The Wild West
As many know, I was a Republican for many years. I grew up in a family with classic conservative values. When I lived in California, I was among like-minded fiscal conservatives, so when I moved to Arizona, definitely a Red state with capital R, it felt refreshing to be around so many people who felt like I did.
Only they didn’t.
The more I paid attention, the more corruption I saw. The more I discovered kick-backs and just plain cruel legislation. Then came SB1070, a law that wasn’t really as bad as many would lead you to believe. My fundamental issue with SB1070 was the provision of proof of citizenship. The United States has never had internal passports, and that’s the direction I saw Arizona moving, with the potential to imprison U.S. citizens for not having proof of citizenship in a pocket. But it was a rallying cry for the far right, and people in power used even the remaining fragments to take the law into their own hands (see Joe Arpiao).
But I’ve always been a fiscal conservative and libertarian (small L) otherwise, and that isn’t what was happening here in the southwest. Just days after one of our now monthly mass-shootings, Arizona tried to pass legislation to allow firearms on college campuses. The local police hold gun turn-in programs and Arizona passed a law that forbids destruction of these weapons. Instead, they must be sold at auction.
Sometimes I forget I live in the wild west, but this isn’t 1885.
For years, I drank the GOP Kool-aid. Trickle-down economics sounded good. The GOP has been in power enough to dismantle a lot of the regulation that protected the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us by restricting the shenanigans that could take place. Regulations that were in place to prevent the very kind of wrong-doing we have seen over the past two decades.
Deregulation was supposed to increase competition and drive prices down and stabilize the economy. Let’s see now, how well did that work for the airline industry, the banking industry, and the oil industry? The foul play at Enron and at many other large corporations was discovered either through bankruptcy or extenuating circumstances. How many other major corporations participate in collusion and other shady practices. We’ll probably never get to see those books.
The main outcome of all the deregulation and trickle-down economincs was a widening of the income gap.
After years of pondering the option, I finally left the GOP and became and registered independent. I no longer drink the Kool-aid. I don’t like the taste. Not at all.
And now we have seen three consecutive years of GOP Tea Party extremists playing deadly politics with an American economy still recovering from the worst recession in 70 years. When I first heard about the Tea Party Republicans, I was intrigued. After all, I’ve always been a fiscal conservative. Unfortunately, that isn’t what the Tea Party turned out to be. Rather, they are stubborn egotistical children who care far more about being in power than they do about serving the people who sent them to Washington.
That is nothing new, but the Tea Party Republicans have made brinksmanship into an objective in and of itself. I agree with them on the point that spending must be reigned in, and that the nation debt must be attacked. I don’t like their approach. If you run up a dozen credit cards, cutting up the cards doesn’t solve the problem. You still have to pay for what you bought.
The American economy is the world’s juggernaut and it can’t be turned around overnight. It took decades to get into this mess, and it will take decades to get out. Instead of working for consensus and true progress, the house Republicans are slowly dismantling everything that made America the country everyone else modeled their own constitutions after.
The words “full faith and Credit of the United States” means very little anymore. We spy on our own people. We have to submit to strip searches to get on an airplane. We shoot up children at school. We provide equipment to fight only one of twelve wildfires and our people try to make due. We have bridges that are falling apart.
This was a great nation. We have had our share of things we did wrong, but our better actions always seemed to outweight them. Today, power seems like the only motivation for a politician. The most recent congressional approval rating was 14%. Rather than congress taking that number and doing a little bit of introspection, they gerrymander the voting districts and continue as if the public doesn’t even exist.
Our representatives and senators ought to be ashamed to show their faces in public. 14%? I would be. Nobody on the House or Senate floor is asking WHY the approval rating is so low, and I’m pretty sure the reason is that they really don’t care. And that makes me sad.
it is said that good people don’t run for public office because the press and opponents will tear their personal lives to shreds. No reasonable person wants to go through that.
I see America in a slow but steady decline. This nation will fracture and come apart at the seams eventually if nothing changes. We’ll be left with several regional Americas, each with a little bit different idea of what being America really means. But without unity, we will be more akin to the European Union, which is not a very effective body because the interests of their component nations are so different.
It doesn’t have to be this way
We can fix the problem now, but it’s going to take some new blood in Washington. It’s going to take some good people running for office, and it’s going to take the other half of the country to get their fat faces away from Dancing with the Stars and focused on what is happening around them. Our nation is crumbling before our eyes, and we, the American people, are Caesar fiddling while Rome burns.