Thursday, July 19, 2007

We are Such a Disappointment to Me

You know how when you were a kid you mixed all the colors of your paint kit together, thinking that you would thereby create a new super-color? A color so blinding and powerful that to view it would cause your eyeballs to burst?

We all know what happened. It turned out to be the color of poop.

This is instructive, for Americans are a wildly varied bunch as well, and our government is now, as it almost always is, an accurate reflection of our totality. So what happens when many-hued America looks in the mirror and sees our government looking back at us?

We discover that we look like shit.

Sure, the feedback loop between electorate and elected runs both ways, and the government has great power to mold and manipulate public opinion. But the people are the gale that drives all political vessels, and though politicians may tack into the wind in pursuit of their own specific agenda, you may be sure that they keep their sails full nonetheless.

The thought that our government will always be an honest reflection of our populace does not make me optimistic, for if there is one thing I can't stand, it is people. We are, after all, just critters, crouching in our burrows, defending our territory, redolent of our own effluvia. How could any student of our behavior doubt our purely animal ancestry? When we feel fear, we blindly flail our claws. When told that our consumerist ways are unsustainable, we react by buying even more useless crap and then hording it so that while starving refugees wander the barren post-apocalyptic moonscape of the future planet earth, those with foresight and a portable generator may still watch their giant-screen outdoor television. And when we can obtain an unlimited supply of salty snacks, we turn on E!, tear open the bags and surrender ourselves to obesity with the same sense of relief and euphoria with which one welcomes the onset of hypothermia.

In other animals, wired only for involuntary compliance with the siren call of their instinctual compulsions, this behavior would not be notable. However, despite all evidence to the contrary, it is in fact possible for people to conduct themselves in a manner neither brutish nor dull. Recently, a team of brilliant imaginary researchers examined tens of thousands of cases in which people exhibited apparent integrity or altruism. After eliminating those cases that turned out to be marketing ploys, there remained nearly half a dozen that could only be explained as the product of intelligence catalyzed by niceness. With the results of this study in hand, these same make-believe researchers dressed like scientists and determined that American citizens are even theoretically--theoretically--capable of recognizing the deceptions of our government and corporate-controlled press, throwing the evil warlords out of office, and heralding a new era of wisdom and compassion.

With rainbows and flowers.

Keep in mind though that Einstein also had a theory, a theory that gravity could bend space/time--which turns out to be true--but you and your children and your children's children will be born and die and never once see anything like that happen.

So if it's simply too much to ask for people to behave, how can we proceed? Well, the founding fathers, who was some pretty smart cookies, had thoughts on that subject. The founders hated people almost as much as I do. Out of their great wisdom and incandescent loathing for mankind was born a form of government designed to prevent the inevitably stupid and destructive notions of its citizens from ever being put into action. Its particular genius is the way it evolves over time in apparent response to the changing sensibilities of the electorate, ostensibly allowing each new generation the opportunity to implement favored policies. But this is mere pablum for the naive. In fact, the elegant organism of our government mutates through the decades into forms best adapted to obstruct the hateful, self-injurious instincts of each new crop of greedy rotten degenerates that spring from America's rancid womb.

It's freaking brilliant and it's served us admirably for 200+ years. That's a damn good run for any democracy. Look it up. We are the Babe Ruth of republics.

The truth of what I'm saying is in evidence now, when a President has come along who has managed to circumvent the systemic barriers that ensure we can't get what we think we want. And we got it alright. In spades. With chocolate sauce on top. And we're finding that what we thought we wanted is, in academic terms, "not so good."

Don't tell me that this administration is in fact operated contrary to public opinion. Don't tell me about the President's tailspinning approval ratings, or how 70% of voters think the Iraq war was wrong. Sure, America has peeled her drool-slick face off the bar top, rubbed her bloodshot eyes and is looking around for somebody of whom she can inquire, what exactly happened last night? But the damage is done. We all know the ending to morality tales about a boy who was granted everlasting life, or infinite riches. Once the curse part of experience sets in, you don't get any points for acknowledging your mistake. It's too late. And guess what? It really is our own fault. Even more pathetic, we don't even learn anything from it. We'll get drunk again tonight, pass out, and tomorrow we'll ask the first genie we see to make all that we touch turn to gold.

And it's too damn bad, because we could be more than just critters. And this is why we are such a disappointment to me.