Wednesday morning the Republican Party held a press conference. John Boehner, Haley Barbour and Mitch McConnell held forth, and if they mentioned "The American People" once, they mentioned them sixteen thousand two hundred and forty four times! They shoved "The American People," almost literally, into every other sentence. All they did to win in this election was listen to "The American People." "The American People" affirmed their Republican positions because the Republicans understood "The American People;" and "The American People" understood that they understood "The American People." And on and on and on and on.
Now, I am an American person. And reasonably well educated. I've paid attention to government and politics all my life. I could be called a political junkie. In addition, I have better educated and more informed friends in and out of politics with whom I talk politics all the time. I also visit political sites and read political blogs until my head feels as stuffed as a narrow trench carrying the waste from Boulder City. All that said, when I went to my polling place yesterday, did I know everything I needed to know to make informed decisions about the propositions and the judgeships and individuals running for minor offices? No, I did not. Also, I know better than to think any government office worth my vote is a "minor" office. So did I take the time to learn about the candidates for those offices? No, I did not. I didn't have the time. Or wish to take the time, which is shameful but more accurate. I relied on the recommendations of an organization I believe in. But, hey, when did I say I wasn't human?
In the context of what it is to be a human, let's look at the bulk of those who comprise the American people and who went to the polls yesterday. Let's think of what they are going through now. Joblessness; home foreclosures; credit card debt; their inability to afford their children the education they planned; the guilt that comes behind that; and on and on and on and on.
So if someone in my position requires all the help he can get to understand the complexities underlying the major issues and problems of our time, let alone the policies and solutions to those problems the Congress is incessantly squabbling over, how on earth can the average American family facing their economic hardships and emotionally crowded lives possibly feel that they know what they have to know to feel good about their vote, and about themselves?
I won't go into how pitifully broadcasting, journalism, the media generally, "informs" the American people. Or how much the billion dollars or more from unknown sources poisoned the political climate this election season with attack ads full of distortion and hate. Our experiment in democracy depends, the founders told us at the beginning, on an informed citizenry. Fat chance, American people!
And one more thing. This for you, Congressman Boehner, Governor Barbour and Senator McConnell: With our votes we "send you to the hill." That's what we did yesterday. On the hill we sent you to it is you who have the 360 degree view. We, the American people, do not. We call you our leaders and put you in a position to be just that. Why, then, do you seem to wish to follow our lead? We ache to be led, not polled. We are the American people as you repeated this morning again and again. Remember as well, YOU are the Congress. Lead, gentlemen. And you Democrats, too.