Saturday, September 25, 2010

Heroes in their own minds

Have you ever seen one of those adolescent males, maybe 20 years old, who loves The Matrix too much? He's the guy who has gotten it into his head that if he just drapes his too-skinny or too-pudgy body in a full-length leather coat ... why, then surely he looks just like Keanu Reeves and can date Carrie-Anne Moss.

That was rather my impression of the GOP's new Pledge to America. Because it reeks of the same self-delusions as this guy:

Look, we all have our Walter Mitty moments, seeing ourselves as the protagonist of some heroic, secret fantasy. Most of us are smart enough to do what Mitty did - keep it secret. When you go public, like our dorky adolescent Neo's, you just look ridiculous.

So, regarding that Pledge. The one that -- betcha didn't see this coming -- promises to cut taxes, raise defense spending, protect Medicare, and balance the budget all at the same time; the one that promises to cut Congress's budget while simultaneously reviewing each and every regulation issued by the Executive Department; the one that shockingly reveals that government spending in nominal dollars has doubled since 1980*; the one which shamelessly claims that the Republicans balanced the budget in the 1990s. The one whose photographs portray an America which is 99.5% white.

That Pledge. The one which clumsily tries to evoke the Declaration of Independence by opening with:

America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.

America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.

Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.

Okay, so the GOP has no one who can write like Thomas Jefferson. Who does anymore? But "institute a new governing agenda and set a different course"? How do you get from the ringing challenge of "it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” to the mewling "institute a new governing agenda"?

You get there by indulging your fantasies of 1775, even while recognizing that the comparison is just beyond ridiculous. Even for the people who can write the absurdities above (only a bare sample, I assure you), the Declaration is an embarrassment to them, because they simply are not oppressed the way their ancestors were.

Oh, they feel oppressed, no doubt about it. And they certainly do imagine themselves as modern day Sam Adamses and Paul Reveres, bravely standing up to tyranny. But when they begin to state the causes of their discontent, the truth is so embarrassing that they have to scramble and scratch for some formulation that won’t invite, no, demand ridicule.

The colonists famously rebelled against “taxation without representation.” Our GOP revolts against losing free and fair elections. They dream of themselves as heroic Sons of Liberty, bravely pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor against a tyrannical government; in reality, they whine because they don’t get their way every time. But they can't say that out lod. So they tell this lie instead:
An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.

Alas, that mouse doesn't roar. Not one member of Congress is self-appointed. Not a single one can maintain his seat against the will of the majority. That's why the Pledge uses the word many: because saying majority would give the game away. The truth is that they not only have the right to institute a new governing agenda, they also have the means to do so. All they have to do is win an election. Last time they lost; this time out they’re likely to win. That’s democracy, not tyranny.

The GOP and the Tea Partiers don't share the grievances of the colonial rebels -- they get to vote for the people who tax them. The Sons of Liberty didn’t have representatives in Parliament; if they didn't like the British government which ruled them, the SoL were SOL. The Tea Partiers are just Sore Losers. Which is why, when they try to dress themselves as heroes, they look like adolescent dorks instead.

*That works out to 2.5% growth per year, which compares well with the average inflation rate of 3.3% over the same period (calculated from the Bureau of Labor Statistics's CPI Inflation Calcualtor)

1 comment:

James Hanley said...

Well put. I'm going to link to this when I get around to it.

I especially like the people who put on an excessive amount of red, white, and blue, as though wearing more bunting than anyone else is in itself evidence of being more patriotic, more truly American.