When the Evan Bayhs feel that they must leave the political arena in despair, we must stop and think why and begin the difficult process of repair. We Americans have been defined by our sacred democratic rule of law, which gave us the tools – the will and the skills to improve our society. It gave us the audacity of our hope that made us and the rest of the world rejoice in the election of Barack Obama.
How did the act that created a moment of elation and relief morph so quickly into a project immersed in cynicism and denial? One looks for the enemy outside; no wonder the last administration turned our attention always to the terrorists outside our society. It’s not that the threat was and is not there, but that there are threats within that are no less serious – threats to our defining moral and civic character. Are we willing to destroy the very essence of our democratic society – citizens acting on behalf of the public good? Is the public good now just a code word for big government and socialism? Do people really believe that, or are we corrupt enough to use that rhetoric for partisan purposes, even at the expense of honesty, at the expense of our core values?
At the president’s summit on health care, the idea of providing health care for more Americans was not considered a cause célèbre. Rather it was trumped repeatedly by price, process and partisan posturing.
Pundits blame the media and government for our present malady, citing the commercial interference with both.
If these bastions of our greatness are eroding, I think we need a 12-step program to begin the process of recovery. Let’s start by identifying the problem that underlies the political intransigence and the media hype that limit our civic capacities, just as a tyrant abolishes the people’s civic rights and responsibilities. Let’s not be duped by tyranny’s current disguise. It’s that culture of cynicism, not health care for all Americans that we can’t afford.