The world seems messier than ever. This is actually a good thing, because it compels me to write. For every other purpose imaginable, it’s bad.
Before I get rolling, I wanted to let you know that I am hearing all of your requests and the fact that Decay is not released yet bothers me as much as it does you. The worst excuse in the world is “circumstances outside my control” but that happens to be the truth, and has been for quite some time. Fortunately, those circumstances are shortly coming back within my sphere of control, and I am looking anxiously forward to releasing Decay as soon as possible. The same applies to the mythical Renewal in a single volume, as well as several other books I have written.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
I have a dilemma. Ok, about nineteen dilemmas, but who doesn’t? The one I want to write about is the one that involves casting a vote in November. You see ( and understand, I expect), I see no good options at all.
A vote for Obama boils down to a known set of problems. His platform aside, it virtually guarantees another term of political gridlock or a set of moves so radical and unconstitutional that I won’t like the result. There are pieces of Obama’s vision that sound pretty good. Of course I want a 21st Century economy based on the American ideals of innovation and “hard work always pays.” I don’t want an entitlement system we can never afford and I don’t want to spend our way to prosperity. I think there are a multitude of problems that government will not – indeed, cannot – solve, and the fact that we have been on a trendline of trying to train the American people to look for the government to solve our problems is a tight corner, surrounded by wet paint.
Romney, on the other hand, starts by being a sort of dried turd of a human being. I can’t relate to him personally, any more than I think he can relate to me. There is a solid handful of Republicans I would have preferred to take the nomination. I don’t believe in trickle down economics for the sole reason that we have been watching the effect of giving more power to the wealthy and already powerful, and I think it’s safe to conclude that they don’t give the proverbial rat’s ass for the lives of us poor typical Americans. I also see Romney as the perfect spokesman for the interests of some very large players, namely those that fall into the military industrial complex. If you happen to think that corporations, banks, investment houses, and the government itself is running roughshod over your future, I feel fairly certain that Romney will do nothing to slow the steamroller.
I could always toss my vote at the Libertarian candidate, but why? It seems that finding an actual Libertarian who likes the guy is hard enough without tossing a vote into a two-percentile void.
I’m writing this in the aftermath of the new 9/11 attacks on our embassies. The story is still unfolding, and Romney is shouting shrill accusations of weak leadership at the President. I’m not even sure what the President is doing. An event like this is a tragedy, no doubt, but it’s also an opportunity. Let me speculate wildly.
If Obama responds as one might expect, then this whole situation is a win for Romney. Obama takes his reasoned, cautious, some say Muslim sympathizing approach, and all Romney needs to do is sit back and utter the phrase “weak leadership” until November. If on the other hand, Obama moves aggressively and starts hunting Al Qaeda like wildlife in deer season, he eliminates Romney’s argument. That one, at least.
I think this is a decision point. We can continue to live as victims of a headless serpent of terrorism and whatever drives it, or we can stand up and say enough is enough. As average Americans we have paid far too much in dollars, lives, and freedom for the results we have been given in this so-called war.
Perhaps, still speculating wildly, a leader of the free world (in theory) could call today to withdraw all support to Libya and Egypt on the simple premise that they have failed to provide a civilized level of support and security to our embassies in their territory. Yes, I know we are talking about young governments, and yes I know that withdrawing support is inviting the radical elements to take control. Bring ’em out in the open. Perhaps the same leader could say to every country with known terrorist ties and operations that we are going to be conducting investigations in their lands, and that they can offer full support and cooperation, or lose all American support and be put on the list of enemy nations. While we’re at it, we can set up a stiff level of sanctions to throw them all into economic distress. We can declare loudly that we have had enough of this fight. It’s a losing game unless we fight to win.
