Marolt: At least we can still compromise in sex and religion
October 18, 2013
The government shutdown is over, and the debt ceiling has been vaulted. The stock markets have recovered, and nearly a million furloughed federal employees have been granted back pay, so their pain and suffering has been turned into a little paid time off to catch up with things around the house.
If the biggest losers in this whole political drama turn out to be a gaggle of leaf peepers and shutterbugs who couldn't drive all the way to Maroon Lake beneath a canopy of gold, then we got what we asked for — round-the-clock news on the verge of a threat to be the first to make the call that Armageddon is officially underway. All's well that begins in fear and loathing and ends without any lost wages or accrued vacation.
I know it's easy to say in hindsight, but I was never worried. I didn't liquidate the retirement account or stockpile freeze-dried food. As a survivor of Y2K, I drew on experience to keep a cool head.
I admit there were times when I got caught up in the frenzy and it occurred to me to be indignant and hate all legislators. It seemed to be us, the people, against them, the dirty, thick-skulled politicians. But after a bit, I realized that all I could do was get mad at the dirty, thick-skulled politicians who were elected by people who were mad at the dirty thick-skulled politicians whom I voted for, and then it seemed ridiculous and was obvious that there was precious little to form anything like camaraderie, much less Perestroika, around.
I guess if there is anyone who deserves the blame in this mess, it has to be the Founding Fathers. They get all the credit when things check and balance nicely; they deserve the scorn when things bog down.
An offseason ago, we went out with some good friends and true Republicans. All was not well that began well. We enjoyed ourselves during dinner but had the place cleared out by the time the headwaiter finally had enough and kicked us out. Had we left the discussion at sex and religion, it would have been fine, but we ventured into politics over dessert. Not reason, evidence or factual data prevailed. They had theirs. We had ours. None was noticed by the others.
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Had our Founding Fathers witnessed this in a crystal ball and extrapolated it across this entire nation, they would have had a clear picture of today and most likely prepared for civil war. How could they possibly have written into our bylaws a clause preventing stubborn stupidity across the masses?
Alternatively, maybe our Founding Fathers actually did envision this country mindlessly and deeply divided, not over any particular issue but over every single thing beginning with the color of the animals on our bumper stickers. Our government is supposed to be The People. Frighteningly enough, maybe it actually is! Perhaps the puerile behavior we abhorred over the past two weeks, and really for a long time before that, is the argument in a restaurant over chocolate mousse playing out in the Capitol.
Maybe the Founding Fathers envisioned something like this and said, "We can't write anything to stop that." There is a chance that they saw this as an inevitable tipping point in our democracy where the intelligence of the people fails to support with respect the considered and honorable phrases they crafted with the intention to guide us to safety from ourselves and instead see them as a maze of loopholes to be parsed for an opportunity to ensure that it is my way or the highway.
If the country is irreconcilably divided in two, as it regularly appears to be even during times of crisis anymore, with both sides believing they are indisputably right all the time, we might as well have a standoff threatening everything we have achieved over the past 21/2 centuries and let the party with the greatest pigheadedness be the rulers until the other side can mount their own siege on reason for another national game of chicken. A monarchy is born!
With everything easily forgettable and seeming back to normal again, I have no idea whether we dodged a bullet in this latest standoff. The very scary thing is that I don't believe anyone in power does, either. If we are living in a dense fog on the edge of a cliff, I certainly would like to know if the Founding Fathers had the foresight to set up a safety net below. I don't see one. What if they really did leave it up to us to save ourselves?
Roger Marolt is beginning to believe that Barbie dolls and tea parties are the roots of our nation's problems. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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