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DC Kick the Can is a reflection of Americans' attitudes

October 21, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
You want to know why there’s no leadership in Washington, why government is nothing more than high, staged drama without any change ever?

As I’m fond of saying about most things wrong, look in the mirror.

I wrote a blog several months ago about hanging out on one of the Facebook townhalls of our Congressman, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta. He ticked all the right boxes with me. The problem isn’t really Bill Johnson.

It’s what happens when all those right boxes are placed up against everyone else’s right boxes in an atmosphere where the Bill Johnsons are compelled to do nothing but fight, fight, fight.

Increasingly, led by my Late Boomer group and the generation immediately after us (I don’t count the older boomers because I think they’re not quite as goofy as us Late Boomers) are my-way-or-the-highway types. We never were taught to play well with others.

It’s either the result (perhaps in the case of the Late Boomers) of being at the tail end of the line of brothers and sisters, so we were spoiled (there, Home Offices of the West, they of the Early and Mid-Boom. I admit it. Mom and Dad spoiled me, at least a little). Or, maybe, in the case of the next generation or two, it was because America became the free-lovin’, fast-livin’, cocaine-and-disco, Me Generation, divorce-’em-’if-’you-got-’em nation. Live for yourself and today. Better to be ridden hard and put away wet and get to the grave early and all used up instead of looking good in the coffin. Just get exactly what you want all the time. That sort of thing. And it has bled into our political life.

We spoiled and/or selfish types are in charge, in our years in the sun now. And we’ve created reality TV, the my-way-or-the-highway attitude, the “Feelin’ Lucky, Punk?” way of life. We’re never wrong. We never give an inch. We never compromise.

And we demand the same from our pols.

Which led, of course, from the middle of the road during the Reagan era (yes, conservatives then were relatively middle of the road), when people still respected the opinions of the other side without belittling the other guy, to the polar extremism we have today, which led to the creation of unsustainable safety nets and Obamacare, job exporting for profit and the personalizing of everything in Washington. It’s no longer just business. To win requires knowing the enemy and insulting everything he is or stands for, while moving further and further out to the poles of the political spectrum to have any hope of getting any attention.

We created this money-driven, lobbyist-driven bag of flaming poo that is the world of Washington, D.C. We have pushed until we created politicians who won’t back down ever, lest they lose the big money offered up by the lobbies. Hell with the voters, they aren’t paying the freight anymore.

I think the shutdown and debt ceiling debate ended for now because the big money spoke and didn’t want the economy to crash, so everyone found their way out with some meaningless token compromise that fails to address the root of all the problems: A government driven to give anything to those who support whichever political side the politician happens to be on, while the nation is less and less able to pay from its tax base for the checks it’s written, be they unaffordable social programs or unaffordable tax breaks.

Fueling it all is the constant populist ideological flame fanning, be it on talk radio or the endless news cycle of leftCNN/rightFOX. Mix in the Internet’s ready access to facts, exaggerations, falsehoods, opinions disguised as facts, or plain outright lies, spread by a populace that laps up anything to make them feel empowered by facts, regardless of whether they know if their information is good or crap or propaganda. We’re all pundits on this bus, eh?

And thus we end up with people who never know when to turn it off and enjoy life (I have friends who were Pirates fans who were going at it on Facebook DURING GAME 5!).

And it’s all reflected in our politicians, who never, ever feel allowed to, or maybe no longer know how to, back down and invite the other guys over for a brewski and relax. Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan used to know how to do that, and as far right as the nation seemed when I was in college, it was not the evil clash of ideologues running the show as it has become now.

So, I figure it’s my end of the Boomer Generation’s fault, along with those immediately after us. We have created a mess. And the can will be kicked down the road so long as money talks and politicians are given a way to walk behind the can to the next kicking point.

But nothing gets better until we look in the mirror and change.


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