Who Will Stop It?

The other day a friend of mine was getting really down about politics.  I understood.

Neither side seems serious about reducing the debt, the deficit or even curbing the slightest of abuses of Congress. Jobs are still MIA, the housing crisis has all of the nation trapped in mortgage amber and the super increase in demand for government safety nets and use of them coupled with the increase in taxes across the board on all those who are not yet using them continues to make day to day living much more of a chore than it ought to be.  We used to breathe easier.

Then, there are the unspoken problems like the systemic ethical, moral and constitutional flaws in the currently existing health care law, the erosion of liberties a ‘la Patriot Act Part Deux, the Drone Wars, the massive increase in authority and oversight of the IRS, and the lack of safety of American people abroad if the government decides to look the other way or spread a convenient untruth when some diplomat has the poor taste to be assassinated during an election year. Fast and Furious has been neatly swept under a rug never to be mentioned again.  I also forgot to mention the Kill List.  Before anyone says “Hey! You’re piling on Obama!” let me point out, Romney isn’t mentioning these things either so either he wants to keep them going or he’s gutless on this point and so they’ll still exist.  Either way, I’m irritated.  It means these things that shouldn’t be in a nation that values rule of law, the Constitution and due process, will be allowed to continue. (SSSHHHHHHHH, Not supposed to think that or criticize, just vote and be done with it).

That the polls that aren’t rah rahing for one side indicate a mostly 50-50 call indicates the reason for the near passionless political life of those on either side who normally put up signs, get out the vote and debate their neighbors.

But I told my friend, “As Catholics, we have to stay informed. As Catholics, we are compelled to be involved.  As Catholics, we have to act.” In other words, we can’t just rail (wrath undirected is the equivalent of being a troll in com boxes, it’s stupid, unbecoming and doesn’t persuade hearts, change minds or affect policy –it only leaves everyone else with a sour taste in their mouth when your name pops up).  We can’t despair.  (That’s quitting with a whimper. It also means whoever wins doesn’t need to pay you any mind).  And Further, we can’t give up. The fight to stop these abuses or have them investigated, repealed or addressed is not ended by a vote or an election.  The decision in November is merely an indicator of how steep the climb to win will be (excruciating or merely grueling).  The energy of before the election is nothing compared to what will be needed after, regardless.  I would argue that these three things hold true for all Americans. We can’t rage. We can’t despair, and we can’t give up.

Holding our officials accountable has become something not done unless the political class sees a profit in it.  Over the past few years a pattern has emerged:

If it:      hurts others on your side in the election, you get sacked.

If it:      doesn’t seem to matter because it’s not an election year for your side, yawn and move on, nothing to see here.

If it:      hurts your opponents even if it’s nothing, there will be one indignant person who gets on camera to give a speech amounting to “Never in my whole life have I been more scandalized and this person should not simply be forced to resign but stand outside on the mall in the rain wearing a sign “I STINK and DESERVE TO BE SPIT UPON BY GOD AND MAN) before being tarred, feathered, audited and thrown in jail indefinitely.”

Then the offending person shall be quietly dismissed with their golden parachute and become part of the speaking head circuit.

If I sound jaded, cynical and agitated, it’s all true. Mostly because I fail at those three things, not wanting to being wrathful, not wanting to despair and not wanting to quit and say “I’ll take my toys and go home.”

We have to fix the home we have.  We have to call every senator and every representative and demand they pass a budget, demand they pass budgets every day, don’t let the Congress go home for recess until they fulfill their congressional constitutionally defined duties.  Zero out every salary of every elected official and every pension of every elected official until they do their actual job.  Pay all of what is lost to the debt. They can live as those who are jobless if they aren’t going to do their job. Every agency that doesn’t file its taxes, every employee that does not file taxes, fired.  Fired. Fired. Fired.  Every one of them.  Every single one.

We ought to call the press and tell them that they need to cover the red and the blue with equal zeal and curiosity rather than pure disdain and absolute adulation based on political affiliation.  You want to know why your circulation is dying? Because you only sing to yourselves and congratulate yourselves on how beautiful you sound.  Edit and vet yourselves.  Be brave enough to speak the truth and document it with facts from reliable sources. Vet your sources better than high school students are currently demanded to do. I know there are exceptions, but they are not the rule.

We ought to cry out at our President and those who aspire to the office, “GROW UP! Do the job! Stop offering what you don’t have and demonizing those who disagree. You’ve burned your last straw man. We are real. Our problems are real and we have real disagreements about how to solve them and we’re not stupid. Stop hyperventilating at each other and demanding we do the same.”  If you want the job, you better have a plan and it better be more than it will just take time or wait and see.  Despite our constant distractedness, we can follow along.  We are a nation of common sense and honor, we deserve better.  Our leaders ought to be able to get along with others better than we expect our children to in school.  They also ought to be held accountable for failures that aren’t merely gaps in communication or the inability to tell a story or build the narrative.  We all know the difference between failing to present a compelling case for a good plan and failing to present a good case period.  I would argue, President Obama has proven he doesn’t have a case to prove, and Romney needs to actually present one as a counter.

Failing that, failing us by failing in their duties in favor of a party or in favor of donors or in favor of amassing power, we as the citizens of this country should tell all of you who hold positions we pay for, positions we’ve entrusted you with, positions designated to be honors for leadership, we fire you today. We shall not be part of this experiment anymore.  It is failing because you have failed.  You have failed us. You have been wretched poor stewards of our past, our present and our posterity. You have failed the future of this country by your votes in the present.  Your grades are not incomplete anymore. They are “F’s.”

I still am hopeful that our nation can right itself, that we can grow the economy, bring down the debt and the deficit, improve our existing services and rid a lot of the waste and repeal those laws that threaten the fabric of our nation’s core values.   I am hopeful because our country is bigger than either party or any president.  But it will become harder as laws and practices that erode our liberties codify and become accepted as simply part of life.  (See abortion if you need a perfect example).

At some point, if we do not stop, if we do not demand that our government limit itself, the government shall be all and we shall cease to be a free people.  We cannot be free if our every action is now monitored and sanctioned or disapproved. We cannot be free if we must always be “careful” about our thoughts and words.  We shall become serfs of the elected. If the government can dictate the limits of our faith, what stops the government from deciding our limits need to be still greater?  At what point does the government become a secular caliphate?  We the huddled masses yearning to be free will know that our security depends on surrendering not only that freedom, but that yearning.  This is not an R or a D problem. It isn’t a case of who started it. It’s a case of WHO WILL STOP IT?  Because if no one does, we as a nation will cease to be the great promise to the world we once were and our children will grow up not understanding what they’ve lost.