Oh. My. God. Did you read the news? The Congressional “Super Committee” failed. I cannot speak for you, but I was shocked that anyone — including the expert media — believed anything would be accomplished here. Especially after the House took up and passed such groundbreaking legislation as the determination that pizza is a vegetable. How can you expect anyone to work after that? I mean, they’re only human.
Normally, blaming the media feels like a cop-out. We love to hate the news media when they use their ink and air time covering the Karashians or Snooki and conveniently forget their story selections are based on what we buy. Don’t care who Brad Pitt is screwing? Don’t read the tabloids. In this instance, however they seem to be more than mere spectators. Andrea Mitchell didn’t see this coming? If I saw this coming, she should have. And thus the political media, who build up these paper tigers, feel more complicit. The coverage of this debacle — as was the deficit ceiling fiasco before it — borders on media malpractice. Real conversations about serious problems become showdowns at the OK corral, great for ratings but not so much for anything else.
But blaming the media remains a cop-out. As does blaming the Tea Party. The Tea Party didn’t cause this problem, they may not be helping but we aren’t here because of them. Remember they only came on the scene a few years ago. Even Grover Norquist didn’t cause this.
So, if we cannot blame the media and we cannot blame the right wing (or the left wing) — who caused this? We did.
President Obama got into trouble when a clip of him calling Americans lazy (ironic given how many GOP presidential candidates have called #OWS protesters lazy and dirty). I don’t think we are lazy but we are whiny. We want everything without paying for anything. Most of us agree that we need a good military, decent education and a host of other programs but we don’t want to pay for them. The disparity of what we want and what we want to pay for extends beyond taxes and spending: We tell ourselves — and the world — that the US represents the pinacle of exceptionalism and socioeconomic fluidity but we trail most of our peer countries. Think taxes destroy freedom and rob citizens of happiness? Don’t tell that to Norway. Taxes are much higher there — especially when the Value Added Tax (VAT) is included — yet they have the highest standard of living on the planet.
Back to our Congressional conundrum. We have the Congress we settled for. Each member is elected to represent their district, their part of the country, their special interests. By special interests, I do not mean lobbyists but constituents. Through gerrymandering, a word I learned in junior high school social studies but never thought about until moving to Washington, Congressional districts have been distilled to the point where extreme views are common place. Our Congresspeople don’t compromise because we don’t want them to.
The Congressional “super committee” was never supposed to succeed; it was set up to do exactly what it did — give the impression of action while doing nothing to accomplish anything.