Monday, November 12, 2012
The Angry Americans
Well, we have survived another presidential election. There were times when the avalanche of negative ads, in both directions, seemed almost intolerable, verging on overwhelming my sensibilities as a voter, as an American, and as a participant in democracy. Finally, I had to resort to having the remote in my hand with my finger on the 'mute' button. Alternatively, I limited myself to watching programs I had recorded....and felt a strange sense of smug satisfaction as I fast-forwarded through the visual collage of nay-sayers, finger waggers, pseudo-sad lamenters.....and good ol' LIARS.
I have to admit that while it appeared that Romney and Ryan had momentum and were becoming likely winners, I felt a palpable sense of dread. Was it really possible that working class Americans could be snookered into thinking a true 1%er, vulture capitalist, and an Ayn Rand disciple were on their side? But, far worse, for me at least, was the specter of having a pair of individuals leading our nation who seemed as comfortable with lies as they did with anything resembling factual truth. Some comedian pointed out that Romney and the entire GOP were waging war on the truth. It would have been funnier if it weren't so scary.
Ah, but all that is behind us now, isn't it? Mitt and Ann will go drown their sorrows in a beautiful swimming pool at one of their multi-million dollar homes. His ego has suffered some serious bruises, but, then, he just needed to reach for the one thing in his life that was missing: ultimate power. He craved being the most powerful man on the planet, as the president is so frequently referred to. And, because he has the personality of a faux aristocrat (a fact of which we were reminded by his own gaffs at every turn in the road, i.e. the 47% tape and so many more), has character issues around at least telling the truth, he got his ass royally kicked.
Unfortunately, I am certain we haven't seen the last of Ryan, and his wolfish gaze. The man really does remind me of the currently popular t-v show, "Grimm", in which characters morph into hidden archetypal 'beasts' of mythical origins. Some say he looks like Eddie Munster, an allusion that perhaps only folks of my generation will recognize. But, I think he's way too sinister for such a comparison. In his eyes and his physiognomy as a whole, I see a hungry wolf, one who insisted that his congressional staff members read 'Atlas Shrugged', the novel by Ayn Rand who espoused self-interest and dominance over less capable or less aggressive souls. I do not hear him saying that he's a representative of ordinary people, but rather that he's a champion of the 'haves'....and "...it sucks to be you", if you aren't one of them. He, like Romney, also is a big fan of saying whatever he feels will plead his case...whether or not it is true, or factual. He lies his ass off. And, I am not even sure he knows when he's doing it.
But, in the aftermath of the political season, one thing has become crystal-clear: we are a nation divided. Some of us are liberals, or progressives--both terms used as epithets on Fox News--and some of us are conservatives. And there is a vast reservoir of anger, even rage, that is hovering in our midst. Clearly, because of losing the election in a surprise defeat that almost swept every so-called 'battleground state', a preponderance of that rage is residing with the right. Some of what is being written on the web is so hateful, racist, venomous, and odious that it doesn't even bear repeating. It is like sewage spewing from a broken sewer-main.....all over Main Street. And, while apparently the people who are spewing, feel that it is their right to do so, some of it is even espousing assassination or violent overthrow of our government.....which is a felony, a fact they seem oblivious to.
Despite what these enraged spewers seem to think, Free Speech does have certain limits, and fomenting violent revolution or murdering our elected leaders is not a right or a privilege, it's just plain unacceptable. They are perhaps a cocktail mixture of not caring what impact their words might have, and being so stupid that they really believe anything goes.
As a person who has studied and observed ethics in action for my entire adult life, I do not have a good feeling about what all of this portends. When people are so invested in their own point of view, so absolutely certain that they are right and those who believe differently are wrong, it means the potential for compromise--any solution that requires accepting some give and take--is diminished, even impossible. This means a situation where harmony, carrying on with life as a normal and positive undertaking, is also not possible. Some people, in the wake of this election, are saying our country is dead. This is a dramatic statement by any measure. It is dramatic for it's stark negativity, and for its sheer stupidity....and for the complete absence of any faith that our democracy is flexible and resiliant, that it has durability and endurance. It is perhaps the most un-patriotic statement I can imagine a person making. And....it is BULLSHIT, pure and simple.
I don't know what it will take for Americans of all outlooks, all ethnic persuasions, all socio-economic levels to understand.....that sink or swim, WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME LIFE-BOAT. If we insist that in order to move forward, the 'other' guy has to surrender his or her sense of what is right for them, that one viewpoint, right of left, must entirely dominate how we conduct our nations affairs...then we are in a world of hurt. This is self-interest and intellectual block-headedness on a level that will have a corrosive effect on all of us.
It seems worth noting that the burners under these enraged souls, are seemingly pleased to play an inflammatory role. Whether it is Fox New (".....fair and balanced", yeah right!) or MSNBC with equally biased commentators, pushing their views to an audience hungry for validation that what they believe is 'right' and what those 'others' believe is trash....the net result is the same. We are living in a time when apparently it is more important to be 'right' than to be truthful or reasonable, and we are in a downward spiral of negativity--on both sides--that will not result in any kind of happy landing, for anybody. Being in the same life-boat, means that hatred and venom is the enemy of BOTH SIDES.
If we are so busy punching holes in the bottom, in order to prove that the other side is 'wrong', the water will continue to rise....until we are all swimming in shark infested waters.
I steadfastly cling to my conviction that we are being asked to do better, to rise to the occasion and to avoid creating a disaster.......just to prove we're 'right'. C'mon America! I know you can do better than this.