Wednesday, March 9, 2011

American Exceptionalism

One of the more remarkable things about America is that so many of our people repeatedly vote against their own self interests. Think of how often you've seen that peeling Bush-Cheney bumper sticker on a beat-up old car, its occupants obviously just scraping by, underpaid all of their working lives because they've been told how evil unions are, living in constant fear that their job will disappear to China or India, kids at a second rate school, with either insufficient health care or none at all, but still willing to fight to their last breath to repeal the estate tax--a tax they will never have to pay--because Rush Limbaugh told them how unfair it is.

They're angry, of course, but their anger is aimed in exactly the wrong direction. They get distracted by issues like gay marriage, abortion, Acorn, Obama's birth certificate, and that most fantastical of creatures, the balanced budget.

(For the first and last time, the government is not a business, it does not need to be run exactly like a business, in fact it cannot be run exactly like a business. And any person who tells you that the United States government should have to follow the same budget rules you and the missus do when you're paying the monthly bills is either a goddamn fool or a goddamn liar. Or possibly both.)

So, angry and confused, they end up voting for the candidates who can scare them the most. Look out! The Mexicans are going to take your job (actually, it's US corporations looking to maximize their profits that are taking your jobs); the gays are going to, uh, I don't know, make you gay, too? Anyway, marriage is sacred--just ask Newt Gingrich; fetuses are babies! (no, fetuses are fetuses and babies are babies--that's why they have different names); government supported health care is socialism, and socialism is evil (but don't you dare touch my medicare!); and the mother of them all, be afraid of them, because they are not like us. This all leads to one thing: people who desperately need help from the government consistently electing people whose core belief is that government can't help you, and who, once elected, go out of their way to prove it.

I think they call that a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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