Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Le roi est mort, vive le plutocratie."

Oog. Being sick sucks. I saw two patients this morning, both pretty involved and really cool cases. But toward the end of the second one, it quickly became apparent that I was running on fumes. I had to head home, and man, when you're sick, it really sucks to have a 45-minute commute. *ducks to avoid heavy metal objects thrown at head* I know lots of you out there have longer commutes, but for Denver, this is quite the big deal.

And now, the news...

Those of you in FB Land who have friends who tend to lean to the left and post their predilections for all to see have undoubtedly received this beauty over the past day or so:
Remember when teachers, public employees, libraries, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither. Pass it on!
Pretty stinging indictment, this. Well, at least on paper or on your screen. Pithy, accurate, brilliant. Sure, it'll make people think. But in the long run, will it make much difference?

I don't think many people would argue that our country is in awful shape. Bloggers EVERYWHERE are commenting about it. Hell, Roger Ebert recently penned a brilliant, if devastating, look at the inequality of wealth distribution in our plutocracy. And you thought (well, actually, I did think) that he mainly reviewed movies and such. (Oh, you hadn't heard? Democracy in America is dead, folks.) The thing that really makes this awful is the fact that it doesn't matter where you land on the political spectrum...most likely you think our country is going down the wrong path. I myself tend to lean left, and as such, get the humor when, say, The Onion marks the occasion of the death of the American Dream, or when Steven Colbert blasts Jon Kyl for saying that Planned Parenthood devotes 90% of its resources to abortions (margin of error: 87%.) But it's devastating to know the truth or the sentiment behind these stories. Also, folks on the right are just as pissed...witness the rise of the phenomenon that rhymes with "Me Farting." And I feel about like I did when I was reading the writings of Soviet era dissidents in college...just an inescapable sense of hopelessness, that nothing can change for the better.

In my mind, the last time we had such a volatile political landscape was in the 1960s. Speaking from the POV of someone who was never there, I still get the feeling that there was some really strong idealism there that tempered it somewhat. I may be wrong. But I sure don't see any evidence of idealism or hope from either side, aside from Obama's slogan. The Tea Party is primarily reactionary; I don't think they have thought through what they stand for as much as what they stand against. But they do seem to be accomplishing some things. As for the political left, all I seem to read about is how disorganized and weak the Democrats are, kowtowing to the Republicans and Teabaggers.

On a more personal level, over the past four years, I have borne close witness to five bills in our state legislature, all for great causes, being struck down by...well, by the Teabaggers (and their libertarian forebears). I've seen how a bill becomes a law (or doesn't), and it ain't NOTHING as appealing or fun as Schoolhouse Rock would have us believe. I really would rather watch sausage being made. And this is incredibly dispiriting. The days of Jimmy Stewart, ever the cockeyed optimist, going to Washington to stand up for the common man, are so far away they might as well be gone. If I'm thinking like this now, you KNOW I don't ever want to be involved in politics ever again.

Let me continue my descent into the void. We're in the land of bread and circuses, and have been for decades now; I defy anyone to prove otherwise. But it's particularly tough when the circuses take the form of some hilarious but stinging satire, broadcast to millions, with at least part of the goal being to rile up the masses...and nothing happens...at least to my eye.

One last thing: Teabaggers are all up in arms about how Obama is trying to turn our country socialist. It hasn't happened, folks, and it probably won't. But I'll repeat what I said up above: while our economy is still functioning, we have lost all semblance of democracy. THAT is what I think is the true tragedy. If we did have a democracy, the asshole bankers of Wall Street (to point a finger at a salient target) would be brought to justice and punished severely for their actions. Nope. They're protected by their millions and millions. I would SO love to run across one of 'em by happenstance at some point and go all Steven Slater on their sorry ass.

And in the meantime, Thomas Jefferson is turning in his grave something awful.

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