We want to believe in the idealism of youth. We just wish we had a template for them to study that involved honesty, truth, good manners, caring deeds.
This is not sour grapes, or being a sore loser. What people today see when they look at the American political scene is chaos, lying, corruption, anger, and the inability to reason calmly to come to solutions to problems that are life-threatening, internationally critical, and which pose choices to all classes of people that are not good: for example, the choice between medicine and food, between silence and speech, between shelter and the streets.
Last week we said we would get the government we deserve.
This week, we have.
Four weeks ago the drum-rolls became audible. Yes, it was possible the Senate would change hands, but not desperately likely. As for the House, we estimated, as most people did, that if change there were, it would not be significant. One fifth – the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the presidency, the press – one fifth of our governing structure would still be comprised of people who were unable, in our minds, to think clearly, or to act purposefully, or even to imagine compromising for the sake of a healthy and secure nation.
Three weeks ago, the skies darkened. But optimism was still relatively possible: individual legislators who had been obstructionists might still be discharged by the people who hired them – US, not Big Money.
Two weeks ago we were able to hear, amid the storm, echoes of calls above the wind. Racism could not win. Sexual politics could not win. Gun purveyors and weapons manufacturers could not win. People whose campaign stances rapidly changed, sometimes with the swiftness of heart beats, would surely be detected and scoured from the winning ballots as the political turncoats they were.
Beneath this growing thunder was the threat of Ebola. This frightened people of all kinds. Those who were sensible and scientific were not immune to fear: if they didn’t have Ebola to give them nightmares, they had ISIS. And for ISIS there was no strategy, according to our very own earnest leadership. If they didn’t have that, how could they develop one for Ebola? Or immigration? Or failing infrastructure? Or education which had been unmasked after years and years of planning and institution and reinstituting common cores?
We as a nation were angry, disheartened, scornful, bereft of leadership and afraid.
So we voted.
And got the tsunami we wanted.
We want to believe there are men and women of reputable intent and sizable talents in all parties. But looking ahead is not fun.
The president is still black. For the next two years this will be a constant source of inaction, both in Congress and in the White House.
What this means is that three-fifths of our governmental structure will be immobilized as before, leaving us to the Press and to the whimsy of the Supreme Court, free still to misinterpret for its own political purposes documents we say we uphold but about which there is no agreement as to aim and range of inclusion.
And should one Supreme Court Justice decide to run home, we will be faced with an embarrassment beyond which nothing much matters. Well, that’s not quite right. Some Americans will still be surprised and hurt should the government be closed down again due to political in-fighting.
With all these thoughts spiraling through our brains, it is any wonder that on Wednesday we declined to read the newspapers of the day, or even to watch television recaps of election mayhem?
And having made that decision, imagine our consternation while driving to hear the President’s post-election news conference?
He, too, received his just desserts. He sounded no more enthusiastic or engaged than at any another time but for his night of nights in 2008. He seemed unaware and completely unconcerned that a natural disaster had occurred. He had no strategy for change or improvement. In effect, he didn’t think there was anything he needed to learn from this experience. He continued to threaten executive action, the very mention of which insured that he remained as distant and irrelevant to the American process as before….just like the current Congress which could not be bothered to return from the campaign trail to weigh either executive action or international peace-keeping. The President drew no red lines in the sand, for which we were all grateful.
It is going to take a large portion of the electorate’s patience, good will, and hopes for health, redemption, and security to get through the next two years. Republicans have learned that saying “no” can win. Democrats have learned nothing – but for the good folk in Minnesota and Connecticut.
Congress will pass what it will, and the President will veto. Congress will over-ride. A progression of dented and scarred legislation will become the law of the land. Partisanship is not likely to lessen.
The poor will be continually insulted and made less financially mobile. The so-called Middle-Class will continue to be nearly impossible to define and therefore nearly impossible to assist in any meaningful way. The very wealthy will be always with us.
With a President now out in the open as a wounded presence, men and women of great ambition and little brain – much like Winnie the Pooh – will swagger and preen and pose for us, imagining their profiles on coins and dollar bills.
Ninety-five per cent of these performances will fail to do more than cloud the air we breathe.
All this leaves us still looking for One Honest Man by candlelight.