I sometimes despair at the pathetic attention span so often demonstrated by my fellow Americans.
In the past few weeks, a great many important things have been happening all over the world. The government of Syria has been using increasingly brutal means of crushing dissent, lest Bashar al Assad go the way of ben Ali and Mubarak. In doing so, Assad has brought his people ever closer to the precipice of open revolt. Open revolt is already underway in Yemen, where a rebel attack on a mosque seriously injured Yemen’s embattled president. Also in Yemen, the not-very-covert US campaign to attack anything remotely resembling Al Qaeda with air strikes and drone attacks has been accelerated, in an attempt to do as much damage to Al Qaeda in Yemen before what’s left of the government there collapses. NATO is increasing the number and frequency of air strikes in Libya, trying to kill Muammar Ghaddafi without technically trying to kill him. The government of Russia is steadily returning to the old Soviet ways, even ordering several hundred leather trenchcoats reminiscent of the old NKVD uniforms. North Korean shipping has been intercepted trying to transport arms to Burma/Myanmar in violation of a couple of different UN resolutions. Mexico is sliding farther into anarchy near the US border, with drug cartels making war on the government through assassination and open conflict- some of which is spilling across the border into the US.
Here at home, various police agencies have been alienating the citizens they supposedly serve through violent raids on non-violent suspects. Even such agencies as the Department of Education have SWAT units to carry out such assaults on private citizens. Police officers all over the country assault, rape, beat, maim, and kill US citizens without significant consequences beyond a few days suspension with pay, for the most part. Every single report commissioned by the government on the status of the “war on drugs” has repeatedly demonstrated that our decades-long attempt to recreate Prohibition has had exactly the same results as the original Prohibition: a supremely profitable environment for organized crime, millions of Americans thrown into prisons for ridiculous reasons, widespread violations of civil and Constitutional rights, and hundreds of billions of dollars poured down a rat hole for no measurable gain. Drugs are more readily available, cheaper, and are of a higher quality than before the “war on drugs” got kicked off by Tricky Dick Nixon in a vain attempt to distract the public from the unpopular real war in Vietnam. Despite this abject failure, there is no end in sight to the war on drugs. The FBI has been given wider powers to spy on American citizens for any reason at all without the bother of opening a formal investigation- effectively putting the US and Russia on equal moral footing as the Hoover-era Feebs were but pale reflections of the NKVD.
These things have all largely gone unnoticed by most Americans because their attention was elsewhere. What could possibly have so thoroughly distracted the public’s miniscule attention span? A US Congressman sent pictures of his schlong to a woman not his wife. Horror of horrors! That’s just … just … utterly and completely fucking lame.
What the fuck is wrong with you people? Are you all so fat, dumb, and happy that you are willing to allow our Republic to drift slowly into authoritarianism so long as there’s something salacious on TV? Millions of Americans shed their blood over the past two hundred years or so to secure freedom for their descendants, but those descendants are too busy watching the antics of various attention whores to notice as that freedom is slowly and inexorably stolen by their own elected representatives. Our elected officials- from both parties- are gradually taking away all of our cherished liberties in their blind pursuit of money and power for themselves and their cronies, and you can’t be bothered to pay attention because American Idol is on? If the Founders were alive today, they’d die again from shame at what apathetic, easily distracted simpletons their countrymen have become.
The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation– enlightened as it is– if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men. –Samuel Adams
The greatest defense our country has against government tyranny is a well-informed and educated electorate. That defense has been weakened over the past fifty or so years by generations of Americans who care more for their rights than their responsibilities as citizens. Less than half of those eligible to vote do so in any given election. Because of this, our political processes have been hijacked by a vocal minority who regularly vote. In an election with a larger voter turnout, the fanatics on either side would be marginalized by the vastly larger number of moderates from both political parties. With a smaller voter turnout, the votes of that vocal minority of utter whackjobs have a far larger proportional influence than their demographic statistics ordinarily deserve. With lunatics and madmen at either end of the political spectrum exerting ever-greater influence on our political leaders, our national political discourse has become increasingly polarized to moronic extremes. That fanaticism in politics disgusts and repels more and more moderates, leaving the loonies at either extreme increasingly in charge of the asylum. And so the vicious cycle continues unabated.
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. – George Jean Nathan
What can you do about it? VOTE, you lazy bastards! Vote in every election. Find a moderate in your local area and elect him or her to whichever position is up for election. If there aren’t any moderates on the ballot, find one and start a write-in campaign. Do this often enough at the local level and it will become easier to do at the state and federal level, too. The best way to drive the shrill fundamentalists out of the political process is to vote down their extremist agenda at every turn. Vote against every incumbent. Those in office are growing fat at our expense- kick the bastards out.
People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote – a very different thing. – Walter H. Judd
We, the People, are supposed to be running this country. That only works if we, the People, get off our ever-fattening behinds and do our duty as citizens. There’s more to citizenship than your rights and paying taxes- you also have a responsibility to serve your country by voting in elections and taking a turn as a juror. We seem to have forgotten that our rights are balanced by responsibilities. Out of sheer laziness, too many Americans have allowed the government to take over far too many of those responsibilities. Thus, we have also granted our government the responsibility to take care of our rights, and governments are demonstrably unwilling to do so if it conflicts with the pursuit of power and wealth.
Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. –Barry Goldwater
And so, our Republic dies the death of a thousand cuts. Not with a bang, nor with a whimper, but with the self-satisfied sighs of millions of indolent citizens who cannot be bothered to pay attention as their elected representatives sell their future for short-term gains.
The most important political office is that of the private citizen. – Louis Brandeis
Current status: Pissed off
Current music: I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie