Tuesday, October 6, 2009

America, The Myopic

Forgive me, I am about to rant. 


But first, a backward look. I spent two days during this past week perusing The American History Smithsonian, on the National Mall. Whenever I visit the story of America's founding, I am always in great awe of the many men who dedicated their lives to creating a future for our country. Of course, it can be argued that pride, ego, power, the want for scarce resources, and money were at the root of America's birth. But regardless of the characterization, it cannot be denied that this country was founded by men of great strength, aptitude, and foresight. To borrow an overused phrase, the country truly was founded by geniuses so it could be run by idiots. 


This is not to say that we are a perfect nation, or that our history is not tarnished by divide, namely racism and greed. Just take a trip to Baltimore to see evidence of racism, with slums and ghettos reminding us of the "white flight" that began to occur the 1950's. Or venture to 14th and U Streets in Washington DC to see the vestiges of the race riots of the 1960's. Open a history book and read about how glamorized greed for wealth toppled the economy and lead to the Great Depression. To experience déjà vu, pick up a copy of the New York Times to read about the 21st century greed of investors, bankers, mortgage brokers, and consumers that lead to our current economic crisis.  


But I am not as concerned about what has happened in our nation or how far astray our national landscape may have wandered from our founding father's original vision. Rather, what concerns me is how myopic and immature our leaders have become when engaging in political discourse and planning. Since when did Senators yell, 'You lie' during a congressional session? Or cheer when the President lost an economic opportunity for the nation in a time of despair, as the conservatives did when Obama lost the Olympic bid for Chicago 2012


In troubled times, our government desperately needs to focus on nation-building, and not bickering. The United States needs to create incentives for businesses to go green (as China, yes China is doing). Congress needs to pass a national health care plan so senior citizens can afford medication, and the average American can cover medical costs and save that money to purchase a home. The President needs to create FDR-like stimulus programs to lift America's workers out of joblessness and under-employment and back into the work force. 


But it seems that all we can do is bicker, pick sides, and name call. 


So my question is: since when did we become such a myopic, immature nation? When did we lose our vision of the future, in lieu of short term agendas and band-aid, quick fix solutions? Are we truly the "idiots" trying to run a country designed by geniuses? If our founding fathers could have a glimpse into 2009 and see what bickering idiots we have become, I bet they would want to jump on a boat and start all over again elsewhere. 


Again, given the current political landscape I am in complete awe of our nation's founding. It boggles my mind that the framers of the Constitution had the foresight to plan for centuries of future scenarios, when our Congress cannot even pass a plans that are past due, like climate change initiatives and health care. Instead, our elected leaders allow themselves to be bribed by the auto, health insurance, finance and construction lobbies. They selfishly plan for their re-elections and personal bank accounts rather than plan for the future and the good of the nation.


And it was not beyond the imaginations of the Framers that Congress would become a breed of selfish, short-sighted pigs. After all, The Federalist #51 designed the system for checks and balances, forewarning that, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." So, we are not a perfect nation because humans are not perfect people. But America has the framework to move forward, if only our leaders could stop acting like petulant teenagers and come to some selfless, forward-thinking agreements.