Sunday, December 16, 2007

The long road back to respectability

This is something that has been on my mind for some time, yet I still haven’t quite figured out where I am going with it. Over the past decade, this country has fallen from grace in a big way. Granted, “grace” is overstated, since there were many stains on the integrity and hypocritical nature of what we say as opposed to what we do long before Mister Bush took office in 2001.

But even taking that all into consideration, the way that this country’s promise and opportunity was hijacked - not by “republicans” or “Democrats” or even “neoconservatives” per se - since 2001 makes one (or at least makes me) look at what has gone on and how much respectability has been lost and wasted by a combination of greed, money, arrogance and wanton disregard for the rule of law.

In 2004, I thought that things would get better once Kerry was elected. Or, at least, it wouldn’t continue to get worse. Sadly, even if Kerry did win, much would still be the same - sure, there wouldn’t be such a mess of the Justice Department, and there would be two people other than John Roberts and Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court, and we wouldn’t be dumping hundreds of billions into Iraq and a good number of other horrific things that are a direct result of the abomination that is the current Executive Branch.

But most of the problems facing Americans would still be big, regardless of who is in the White House - just a degree of how big.

That being said, it isn’t really worth playing the “what might have been” game, because Bush is in office, not Kerry. And with the way that Bush and many in Congress have been acting, the “just wait until Democrats are in the majority” line of thinking has been an even bigger disappointment when it comes to just how far we have to go in order to regain any respectability or advance any real progressive causes.

There is no credible explanation other than “they don’t represent us” that would explain the capitulation on Iraq funding or on FISA and the failure to have any meaningful consequences from the investigations that have been launched, nor the interest in stopping torture (or at least bringing this to light when it was first learned), the selling out of the middle class for oil and gas companies on the energy bill, the reckless disregard for the budget deficit on the AMT legislation or the challenges by Democratic party “elite” to progressive candidates by the DLC.

It’s even worse on the “other side” as the number of republicans who aren’t absolutely repulsive has dwindled to, at best, a single digit number. Stopping legislation that would help the middle class, that would be fair on wiretapping, would eliminate unnecessary and unaffordable tax cuts for special interests, stonewalling and lying and withholding documents and looking the other way about crime, corruption or the favored few are just a few of the many anti-American things that are done.

All just to show that they can obstruct everything because if they can’t get exactly what they want every time then nobody will get anything.

The same tools that wouldn’t be used by Democrats when they were in the minority (specifically by Reid and a few other Senators) are being used at every turn. Even Presidential candidates who are standing up for the Constitution are being railroaded by their own party “leadership”, while a number of impeachable offenses have occurred and been uncovered since last November with no consequences.

The same special interests are being rewarded and sheltered from accountability while not being prosecuted or seriously investigated for their complicity in violating federal law or international treaty. The election in November 2006 was supposed to take care of this. The election of 2006 was supposed to change the status quo and bring us in a new direction.

Over a year later, things have most certainly not changed - in fact, you can say that they have gotten worse. We have learned that many more of those Democrats that would make it all better were either liars or inept. We saw a party that turned its back on the winner of the Connecticut Democratic Primary for Senate for one of “its own” - a man who has only proven to be a power hungry egomaniacal liar and is now supporting a republican (McCain) in the New Hampshire primary as opposed to a Democrat. This is not nearly the first time that Lieberman has done this, yet he is welcomed with open arms by Senate Democrats over a progressive candidate that their own party’s voters wanted to represent their state.

We will be told that 2008 is the year that will change everything. Yet, the two leading contenders for President won’t even honor their word and promise they made to support Chris Dodd’s filibuster on retroactive immunity for telecom companies. How does that demonstrate leadership, and what message does that send to the American people?

The amount of “House” cleaning that needs to be done is massive. The balance of whose interests are being served is highly skewed. The current two parties have their differences but on the big picture and issues that are vital to the American people, there is more common ground with each other than with We the People. Not wanting to make moderate changes to the status quo or not wanting to tackle the big issues isn’t much different from willfully obstructing the passage of legislation that would make moderate changes to the status quo. Both result in nothing.

How different will 2008 be? Or 2010 and 2012, for that matter. Will there be enough progress on global warming or healthcare or our education system or energy independence or our deteriorating infrastructure? Will we be any closer to withdrawing from Iraq? Will we be bogged down elsewhere, or still debating which Middle Eastern country we need to attack rightfuckingnow? Will the US dollar continue to be as weak, will the job market be any better and will the economy be any better? Will the US Justice Department be cleansed of its partisan ideology? Will our election system still be the laughingstock of the civilized world?

So much has happened that has done so much damage in so many ways. And it will take more than elections or incremental change to bring back any semblance of respectability for this country.

I shouldn’t say “this country”, as it isn’t the country itself - there is still opportunity and a lot that is right and good about it. I should say our “system” and our leadership with respect to their priorities and reputation. But we have seen very little change of direction as compared to what was promised in 2006. And our reputation is damaged beyond levels that would never even be considered a few years ago.

I do have faith that things can change - that things can get better again and at least there will be some accountability or change of direction. More and more however, I am realizing just how far we have to go to get there.

1 comment:

Ulysses said...

Fantastic post, ClammyC!! Lately it seems the only bright spot was Senator Dodd's mini-filibuster, that blocked retroactive immunity for the telecoms-- at least for a little while!