"The Illusion of a Two Party System Divides Us All."
- Noparmo ITINST
Our nation is moving ever closer to the edge of a precipice that if crossed risks the end of our grand experiment. It is not helpful to conduct an investigation, at this time or maybe ever, about when it started or who is most blameworthy. There can be no denying, however, that at least since the Republicans, who collectively made and then refused to honor their “Contract with America,” we have fallen into an endless cycle of obstructionist tribal politics. Perhaps it is fitting that the architect of that debacle appears again here at the end asking for even more radical tribal political actions like arresting poll workers for honestly and on too many occasions (one is too many), at risk of personal harm, defending our democratic voting infrastructure from interference. Perhaps he should become the treason/sedition test case. This cycle has created a whiplash effect where the side with the majority enacts as much of its agenda that it can force down the throat of the side out of power who invariably respond with a single focus opposing the entirety of that effort. The utter lack of cooperation forces the factions to adopt a policy that the other side’s position must be villainized, and no portion of the current leading tribe may break ranks and any effort to work together is strictly prohibited. The possibility that the side in power’s action might result in an unfair benefit or that the parts of the current prevailing agenda that negatively impact those on the other side might be open to compromise is never even considered. The end product is a winner takes all mentality policy and government actions reverse course every few years, exponentially increasing the cost of everything it touches, solves nothing and helps no one, except the dark money interests quietly enjoying the camouflage as they furtively conduct the fourth great rape of the post war economy hidden by the endless cacophony of hateful rhetoric. This mess is amplified by feeding it through outlets that have increasingly populated the discourse with highly paid meat puppets who wear the Journalist’s disguise of responsible reporters but in the end feed the masses with slop. The meaningless drivel, most often hateful, divisive, misleading, regularly outright deceitful propaganda, is softened by spewing it out of a pretty face, a strong jaw, preppy overly earnest double-talker or an otherwise slick focus grouped prepackaged format of constantly updated talking point circular reporting to discourage meaningful critical review and by dressing their brand of huckster to look “Journalish” and putting them on a stage that looks like the places actual journalists used to work. As we wish for, and treat our current favorites like, an Edward R. Murrow or a Walter Cronkite we remain oblivious to the fact that in the days of those news giants NEWS was filtered through people who felt a duty to and required some level of integrity and honesty in their reporting. Moving forward we need to relearn how to tell the difference between what we have now and those earlier times when “News” meant that the information was reliable and, even if told from a perspective, vetted. The information the opinion media delivers blurs the line between reliable information and propaganda all across the spectrum from the farthest right to most extreme left and everywhere in between. Sometimes the message has a familiar feel to agree with its likely audience predisposition, sometimes it is delivered with hyperbole indistinguishable by design. The current raft of “journalishts” have a right to spout their unhelpful slop, but we have a duty to recognize that like the willingness of cowardly politicians to abase themselves before any idol no matter how vile in order to hold their position, their opinions are merely bought and paid for advertisements from some unseen force trying to steal from you. Opinions so valueless that some of their own networks have gone so far as to affirmatively assert in court that the things they say are so ridiculous that they are not worthy of any thinking person’s consideration. The left leaning channels tend to be more calm and measured, and maybe a bit sanctimonious. The right leaning tends to be a bit more glossy. Punditry practiced in the strip club format. Dress to be attractive to the patrons, whisper in their ear how much stronger, smarter and more worthy of love than “those people” are. Feed their insecurities, tell them lies so often that they begin to believe you. When the marks wake up the next day with nothing to show for their credit cards being maxed out and all their money gone, at least they know that it was just bad luck that they didn’t score and next time they will surely get the benefits they were promised. Health care, pandemic relief, employment security, living wage, is just around the corner … err … I mean we can’t afford it right now … Mitch which load are we selling today? Today, as I watch our Capitol being stormed and looted by a few hundred (maybe thousand) mindless reality show sycophants, these opinion “News” outlets on all sides continued to show the pictures of our representatives trying to atone for or explain their responsibility for this madness but still, even in this historic moment the Pundit class could not help themselves from broadcasting either their own partisan messaging ignoring what was going on right now in our Capitol or placing their own words voiced over the actual muted images of the representatives trying to defend their indefensible actions. If we had been able to simply listen to traitorous twisters of the language explaining why chopping at the core of our Constitutional republic was a valuable Civic exercise, we could have figured out on our own that we had made a mistake giving these people power. This clearly demonstrates the problem with the opinion media Journalish “News” is that by repeatedly uttering the two most worthless words polluting this forum “I think,” and following it up with their opinion, the facts are lost. The last time those words were followed by any valuable information was … “ergo sum.” We have become to stupid to recognize that some talking head pundit’s opinion IS NOT substantive, reliable or even valuable information. This has got to stop.
