Written by Bob Woelk Tuesday, 10 January 2012 15:06
Here it comes, ready or not. It’s an election year, and that means 11 full months of non-stop political posturing. In fact, thanks to the good folks in Iowa and New Hampshire, the horses are already out of the gate. The water is coming over the dam. The mud is being slung. God bless America.
I look at all the money, and not coincidentally, all the manure being spread around, and I can’t help but feel like the actor James Garner as the lead character in “Support Your Local Sheriff” when he uttered that immortal line to the eldest Danby boy, “When you talk like that, it just makes me feel tired all over.”
And, I am apparently not the only one. The approval rating of Congress is at an all-time low, well under double digits. The Republican hopefuls are running around sniping at each other, at least when they are not taking pot shots at the president.
What we are dealing with here is arguably the most dysfunctional government body ever. And, the sad fact is, we (using the term to describe all voting age citizens of this country in general) hired the clowns who are part of this two-ring circus. We sent them to Washington to serve us, but as it turns out, they appear to be serving only themselves and their wealthy friends.
I guess that’s why their approval rating has dipped below 10 percent.
I think what bothers me most about the group of politicians currently in office and running for office is the way all candidates seem to simplify our country’s extremely complicated problems and issues. In many instances, the voters appear to do the same thing.
Let’s take illegal immigration, for example. It’s easy to simply say all undocumented persons should be sent back to their countries of origin. Most of the time, truth be told, we are talking about citizens of Mexico.
I hear the term “illegal immigrants” thrown around rather loosely, even by some who call themselves Christians. Is it really possible for a human being to be illegal? Yes, I understand that people have crossed our borders unlawfully, but (1) there is no way they can all be found; (2) many have children here who are already citizens, and only the most heartless of Americans would want to separate kids from parents; and (3) simply throwing up segments of a wall and then talking tough about enforcement of immigration laws is no substitute for a comprehensive plan.
Second, I have heard more than one candidate declare himself or herself a “job creator.” I thought the idea was that businesses created jobs—at least that has been the case since the Great Depression. Unless we are talking about a WPA or CCC-type government program, it’s just not that simple to lower the nation’s unemployment rate.
If all it takes is lip service, why hasn’t any recent president of either party been able to do it?
I have yet to hear any modern-era politician present the details of a sure-fire plan to stimulate the economy and put everybody back to work who want to be employed. There are far too many variables: inflation, taxes, manufacturing, the stock market.
And, those are just the domestic issues. America has even less control when it comes to foreign influences. So, simply saying jobs will be created does not make it happen.
I have also heard a lot of talk about keeping government out of our lives and how the state and federal regulations and oversight have grown too invasive. “Just leave us alone” is the politicians’ plea on our behalf.
While I agree that government can and often does interfere with personal freedoms, there is a point at which citizens need interventions from Big Brother.
For example, some conservatives have campaigned on the promise to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency if elected. Americans apparently have a short memory. Just two springs ago our southern friends were wallowing in millions of gallons of crude oil on their beaches as one example. Who stepped in to make sure BP compensated fishermen and Gulf shore business owners? What entity ensures that we are not breathing in toxic fumes from coal plants and factories nor drinking contaminated water?
Without the EPA, who would protect us from ourselves?
Those who call for less government intrusion could perhaps help our friends in Topeka and Washington determine what additional agencies we could do without. Campers and hikers could promote the end of the National Forest Service or National Park Service.
Automobile owners don’t really need to know gas mileage estimates when they buy a new vehicle. Not to mention those pesky seat belts and airbags that drive up the costs of cars and trucks.
Perhaps we don’t need regulation of the banking industry or federal insurance for our deposits at the local savings and loan.
Do students really need those grants and loans with all those annoying rules and regulations?
And don’t you dare touch crop subsidies and other agriculture programs.
Everyone seems to be in favor of less government until it creates a hardship for the person wanting change.
My final point concerns energy needs for the decades to come. The black-and-white answer to the problem seems to be “drill, baby, drill.” But, we know where that can get us (see Gulf of Mexico).
An option might be nuclear power. Again, a disaster of epic proportions might loom on the horizon with that choice. One word: Fukushima.
Coal power? Too dirty and there is the potential for mining disasters as happened in West Virginia a couple of years back.
Then, there’s hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking.” The process injects water into rock formations to extract natural gas and oil. It seems harmless enough, but there is growing evidence that reintroducing that water into large storage wells is resulting in an alarming increase in earthquake activity where tremors were previously nonexistent. Ohio is the latest area to be hit.
I haven’t even hit upon the most controversial of social issues: racism, abortion, same-sex marriage and religion. Agreement on these hottest of topics would be difficult in an atmosphere of cooperation. I don’t see that happening any time soon.
So, am I advocating that changes should not be made, that improvements in the current way we approach issues are not possible?
Of course not. I am simply trying to point out that the process and the results are nearly always more complicated than politicians making big promises would have us believe.
In an election year, it is especially important that we remain skeptical of those who want us to believe they have the black-and-white answers.