If you’re like the vast majority of middle-class Americans, you have seen your pay stagnate or decrease, your benefits decline, your job security all but disappear, your bills and taxes increase, much of your hope for the future ebb or disappear altogether, and your temper rise.
When our great middleclass, the people that by and large built this country, feel like they’re being squeezed like a tube of toothpaste, treated like cash-cow patsies by a blatantly corrupt system that threw them overboard decades ago, they tend to get a bit cranky. If such irritability led to a rise in critical thinking that would be one thing. Then, this ridiculously exploited group might actually look at both controlling political parties for what they essentially represent – a failed exercise in democracy that sold itself off to the highest corporate bidders long ago – and seek out viable alternatives.
But, for some reason, most middle-class Americans will not allow themselves to go down this road of distrust/disgust – at least not yet. It is a sad fact that our politicians bank on. In truth, an alarming number of American citizens have been sucked into an us vs. them “team” mentality that finds them backing one political side or the other like rabid sports fans despite the profound and continuing damage that these parties do to America. That is why Obama and Romney (the assumed nominees) will begin a time-honored if laughingly disingenuous political dance to win our votes come November. We’re ripe for the picking.
What is that dance, you ask? It’s a divide-and-conquer waltz that has nothing at all to do with the betterment of this land and everything to do with keeping these protectors of the lopsided status quo in power. How will you know when it is being performed? That’s simple. Listen closely to both candidates and you will notice that the vast majority of their rhetoric will feature finger pointing of some sort, in lieu of any substantive ideas or concrete plans to restore America.
Romney will talk about Obama’s “horrible failed policies” and Obama will counter with self-serving putdowns of his own. Neither candidate will praise anything at all about the other, which, if you stop to think about it smacks of intellectual dishonesty. But this lack of substance will go mostly unchallenged. In fact, many political “fans” will praise the candidates for delivering humorous – if venomous – one-liners in their pre-fabricated speeches. Hey, if the guy from your political team is the one getting the digs in, that’s got to be a good thing, right? Wrong.
Such blind cheering is fine if we’re talking about something as inconsequential as the Yankees vs. the Red Sox, but this is our nation that hangs in the balance – our beloved homeland – the place where we raise our children and hope against hope that things will work out for them; a land that brave Americans in war zones regularly die for; a land that once seemed to give the average Joe a fair shake, but now seems to do anything but.
So why do we do it? Why do we continue to do the bidding for these charlatans? Beats me. All it takes is a look at America’s easily measurable decline over the past four decades to see that neither of these parties has any kind of answer for us. All they offer up is hollow rhetoric and more of the same – anything it seems to stay in or to regain power.
And so the dance shall commence and we dutiful citizens shall once again fall into step with our masters. And in the end, when our country falls farther than any of us ever could have imagined, we’ll have no one but ourselves to blame. How did P.T. Barnum put it?
– Jeff Bahr