This discord has been growing ever more fractious over the past 30 or so years. As the pendulum swings to and fro, the ferocity of attacks, the level of risk and affrontery to the principle of decency and compromise that the warring factions have been forced to adopt keeps steadily increasing. In the end, this is a battle that no one in our country can win through a give no quarter take no prisoners approach. The only winners in that war will be our adversaries elsewhere in the world who’s most fervent wish is for us to fight ourselves out of our dominant position of leadership in the world in areas of basic human rights, peace and security and economic might borne of being the safest place for investment and market activity based on our strong and relatively incorruptible rule of law. In the current moment, perhaps we are lucky that the pendulum seems to be swinging towards what basic political thought labels as “the left.” We certainly are in need of a soft place to land and as the famous political satirist Will Rogers famously observed, “I’m not a part of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat.” Such a result will give us the best chance to recover from the wholesale damage that has been done across the entirety of our system and the safest route back from the worst economy in 100 years, again just ten years on from the last economic rape that the Republican party policies forced you to endure. The economic disaster this administration has delivered is compounded by their nearly total lack of leadership in defending us from the known threat of a potential pandemic. After gutting our early warning and response systems to save a few 1%er dollars they have failed the nation at every turn and as you can see from their abdication of leadership here at the end of their reign they never really cared at all. If the pendulum remains on the “Right,” a real existential risk to the very core values and principles, that do make us exceptional, will have a foothold like our country has never seen. Wherever the decisions of the next few months ends up, we are going to be a country that is overrun with nerves already frazzled by countless recent battles and obstacles and challenges both delivered by nature and self-inflicted. At the end of that conflict, regardless of the victor, we are going to need a reconciliation. My plea is that reconciliation not be the vindictive, “elections (wars) have consequences” Treaty of Versailles, (ironically agreed to by a Republican president and rumored to have been infected, as well as, affected by a global pandemic). That path led to the economic disaster of the Weimar republic and ultimately to a pompous, vain, vile nationalist, who promoted his agenda by photo ops in front of mindless crowds designed to create the illusion of popular support, sold his agenda knowing lies told often enough and loud enough will ultimately begin to be believed, a traitor so despicable that he did not care about anything but his own personal interests, a fascist who destroyed an entire generation. So far, two birds, one stone. Thankfully, we have chosen someone more like the implementer of the Marshall plan (equally ironically implemented by a Democratic president who famously took responsibility for his actions, “The Buck Stops Here”). Please let us all hold ourselves to a standard above winning, let us commit ourselves to coexist and thrive. It is unlikely that the return from the pandemic will escape further physical and economic consequences. What we need to do is adopt a more Kennedyesque national ethos (“Ask not …”). Not “stay away from my slice of moldy bread, its mine,” rather, “neighbor, lets bake a loaf.”
