It's hard to get yourself to look beyond the parlous day-to-day situation here in Washington. After all, the media treat everything as a horse race. And mindlessness still finds many adherents: those who blame both sides equally being the current strain of the ailment. It's like those who avoid fixing responsibility for our recent needless wars by focusing only on "supporting the troops."
Our current crisis--and it surely is one, not the usual media-created moment--arises from the developing tendency of those who agree with each other to expose themselves only to those with whom they agree. If you listen only to Fox news, for example, you will likely accept their warped view of reality.
Most recently, I've seen how this closed circle of reinforced attitudes operates, not by watching politicians clowning it up on TV but through exposure to ignorance expressed in social media. And it's not new in the U.S.--it's just easier for this bilge to gain currency. By reading posts on Facebook, I gain entry to worlds in which people repeat falsehoods over and over until they believe them. And if that isn't enough, you can read some online comments on websites, where the vitriol runs ever more vile.
As with the responsibility for the present predicament, the nastiness tends to run in one direction. The absolute hatred expressed for the President is surprising only if you truly felt that racism in this country was on the wane. These people are frightened because they see their group diminishing in percentage -- so they will do anything to keep a claw-hold on the levers of power.
Thus they convince themselves that elections they lose are stolen, so restriction of voting is pushed. They have no idea what our health care system is like in comparison to the rest of the world, and they certainly don't know that the current Obamacare initiative originated in the Nixon administration. It wasn't enacted then because Ted Kennedy felt we could do better.
Thus when it finally was pushed through, huge compromises were made by the President and the Democrats merely to get it passed. More damage was done by Democrats--insidious sabotage by the Senator from the insurance companies, Joe Lieberman, for example.
Finally, the President has recognized that one cannot negotiate with this crew. He has spent more than half his tenure trying to reach agreement with people who will refuse to agree. The blatant lying of the current GOP call for negotiations belies their refusal to confer with Democrats on the budget for the first three quarters of 2013.
It's a disaffected element that doesn't realize that the forces that have taken them to the cleaners are neither Barack Obama nor the Democrats--they are falling out of the middle class because the rich decided to go it alone behind their gated world and created a globalized economy where hedge-fund guys, for example, make the money and pay lower taxes than those who work for a living. Jobs are created for sure--in Bangladesh, where a factory fire every so often still finds U.S. manufacturers resisting the most basic working and safety conditions.
So when we let the undeserving rich avoid taxes, we don't have enough resources to support good schools or any other public services people need, including health care. Budgets are tight because you can't fight needless wars and lower taxes and still have anything left. Privatization means con artists can claim to provide services cheaper by stiffing their workers and those they are ostensibly serving -- like school students.
Walt Kelly definitely had it right--"We have met the enemy and it is us." It is we who have not resisted this push to destroy our middle class, ruin our public services, and impoverish those who work for a living. Whatever your views on things like guns, abortion, and gay marriage, they are all diversionary matters from the fundamental war some characters once regarded as loonies have been waging on our society. And remember, one of the main enthusiasts who led this war against us, the late Thatcher, was the one who said there's no such thing as society.