Often Wrong, Rarely Responsible

It’s clear we still have a long way to go

By Diane Smith

Two of the most insightful quotes I’ve yet read about the 2016 presidential primaries come from vastly different publications, yet reflect surprisingly similar conclusions.

The first is from Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, “(F)or the pleasure of being able to watch insincere campaign coverage and see manipulative political ads on TV for free, we end up having to pay inflated Medicare drug prices, fund bank bailouts with our taxes, let billionaires pay 17 percent tax rates, and suffer a thousand other indignities …The triumvirate of big media, big donors and big political parties has until now successfully excluded every challenge to its authority. But like every aristocracy, it eventually got lazy and profligate … It’s now shocked that voters in depressed ex-factory towns won’t keep pulling the lever for ‘conservative principles,’ or that union members bitten a dozen times over by a trade deal won’t just keep voting Democratic on cue.”

The second comes from the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, “The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful – those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created … they make public policy and have for some time … They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers … Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.”

I too am incredulous at how often lawmakers, big donors, and the media are just plain wrong yet so rarely held accountable. Many of their errors cost rural and small town America dearly. or example:

  • Banks melt down, home values plummet? No problem, let’s bankroll the bankers!
  • No healthcare? Sorry, big pharma and insurers are more important than you little people.
  • War based on bad intel? Please, we don’t want to talk about that.
  • No job? First, you should work harder. Second, blame unions, the enviros, free trade, immigrants … anyone but moi!

Ever since Gordon Gekko said, “… (G)reed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works” the political elite along with their donor and media friends have been running roughshod over ordinary Americans in an ever growing quest to line their own pockets and improve their prospects. And, while there have been many outstanding lawmakers in the past decades, just like in the rest of the real world, the egregious actions of a few often screw up the futures of everybody.

I sure hope the era of self-indulgent, error-filled, blame anyone but moi lawmaking is nearing its end. But this presidential season doesn’t give me much hope. From the party elites’ disdain for Sanders and Trump supporters to the glaring lack of new ideas for solving everyday challenges, it’s clear we still have a long way to go. Sigh.

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