The cartoon above, from the strip “Pogo,” first appeared in 1952. Walt Kelly produced this comic strip from 1948 to 1975. Pogo Possum was a humble, personable and philosophical character who spoke on many subjects. This particular one, I believe, speaks most tellingly about the state of our present politics.
In 1994 a Republican think tank came up with the idea of the “Contract with America” which all its members in both the senate and house signed. In its most basic form it was a wonderful and powerful idea. But those behind it had other ideas, sinister ideas. Certain non-elected people had a very deep hatred for President Bill Clinton and this was supposed to be their open foray into removing him from power in 1996. It failed simply because Clinton co-opted them by endorsing certain portions of the contract, most especially balancing the budget. But those power brokers knew quite well how to win wars while losing a battle or two. Clinton gave them that opportunity by having an affair with Monica Lewinsky and then denying it ever happened. For the first time since Andrew Johnson a president was impeached. Clinton’s crime? Not that he had the affair but that he lied to Congress. With attack dog Kenneth Starr at the forefront running a broad and unrestricted investigation, it was game on.
Who was behind this? It was not the members of Congress but those moneyed interests behind the Congressional powers. To be certain, David and Charles Koch were two of them. Other powers behind the scenes were Republican strategists such as Karl Rove and talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. What each of these men knew, and relied upon, was the average American’s disinterest in discovering the truth about any particular subject. They knew their target audience would take them at their word despite the use of hyperbole, exaggeration and out right lies.
The Democrats have been equally as bad though usually not in the same way. While Democrats love to use hyperbole, exaggeration and out right lies too, they are not nearly so well organized as Republicans and other conservatives. And while the Democrats certainly have their share of moneyed interests, the do not have a strategist who approaches the ability of Karl Rove and have virtually no presence, let alone following, on the air waves in the form of an O’Reilly or Limbaugh.
Although I am a life-long registered Democrat, of late I have made a habit of voting Republican in Massachusetts elections. This has been because of my disgust by state-wide politics as a whole, and those who are running for office in particular. The brilliance of Senator Elizabeth Warren is unimpeachable but she is an uninspiring academic who had previously no civil experience. She won, not on her merits, but because she was the Democrat who opposed Republican Scott Brown. This sort of politics exists in every state which holds a large majority in one party, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming for Republicans, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Michigan for Democrats.
I find it troubling that the Republican Party has found itself split between their long standing moderates and those who have given their allegiance to the Tea Party. But if you look at it closely, you will find the Tea Party is simply a reincarnation of the old Libertarian Party with a new platform. The Democrats have their own group on the far left who, although without name, are equally as polarizing. It is this polarization that causes intransience over issues which desperately need resolution.
The only resolution to these issues is for all Americans to hold their elected officials, those who the voted for, to back up their stands with absolute truth, to work in the best interests of their constituents and not the PACs, and to always work towards a common ground with members of the other party. I would say that any member of Congress who votes in excess of 75% along party lines should deemed as of suspicious designs. Each senator and representative should be able to report back to his constituents on a regular basis how each of his votes worked to the favor of the majority of those he represents.
Americans seem to be of a mind that politics as a whole are disgusting, but until each American decides to hold those he has voted into office to a higher standard, then nothing will change.