Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No Longer Hopeful

I have gone beyond unhopeful to fearful about my country. It has been bad enough that so many people, left and right, ignore everything that they do not already agree with. That truth is neither sought nor valued. That the right says “everything American is the best”, and the left says “anything American is defective at best.” Both of them disregard any contrary evidence. And most of all, that the center, the moderates, are shrinking in number and almost totally without influence. I am a moderate, a centrist, myself, so both sides ridicule me as belonging to the other side, no matter how loudly I say that I am center. Though if anything, the intransigence of the right is pushing me slightly left of center.

I will probably be pushed back to the center soon; intransigence inspires intransigence. I began losing hope when I saw the beginning of an unstable oscillation between left and right. When George Bush, without even gaining a popular majority, rammed through a legislative program which was supported only by the far right, just because he could, I first got worried. In former times a president in such a position was politically very cautious; the “thin mandate blues” prevented extremist actions. But W went on as though every American loved his policies. The federal budget was nearly under control, which I thought could only be explained by divine intervention. Well, he sure took care of that.

That’s when I began to worry that “the center cannot hold” was not poetry any more. I once read an article which explained the pronounced tendency towards political instability of Hispanic countries. This author noted that the Spanish language has no equivalent to the English word “compromise”. The nearest equivalent has a strong connotation of “sell out”. Thus everyone’s position must be all or nothing, and in practice it boiled down, more often than not, into government by the strongest only because he is the strongest. In this country we once had the “spoils system” for filling government jobs, after someone, maybe Andrew Jackson, pronounced “To the victor belong the spoils.” Eventually the country got tired of the chaos of a completely new government after each election, especially when a president (Garfield) was murdered by a man who didn’t get a government job. But with the calls to repeal the new health care reform, we are sliding toward a system of a whole new set of laws after each election.

This way lies madness.

{more along this line will follow.}