American Democracy is Not Dead or Dying — Just Malfunctioning

by on November 29, 2021 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Colleen O’Connor

It is easy to find despair among so many headlines about new COVID variants (Omicron); mass casualty events; sinister, incompetent, corrupt politicians, bankers, ministers, and institutions.

It is easy to complain, nag, give up and be aggrieved as a way of life.

It is especially easy to note all of America’s many legitimate woes; massive economic and social inequalities; inflation; labor shortages; ignorance, all amid this fourth industrial revolution that few can comprehend, let alone manage to navigate smoothly.

Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, hybrid-humans, supersonic weapons, cyberwars, bitcoins, climate change, the internet and myriad other threatening realities cause many to just freeze in place.

Few have the courage to punch through these new dark ages and “keep on keeping on.”

To those that do, we owe our very existence.  The often overlooked and undervalued courageous souls driving the buses, the trucks, the tankers, the airplanes, the cars, and the country.

The teachers, nurses, doctors, judges, cooks, tellers, techies, mechanics, and every other worker still getting up and doing their jobs. The scientists, the firefighters, police, military and maintenance crews that keep the country from total disintegration.

They are owed great thanks, not derision or threats. Succeeding in complex times takes nerves of steel and a deft hand.

Indeed, it requires the skills of a saintly magician to navigate everyday modern global existence.

To understand this reference, just watch the library of “chain reaction machine” videos on YouTube. Especially funny is the early, catastrophic example of Charlie Chaplain’s “Feeding” machine.  A bit like Lucille Ball’s chocolate candy conveyor belt skit.


The physics of near imminent collapse versus the realities of corrective malfunctioning, are demonstrated in a way that we can all understand and cheer.

The machine may defeat the designers, but they truck on.  Sometimes, even amid doom and confusion, wonderful course corrections are possible.

But, America’s current mood is sour.  Akin to a broken-down old car.  Thread bare tires.  A starter that won’t.  Out of gas.  Engine warning lights on.  A deserted road and no mechanic in sight.  The GPS and Internet are down.  All systems collapsed.

One prime example malfunctioning, is the Democratic controlled House of Representatives months’-long fight, counter-fights, delays, threats, counter-threats and irrational posturing over both a much needed “infrastructure bill” and the parallel-track ‘human’ reconciliation act.

How to keep the car (country) on the road, running, and with enough fuel to sustain itself?

Observe Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s multi-tasking, persistence, deft legislative hand, and ability to call a bluff at the most precarious time, to successfully navigate her “Rube Goldberg chain reaction/ domino machine” to passage.

Just in time for the Thanksgiving recess.  A marvel.

That was the easy part.  Now watch the week ahead. More bedlam looms.  The U.S. Supreme Court takes up the abortion question on Wednesday; with no middle ground.

Also, on Wednesday, ADP nonfarm and manufacturing data are released, consumer confidence and jobless numbers also hit this week.

So, despite the human reconciliation bill, (that miraculously passed the House last week), more malfunctioning beckons.

“Malfunctioning” is the kindest description of the current U.S. Senate; where the least talented demand the greatest attention and rewards.  A months-long battle will ensue, with likely passage just before the Christmas recess.

Other calamities facing America’s broken-down old car: a new Federal Voting Rights Act (to prevent voter suppression laws among old Confederate states); the Women’s Health Care Act (to override the probable Supreme Court invalidation of the half-century precedent of Roe v. Wade); DACA immigration (status not fixable anytime soon); China’s moves on Taiwan; and Russia’s moves on Ukraine.  DACA and the ERA remain in limbo.

So, where is the hope? Where it has always been—with the American people.  With America’s real talents; innovation, imagination, and intelligence.

Democracy is not dead or dying.  Just malfunctioning.
















{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gravitas November 30, 2021 at 7:54 am

A new mantra for these times:
“I just saw a T-shirt that turns the serenity prayer around and says: I no longer accept the things I cannot change. Now, I change the things I cannot accept. A new mantra for keeping us all active and engaged to do what we can against the tidal surge.”


norma damashek November 30, 2021 at 12:58 pm

Many thanks, Colleen, for your realistic perspective and for reminding us about our moral imperitive to KEEP ON TRUCKIN’!


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