The thing that has characterized politics in 2014 is the same thing that has typified it for the last four years: frightening dysfunctionality.
In 2014, American voters embraced the dysfunctional and, to borrow Jim Wright’s phrase, cuddled up to it and licked it in the ear. In the most expensive non-Presidential year elections in history, the voters rewarded obstructionism, chaos and madness, giving control of the U.S. Senate to the Republicans and strengthening the GOP’s control of the U.S. House.
As a result, control of the Senate Committee charged with science will be run by folks who don’t understand and deny science. The House Finance Committee will be controlled by a group whose solution to every problem is to shut down the federal government.
You see what WC means? That’s not just embracing the dysfunctional. That’s marrying the dysfunctional. That was politics in 2014.
American voters believe that its politicians are too beholden to special interests. And they are right. Yet they let slimy outfits like the Kochtopus tell them what to do in the voting booth. If they care enough to vote at all.
If that’s not worrisome enough, it’s also increasingly clear that the national security complex – the CIA and the NSA, among others – now regard themselves as a fourth branch of government, not accountable to anyone, including Congress. In fact, the CIA regards itself as empowered to infiltrate the Congressional Committee that are supposed to have oversight of the agency. That’s the path to a security state.
And it doesn’t seem to matter how many grade school children are murdered, or movie theater audiences shot up, or how many senseless homicides there are: Congress lacks the spine, the moral fiber, to confront the NRA and its fellow travelers and regulate the clear and present danger of firearms in our culture. Congress lacks the courage to even count the bodies. But by conservative estimates,there have been 15,000 homicides in the U.S. in 2014, the overwhelming majority of them involving firearms. It’s a plague. Except it’s a plague Congress chooses to do nothing about. We work ourselves into an hysterical froth over the Ebola virus, but a real plague killing dozens of little children each year passes without comment.
UPDATED: Today at a Walmart in Hayden Idaho, a 2 year old found his mother’s concealed-carry pistol in her purse, fired it and killed her. “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” FFS.
Americans have allowed their leaders to lead them by fear: fear of Muslims, fear of science, fear of change. We arm ourselves out of fear of strangers, or fear of our government. That leadership has led Americans into some very dark places.
What a strange year. How very strange our democracy can be sometimes.1
- WC has attributed the quote, “People get the government they deserve,” to Adlai Stvenson. That was an error. The quote appears to have originated with Joseph de Maistre, a fairly obscure Savoyard philosopher, writer, lawyer, and diplomat. Maistre was a key figure of the Counter-Enlightenment, and saw monarchy both as a divinely sanctioned institution and as the only stable form of government. Which certainly colors the quotation. ↩