Politics in America – The Blame Game

by on August 22, 2011 · 6 comments

in Politics

Whose fault is it anyway?

A few years ago, I left politics behind in my life and tried to focus on the things which really mattered; family, spiritual self-improvement, working at a job which would give me satisfaction, doing right by others.  In the past I had circulated petitions calling for Nixon’s impeachment while attending UCLA, worked hard for the elections bids of George McGovern, and Tom Hayden, railed against Ronald Reagan’s game of nuclear chicken with the then Soviets protesting as far away as Dublin, Ireland, and spoke out against the former head of the CIA, George H.W. Bush, being our president.

I think I became complacent when Bill Clinton was elected, and then disgusted when he allowed himself to be completely derailed over several acts of fellatio, knowing full well the Republican Congress would nail him to the wall over it. Hate is a learned value and many Republicans have a firm lock on it as one of their core values.

But then 2000 happened and we had eight years of that truly horrible administration, and I found myself slowly being drawn back in…I don’t care if it is a little or lot, it is still nasty, slimy, hateful stuff, and it is very difficult to avoid letting infuse into your soul.

I believe the turning point in my return began at a party in Paris, France.  It was the day after Halloween and I had been invited to a party by a group of ex-patriot Americans.  It was in a top floor apartment on the Isle St. Louis overlooking the Seine, ironically home to a member of the World Bank.  I was struck by the history, real world history, which spread out below as I stood on the balcony.  As I stood there contemplating all the City of Lights had seen, I was approached by a young Englishwoman, who, after asking for a cigarette, dispensed with small talk and asked, “What was going on with America?”

Now remember, in November, 2003, a little more than two years after the attacks of 9/11, the U.S. had managed to squander globally universal good will to become fairly well universally despised for invading Afghanistan and then, under false pretenses, Iraq.  Our renaming of French Fries to Freedom Fries was the height of pettiness (by the way, they are a Belgian treat, not French in their origin at all). I thought for a moment, and I replied, “It reminded me of the Third Reich documentary by Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph des Willens”(you’ve probably seen excerpts from it, scenes of stadiums full of Nazis “Sieg Heiling” away in crazed fury.)  She was very well read so I did not have to explain myself, and I continued, “At some point, don’t you believe someone looked out the window and said, “How in the fuck did this happen?”” She was very impressed and shortly thereafter became my lover for the next year and a half…but that is, as they say, another story.

Following that evening, I was struck by my spontaneous analogy, and I realized I did not want to be the fellow whom I had described, sticking my head out my window some morning and wondering, “How in the fuck did this happen?”  And so I eased myself back into the nasty fetid pool of politics, trying my best to keep clean in the shallow-end.  I began by reading voraciously, especially, a renewed understanding of the law. I went back to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers, Histories, Biographies, and Treatise by Biddle, Johnson, and even Rhenquist.  I even went back and trudged through Locke (“coercing religious conformity will lead to social disorder”), Rosseau (Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men), and Levitican law (as in the Book of Leviticus of the Hebrew Bible), from upon which the framers of the U.S. Constitution drew inspiration.  Yes folks, the Constitution and Bill of Rights are based upon the writings of an Englishman, and a Swiss-er-man and Hebraic Law, not Christian principles as we have been lead to believe time and again by those who would usurp our rights whenever we speak out against their particular agenda.  I have always loved the, “Why do you hate America?” response from those who their have jingoistic position shaken by facts, and/or reason, the same folk who are probably thinking, “Kill him, he used a big word.”

But what I have really tired of is the blame game.  Apparently, someone always has to be at fault whenever anything goes wrong.  It cannot just be, “Well that didn’t work very well.  Let’s see what we learned and move on and fix the problem.” The looming disaster du jour must always have a fall guy (non-gender specific). And in a two party system, the direction of the blame is fairly predictable; it is either the Republicans, the other Republicans, or the Democrats, and of course whoever is in the White House at the time.

I have been struck, however, how much of the blame for the shape our economy is in and the high rate of employment has been laid squarely at the feet of President Obama, even by some Democrats. And, well, that is just not the way our government is set up…according to the U.S. Constitution.  So perhaps, a short remedial civics lesson is in order.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution deals directly with the Legislative Branch of government; the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Article II of the U.S. Constitution deals directly with the Executive Branch of government; the Office of the President. You could logically make the argument, the Legislature was more important than the Executive to the framers.

Without going into the discussion of checks and balances, and the responsibility of the Judiciary under Article III, suffice to say, Articles I and II provide the responsibilities of the Legislature and the Executive, respectivelys.  And it is really quite straight forward.  The Legislature makes the laws, it raises revenue including taxation, borrow money, regulates commerce, promotes the progress of  science and useful arts, regulation of naturalization (read immigration), declares war, provides for armies and navies.  In fact, the list is quite exhaustive.

On the other hand, the President is tasked with carrying out with what the Legislature comes up, and report back on a periodic basis.

