Political Insanity

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After a night on the internet reading articles, it’s obvious that our politics isn’t getting sane anytime soon. A gunman targets an elementary school, kills more than 20 children, and the NRA and other assorted gun nuts are afraid the government will take our guns away. One of the people I went to high school with posted something on Facebook about private citizens needing guns to resist the government. I wrote under the post,

Too bad that won’t actually work. The government way outguns private citizens.

As far as I know, he hasn’t replied.

I think that’s because there IS no reply. We have way too many guns in circulation, way too many to keep them out of irresponsible hands, but you need more than even assault rifles to run a successful revolution. The government has aircraft and tanks, to say nothing of anything else. Private citizens can’t win a fight against those.

I had a similar conversation with an online friend sometime ago. She compared a possible revolution to the Civil War. I reminded her that the North won the Civil War, not because it had better fighters–Southern soldiers were arguably better, and the South had more good generals–but because the North had more factories. I forgot to add that the North also had a larger population, and were thus able to wear the South down.

If we had another Civil War now, the only entities that could possibly ovethrow the government would be large corporations. They have the organization and resources that might be able to bring a government down. So far they prefer to operate by subverting from within, and since they have money, politicians are generally happy to let them do so. Private citizens don’t have either the organization or resources to make a dent in either the government or corporations violently. We can make a dent politically, if we’re willing to make the effort, but most of us don’t have the time or energy. We’re too busy making a living, and that’s what politicians and corporations alike count on.

As far as mass shootings go, I don’t remember any elementary schools being targeted before, but now that the precedent has been set, we can expect that it’s going to happen some more. Some people want to do the most horrifying and destructive things they can, and it doesn’t get much more horrifying than that. Keeping guns out of those people’s hands (I personally don’t have a problem with responsible people owning guns) ought to be a no-brainer, but not for the gun nuts. Apparently they don’t care how stupid they look, or that unrestrained traffic in guns pretty well guarantees more such mass killings.

I worked a couple of summers in a restaurant in a train station in Switzerland, and there’s a whole different mindset there. Soldiers used to come into the restaurant, often bringing their guns with them. They’d set them down, order whatever they wanted, and leave when they were finished. Picture people bringing automatic rifles into restaurants in this country. Firefights might be a nightly occurrence, but in Switzerland it wasn’t even an issue.

There’s no more sanity to be seen when you look at the Republicans getting into position to resist raising the debt ceiling next month. President Obama’s position is that this is spending they’ve already approved, so they have to be responsible about paying the nation’s bills. If it’s not new spending, then I think he has a point. New Republican congressmen, according to articles I read, are itching to shut the government down. They want to stop the government from overspending, something I can’t disagree with, only with the way they want to do it.

One of the articles I read pointed out that the things Republicans say they want to cut are things that vast majorities of voters actually like, when they stop to think about it, even Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. When people realize what their so-called representatives are voting for, Republicans are going to lose. But in the meantime they’re willing to destroy this country’s credit rating in order to win. Would they fail to pay their bills as private citizens? What would happen if they did?

But it seems that they’re willing to take the chance that they’ll throw the world economy into an even worse recession, and get blamed for it. Republicans used to be known for fiscal prudence, but not since starting two wars that never made much sense, paying for them by borrowing from China, lowering taxes (during a war), and taking advantage of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Bill (which Democrats foolishly went along with) to almost ruin the national economy. And who is to blame for all that? Why, Liberals, of course.

I don’t know the tune, or I’d be singing it a lot these days, but there’s a song that begins, “Before you accuse me, darling, take a look at yourself.” That’s a line that can apply to almost any of us, but especially to fanatics of any kind. Republicans may or may not actually believe the stuff they’re talking, but they want desperately to convince the rest of us: anyone that looks at them objectively is going to refuse to vote for them, and disrupt their cozy relationships with the people who give them money.

Those are the people that talking heads like Karl Rove front for. You remember Karl Rove, who wanted to make government small enough to drown in a bathtub. That’s a nice image, isn’t it. But what do you picture coming after that? Not enough police, firemen or schoolteachers? Republicans have shown they don’t think we ordinary people need those services. Maybe corporations with private armies fighting each other and ordinary people trying to stay out of the way? That won’t be too easy when we get too poor to afford gasoline or food. Enlisting in the company armies may be the only choice young men have, if they want to survive.

Let’s hope that the above remains science fiction. I’m afraid it could all too easily happen. There was insanity after the First World War, when the Communists took over in Russia. That was a time and place when you could get killed just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or telling the truth about your political views. Maybe those things are coming to this country. I hope I’m wrong.

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