Exactly one year later from Obama’s swearing in I’m up early, reading the CNN coverage on the special senate election is Massachusetts and feeling itchy. I already know the big news – A seat that has been both Democrat and Kennedy-held since 1953 went to a Republican yesterday. Between that, the Governor’s races last year in Virginia and New Jersey and the current mood of the electorate, there are big implications all over the place. November 2010 isn’t looking good for Democrats, at least not right now.
Your average person in the middle is super pissed. I see it all over the place and I understand it. I’m with them. They need something tangible that shows them that things are getting better…something they can relate with. They need the interest rate on their savings account to go up, the value of their house to increase, a real time example from their own life about how healthcare reform can make things better for them, a serious step towards winning and ending the war(s) in the Middle East, a job, a raise, etc…The political institutions (parties, media, etc) aren’t helping…not that they ever do. The consolidated ‘right’ are being agitators. The consolidated ‘left’ (if you can ever call us consolidated) are acting complacent, maybe even cavalier. The people who matter most – the unconsolidated people in the middle – are being manipulated and picked on.
Congress is near gridlocked on complicated issues like healthcare and the general public doesn’t understand why they can’t make progress. Hey, that’s passing laws for 300 million people. It’s complicated. It’s not always (or ever) distillable down to a headline or 30 minute radio show. Governance and, more importantly changing government has to do with values, with an understanding of process and policy, conflicting perspectives and negotiations around how what we do today will impact things 2, 10, 20 years down the road.
But all most people see is the campaigning. And campaigning presents things simple and bite-sized to make digestion easy on the public so they can feel superficially informed, superficially confident and wildly opinionated. NEWS ALERT – governing isn’t bite-sized and it isn’t simple. Fox News and all their related tentacles have made an empire out of convincing people, these nervous, angry, unconsolidated people in the middle, that governing is easy, that there are bulleted ways of explaining a budget in the trillions that deals with national defense, world trade, social security, housing, transportation, education, etc, etc, etc… It’s overwhelming and at some point it’s just easier to say fuck…them…all. Believe me, whichever side can own and lead that mood and mission will win every single time. Because we’re a nation of idiots.
As usual, I’m frustrated by the people in my life that are only half-followers of politics but are so God damn vocal about it. If I pay too much attention to Facebook I can get agitated. I’ve got a bunch of conservative friends on there and sometimes their comments or posts just drive me crazy. For the most part, it’s because they put things up that are oversimplified and show that they really don’t even have a good idea of basic civics and how government works, despite being so mother fucking opinionated. Or, they say things that are just simply hateful…like about people whose first language isn’t English; they incinerate them.
Why do I care? I don’t know. I don’t really. I know better than to engage at that level. I’m clear on what I think is behind comments and perspectives like those. Politics, it seems, is an accessible storage space for a lot of folks to stockpile their fears and anger. Fear of not having something and anger that someone else might have it first. Money. A fair shot. A say. A better story to tell. Something to look forward to. There is something that inherently makes struggling people feel better if they have a big bad wolf to blame for the things they don’t have in their lives, or the things they fear. I find it so moronic that individuals can be spoon fed from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc and be so confident that they are an informed, intelligent person. Half of what I hear or observe isn’t even rooted in reality. But of course that’s me casting judgment. Of course that’s me being a liberal elite.
I’m not anything. Let’s be clear about that. I’ve said it before and I’ll restate it for the new folks. If there ever was a ‘Shove Both Parties Over the Ledge Club’ – I’m the first president and I’d likely stay elected for a long, long time. In fact, my first order of business would be to add ‘irresponsible reporting in the media’ to the list of things my club would be shoving over the ledge. What we really need to get back to is what I always end up writing about. I constantly feel like the discussion that matters the most, that people never seem to have, is what do you believe in? Or better…how do you think things should be? Imagine the conversations we could have if no one was allowed to complain about anyone else and the only things that could be discussed were concrete ideas for making things better for the greatest number of people.