Because... I recently finished 'The Audacity of Hope' by Barack Obama and feel an overdue political rant coming on.
To summarize the essense of the rant: What a cluster%#*!.
To be fair, President Obama presents the facts with a great deal of respect and humor so I don't think this was the impression he was trying to leave readers with when they think about Congress and the other banches of government. He clearly loves the Constitution and is a devout believer in Democracy, despite a few regretable shortcomings.
Anyway, before I get on a roll and start thumping anything but a Bible, let me just say that the book made me feel deeply respectful of Barack Obama as a person and grateful that he's at the helm during the current crisis instead of yet another geriatric-and-out-of-touch-with-reality or young-but-completely-amoral Republican. Or - let's be fair - some other well-meaning-but-indecisive-and-waffly Democrat.
That wasn't the rant, by the way, I'm just getting started.
Now it begins.
The book made me think critically about things I was trying not to think about because they're gloomy. And these unintended reflections made me mad at a fairly large cast of characters:
At the Bush government for systematically making poor short-sighted choices that brought a thriving economy to its knees and put - not to be too melodramatic here - the survival of the human race up for grabs. Yeah, sure, there were insustainable factors in place that made some sort of correction inevitable but looking over the last eight years is like watching an alien come to earth disguised as the President (and let us not forget the Vice President) and gently nudge everything toward a speedier collapse so they can take over when we're gone.
At the American people for voting for him twice. I'm going to generalize broadly here (because this is a blog and not a dissertation, which would require a little more fact checking on my end) and separate these people into two categories: the poor and the rich.
First the poor: I find it ironic that the people who have been hurt the most by Bush policies were also some of his staunchest supporters. People who go to church and probably try to lead decent lives but are unknowingly hindered by the fact that they believe gay marriage is a viable platform to base a Presidential campaign on and that Bush's tax cuts were intended to help them. As I look around at the state of the world I think they almost deserve what's happening to them now because they helped bring it on themselves.
But not quite. Because they were seduced by very clever people whose watches cost more than their annual salary. (This is my rant against the rich, by the way.) People who sell out their employees to drive the share price up a few pennies before cashing out. Who don't want to pay a penny in taxes to the society that provides the infrastructure that allows them to live like they do. Who knew how to tap into the social power of the church for their own ends.
Speaking of which, I'm mad at organized religion, for butting into politics and choosing the wrong side. Yet again.
This might be a good time to mention that I'm a conservative Democrat who left organized religion behind years ago when I decided that unless the minister had God on speed dial, he probably didn't know any more than me about His intentions.
I'm mad at Congress for being so totally lame.
I'm also mad at the rest of us, who passively sat by or even actively contributed to the mess with our self-centered, wasteful lifestyles. I include myself in this list, by the way. I'm no poster child for enlightened living.
And finally, I'm mad at the rest of the world for starting pointless wars over non-essentials and failing to read the writing on the wall and behave better than the US.
Did I forget anyone?
So basically, I'm pretty much mad at everyone except my kids, who didn't create any of these problems but will inherit them.
Does anyone actually believe we'll never run out of stuff? That if we poison all our water and air we'll still be able to drink and breath? That it makes sense to increase the use of resources we know are running out? That money doesn't have to be backed by anything real? That a tiny super-rich elite surrounded by unrelieved poverty is a sustainable economic or political model? That the current status quo is still an option?
I doubt it. I think that most people, like me, try not to think about it because it's gloomy.
The good news is that President Obama gets it. Let's just hope he can persuade the rest of us.
To end on a lighter note, the current situation reminds me of an old joke: Earth and Mars are chatting and Mars asks Earth how she's doing. 'Not well,' moans Earth. 'I have a bad case of humans.' 'No worries,' says Mars bracingly. 'That goes away by itself.'
Let's hope it's just a joke.