What about the innocent victims of these actions, the women (who tend to be highly disadvantaged in those societies) and children (who are always victims of adult stupidity)? Well, we are talking about people who were willing to put their lives on the line for freedom in the Arab Spring. Guess what? In a free country we are all ultimately responsible. If the government does something to make us suffer, we are supposed to stand up, and so are they. If we cause pain and suffering for allowing terrorists to operate within their borders, then it falls to those citizens to take responsibility. The outcome of such a move would create great pressure to change the policies of governments, if not outright revolution, and US targeting terrorists could find themselves very unwelcome. Call me stupidly optimistic, but I think that if we declare our intentions to rid the world of known terrorists, and act loudly to accomplish that very goal, people will quickly understand that we mean business, and they can make the choice of whether to work with us or against us. In reality, we conduct entire wars with American lives on the line and stated intentions that do not match consistently with our behavior. We can’t actually make war and peace at the same time. That’s a fantasy, which means that there is a choice, and our leadership needs to choose. If they won’t do it, then we need to choose.
What do we really want? Do we want to police the world? Do we want to control the oil? Do we want to continue to operate as an empire while pretending that we are really spreading democracy? Why not simply take over and install the puppet government of our choosing? That might look bad for us, huh? Do we even want the truth? My theory is that any high government official that attempted to tell the real story would not survive the speech.
In my dilemma, I watched both conventions, lots of speeches. I’d really like to know the best choice for me. Instead of coming away with the feeling of truth from either side, I was left trying to calculate the BS factor of what I was hearing. Facts spoken for positive effect. Facts omitted for positive effect. Facts stretched and handpicked to within an inch of outright lies… Fantasy.
Still speculation, but wouldn’t it be nice to have Obama stand up and say, “Yes, I was right with the auto industry, but the stimulus package, well, that was for the banks. You don’t mess with the banks and live to tell the tale.” Or to have Romney stand up and say, “I can’t release my tax returns because then you will all know that I was active at Bain when I said I wasn’t, I did outsource those jobs, but my job was to make that business work, and I will apply the same level of diligence to my presidency.” Better yet, it would be fun for him to admit that he wasn’t tithing properly and the Mormon church would withdraw support. I’d chuckle.
The point is that you can wade through some version of the truth forever in politics and never come up with the real story. It’s a question of belief, and charisma, and media manipulation, never the full story. So, when it all adds up into something akin to a pattern that can only be recognized over time, my not-so-humble opinion is that you can resolve the reality in one of two ways.
1) Our government is wholly incompetent for the purposes of working for us. I don’t buy the incompetence argument because it takes way too much sophistication to even land an elected office.
2) Our government serves a different master than the concept of, “By the people, of the people, for the people.” There are million theories, from straight partisan politics to radical conspiracies, that apply here, but even if the new version is simply, “By me, of my homies, for my pockets,” the result is the same. We are bleeding rights, freedom, and prosperity out of every orifice and our esteemed leadership seems to be unable to respond, at least not for any purpose that serves us. You know us, the “For the people” crowd.
So, I’m left with the most acute case of choosing a lesser evil in my middle aged life.
If Obama gets it, I can expect to watch the walls crumble as we wrestle over inconsequentials while still failing to pass a budget. We’ll trundle up to the edge of the economic cliff and jump like lemmings. Not necessarily because of Obama’s actions, but almost certainly because of partisan resistance to allowing him to maneuver, and I say that with a high level of disagreement with his position. Sometimes it’s better to try something than to wait for the conditions to approach perfection. In 2016, the Republicans can take the reigns from a deadlocked system and appear to rise from the ashes of American decay.
If Romney gets it, I expect war, and lots of it. The Iranian nuclear program is a nice opportunity to keep the war machine in gear, but it comes with some very large strings attached, and we can’t pull one without yanking the others. Now war is bad, but if you are a top level financier, war is profitable business. It’s even possible that war on a large enough scale could pull a WWII, and leave us with economic prosperity in its wake. The question is whether that’s the flavor of prosperity we want. On the other hand, I can’t imagine reinvigorating this country without some kind of hardship, so maybe war is better than the collapse of the social safety net or some sweeping austerity measures. In any case, we cannot afford to remain weak much longer. The costs of being less than the economic leader of the world are incredibly high and will last forever.
Where’s the balance? Where’s the truth? Where is the American Dream? I’m not sure we can get there from here, but I’m anxious to hear what you think.
As always, thanks for reading.