No one’s polled me lately about my attitudes toward government, but if they did, they might erroneously chalk me up as yet another dissatisfied citizen ready to arbitrarily “throw the bums out.”
The pollster would be partially correct. I’m an angry voter, too. But I’m selectively angry—angry at most of the members of the General Opposition Party (GOP) for the irresponsible and dishonest tactics they’ve used to try to discredit the president and reclaim the power to run America they way they want to. (That is to say, for their own enrichment and that of their wealthy and powerful patrons like banks, insurance firms, and oil companies.)
I’m angry at members of Congress who vote in lockstep with their radical and dishonest leaders to prevent government from functioning properly and progress from being made—just so they have something to blame on the Democrats. I’m angry, for example, when Republicans use the filibuster (once an extreme and unusual tactic) to block debate on virtually every issue, from extending unemployment benefits to appropriating funds for the military.
And yes, I’m angry at the president and many of the Democrats in Congress for being so polite about all this. It was the liberals, after all, who invented the notion of “politically correct,” and with a few notable exceptions (Anthony Weiner and Alan Grayson come to mind), Democrats tend to avoid the blunt and edgy rhetoric (not to mention the outright lies and innuendos) that the other side routinely employs. And I’m really tired of fair-minded Americans sighing and pretending that it’s “just politics” and that all politicians (and both parties) are equally at fault. That just ain’t so.
Is there an “enthusiasm gap”? Sure there is. For those of us who’ve been paying close attention, it’s become very depressing to watch what’s been going on in the political arena for the past 21 months or so. Conservatives, getting their “information” from the likes of Sarah Palin and their “values” from the likes of Christine O’Donnell, have been leaping after one distraction after another from the real business of politics. While we still mass produce filthy automobiles and Los Angeles swelters and melts on the hottest day in recorded history, while we’re feeling our way through a war and trying to recover from the worst economic disaster since 1929, conservatives (now synonymous with “Republicans”) are nattering about the president’s middle name and whether or not he attends church on Sunday and a proposed mosque in Manhattan.
I’m also angry at the American electorate—or at least the vast number of them that allow themselves to be led around by the nose by the likes of Glenn Beck. Even many who are not mesmerized by the propaganda on Fox News tend to be passive about politics. They go to the polls, do their civic duty by casting a vote, and wind up a new government like a clock. Then they go on about their business for two years or four years while the clock ticks down, expecting the government to run according to the people’s interests and complaining when it doesn’t seem to do that. Then they emerge, look around, vote for the first side that gets their attention, and go back to living their lives.
I'll vote, and I'll vote responsibly. But the marching and cheering ended after the last presidential election. Now is the time for work. And I hope that Republicans and Democrats alike will do the real intellectual work required to understand complex issues, avoid being influenced by mindless emotional manipultation, and figure out how to work together toward what our Constitution calls "the general Welfare."