So “Obamacare” passed judicial review. The president seemed pretty happy about it. Mitt Romney seemed pretty unhappy about it.
Following what by now is a bitterly predictable pattern in our government, the Democrats declared it the salvation of the human race, and the Republicans are swearing it is our downfall. So who’s right?
Well, both of them are right, and “¦ both of them are wrong.
“What the frizzle-frack are you talking about? Both sides can’t be right AND wrong! We need a winner!”
Yes, we do.
Americans as a whole are extremely “winners versus losers” oriented. This is fine when it comes to the Super Bowl, cola wars, and Batman movies, but it breaks down in certain situations, like government. Approaching governance like we’re rooting for separate teams really has a way of screwing things up for all of us, especially when, around 1968, we all switched parties without realizing it.
Approaching governance like we’re rooting for separate teams really has a way of screwing things up for all of us, especially when, around 1968, we all switched parties without realizing it.
Heading into the 1968 presidential election, there were two main parties vying for the office. The outgoing president’s side found itself defending a war it couldn’t explain continuing, other than that it was making strides toward victory. The other side was hammering it mercilessly for this.
Naturally, I’m speaking of the Democrats and Republicans “” in that order.
Lyndon B. Johnson had been mired in Vietnam for quite some time by ’68 but didn’t really care because he was on the way out and he was also a notorious a””hole. Left holding both the baseball and the broken vase was vice president Hubert Humphrey, who ran for the Democrat side with a promise that he was doing his best to not only get the U.S. out, but also do it with a clean record. He had convinced Johnson to put a halt to bombing during the Paris peace talks, and the North and South of Vietnam were actually close to resolving things when Nixon convinced the South that they were screwed if things went through and they pulled out at the last minute. Public opinion swiftly pulled away from Humphrey, and Nixon won the election by a narrow margin.
So what does this have to do with modern politics?
Well, Nixon kind of pulled that whole public opinion change/war continuation/treason move at the last minute. By ’68, it had been eight years since Kennedy had convinced him to participate in a televised debate and America collectively chose the handsome guy who was banging the movie star over the sweaty, mumbly fuddy-duddy. Those years had given Nixon a hard-on for the presidency that you could slam in a car door. Needless to say, he wasn’t letting this one get by him. So, before he decided to sacrifice several thousand lives for his political aspirations, Nixon went to work swaying voters in the South, who had traditionally voted Democrat, to his side by selling himself as a moral conservative.
If any of you reading this were alive in the late ’60s, you may recall that while there were certainly hippies running around, they took a bit of a back seat to the widespread race riots in the country’s biggest cities. MLK and Robert Kennedy had both been shot, and the South was still upset that drinking fountain lines were now a bit longer. Johnson and Humphrey had backed the civil rights movement, which white Southerners were a touch unhappy about. While Nixon didn’t come out and say he’d “put those Negroes back in their place,” he certainly hinted at his own brand of “HOPE” and “CHANGE” for the South.
By winning the election, Nixon made the case for the Republican Party to continue to garner conservative support. Why wouldn’t they? When you’re gaining more followers, it would be insane to change your image back to “just the party that wants to give more power to the states.” DOES ANYBODY REMEMBER THIS?!
“Republican” is supposed to mean you support the state having more power to govern itself than the federal government has. That power is a handy thing to have if you want to, say, legalize abortion/marijuana/gay marriage or outlaw immigrant profiling/trans fats/pollution. “Democrat” is supposed to mean you support the federal government having more power than the state. This is handy when you want to regulate immigration, offer more freedom to corporations or create laws based on personal beliefs.
The reason we’re so screwed up as a country is that we’re all fighting for the wrong side.
Now comes the time when I have to make a couple of confessions. I’m a registered Democrat. But up until I got to college, I was a Republican. As it turns out, I’m neither. And yet, both. I’m right and wrong. Just like the rest of the country.
I think Republican governance is the only way to run a country the size of the United States. It makes no sense to tell everyone they can have abortions, because Mississippi would lose its mind. Likewise, you can’t tell everyone that pot is illegal, because California would lose its mind. You have to let the states work it out themselves according to the variety of nutbag most in power in that given state.
Then the country looks at things the way Europe does when one of its countries goes off about something. Only instead of “Pffftt, there goes France again, being a dick,” we’d say, “Pffftt, there goes Louisiana again, allowing schools to teach that the Loch Ness monster is real so they can justify creationism.”
However, I can’t bring myself to register as a Republican, because while I believe the states should have more power, I don’t agree with that power being used to make people do illogical things for supposedly moral reasons. For instance, if you oppose welfare, why would you also oppose birth control and abortion? Those things are the solution to welfare. Fewer unwanted pregnancies means fewer unwed mothers means fewer individuals under the care of the state. Simple.
“Well, abortion means killin’ babies!” Would you prefer those babies be on welfare? Then make up your mind.
Likewise, I can’t really claim to be a Democrat because of what I just spent 1,000 words explaining. Also, while I support gay marriage, alternative energy, and legalizing marijuana, I also support gun ownership, the death penalty, and lower taxes.
“So then who do we vote for in November to fix things?”
It doesn’t matter. Not if you’re talking about the presidential election.
You see, in the broad scheme of things, which is where real change takes place, individual presidents only have a short window of time to have any effect on things.
The economy sucks, but it isn’t Obama’s fault, because things were already going downhill when he took office. Then again, it’s not Bush’s fault, either, because he didn’t really have any control over the housing market or all the crazy crap folks on Wall Street were doing to make stupid money off of it via a horrifically unregulated series of investments that would collapse like the tulip market in Amsterdam circa 1637.
Blame Congress. Plain and simple. Those long-sitting, ineffectual, flaming buttholes who have spent so much time pandering to their voters so they can stay in office have paid so much attention to staying in office that they forgot why they are there. Ten presidents made it through the White House while Strom Thurmond was in office, but he was so busy being racist and banging his black housekeeper at the same time that his mind couldn’t focus on actually getting any real work done.
So here’s my proposal: For the next decade, we, as Americans, decide that the people actually have the power to effect real change in their government. But instead of dressing up like Uncle Sam, camping in public parks, or mailing envelopes of anthrax to government buildings, we all get the hell up and vote. For anyone but the incumbent. For ten years.
Suddenly, Congress becomes a meritocracy, where those elected actually work to show their value to society. Watch party lines begin to dissolve as people realize how nice it is when the government handles infrastructure maintenance and international trade instead of arguing about who can stick what where or why we should focus on that instead of why we’re letting millionaires tell us they have any idea what it’s like trying to stretch a pound of ground beef across four meals for five people.
We can do it, America.