Sunday, November 21, 2010

The end of our Union. Or not. (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the system.)

In an article I read not long ago the author pondered why the American public is relatively clueless about the nature of our economic woes and what the impact of the health care bill will have and all the associated circumstances that led to the "shellacking" the Democrats took a couple weeks ago. Ultimately, the accomplishments of the administration and the outgoing Congress should have been tout-worthy, but it proved shameful from a campaigning standpoint.

In short, the Democrats did a hideous job of convincing the public that what they did was good.

Or is it the Republicans did a masterful job of convincing the public that those accomplishments were harbingers of the end times unless they were undone before they could even have a chance to succeed or fail.

The only certainty is that the GOP pushes out a message in ways that the Dems cannot hope to match.

In a recent This American Life episode ("This Party Sucks") one of the stories focused on that inability, with a reporter talking with a Democratic strategist. And the conclusion drawn as to why the right was so good at hitting those talking points was that, in general, conservatives are more apt to comply with doing that; liberals tend to prefer the notion of "thinking for themselves" and thus aren't inclined to parrot some party line. Their differing personalities are the explanation.

Those on the left who are politically gung-ho are deflated after the election, and that's understandable. They don't know how to best the GOP in the game of politics.

The thing is: They probably shouldn't worry too much about that; even a rudimentary perusal of recent history reveals that eventually the Republicans will go too far (I mean really too far) and those voters who swing one way or another will vote Democrats back in to balance the scales. The GOP's weakness does not come from outside but from their own efforts.

Of course, that statement's just as true of the Democrats.

If there's any cause for optimism for both sides of the aisle it is that the pull of one agenda or another cannot yank the country all the way to an extreme before those in the middle will vote to restore more balance.

As easy as it is to start thinking in Chicken Little terms at moments like this, it's worth bearing in mind that everything will pass in time (and be replaced by something that will cause more in-the-moment alarm). Our nation survived a literal war amongst the states a century and a half ago; I find it difficult to believe that a GOP majority in the House is going to bring us down.

Those on either the far left or far right will always find cause to be sad, to think that the other side is just going to drive the country off a cliff. That's what makes them happy, in a perverse way. To be too far to one end or the other is to be away from the middle where the state of things tends to be (even though the reporting of things focuses on those extremes). So I won't bother to try to convince them that in the long run it's going to work out, because for them it's always going to fall short of their ideals.

Which is exactly how it's supposed to be.

They must be used to that by now. And similarly I'm accustomed to them scoffing at the notions I've broached above.

That too is how It's supposed to be.


Seriously: Isn't it cool that we have a country where we can all be happily unhappy?

1 comment:

  1. Really, nothing will change until resources become much more scarce. It's easy to be profligate with resources (especially with other people's resources) when there's abundance. It's hard for anyone of any political stripe to justify profligacy when there's nothing to do it with. Society will lurch toward conservatism when it's forced upon them by scarcity. Until then, there will always be this silly tug-of-war between people who know there's only a finite quantity of resources, and people who don't.


So, what do you think?