Thursday, December 17, 2009

At this rate, the future was yesterday

HOW OPTIMISTIC can we be about the future of a nation that refuses to act decisively on its most critical domestic issues? Ho, Ho, Ho. Not very. The issues are plain to see: the raging costs of health care, global warming, the environment, education, the widening gulf between rich and poor, Wall Street - all of these and others have have created a caustic political divide that won't be bridged in this generation, nor maybe the next.

The problem is, sound doesn't travel in a vacuum. Any reasonable attempt to invite the Party of No into the mainstream of rational discussion is futile, as President Obama has finally learned the hard way. When you have a phalanx of racial, religious and broadcast crackpots barging in at every progressive idea on the table, what will change the landscape? I can't think of anything. The old concept of nation-building is now a concept of nation-razing. Is that over-the-top logic? Well, how about this: A recent poll reported that 66 pct. of Republicans say they would vote for Sarah Palin for president. That's the vacuum where sound dies.

Palin and many of her righteous rightists scoff at global warming as evidence mounts that some South Pacific islands live under the constant threat of flooding from rising sea waters. As the Arctic icecap melts, polar bears are slimmer these days as they amble about for food and safer havens. You don't have to be a friend of polar bears to realize that something quite serious is happening. The anti-warming gang sniffs that it is "junk science" when a great majority of scientists insists that an oncoming catastrophe is probable. On the other hand, even the Bible suggests the planet will not be around forever. Should we be planning for that day?

For too many politicians, the future of the planet and your grandchildren doesn't matter beyond the next election as the ascendent cash-flow lobbyists do the thinking for their political recipients. It has been shown that a fair number of senators and congressmen who oppose health-care reform are doing the bidding for their caregivers on K Street. The powerful lobbies will be the last groups standing as the planet disappears.

With few exceptions the national media that once boasted of James Reston, Ed Murrow and Walter Cronkite have not only been political patsies within the prescribed ideological guidelines of their corporate owners, but also have fashioned an entirely new world of scatterbrained stars like Palin, Michele Bachmann and Joe Lieberman whose virulent mediocrity has carried them a long way on the national media dole. Bachmann, you may recall, asked her cheering throngs to cut their wrists if that's what it took to stop health care reform. This week she shouted at a D.C. rally that the anti-reform crowd had formed the charge of the light brigade. It became necessary to remind her later that the charge of the British cavalry into the Russian lines was one of the dumbest and most disastrous military decisions on record.

If there is faint hope that the we will survive all of this, maybe it will come from what Conan Doyle dismissively said of the new art of his day: "One should put one's shoulder to the door and keep out insanity all we can."

Well, it's worth a try.


PJJinOregon said...

This week I attended a lecture by Greg Mortenson, author of "Three Cups of Tea". Despite personal setbacks and sufferings in Afghanistan, he remains amazingly positive and upbeat. His view is that the generation in power now is stuck on "me". But the generation now in elementary and middle school believes in "us" and their ability to make a better world. You and I are stuck in a toxic wasteland of money and power. Our grandchildren may clean the atmosphere and let the sun shine again.

Grumpy Abe said...

Thanks, I needed that. Although the planet may not be around forever, neither will the current crop of politicians. Today, the losers in congress, not the winners, are writing the history.