“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” – Grover Norquist
Grover Norquist may have not been able to fully realize his homicidal dream that is the cornerstone of movement conservatism, but the effect, at the hands of his adherents, is that no one trusts government to do anything anymore, which, is almost the same result.
Americans are angry. We’re angry that government isn’t working for us. We don’t understand why someone, or a group of someone’s with so much, would ask for, and get a bailout when there are so many that have been left behind. The whole tenor of this “crisis” has been fevered, but no one has bothered to explain it to the average person. Why, after 28 years of economic policy that has favored the wealthy, should anyone want to go further into debt to help those very people? No one wants to answer that question, and so, many people are even angrier than they were that they have been seemingly forgotten for people who have gained so much.
If you look at the long string of government failure, much that begins before Katrina, which was the grand awakening for most Americans, it’s easy to understand why people are angry. At every turn, the 80% of us that make up middle and lower income earners have been given the shaft. We’ve been fed a poop sandwich with different condiments, told to eat it, and like it. Some of us have. Others have been shouting from the mountaintops that tilting the balance of government oversight and intervention to unbridled “free market” reforms places greed over community. Suddenly, those pushing for the very same “free market” reforms are asking for a safety net. The winner is greed.
This crisis has been building. National unemployment is up to 6.1%. That’s nine months of consistent job loss. New numbers are expected tomorrow, and will no doubt be worse. Hell, the southeast lost 2500 jobs just last week with the closing of Bill Heard Auto. Despite this condition, nothing has been done to help workers. Nothing has been done period. We’re an afterthought. That’s reality.
I’ve been reading about this “crisis” for two weeks and still don’t understand it. I’ve asked people in the business, I’ve asked policy wonks, I’ve asked economists, and no one can seem to get to the crux of the problem. No one has an answer. More importantly, no one knows if the bill passed by the Senate last night will do anything more than expand the debt at the fastest rate in my lifetime.
If our elected officials want us to stand behind legislation, they need to break it down in a way that we can understand instead of resorting to “end times” rhetoric to scare us into supporting something we don’t understand. They need to treat us like adults, instead of a group of anonymous children at some overcrowded day care. Tell us what’s up and why we should care. Listen to us when we say we don’t understand, and try to explain it to our feeble little minds. We want to know. Do you want us to know?
The answer to this is no. They want us to be stupid. They want us to jump at their rhetoric rather than be a part of the solution. We want to be part of the solution. We want to be a part of something greater than ourselves. It’s your job to help motivate, inform, and mobilize us.
Most importantly, we want to know that we can trust you. We don’t anymore. None of you. Prove yourself, and we will stand behind you. Fail, and you will wonder where all your support went. Make us part of the solution, in some way other than asking for our vote. Inform us of the conditions and situations that made this happen so we can understand. Most importantly, if you want our continued support, you have to include us in the discussion, make us a part of the process.
Norquist and his buddies may not have killed government, but he helped kill our faith in it. The only way I see that faith being restored is to engage us. It’s way past time.