I never cease to be amazed at how the internet has changed our lives. Unleashing the voices of America. Who knew we had so many people with strong opinions on life. No one can claim they haven’t learned something about their fellow human beings they didn’t know. No topic is more hot button than politics. What has become clear is that we are rapidly heading toward a showdown on ideology. Civil War 2.0. Will it lead to violence? No one knows. But it’s coming to a head, that’s for sure.
This stuff used to be left to think tanks and activists to hash out. Once in a while, something would bubble up and result in making the evening news. Otherwise, we only briefly engaged these types of issues at election time. Now, it is 24/7/365. History will grade whether or not this information explosion turned out to be a good thing. Many will likely wish we could just return to the age of ignorance and leave the issues to somebody else. Too late, the genie’s out of the bottle.
Personal blogs are about as partisan as you can get. People will vehemently defend their view of how society should operate. If the host allows negative comments to post, they are usually not wishy-washy. They will be attacked viciously for their views. Nothing sends most people over the edge more than when you declare that both parties are the same, just dressed up in different clothing. People hate that! They will endlessly rant that our nations problems are the other guys. We now have tv networks dedicated to the left and the right. They push this idea everyday. Most of the shows attempting to be balanced are unwatchable. Listening to the talking heads screaming over each other does not make for good tv.
Where will it lead to? If you run a blog, how many converts can you claim? A miniscule amount to be sure. Not too many people are commenting to educate themselves. The undecided surf the internet seeking out like-minded views. Just human nature. You want reinforcement. After that, those who like the action take on the opposition with vigor. I suppose this should be a good thing when we can vent. But how many times do you come away satisfied? You likely didn’t change anybody’s view, you just got it off your chest.
How many opinion pieces do you read these days where you can see the frustration? The writer can’t believe what the other side is doing and saying. They are incredulous that everybody doesn’t see things the way they do. Nothing hotter than economics right now with the economy. It’s as divisive as it gets. People have their view of how to save the economy and the other side is full of idiots. There’s name calling. We question their credentials. Probably nobody is more of a firecracker than Sarah Palin. Those who don’t like her seem to actually hate her. They don’t even know her. Nancy Pelosi is another. No middle ground here.
One might imagine that with all this information about the political process and history now at our fingertips, the gray area might start to disappear. People would gravitate toward one side naturally once the facts are out. That hasn’t played out at all. The division has only deepened. The hatred intensifying. The only thing we seem to agree upon is that the country is headed down the crapper. Of course, it’s the other sides fault.
It’s really going to ramp up here shortly. The debt commission report comes out on Dec. 1st. The leaks have already started to gauge public reaction. I have to admit, so far it appears to be much better than I anticipated. They likely won’t go nearly far enough with the recommendations to accomplish their goal. If they did, it would never get out of committee. You won’t get 14 out of 18 bi-partisans to agree on such austerity measures. But they are at least raising the sacred cow issues. Social security, medicare and national defense. Usually completely off-limits. They are as kick-the-can-down-the-road as you can get. The best indicator that they are bringing up the right issues are the special interests. They are howling. They’re accusing the commission of throwing grandma in the street. They’re accusing them of putting the country at risk by cutting the defense budget. This is exactly what we want to hear. If the right is all about not touching revenue and the left is all about not touching entitlements, we go nowhere. When they both scream, there’s hope.
Austerity should really put us over the top. Everybody thinks we spend too much. However, nobody wants their government handout program touched. Nobody wants their social security they paid into their whole lives taken away. I think there’s a valid case for treating social security separately. It’s funded by us and we only want our money back. I won’t even get into the merits of the program. That’s for another day. It’s here. It’s broken. We can address it separately by eliminating the current scam. Deposit our withholding in the general fund, issue an IOU to the trust fund, and then go spend it elsewhere. That needs to stop immediately. Take the power away from the politicians to raid that fund. Only then can you address the austerity measures required to ensure each of us are fully vested and the program is self-sustainable.
That’s really the only way to address these issues long-term. Individually. Now, this flies in the face of the socialism we now operate under. They must steal from Peter to pay Paul. Everything needs to be slush fund oriented. Robin Hood. Peter Pan. The rich pay for the poor. Whatever you want to call it. Under the sales pitch of fairness, this is what Obama preaches. It’s what politicians in general sell. They want everything funneled through government so they get to decide what goes where. That is the spell of power they fall under. That’s why there is so little difference between the parties. They both talk the talk about being for the little guy, but then they’re actions fall way short.
We’ve already seen that most of the democrats didn’t ‘get it’ from the election. Pelosi is still in la-la land running around touting their achievements. You know, the ones that we haven’t yet realized were good for us? Of course, Obama and Reid are following suit. But it fits. They simply can’t go down the road of eating crow. They don’t have it in them. Humility goes right out the door upon election, apparently. It’s just ingrained in politicians to not show weakness. Deny, deny, deny. It’s up to us to let it be their downfall.
The GOP is about to get called on the carpet quickly. The tea party message was clear. Stop being irresponsible. Address the issues. The spending. The debt. I sure don’t see the GOP doing the heavy-lifting here. It’s going to be un-Godly expensive for us if austerity comes to pass. Doesn’t matter that it was our representatives that got us here. We will pay the price to get out. Who’s volunteering to take the pain? You? How about you? Anybody? Are you pissed off that this wasn’t your doing and why should you have to pay the price? Of course you are. Doesn’t change the facts. You will join in on the pain.
The only question is how far it goes beforehand. Rioting in the streets? Strikes? Certainly there will be marches and protests. Is the divide so great that we can’t find common ground? Politicians can find compromise many times for one reason only. It’s not their money! They may risk votes by doing unpopular things, but we tend to have very short memories, don’t we? When we as American citizens have to compromise, it will cost us, not somebody else. Most economists say it will take a combination of tax increases and spending cuts to ever make inroads. If most people can’t get past the notion that both parties are to blame, what hope is there of compromise? If it’s all the other guys ideology to blame, why would you cave in?
You need look no further than the blogs to see why the prospects aren’t good. This showdown of ideas has been a long-time coming. You can’t simplify it to left vs. right. Too many variations have morphed over time. Progressives, conservatives, libertarians cross-over in some areas. That’s why straight-ticket voting will likely leave a bad taste in your mouth. Anti-big government can take many forms these days. Just as big government proponents cross the aisles. So far, it’s been like watching a tv show. Not really real. We see the debt issues threatening Greece and the like, but for many it doesn’t seem real. Can’t happen here. Like watching an anti-smoking ad. You know it’s killing you, but you do it anyway.
Just how far are you going to go to protect your principles? Will this go-round rise to the level of a showdown? A civil war? Sound impossible? I think this go-round, we’re writing the history books rather than just reading about these events long-ago. Every sane person alive hopes we find a way out of this peaceably. But I’m very concerned that the rhetoric is taking us past the tipping point. Glad to be wrong on this one. I’m prepared if I’m not.