Monday, June 23, 2008

Power to the People

Despite their jerky attitude towards bloggers quoting their words, I'm going to quote thirty-seven words from the AP about how screwed-up everything is, but I do so only because I have a good point to make and not because I forgive them for their jerky ways:

The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country's sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.

And there's one big explanation for why this happened: George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of the Republican assholes. And the reason why is because Republicans have had this horrible, disgusting attitude for many decades that says that they can keep pushing, and pushing, and pushing to get whatever they want, and if you can't get something by pushing, then you just weren't pushing hard enough. The world is their oyster, even if they have to put the shell on themselves.

People kept trying to tell them about repercussions and negative consequences and payback and all that, but they just wouldn't listen. And this wasn't important as long as they didn't control the Presidency, Congress, Supreme Court, and the media. Until 2001, this was all just empty rhetoric they could toss out and it didn't really mean anything. But once they had all the reins of power, nothing could stop them from taking full advantage of them; and that includes making sure that they kept those reins as long as possible. So it's no wonder people are upset.

Consolidation of Power

Because people need power. People need an outlet. They have to feel like they have some control over their lives. We shouldn't have the media telling us who to impeach, or the Supreme Court anointing our leaders, or endless corruption from the people in power. And we expect our dams to work and our bridges to stand, and all that other good stuff. And we need to feel that we're not slaves to our employers. And we want to control what chemicals enter our bodies and how clean our water is. We're not asking for control of the world. We just want some say regarding our little piece of it.

And that's what everyone wants, even the dittoheads who have been trained to believe that liberals are their enemy. It's all about control, which explains why dittoheads never really calm down, because they're focusing their demand for control at the wrong place and are attacking the people they need to join. While they're told that the problem is too much regulation and government intervention, the truth is that most of those regulations and intervention are being done on their behalf to empower them. And the people telling them to fight this government intervention are the very people stealing their power from them. And rather than allowing the government to protect individuals from powerful people, these people are convinced that they need to protect powerful people from the government. Our government. To them, the cure is the poison and vice versa.

And the point is that this is our fucking government. It belongs to us; not George Bush or Cheney's Friends, or David Broder, or any of the other power brokers who wouldn't even know how to act in our interests even if they had the inclination to do so. This is OUR government and these people work for us. And that's what the real problem here is. These people somehow fell under the delusion that they're our leaders and get to tell us what to do. But that's completely backwards.

We're the leaders. They follow our lead. And that means that we deserve a functioning government, and good schools and infrastructure, and all that other good stuff. Corporations shouldn't have more rights than citizens. Rich people shouldn't have louder voices than power people. And dammit, when we say we want out of a war, we mean it.

We the People

But it's not like this because the Constitution says it should be. Rather, the Constitution says this because democracy empowers people. It gives them control. It gives them an outlet. And when people feel that they have real control over their lives, they're happier and more likely to work harder to take care of their lives. While conservatives have always imagined this could only be achieved through "rugged individualism," they're wrong. Because in a democracy, the government IS our way of taking control of our lives. As long as it's handled properly, anyway. And that's exactly why the Founding Fathers gave us this government; because they knew that a government that isn't responsive to the people will fail.

And that's just not something Republicans understand. They didn't want to control the government to make America a better place. They want the government because it's powerful and they want power. That's all this was about. They didn't have the faintest clue as to how to make the government work better. They just wanted the power. And after they got it, they totally shot their wad and disgraced themselves for generations to come.

While Republicans got ahead by telling people that all they need are taxcuts to make life perfect, people still assumed they'd have their basic needs met. They believed Republicans would still take care of them, under the assumption that nobody would be foolish enough to cut taxes to the point that the government stops functioning during emergencies. This was the part of the equation that Republicans didn't really want to talk about, and we all know why: Because their vision of government is entirely dysfunctional.

And so people are angry about this. They might not know why they're angry, but it's because the Republican leaders consolidated all the power into their own hands; thus damaging one of America's best assets: Democracy. While Republicans believe that the best way to empower someone is to allow their children to starve, Democrats know that they just need a way out. While temporary fixes like welfare were allowed to substitute too long for truly effective policies, the real problem wasn't with the temporary solutions, but rather with Republicans, who didn't want us to solve the real problem.

They like that there are poor people. The middle-class gets in their way and the nouveau riche make it less fun to be old money. Money is power, and these people want it. And that's why third-world countries remain third-world, because the powerful refuse to loosen their grip on power. And while Republicans here would prefer America to not become a third-world country, that's exactly where their policies will lead. They want power, and find the consequences of that to be too inconvenient to bother thinking about.

Regaining Control

Republicans didn't invent floods or hurricanes or tornadoes. They didn't set-out to make the economy tank. They weren't planning to raise huge deficits that would forever destroy the myth of supply-side economics and expose their inability to cut spending. Rather, I'm sure they imagined that they could go about with their little schemes and everything would magically take care of itself. While they knew they'd be able to get lots of free perks, like houses, vacations, and cold hard cash out of the system; they didn't realize that all the other Republicans would be doing the same thing.

And now it's beginning to dawn on Republicans that perhaps there's no such thing as the free lunch. That perhaps there's a good reason why previous generations preferred diplomacy over war, and why compromise isn't such a horrible thing. Yes, their chickens have come home to roost and every lesson they thought they had the cure for has come back to bite them firmly in the ass. But things aren't nearly as hopeless as the article made it sound. Sure, it won't be easy, but the first step is to return the power to the people. And we're already starting to see that this year, with Obama's little people thrusting him straight into the Whitehouse.

He might not be giving Americans everything they want, but he'll give them everything they need: Power. And at this point, I suspect most people will be glad to get it. If Republicans had set out to prove that all the old rules of politics and democracy were correct, it'd be the only thing they got right in a long, long time.

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