lawyers themselves, could make rational decisions based on facts. This has proven to be a fallacy, however, although I think the problem has been exacerbated by C-SPAN, as sitting representatives continue to pander to constituents as they are constantly running for office.

While I am often most disgusted by Republicans, this problem is evident among the Democrats, as well. We have now reached a point, however, where very little is getting done that is meaningful, and the things that are getting done are downright silly.

  • I applaud the legalization and recognition of same-sex marriage in New York on June 24. But to me, this was silly. Not because it was wrong, but because this should be a no-brainer to any thinking, rational person, and not require lawsuits, endless debate, or nail-biting legislative votes. The United States is NOT a theocracy, and it is not appropriate to apply religious standards to secular law. Period. Case after case is finally showing this, and it is costing enormous expenditures of time and money for something that should just be accepted. It has already been shown definitively in Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia that society has not unraveled; the only consistent issue has been continuing discrimination by religious organizations, and the only lawsuits are when those organizations receive state funds or provide state services -- negating their ability to discriminate.

  • Both houses of the US Congress are currently debating reaching the debt limit, and the possibility of raising the debt ceiling. The Republicans insist we are receiving enough revenue from existing sources and will only agree to cutting funding to government-provided services, while the Democrats are advocating a combined package of funding cuts plus the elimination of subsidies (like to oil companies already making record profits, year after year), selected tax loopholes, and increased taxes on the wealthy. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) walked out of discussions because tax increases were part of the discussion.1 There is this continuing Republican narrative that lowering taxes on the wealthy will result in more jobs -- which is patently and provably untrue2. Jobs are created by demand for products, NOT giving rich people more money. That's it. It's not magic. I am not in favor of many of the cuts proposed, but at least the effort is shared, and not forced upon those least able to tolerate it -- and many of the cuts are political, like Planned Parenthood and Medicaid.

  • The Supreme Court of the United States was intended to be an impartial authority within government, determining cases by the justice allegedly built into our laws, and where that justice was clearly missing, establish it. In the latter half of the 20th Century, it has become about competing ideologies. Justices are not supposed to be affiliated nor loyal to any specific party and above reproach in their neutrality, but it has not evolved this way. We now have four Republicans (Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas), four Democrats (Sotomayor, Ginsberg, Kagan, and Breyer), and one true centrist, Kennedy. Kennedy is often the deciding vote, and many of our most important cases are decided 5-4, only underscoring this ideological debate. Some might argue that it reflects our population, as being nearly evenly divided between liberals and conservatives, with a small group in the middle. But what it really means is that no one is thinking for themselves, but voting their party ideology, diminishing the value of every decision they reach in this manner. And this doesn't even begin to discuss the recent allegations surrounding Justice Thomas3, or the disturbing and frightening pattern of the conservative justices to support measures that pump more special interest money (particularly from corporations) into our election system.4,5

  • There are two patterns that have emerged. The first is that the country seems to swing on a pendulum between being liberal and progressive or being conservative. When the pendulum swings to the left, rights are granted or affirmed, services are offered to more people, and granted, society gets a little cuckoo. When the pendulum swings to the right, rights are restricted (or in the case of the Bush II years, lost outright), society becomes more focused on "religion", and we see recessions (and before you blame Obama for the current mess, remember it started under his predecessor and he has been fighting to try and get us out of it). The second is that each time the pendulum swings to the right, with rights and services being chipped away, we spend all of our time on the left trying to fix what was broken. And now, things are becoming more and more drastic as the right moves even further to the right, changing where the middle is. If the Tea Party or like-minded individuals get their way, Medicare and Social Security will ultimately be privatized, and as is their modus operandi, companies who own these processes and funds will find ways to avoid paying out what they should, moving toward nothing at all. I have come to the conclusion that many of the Americans reading this post now will have nothing when they retire, at least in terms of any sort of government safety net. The writing is already on the wall.

My mother turns 65 next month, and we were discussing my own retirement. By the time I retire -- for real -- she will probably be close to 90, if not older. While I hope she will live longer that even that, I told her that I plan to try to retire outside the US, because I am truly and completely tired of it. I am tired of the uncertainty about my future, the future of my children, and the future of this country as a whole. And it won't matter how loud I scream and yell, people are just too stupid to do what is in their own best interest.

I proudly vote in every election -- even midterm and local elections, not just the major presidential elections. I am a progressive living in a conservative state, and I was prepared for that -- but people are just so stupid. They don't read, they don't think for themselves, they let people tell them what to think, and the result is more of the same, over and over, with blind devotion to the worst of elected officials.

I don't vote party line -- I read articles from different sources, and I make my own decisions. I voted for Obama, but I haven't been happy with everything he has done or not done, so I still listen to what the Republicans have to say, based on what issues are important to me. I also looking at voting records to see if their actions back up their words. I don't go by what articles assert or even their own statements if their voting records say otherwise. Being a citizen and a voter is work, and I don't feel like this electorate take their roles in it seriously enough, or we wouldn't be where we are now.

And it's why I'll probably be somewhere else once I retire and give up my citizenship here entirely. We have not lived up to our potential in our original version of equality and civil rights, and as long as everything continues the way it has, we never will. And our legacy for ingenuity and creativity has been squandered in favor of amassing wealth at the expense of the middle class.

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