How Dumb Will We Be?

How Dumb Will We Be?

Almost immediately, after the election of 2004, our European Friends began asking an embarrassing question.

“How could you elect that man twice?” was the query.

Many of us had nothing to reply. The War in Iraq had already been declared won. The nation seemed enamored of a new doctrine of pre-emptive war.

Most of us could only hope for the best while fearing the worst.

We got the worst. Citizens realized soon enough that the economy was in the tank and that retirements were a thing of the past. The idea of privatizing Social Security, happily, had been rejected. We felt lucky to maintain Medicare. Unlike today, we did not look forward to a regime change, or begin campaigning three years in advance. We couldn’t. We were too busy squirreling wherever we walked for nuts for the long, long winter that was increasingly clear on the horizon.

We started with a disputed election, but were appeased by the idea that the new president would at least be able to call upon the advisors his father had had. He had not been a bad president. Perhaps a little slow in the day-to-day business of living, but otherwise sound and judicious.

9/11 came.

Millions of us understood that Iraq had nothing to do with that disaster. Still, it seemed necessary to find someone on whom to pin the attack, the key here being “someone” rather than a force of strange-looking mountain people. Congress, being no smarter than anyone else, agreed.

War began in 2003. It also ended the same year, or so we were assured. Rumblings in Iraq in 2004 and finally, for real, in 2005, told us we had been had. In time, thousands of American soldiers died. No one was happy, but we were confident that survivors were being well-attended. There, too, on top of everything, we were had.

We bet on hope. We may as well have been in a casino. But we were proud of our instincts for fairness and hopeful for a future that would be corrected as time progressed.

Had again!

Almost immediately after the inauguration in 2009, we learned that one political party was determined to submarine any – and this is meant literally, any – reasonable approach at governing. It kept its word.

We really are as insane as we seem, seeming to believe year after year that sending the same men and women to Congress over and over again will change anything for the better.

Now we have an opportunity to do it all over again. We can re-elect the people who vowed to close government down. We might even do it.

And our European friends will ask the same questions as before.

We don’t know what kind of answer we’ll be able to provide this time.

Unless, of course, we wake up. Unless we understand that the threat made in 2009 was not empty. And that the threat our Senate minority leader made earlier this summer about finishing this president’s term in the same manner is also not just bluster.

There are, apparently, millions of voters who are comfortable with the idea that failing to govern is the best way to govern. Hands off, or “Look, Ma, no hands.” Better yet “Look, Ma, no experience, no ideas, no belief in the better angels of America.”

What these voters seem to be saying is that the country is just fine as it is, thank you. We need neither new people, nor new ideas, nor education, nor international approval. We need no housing for the poor, no food for the hungry, no medicine for the sick. No justice for those most deserving of it. Just make sure our Social Security checks arrive on time. Oh, and we still want Medicare.

One thing we most definitely want, it seems, is representatives without brains, experience, or knowledge. We do not want to be talked down to. Some of us didn’t go to college and we can’t see any reason for others to dream about that, either. Give us a job. Maybe two. Probably four between the two of us.

We don’t have to put money aside for our retirement funds, or our children’s college tuition. We’re not retiring and our kids aren’t
going anywhere.

As for leadership? All we require is someone who looks paternal, knows where the bodies are, and is not afraid to threaten, criticize, sow fear of the unknown. The less experience he has the better. That, after all, makes him just like us. In the pocket of big oil or industry of any kind is what we expect. We can hardly be disappointed if we continue to get it.

So go ahead, ask those questions. We’ll get back to you when “America has Talent” is over.

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