I was listening to NPR this morning while I put on my makeup. They had two Marks on, both strategists, one for the Dems and one for the Republicans. Both sides, equally, just don’t get it. Seriously. When the words fall out of their mouths, do they believe them? Are the Dems convinced that the GOP looks “hard and uncompromising” to the whole freaking nation? Is the GOP certain that the Dems are perceived as … whatever they say they are perceived as?
As a nation, are we truly confused by the rhetoric that makes it sound like we are talking about two different things? My day job is in communications, a profession which seems more and more dismal as my fellow communications professionals spin up messaging with all the substance of cotton candy and the political parties stand by that message as if it had the weight-bearing capacity of concrete. For the love of all that is good and tangible, why can’t we just talk about what is real using plain language, not slippery political speak designed to be wiggled out of later?
And who bears the responsibility? Are our politicians more cowardly than they used to be? Is the public less educated or more apathetic? Are the issues just that much more complex? Do we make them more complex than they are? Are we responsible for hiring the prom king when we really need the nerd with the pocket protector? Do the handlers pay more attention to the polls than makes sense? Does no one realize that a poll is only as good as the way the questions are worded, and that if you word a question correctly, you can drive the answers in whatever direction you want? Has our media failed us?
What is the answer? A thing which we do not seem capable of unless all other choices are removed: reject the hypocrisy and hyperbole, hire people who can make hard choices that hurt in the short-term but mean long-term health and stability for the country, turn off the talking heads that incite fear in order to cloud the issues and drive us to a preordained conclusion, and ban business from lobbying Congress for anything.
We must look in the mirror and address our own choices. We must own that our whole freaking country has become sloppy and slovenly; we have gorged ourselves to death on calories and credit that we can ill afford; we have sold our futures for houses that won’t last, cars that rust, consumer goods that will be outdated the moment they are pulled from their packaging. Meanwhile, we whine and moan about things that cost us but matter – educating our kids, taking care of our elderly, setting the conditions for people to be their best through consistent, available, and affordable health care. No government did this to us. No one put a gun to our head and said “instead of investing in American jobs by aiming our consumer dollars at American-made goods, you must buy cheaply from China and fund their economy instead of ours.” Like all good tragedies, we did this to ourselves.
And for as long as we buy into the system, as long as we don’t demand some commonsense measures (for example, the get business out of Government thing which might singlehandedly break free some major deadlock on big issues and allow our elected officials to make decisions based on what is good for the country, not what is good for the companies that will fund their re-election), as long as we insist that someone else should do all the sacrificing but not us, we will have exactly this. And it will be the end of America as a shining beacon of what is right in democracy.