In the voting block that lost this last election I would guess that while there are a number of people who are disappointed that the chance for a “South Africa pre Mandela” chance has just eluded them, they are a loud but actually tiny number of those voters. Sadly, to deter others from those who exhibited insurrectionist behaviors, these people will have to face real and immediate consequences. Of the people who voted for the memory of the Republican party for the vast majority have the short sighted idea that having the courts answerable to a political party will benefit them. To those people the limitation to installing ideologically or politically partisan motivated judges is that judges, cant help being judges. If the theory of the case that you bring to them is that space aliens that no one has seen came and reanimated to the corpse of the former Venezuelan president and that a cabal of elected and appointed representatives, Republicans, Democrats, Government officials and civilians from both allied and adversarial countries around the world, hardware manufacturers, software providers, voting material makers, volunteers, poll watchers, the people running the cameras at the polling places, truck drivers the post office … you get the picture, conspire together in some way that nobody saw, maybe telepathically, and sent the ghost of Hugo Chavez out on election night with a bag full of Democratic presidential votes and the supernatural power to arrange electrons in computers to add, modify or reverse data, to visit only voting machines in “ethnically diverse” neighborhoods to magically deliver those votes, by the hundreds of thousands, to unconnected voting machines, tabulators and counters, unseen like Santa delivering his presents only to the good little boys and girls Christmas eve, and then having those ballots and any traces of adjusted votes disappear in the morning like a ticket to the Polar Express, well you better bring some proof. 50+ versus 0 clearly shows that under our rule of law you will need to provide some tangible credible evidence and have standing to complain, even in a court you have purchased. As much as the “conservative” or “religious” voices claim to not like “ruling from the bench”, how funny is it that they complain when their strict constructionists turn the eastern half of Oklahoma residents into tenants because the words of a treaty say the Indian tribes were promised the land? It is equally funny that the judges selected based on their conservative stance show adherence to the language of the statue determine that language that discriminates based on how a person chooses to employ his, her or their sexual organs, that law relates to sex. Didn’t we appoint you to advance our agenda? The most likely reason people think that ideological court packing is a compelling reason to appoint issue driven judges is most likely the desire to overturn Roe v. Wade. I warn you that if the dark forces succeed in overturning this important principle, abortion will not go away, in states where limitations are imposed it will merely revert to the back alleys and illegal providers and your daughters will die. Most people who support this path are not even actually pro life, but actually pro birth, (See Sister Joan Chittister) happy to foist what they imagine, in their ivory towers, they would do in the impossible position that mothers who make these impossible choices are in, but unwilling to shoulder any of the burden. We can only hope that this batch of jurists resists the temptation to let political repayment for the opportunity to judge color their decisions. But the most prevalent reason is not racist, but racist adjacent. People know our national sin. People know that white privilege is a thing. Not that all white people are privileged or that the advantage of whiteness is distributed equally or universally, just that biases have be baked into our society, both intentionally and through the tendency of people to find comfort in familiar faces, so that at every socioeconomic strata, if given the choice, odds would favor white. People know that laws have been used to disguise implementation of discriminatory practices and that needs to change. Police and other forms of law enforcement have increasingly been trained to act as a military like force to treat people as adversaries instead of being the guardians of their fellow citizens, to protect and serve. People know that police are almost uniformly good people asked to do an almost impossible job. Then are given tasks that they are not qualified for so that in this militant structure that even the decent among them are required to enforce policies that disparately affect populations based on race. Compounding the problem the small component that isn’t decent gets it juice from picking on the minorities. How to fix this problem is not to deny it exists, but to have Statesmen represent all parties equally and fairly. The modern Republican party has spent years tending the garden of fear and just to create this moment. They know that everyone knows dirty tricks were played to favor one side over another. They also believe that they, and most people in America today, would not be down in Little Rock calling innocent children names for going to school, but the clever politicians still sow just enough uncertainty so that these people who might have benefited indirectly from those despicable actions wonder if, or why they might have to pay for advantages that they might have, but did not cause. They pass laws funneling wealth to the Mnuchins of the world and then tell people it is those “other people” hollowing out the middle class, sowing the impression that it is a zero sum game and the middle class will be saddled with the solution the rich have caused if we let “those people” fully participate. The vast majority of the people who continue to support, through their votes, the memory of the Republican party are just afraid that they are going to get handed the entire check for the sins of our forefathers largely based in discriminatory practices enforced by the police state when they were not the instigators. If we can address this problem we can resolve many of our most basic differences.