Try as I might, I cannot find where the President is supposed to set policy, come up with solutions, and actually fix stuff which is broken.  These are simply not to be found in Article II under the Powers of the Executive Branch.

Now it would be naïve to submit or even think the President does not have a position of influence. He does.  And he has a position of leadership, particularly when tasked by Legislature, i.e. in times of war.  But the position of influence and leadership does not abdicate the obligations assigned to the Legislature.

So what’s the point?

Pretty much since President Obama was sworn into office he has had to take on the mantle of responsibility for everything wrong, and nothing right with America. After putting up with the knucklehead Congress for the past three or four months over basically a tempest in a thimble, he has taken a couple of weeks off in a nice place, Martha’s Vineyard. I am sure he has not stopped being President, even though some seem to think so because Hilary Clinton made a speech and Joseph Biden is on a junket to the People’s Republic of China, and America has not been fixed.

But we must understand this: It is not the responsibility of President Obama to fix America. It is up to Congress at our, we the people, demand and input to fix stuff.  It is Congress’ job in the Constitution and it is one of the most sacred principles of our country. And yet we all blame one man.

And so I ask, whose fault is it for the mess in which we find ourselves? Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

Peace, Jack

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar RB August 22, 2011 at 10:32 am

And following your arguments on the roles of Congress and the President, the Congress elected in 2006 deserves to take the responsibility for the economy in 2007 and 2008, and the Congress of 2008 should hold the bag for 2009 and 2010 . The election and change of 2010 shows the system is working.

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avatar The Mustachioed OBecian August 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

But then President Bush can’t be blamed for the economy tanking, nor the “lies” that an apparent feable Congress swallowed in voting to go into Iraq.

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avatar Jack Hamlin August 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Well quite frankly, and I believe you might find this a bit surprising, as much as I disliked George W. Bush, and his very unpresidential leadership, I agree with you. He cannot be blamed solely for the stagnating morass which we call the state of the economy. During the eight years of Bush as president, the Congress abdicated its responsiblity by allowing itself to be lead by a very unscrupulous group of people; Cheney, Rove, Ashcroft, and Rumsfeld, et al. Playing on the two driving emotions of fear and avarice, few would stand-up to the steamroller of hubris which capably flattened all opposition.

We had judges who left the bench rather than cow-tow to the demands of the Justice Department, we went to war on false information (if you can, look at the faces of Colin Powell and George Tenet when they addressed the U.N…they knew), and we had politicians, not representatives, afraid to speak for fear of being called unAmerican, and losing all they had gained, postionally and financially…remember the Patriot Act and how fast it was implemented?

But remember, no one factor leads to the current stop along our current roadway. The factors are cummulative and the foundations have been long in developing. We are all to blame in varying degrees and based upon our capapbilities or failure to use them.

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avatar Sunshine August 22, 2011 at 11:57 am

most enjoyable reading, jack. your words continue to emanate truths that dwell within each of us to one degree or another. my hope in our President remains intact & my hopes for his wisdom to stand firm for the people of this country remain in my prayers. your mention of Article I squarely puts the burden to fix what’s broken in our laws where it belongs … on the back of Congress, not the President or the American people.

Keep writing, jack. I’m listening, learning … and lovin every minute of it
Namaste

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avatar Jack Hamlin August 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Thank you Sunshine, it is always a pleasure to have you weigh in. But don’t forget, the Congress represents us. Regardless of what party the Representatives and Senators belong, it is the people to whom they answer. And not just when it is time to vote. Sometimes it feels like you are beating your head against a wall with these folk, but you must let them know what you think on a certain subject. And that means calling their office, e-mailing them, signing or circulating petitions, meeting with them, writing to the news outlets. You have a voice…it is that pesky first amendment…use it.

My daughter, the civil rights advocate in training, called me from school one night while she was an undergraduate. She was tearful when she told me, “Dad, there is so much that needs to be done. I can’t do it all.” I told her she was correct, but she needed one issue for which she felt passionate and work on it. The other issues, lend a hand, a signature, a letter, but really all we can do is work on one issue well. Whether it is local, state, country or global, do one thing well and stick to it. You, as an example to others, will inspire.

Now if you will excuse, I must climb down off my soapbox and grade some papers.

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avatar SDBeachguy August 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

Simple question with a really simple answer, we are to blame for expecting others to do democracy for us by voting these small and petty people into office and, second, voting them in again.

Representative democracy demands a literate, aware and involved electorate to thrive and we have precious little of that.

Lies told often enough become truth, bullies bellowing loud enough become leaders and hidden money buying the venal who then represent their interests, not ours, completes the package.

It’s past time to change our country for the better by demanding the truth from our elected officials, and media (who provide unpaid for air time with little to no accountability), by forcing them to speak the truth and act on it, or be voted out of office.

We must not allow criminal acts of war to be committed in our name and we must hold accountable the ones who brought us to this state of lawlessness.

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