Mrs. Junk and I watched President Obama deliver yet another State of the Union address last night, though I did so with mixed emotions due to the President’s inconsiderate preemption of one of the three hours of television I most enjoy each week–Person of Interest. I’m interested in politics and have very strong opinions that do not easily fit either the liberal or conservative labels, but in the end I’m much more excited about the latest adventures of Howard Finch, The Man In The Suit, Ms. Shaw, Root, and the gang than I am about the combination of boasting and wishful thinking that invariably fills this annual festival of Beltway Make-Believe. I mean, Finch and The Man In The Suit routinely get the job done in less than an hour–at the most, they would need one of those sweeps-season 3-part arcs to get this country back on it’s feet. Obama and that Ship of Fools we call Congress can’t manage a damn thing.
Perhaps, if the President walked out to the podium, nodded to the cameras, and said something like, “The state of the Union is better, but it still sucks, and not a little bit either.” That would get my attention.
But this isn’t a tantrum about politics–we all know the score: nothing gets done until the last minute, until the conservatives resist long enough to satisfy their corporate leash-holders and quench the demands of the dwindling, but still influential, righteous ecclesiastics–or, more specifically, the cynical operators who manipulate the legitimate spiritual beliefs of generally good religious people in a sledgehammer of division and distraction. That’s the function of conservatives in our political system–to fight tooth and nail against forward momentum of any sort, to resist any disruption of the status quo and, finally, to be dragged–always kicking and screaming–into the future as if any movement at all could be their very last, and the very last for our blessed, holy nation.
Liberals, of course, come with their own particularly annoying tendencies–wussy thin-skinned hypersensitivity, arrogance, a glowering disdain for tradition, blind reliance on government as an engine for social change, wildly unrealistic idealism and the will to impose that idealism by force–for our own good, if necessary–and the list goes on. As I most closely identify with the left, my criticisms against that side are both more numerous and more nuanced. I look at politics like looking at a bunch of children who’ve made a mess of things–some I just dismiss as “bad,” but the ones I know, the ones who are mine, are “disappointing”–they’re not just guilty of breaking the rules, they’ve broken my heart a little.
I’m tired of caring about the whole wagon train–we know the drill: angry Indians, soulless bandits, desperate river-crossings, betrayal at the hands of a trusted compatriot, disease, a snowstorm just before sudden and teh sacrifice of a hero leads to unexpected survival and a happy ever after. The sad thing is, one of these days the bandits are going to kill that hero in the early going–or maybe s/he’ll drown in the river–and the hole damned adventure takes a turn towards Donner Party country. That’s my worry about the good ol’ USA–one of these days, there will be no hero to save us in the final moments of the movie.