John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado

The die is cast, anger is the ruling emotion of the political moment, and over the next two years we undoubtedly will be treated to even greater examples of the “politics of NO” as the national Republican party moves to position itself for the 2012 presidential election.

You must admit the tactic worked pretty well for the Grand Ole Party this time around.

After one of the most stunning elections in recent memory, back in ’08, President Barack Obama took office riding on a wave of good will from around the world and around the nation.

But, a mere two years later, even some of his own party stalwarts were avoiding him like lovers alarmed by the appearance of cold sores on his lips.

How does this kind of thing happen?

Well, a friend noted with some bitterness on the day after the election, “What it tells me is, people are stupid.” He went on to argue that when voters tossed out the Republicans in ’06 and ’08 after the debacle of the two Bush II administrations, he had hopes that the light might actually begin to shine on U.S. politics once more.

People seemed genuinely tired of the avarice that ruled the Bush years, as corporations sought to supplant voters as the rightful heirs of the American legacy. They even went so far as to assert the concept that a corporation is a person in the eyes of the law.

Of course, this year the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court aided that quest by giving corporations the right to pour unlimited cash into election campaigns, and in the first election since that decision, guess what happened! Corporations dumped tons of money, more than ever before according to some estimates, into races at all levels.

And, unfortunately, lying on television has become such an accepted phenomenon in what passes for political discourse in this country, that voters in large numbers were swayed into believing the Great Recession was Obama’s fault, as well as the sluggish economic recovery. And too many accepted the fabulous lie that the Democrats had somehow reinvented themselves as radical socialists aiming to demolish our national freedom and force us to accept medical care based on the needs of the patients rather than on the profit of the medico-insurance complex.

Hence, my friend’s rather cynical, not to say paranoid, outlook regarding the American electorate and the prospects for sane political dialogue in future elections.

Of course, we may as well concede that the health care “reform” that we got in the end was really little improvement on this nation’s backward health care delivery system, and it will continue to bankrupt us as individuals, families and a nation until some real reform is enacted.

And the fact that voters can’t seem to understand that is a real problem.

Why is it that we once were able to look corporate America in the eye and say, “We know you don’t give a damn about our welfare, but only want to line your pockets, and we’re going to do something to ensure our own well being.”

Out of such emotions were born unions, populist politics, the civil rights movement, and others among our proudest moments as a people.

These days, we seem content to let our corporate masters spoon-feed any kind of claptrap to us, and we consume it with relish. Why else have we become fast-food junkies despite all evidence that this diet is turning us into obese idiots? Why else do we permit the agribusiness industry take over our farming traditions, which once were the backbone of this country? Why else have we permitted the monopolization of media, the poisoning of our environment and the plundering of our national wilderness?

I could go on, but my plan here was to look back at this election and try to make some sense out of it.

Well, here it is. I think voters are so pissed off they can’t see straight, and unfortunately too many are willing to be led by self-interested, lying zealots who base their political game on the belief that voters will accept anything the political machines can concoct.

Our only hope, as a nation, is that at some point even the dimmest will wake up, see through the fog of distortions, and begin to elect people who genuinely want to serve and do the right thing.

Not much to go on, is it?

But it’s all we’ve got.