Out of Sight, Out of Mind

The two major parties seem to focus their attention toward opposite poles. Each movement’s pet peeves are primarily all that remain. America is beset by the disease of polarization. The topics of obsession are same-sex rights, abortion, guns, restrictive voting, tiny taxes for the rich, and union-busting – all of which divert attention from a nation still reeling from the 2008 Great Recession. It’s the economy, stupid!

As a consequence of these trendy, entrenched ideologies, the two are afflicted with tunnel vision to the degree they are incapable (or unwilling) to serve the common good. The result is a nation panicked by the sense of being lost – wandering aimlessly in the wilderness without a compass, deprived of confidence in reaching a desirable destination, the “American Dream” extinguished. Without vision, the people perish. Out of sight, out of mind, the culture seems to have lost its balance.

Nowhere is this more evident than popular media. History channels are loaded with UFOs, Nostradamus, ghosts and sensational myths; true history episodes are rare. Science Channel gossips about aliens from outer space, Area 51 and endless sci-fi. A&E’s most popular are Duck Dynasty and Storage Wars, while Discovery features reality shows of Alaskan troopers and redneck moonshiners.

The Weather Channel wonders why it lost Direct TV subscribers when starting to show endless hours of gold-mining and reality programs that have nothing to do with weather or its effects. Network news boils down to eye-catching, sensational feel-good stories. One has to tune to foreign networks like Al Jazeera, France24, or BBC to watch the real news. Ratings and profits are all that matter. The culture has gone mad.

To be fair, the two parties are not equally defective. The Republicans are one step ahead of Democrats in the department of majoring on minors. They are compelled to placate their precious base, the religious right, and in doing so have introduced [and passed] anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-gun, anti-voting and anti-union bills in all the states they control. Democrats have reacted measurably, but not to the extent necessary to squelch Republican silliness. But there is an equivalency in the sense that national paralysis has set in due to the fact the two cannot agree how best to serve the general public. Reason? Their time is dedicated to fighting one another – as it must be to survive.

Barack Obama didn’t account for such in his 2004 “Red-State / Blue-State Address,” a misperception that spilled over into his first presidential term – to the detriment of us all. Playing nice with cult captains leads down a dead-end street . Jonestown didn’t end well; neither will the U.S. at this pace.

Five lobbyists for every congressman may be the lethal equation. However, the two-party system may have laid fertile ground for such corruption.

In fact, the father of this country, George Washington, set the alarm about governance by party:

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.” – George Washington, September 19, 1796

The public is at risk when partisan powers seek to divide the spoils. America has become a field of battle for dominance. Party before country is the priority resulting in failure. Patronism [as opposed to patriotism] is no virtue. When high-paid political operatives calculate their winnings based on partisan gains, America has become nothing but a giant playing field. It’s an unproductive game where the only losers are the people, not the party. Goal posts are moved at will to satisfy the cheaters. Districts are redrawn, voting days eliminated, rules rewritten – all to accommodate the dishonest.

Is there no solution? Is extinction and national calamity inevitable? Schism and blindness will destroy us before climate change.

Only when the people stand, demand and resist with all the stubbornness of Ukrainians will the tables be turned and the two-party system restrained. America, where is that passion?