Rant. Muse. Eat. Sleep. Recycle.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
It's not the man; it's the machine
I've met Pat Buchanan -- he wore a nice red, cream and blue tie; I met Steve Forbes, he invited me onto his very nicely appointed campaign bus; I met Orrin Hatch, he was, seemingly, a very nice man.
I used to work for a newspaper in Iowa and the joke was that you could get a presidential candidate to deliver your pizza during the caucus season. All of the above men seemed reasonable except for Forbes. He was on his flat tax kick and when he talked in that hypnotic monotone you couldn't help but stare into his eyes, looking for a spark that wasn't in the conversation. And, it was a wasted effort. Steve Forbes had the deadest eyes I have ever seen on someone in the habit of breathing.
Still, how very contrary the public image and the person. Nice in a one-to-one, while a part of the lunatic fringe when it comes to thoughts on governing. So, what is it that makes these men stark raving advocates of the right when the country spends most of its time in the middle?
I rail and raise a hue and cry about the hands of government smacking us around. But, I fear the hands are interchangeable. A Democratic opportunist has the same tailor as a Republican one. Which raises the questions: Has the system "achieved consciousness"? Did our government become a living entity when we weren't looking?
Is HAL running the country?
If viewed in terms of a sporting contest, I have very few moments when I want to jump to my feet, fist clenched and scream, "Yeah! That's MY government!" My "team" doesn't thrill me so much as I'm afraid of the goons on the other side. It's a very mechanical support that I give to my candidates; I practice artificial enthusiasm because that's about the best I can do. It's a reaction that is a close cousin to the nervous smile on the lips of a shopkeeper paying protection money to a grinning extortionist.
The sickening truisms that fall from everyone's lips -- including mine -- are blazing clues that something is amiss: 'It takes money to run a poitical campaign;' 'term limits are never going to pass in Congress;' ''I don't want to run for office because they'll dig up dirt on me;' You can tell a politician is lying when her lips move.'
Good grief! The beast is at the door and we're rummaging through the pantry for a doggie biscuit when the real meal it desires is us.
How can people fit that kind of political reality into their brain pan? It is anti-human. It is fear-based. It is elitist. But, even more interesting is that it appears uncontrollable. Even the perpetrators get smacked by the machine.
Presidents get black eyes nowadays, not from a fawning press, but from a bureaucracy that won't budge when it needs to -- hello New Orleans? Collect call from FEMA for you. Yet, they keep feeding the beast -- as you're reading this, a law is being passed or debated that impinges on some aspect of your life despite -- read this carefully -- EVERY level of government being controlled by a party supposedly committed to small government and less federal intervention.
I think that's ironic... but I'm not sure I understand irony anymore since I listened to that Alanis Morrissette song. Whatever it is, it seems like a triumph of the system over the human.
That's why we have what I call machine-speak. In machine-speak, liberal is a bad word because it acquiesces to human foibles and needs. The inside-the-beltway derogative slang for such people are goo-goos and squishies. Warm and fuzzy, indeed.
Tom "The Hammer" DeLay got into government with the express notion that he wanted MORE Republicans. That was his goal. He knew how the beast worked. The strategy is to get more people of your party in, not to be "idealogues" -- the latest GOP curse word -- but to work the system.
And, the Dems get no free pass, here. Though I've spent most of my life with a Republican president in office, the machine was fed by a Democratic Congress.
One of the keenest disappointments I've seen in the political arena was Paul Wellstone's decision to run again after he promised he wouldn't. I wasn't dissatisfied with his job and had he not made the promise, I wouldn't have had an issue. I still voted for him, but my suspicion that something about our political process warped a person was fed anew.
In a nation full of very smart people -- and the ass who cut me off on the freeway in the rain this afternoon -- there has GOT to be a trunkful of suggestions as to how we can starve HAL instead of HAL starving us. We can start with term limits, but that does nothing about the bureaucracy.
What can we do?
link | posted by Jae at 3:48 PM |
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