John Colson: Hit and Run | AspenTimes.com

John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado

In case you’ve been living under a rock in the desert, or perhaps on another planet, we here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. are in a bit of a pickle.

Our economy continues to free-fall like a parachutist who’s forgotten how to pull that silly little ripcord.

Our politics are bound up like a fat man’s bowels after eating nothing but cheese and taffy for a week.

And it appears that a majority of our electorate believes wholeheartedly that the less they do in terms of exercise, either mental or physical, the better off things are for them and the nation.

As I mentioned, we are in a pickle.

If you don’t recognize the above phrase, Shakespeare used it first, in The Tempest. Look it up.

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Anyways, to be more specific, we have a presidential election coming up in less than a year, when we are supposed to pick the guy or gal who will be driving our national bus for the coming four years.

Okay, too many of us are likely to say, but what’s for dinner, and what’s on the tube tonight?

And that apathy, that unwillingness to be bothered, is kind of like the brine that gives flavor to our national pickle.

That brine is imbued with a basic distrust of government that once was cute, when it was felt by Revolutionary War patriots in those charming tri-cornered hats.

But it’s not so cute now, because it has essentially left the field of political discourse to political, social and religious extremists too deluded by their own rhetoric to understand they are being manipulated by the group that has become known as the 1 percent. That’s the rich, in case you’re still hiding under the aforementioned rock.

I take a bit of heat from some readers, I must say, who are pissed off over the frequency with which I criticize the rich in this column. If I don’t like the way things are going for our country, I should move to some communist country and see how that works for me.

Yes, hard as it is to imagine, that suggestion has been made more than once.

My reply to these suggestions has evolved somewhat, and I now point out that there are no “communist” countries left in the world. The political elites in just about every country that once claimed that label have discovered it’s a lot more fun to be part of the monied elite, and their managed economies are now as capitalistic as our own.

Of course, those nations always were run by elitist bureaucracies. The elites are still on top, the masses still struggle to survive, and not a lot has changed. But it’s all done more openly now, in the name of getting rich, instead of creating a socialist utopia.

Not much of an improvement that I can see, and certainly not the kind of place I’d want to move to.

No, I’m happy right here, where our founding fathers had the good sense to install the concept of free speech as a pillar of our republic.

Which is why I can freely say we are in a pickle, and that the inmates in our national asylum are the ones in charge of the pickle-making process.

How else to explain why the teabaggers and the radical right can blithely refer to President Obama as a socialist? He’s no more a socialist than J. Paul Getty was – though the argument could be made that, as an oil speculator from a young age, Getty took full advantage of government subsidies that are socialistic in all but name.

Or there is the “birther” claim that continues to make headlines despite the evidence that Obama’s standing as a U.S. citizen, born in Hawaii, is indisputable.

Donald Trump is the one to blame for keeping the idea afloat this year, in a desperate bid to prove himself relevant to politics, or something, anything but being a bad-haired celebrity developer.

But people still choose to believe this tripe.

And I use the word, choose, deliberately. Because it is a choice to believe what is patently untrue. It’s called self-delusion, and is similar in nature to the self-delusion that leads people to believe that they can get rich if they just support the continuation of the plutocracy that is now the United States.

Hence, the pickle we are in. As long as large numbers of people allow themselves to be deluded into believing lies and insane claims, we are being soaked in a foul brine which promises a very bitter aftertaste.

jcolson@aspentimes.com