Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Re: the great rant (here's one of my own)

I think that Joe gets to the real problem in the last paragraph of part 3. I maintain that the American people are the problem, plain and simple. We are a nation of lazy, overweight, spoiled, barely literate, jingoistic, obnoxious jerks with microscopic attention spans. We expect every problem to have a solution that requires minimal effort and sacrifice on our part. Lazy? Buy an SUV. Overweight? Take diet pills. Unsuccessful? Blame _______ [pick your favorite: the government, the Republicans, the Democrats, whites, blacks, Jews, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Europeans, the Mexicans, your parents, your children, Navin R. Johnson--random bastard, etc.] We have so many sources for virtual and alternate reality now that we have lost our ability to face up to the real one. We truly want to have our cake, eat it, and then not have it go to our asses.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the most popular and electorally successful ideas are those that can be expressed in bulletpoints--preferably involving only one or two syllable words--and involve people GETTING more and GIVING less. Never mind details such as the long term success of the economy and the nation as a whole. Fuck tradeoffs. Fuck difficult choices involving benefits and drawbacks each way. We don't do drawbacks. We're Americans!

How did we get this way? I don't know. Each of us could easily write a book on the deterioration of the American community and corresponding decline of culture--the rise of consumerism and the decline of anything involving strenuous effort, including intellectual pursuits. How do we change this? I think educational revamping is helpful, but we are talking about a fundamental change in Americans' values. I think using religion as a vehicle to combat sloth and materialism would be enormously helpful, if it can be done. Otherwise, we simply need to convert people little by little.

What does this all have to do with our political leaders, specifically the Democratic presidential candidates? Not a whole hell of a lot. Which is the point. I fully support all efforts to inject honesty, both general and intellectual, into our political discourse. I realize, however, that when you have to convince a nation of underinformed spoiled brats with short memories to vote for you, honesty is usually not the best policy. I can hardly blame politicians for giving the public what they want to hear--especially when it's a dead cert that if they don't their opponent sure as hell will. It would be nice if both candidates in an election would just agree to be honest about the problems that face us and their solutions, along with the accompanying benefits and drawbacks. The incentive is always there, though, to cheat and bury the other guy.

I agree with Joe that it is imperative that we change the electorate. Until we do, however, I just can't get upset about candidates who pander and take shortsighted positions to get elected.

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