The lie of the, oh if we could just go back to when things were better fantasy platform, is that, like its multi-platform 24/7 flagship reality show “TRAITORS,” where senior Republican leadership, Republican representatives at all levels of government including more than half the U.S. House, their shyster lawyers, Political Strategists and Media Pundits compete to see who can do the most damage to America and American Democracy, it tries to make us believe a fiction that we were accurately portrayed in shows like Ozzie and Harriet or Leave it to Beaver while ignoring that at this very same time, in the actual real world, there was redlining, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the murder of of four innocent girls in a church and the need for Brown v. Board of Education and the Voting Rights Act. Each week a regular rotation of boogieman topics are promoted: “There is an attack on Christmas and religious freedom, all those scary religions are trying to come here, I heard it from the department store Santa just today; We have to stop all those evil people coming here taking over the hotel hospitality, produce picking and meat packing jobs that our poor over achieving hard working children are being shut out of; Why do those people keep succumbing to diseases, addictions, physical defects and medical problems that they should have known they can’t afford?; and the big one, if those minorities would would just put up with any harassment we want to inflict on them, there would be no need to murder them.” The solution is always the same, “OK, just get rid of these rules that make us respect our neighbors, clean up after ourselves, pay for infrastructure and require us to pay the engine of our success, labor, a living wage, then, forgive the trillion dollars of debt that we owe the country that has given us so much and we will get to your problems tomorrow”, of course, tomorrow never comes. The show formula also never changes. First, off to the TRAITORS writing rooms and come up with some tested talking points. Falsehoods, disinformation, and noise to sell the lie, seeded with just enough “truthy” points to keep the fact checkers on their toes. Next central TRAITORS casting: For authoritative delivery; the square jawed every-man, the earnest spring butt ferret face; representatives that are supposed to have had integrity because somehow they convinced us to elect them and the no talent self-absorbed socialite, check; For the sex sell: A bevy of WILTF in NMDAFM pumps who hopefully can read off a cue card or a briefing book or, in a perfect world, memorize one or two talking points to look like they are saying things on their own, A few bespectacled faux intellectual/professional boys, and an array of jocks with all the snark of a Lewis Black or a Dennis Miller but none of the subject matter knowledge, check check; and for the largest base, the crazies, a bunch of tinfoil hat baseless conspiracy theory supporters (some of these nuts got elected), some greasy and cartoonish henchmen, mindless sycophants, social media wack-job pundits, talking heads rejected from all serious news outlets, actual elected representatives devoid of any morals who should know better and Glen Beck. They then invite a foil from the other side to try and demonize straw man points that they try to make look like the straw man points are coming from the other side. Finally, the TRAITORS staff, in a effort to get the propaganda outside their own echo chamber, seeds their ridiculous lies and hyperbole to the the counter opinion and legitimate news outlets because they know that even NPR and 60 Minutes can’t help themselves and repeat their lies again and again as they debunk them over and over as their reliable information all gets lost in the noise. Sometimes it even looks like TRAITORS is trying to engage in democratic behavior. But every year the producers look for more extreme. This season it will not suffice to try the old standards of character assassination and arcane parliamentary procedure obstructionism blocking progress to make a Top TRAITOR. As shown in the current streaming episodes, if you cant: Strike at the core of American Democracy by ending separation of powers by stacking the court; eliminate the sanctity of the vote by baselessly challenging entire elections, including voting that you are not even involved in; and inciting insurrection leading to death, you will have no place on the Top TRAITOR dias. Sure, they still intersperse some covers of the old standards. “Don’t those minorities appreciate the jobs they used to have before the pandemic, mowing our lawns and making our beds, why are they complaining about a few dead relatives” so the regular TRAITOR show themes are still on full display.
As much as it is entertaining and lucrative for all interested sides, it is dangerous, childish and risks the very fabric of our precious Democracy. It is, as they say, time to put away childish things. Its scary. There are big decisions coming, we need people who understand and support all sides, even when parts of those sides that might seem unworthy. Represent even those people who views could be viewed as despicable, they too are our neighbors. Solutions need to favor restorative measures with an understanding that there are no exact answers. Unfortunately, for the political representatives and citizens who decided to engage in actual sedition and insurrection there must be real and immediate consequences for the security of our Nation, but punitive measures for merely falling on a conservative or liberal end of a political spectrum should be as a last resort. The tide needs to lift all boats. Like it, me, what I have to say, or not, we are all in this together.