First, allow me to take a moment to mark the 6th anniversary of this blog, which occurred some time last month.
I started revision99 during the runup to the 2004 presidential election. I’d been fed up with George W. Bush for about four years by then, and I wanted to express my exasperation that he was ever installed in the White House in the first place and my fervent hope that he would be evicted. It gives me no solace today to know that history will not be kind to George, but of course what really hurts is that my ravings apparently had no effect on that election.
Over the years I came to realize that my ravings were having no effect on much of anything, and I had to retreat back into that blogger’s sanctuary of “I’m writing only for myself.” This was the golden age of personal blogging. I had a few readers, and in turn I read and commented on their blogs. As the impossibly stupid Bush Administration dragged on I became so surly that all my readers and commenters disappeared, and even when I promised to stop writing about politics no one returned. After that, I really was writing just for myself. Then in July of this year I stopped writing altogether.
But I can’t very well commemorate an anniversary if the blog is moribund, so what the hell — I’ll write again about politics.
It’s another day-after. The 2010 election was yesterday, and again I’m scratching my head, trying to make sense of it. Sure things are crappy, but why would voters reelect Republicans, who are primarily interested in enriching the already rich? It’s a mystery that has been getting deeper and more confusing for the past several election cycles. But in trying to explain the current political climate to myself, here’s the latest fairy tale I’ve come up with:
Starting some time in the depths of the Great Depression, Americans got focused. They tightened their belts. They worked hard. They built bridges, dams, monuments, parks. They agreed to legislation that reigned in that era’s Wall Street casino and prevented another such meltdown for 70 years. They created and supported a social safety net to protect the weakest among them, and those who fell through the economic cracks. In the 1940’s they went to war and, against all odds, saved the world. And when those soldiers came home, 12 million of them, we sent them to college and trade schools. They became scientists and engineers, teachers and statesmen. They built homes and churches and schools. They assembled the Interstate Highway system. They created the Space Program and went to the moon. America was the most admired nation on earth. And as late as the Eisenhower Administration our millionaires, mindful of the debt they owed their country, paid a marginal tax rate of 94%.
Contrast all that with the atmosphere today: Americans have become selfish, jealous and greedy. It’s every man for himself. We haven’t built or even attempted anything big in 30 years. Our roads and bridges and levees are crumbling, often with deadly results. We trail most industrialized nations in 21st century infrastructure: broadband technology, high speed rail and clean energy, and there are no plans to catch up. The cars we drive and the electronics we use are built in other countries. We have invaded and still occupy nations on the other side of the world, and the world asks why? We speak seriously about withdrawing aid from anybody “unwilling” to work, at the same time we send their jobs overseas. We pay the lowest taxes in generations, and we are enraged by how high they are. In a world in which 3,000 children a day starve to death, we have an epidemic of obesity.
Our parents and grandparents have spoiled us. They built this magnificent edifice where we live, but we don’t want to maintain it or improve it. We only want to buy big screen televisions and sit on our ever-widening butts, smugly and stupidly imagining that we are still admired by the rest of the world.
All we want are tax cuts and bigger televisions, and we won’t give any government more than one election cycle to deliver. We send the Republicans to fix the economy, because the Democrats didn’t do it. Two years from now we will probably be ready to throw out the Republicans. We’ve got the political jitters. We want quick fixes, no matter how long it took to create the mess we’re in. We’ve been watching TV instead of going to college, so we are no longer smart enough to look five or ten years down the road, form a plan and see it through. We are like fourth-graders on the playground, calling each other names, stealing each others’ lunches and dreading going back into the classroom, where we are expected to pay attention, work together, and learn something.
So in summary let me just say revision99: still harshing your mellow since 2004.