I watched as much of the second presidential debate of the season as I could stomach, but it was a frightful experience. After a while, hearing both candidates preach on how stunningly necessary they are to us, how government is our savior, and how stupid, misguided, and devoted to counterproductive measures their opponent is, I couldn’t watch any more.
However bad I had thought things were before the debate, however close to the brink of collapse I worried we were, I now realize, from this election season and as exemplified by the debates, that things are actually worse.
With very few exceptions—and I’m talking probably a single digit number out of 535—Congress will continue to fail the American people by throwing our money at a wide variety problems (most of which they have caused in the first place), all in the name of "progress", "civility," and "compassion." And if anyone makes an objective criticism regarding how well that’s worked so far (funding for public education, the arts, defense, transportation, civil rights—one could list pretty much every government department and document in great detail how they impede us, not help us, but nearly all reasonably intelligent people already know this), they’re labeled as a fascist, heartless, or un-American.
So now, thanks to the assclowns you and I and our immediate ancestors have elected during the past several decades, our government is now in the mortgage business. Forever. Listen closely, and you’ll hear the sound of giddy applause coming from Karl Marx’s grave.
Today the U.S. government is doing more to damage you than your business competitors, your personal enemies, al Qaeda, and your mother-in-law combined.
In offering their alleged solutions to the problems government has created, the current Republican and Democrat candidates for president have guaranteed us policies that are certain to make things worse. The Left wants the government out of our bedrooms but in our banks. The Right wants the government out of our banks but in on our phone calls.
Anyone who trusts the the U.S. government today—regardless of their political leanings—is tragically naive. Unfettered freedom is the foundation on which anything good, anything just, anything worthwhile in this nation is built. Yet the fact that I have to qualify the word "freedom" with "unfettered" demonstrates the ugly truth that Americans today don’t really mind the pen, as long as it’s our kinda pen.
Republicans want their pen red, and the Democrats want theirs blue, but they both want a pen, with the government taking care of all the difficult personal decisions that life is supposed to be all about. The greatness of America has always been that we don’t want a pen, even if it’s for our own presumed good. In recent weeks, however, the U.S. government has sent a clear, $700 billion (that’s $700,000,000,000!) message that one of our most basic freedoms has now been eroded and is destined for abolition: our freedom to fail.
Yet the public’s skepticism toward this supposed solution was easily overcome by a Congress and president who clearly don’t take seriously any threat of consequences from the voters. Alas, they are probably right. Public dismay toward our national elected officials—currently at historic lows—does not result in their ejection and replacement.
I wrote a pair of songs in 1992 lamenting how far the United States had drifted from the lofty ideals and precepts that had made us the envy of the world ("Brave New World" and "There’s Always Canada"). In 1992 I was a silly twenty-seven-year-old, whining about the woeful condition of a nation that had turned its back on all of its most important principles. But I was right then, only the absolute shambles of the United States in 2008 makes 1992 look like a utopian "good ‘ole day" by comparison.
Orwell was right—he just missed the date by about twenty years.
Carl Groves is singer, songwriter, guitarist, and keyboardist for the musical group Salem Hill and has written criticism, essays, and fiction.