Friday, July 16, 2010

Hard To Figure

Here’s the way if looks:

Obama has done a lot of what he said he’d do. Early on he succeeded in getting a stimulus package passed. We have health care legislation that provides coverage for 32 million Americans who previously didn’t have any. At long last the financial sector will be regulated more rigorously. He settled on a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. And much more.

Yet the public gives him failing marks on nearly everything. In terms of how they’re viewed, the Democratic controlled congress and the Democratic Party is in the toilet. The outlook for the midterm elections heavily favors the Republicans both at the national and state levels. The American people are dissatisfied.

It seems that nothing can turn back the tide of unhappiness. Common sense is turned on its head. Tax cuts for the rich are favored by the middle class. Millions of new jobs are needed yet the government is told not to get in the business of creating new jobs. People are worried about the deficit but are opposed to measures that will reduce it. It’s not only the Tea Partiers that distrust government – most people do.

Now, I hasten to add that I too am unhappy about a lot of what I see. Our elected officials are gutless. Even if they know what should be done, if they think it will cost them votes they won’t do it. I don’t think more government is the answer. But neither is no government. We’re headed toward a no-win abyss in Afghanistan and don’t have the wisdom or courage to reverse the course we’re on.

At the same time the would-be messiahs on the fascist/conservative right aren’t even subtle as they play on racial and ethnic prejudices to promote their cause. In the 21st century, America First is doomed to fail. We need to cooperate with the world, not try to build economic or social moats to keep the barbarians from overrunning us.

There are glib explanations about why we’re in our current mess, some of which contain morsels of accuracy but otherwise fall far short. It’s Obama’s fault. He hasn’t explained himself well. We have not paid enough attention to the economy. We need to stimulate innovation to revive our economy and create jobs. We need more regulation. We need less regulation. It’s the Mexicans’ fault. Pelosi is the problem. The Chinese are catching up. Etc., etc., ad nauseum.

It isn’t an accident that we are in the middle of a sense of national unease. There is something wrong. But we’re looking in the wrong places are answers. It’s like the guy who dropped his keys at night and went across the street to look for them.

“What are you doing?” a passerby asked.

“I’m looking for my keys.”

“Oh, I see. Where did you drop them?”

“Over there.”

“Well, why are you looking here?”

“Because this is where the light is.”

Until we face up to the real issues, the hard-to-find but fundamental problems, we’ll never move past band-aid solutions. We’ll stay mad at each other. We’ll continue to spend our energy blaming the ‘others’ and appealing to our worst selves. We will get the leadership and the government we deserve. They’ll be insufficient and we’ll be disappointed. And then we’ll begin the process again and get the same results.

We need to take a good look in the mirror to find out where the problem is. As Cassius said in “Julius Caesar”: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”


Post a Comment

<< Home