I was raised by a bleeding-heart liberal. The first conversations around the dinner table that I can recall were all about how evil the conservative republicans were, and how righteous and caring and good the liberal democrats were.
Later, when I took my first political science course in high-school I came down firmly on the side of the Liberals. In fact there was a time there when I described myself as a “democratic socialist”, but I was young back then. I mean, it was the 80’s for goodness sakes. We all did things we regret.
After college, I was married and had small children and my pendulum seemed to swing the other way. As I moved out of my 20’s and into my 30’s, I began to see sense in what the Conservatives were saying. I worked in a government system at the time that doled out welfare, and I saw far too much of my hard-earned tax dollars being squandered on those who did not deserve or need it. Yes, I became a Conservative. Don’t tell anyone, but there were even a few years there when I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh. I blame it on the 90’s.
As the new century dawned, and I left my 30’s behind and grew into my 40’s I found I came to a more reasoned position. Remembering my Liberal roots, but understanding the often practical view of the Conservatives, I became a centrist. Firmly in the middle. Believing both views had merit, and the trick was bringing everyone together on the issues. Yup, I was frickin’ Switzerland.
But lately, all of that has changed. Over the course of the past few years, I have become increasingly dissolutioned with both sides of the fence. I find myself disgusted by the Conservative movement, and frankly embarrassed by much of the Liberal movement. For the first time in my life I look at the Democrats and I look at the Republicans, I watch the childish bickering and game playing that goes on in Washington, and I come to one un-wavering, un-shakable conclusion. Our system no longer works.
The Democrats aren’t right, and neither are the Republicans. The problem is that they both spend so damn much time trying to prove they are right – or worse, that the other side is wrong, they have forgotten how to get anything at all accomplished. All that seems to come out of Washington lately is name-calling, and finger-pointing, and shouting over the fence at one another. The Republicans singular focus seems to be to oppose everything the Democrats stand for, instead of trying to do what’s right for the country. And the Democrats do the same thing to the Republicans. It’s become more about defeating the other side, then working together to improve our nation. And the problem is not just on the national level. I see the same thing going on in local and state politics as well. Name-calling, bullying, and childish obstinacy have become the norm.
And so here we are, stuck with this system that seems to me to be broken. I know I am not alone in thinking this – the news last night reported that 67% of Americans disapprove with Congress in general – party affiliation aside. But what do we do about it? The problem is that there is no real solution. No other viable option. The Tea Party generated some interest at first, but just between you and me – those people are crazy. Fringe radicals for the most part and those that are not crazy are actually just conservative republicans, so all they offer is more of the same.
I don’t really have a solution I guess. I can say that for the first time in my life I have begun to fear for the future of this great nation that I love so much. I begin to worry that maybe this great experiment might actually fail. That we will tear ourselves apart from within fighting over ideological differences, instead of finding common ground.
I don’t like to think in those terms, and I certainly hope I am wrong. I can tell you this though. It might be a good time to start stocking up on canned goods and ammunition. When the shit really hits the fan, it’s going to be bad…