If Politics is Toxic Now, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

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Capture.JPGIf politics is toxic now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. During the reign of St. Ronnie of Reagan, I used to think, “You know, politicians talk some serious shit these days.” But, Reagan was a kindly grandpa compared to the current lot. He may have done a lot of things that the country still suffers from, but he also managed to do some good. And the reason was that Congressional leaders were reasonable people who understood you had to drop the posturing and downright hatefulness at the end of the day and go play a round of golf with the other side.

Flash forward to Newt Gingrich, infant terrible of the right-wing. He came to office with an agenda to shake things up, but not in a good way. He paid the price with a short term, but went on to become the right’s idea of a one man intelligentsia — at least until Ted Cruz came along.

But Newt begat Tom DeLay who wasn’t called “The Hammer” for nothing. Since then there have been a long line of “leaders” from both parties with a penchant for spending a lot of time talking about what assholes the opposing party is instead of cooperating.

‘Poke the Other Kids in the Eye with a Stick

The legislative branch hasn’t been the only megaphone in the nation’s side. Presidents have joined in the fun along with pundits, special interests, and ill-informed citizens with no interest in facts of figures.

Politics has become a sandbox where the only rule is, “poke the other kids in the eye with a stick”.

The current imbroglio is more virulent than most and ratchets up the Jacuzzi full of toxic venom more than at any time in recent memory. If modern history is any guide it will get much, much worse before it gets better. And, that is bad news for you and me.

Off-the-scale conspiracy nuts are preparing for an all-out attack from the government (which is an interesting theory when they also believe the government is the most incompetent organization on the face of the planet). But while they are up in arms about non-existent FEMA concentration camps and assorted other improbable events, they are missing a big point.

Toxic PoliticsWhen someone comes for you, it won’t be the government — although they certainly have the firepower — it will be other citizens. American society is not only divided, it is cracked and may not be repairable until something a lot worse than crooked politicians calling each other liars happens.

Despite being downright cordial to each other in comparison politicians didn’t take to the streets to slug it out over Vietnam body counts. The “silent majority” and the counter-culture became so enraged they slugged it out. You could argue it was political policy the sent them into the streets clubbing and shooting one another, you could also argue that people had just had enough. And while people battled it out in the streets politicians and their allies egged them on. Note, however, that not a single politician was beaten or shot. They stayed safely behind the wall and sent their respective cannon fodder out fight their battle. And, the fodder responded by electing more and more intransigent politicians to a continuum we are still on.

Soon it will be Downright Deadly

I don’t want to see my fellow citizens in the streets bashing each other with 2X4s instead of words. I want my country whole, if not wholly in agreement. We have no debate left we only have debasement and that is no way to run a country.

Facts don’t lie, but debate is in the interpretation. Most of us manage to avoid punching the neighbor in the eye when we disagree and there is no real difference between that and our political process except scale. It is time to rely on facts and not shit-flinging, untrue conjecture. If you can’t back up what you say, keep your trap shut until you can verify it. Hold yourself to the same standard as you hold the media to.

There is no reason for the government shutdown. Congress could have avoided the entire sordid affair if they had confined themselves to facts and sought compromise years ago instead of setting fire to the nation’s budget and then laughing. The problem with brinksmanship is that, more often than not, you fall over the brink.

But Congress isn’t totally to blame for that failure. People voted and sometimes got those they voted for unfortunately. We sent people to Congress to do our bidding and that is exactly what they did. We put them there. In some cases, we did that based on fear and lies they fed us, themselves fed by money from people with a vested interest in government not working. The problem is we the people ARE the government. We made it, it does not make us.

Next time you decide some cockamamie idea without proof, or go into the ballot box voting for a name without knowing what the name is attached to, or worse…not vote, think about it because if politics is toxic now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Soon it will be downright deadly.

 

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