Editors' note: Guest blogger Carlos Mock has published three books and is the Floricanto Press editor for its GLBT series. He was inducted in the Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame in October of 2007. He grew up middle-class in the suburbs of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
President Obama has been our commander in chief for slightly more than a year. We were in Paris for two weeks recently and as we returned to Chicago/Michigan, I realized we are facing the same problems that we faced when we boarded a plane to Europe.
According to the right, "All of our problems are because Obama--who is not an American citizen--is a radical left wing ultra liberal Socialist/Communist who is surrounded by Hitler styled Chicago mafia czars hell bent on destroying the Constitution and our way of life."
According to the left, "All of our problems were caused by the brainless George W. Bush--a cocaine addict and an alcoholic--who allowed Dick Cheney, Carl Rove, and their neo-con mafia to abuse every power in our Constitution and got us into two wars and the biggest financial mess since the 1929 depression.
But perhaps our problems stem from the fact that the American political landscape has become a conspiracy of ignorance and invective, in which no problems get solved because everyone is too busy calling each other names. They are too busy passing the blame to the other, side that nothing gets done. The arguments presented by both political parties--for every important issue--has become ever more infantile. Our citizenry has been alienated--they've developed eyes that don't see, ears that don't hear and brains that don't work. We are too tired and defeated to care. The truth is:
- It was Republicans, led by Phil Gramm, who started de-regulating the banks and investment houses.
- It was Democrats who insisted we provide mortgages to folks who couldn't really afford them. The result was adjustable rate mortgages provided to people who could not pay, and then their mortgages were bundled into securities--known as derivatives--that were sold as investments, which became worthless.
- This was a bipartisan effort that crashed the housing market and collapsed the banks and investment houses.
- It was Republicans who used the Big Lie of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to conjure up an illegal war and Democrat lemmings who voted for both the war in Iraq and the abhorrent destruction of our Constitutional protections.
What no one wishes to hear, why we keep playing a blaming game is the fact that:
- There have been two wars with a death toll exceeding 6,000 Americans, with nearly 35,000 wounded -- many grievously.
- There was a bipartisan effort that led to both Wars that neither party knows how to end.
- We have caused the death of over several hundred thousand innocent Iraqi people--and score of Afghans--and have displaced over two million of them--and when they helped us fight our war we abandoned them to a certain death. The USA has granted asylum to less than 1000 of the affected individuals in the region, leaving the surrounding countries--Jordan, Syria, and Iran--to deal with the three million refugees created by the two wars.
- And in the meantime, The Bill of Rights is in shambles. We have a Constitution that no longer protects its citizens from an intrusive government. Elections are for sale to the highest bidder--thanks to the recent Supreme Court election finance decision--soon Congress will be controlled by corporations and not their constituents.
- It may have been Republicans who were gung ho to outsource American jobs overseas to help their big business friends. But it was Democrats who supported unsustainable contracts in several industries to help their big labor friends. Both parties have caused manufacturing jobs to disappear by the millions and harmed the labor unions they tried to protect in the process.
It was a bipartisan effort that has turned us into a nation that exports waste and imports foreign-made goods we can't afford because our economy is crippled.
And to make matters worse, intransigent incompetence is now the rule. You've likely heard of the U.S. Senate needing 60 votes to pass legislation. There is no law that requires 60 votes--a simple majority of 51 is sufficient. Not anymore. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has placed a "blanket hold" on at least 70 of President Obama's nominations until he receives over $40 billion worth of earmarks for his state, and it takes 60 votes to end a filibuster so a vote can be taken.
In a scene that would have made Hollywood director Frank Capra proud. Republican Sen. Jim Bunning stood up courageously to stop Congress from committing a very popular move: sending unemployment checks to hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans. Democrats could hardly believe their good fortune. It was one of those congressional moments that tell you everything you need to know about why Washington doesn't seem to work these days: Neither side sounded like they were listening to themselves, let alone to anybody else.
The Republicans needed 60 votes when they were in power because the Democrats wanted to stop everything in its tracks and the Democrats now need 60 votes because the Republicans are engaged in the same shameless cause.
To me, what is most discouraging is that we know the root cause of our problems. It isn't Rush Limbaugh and it isn't Sarah Palin. It isn't the liberal pundits or the liberal media.
We elect these folks and then re-elect them over and over. Instead of demanding they listen to us, we keep listening to them. Instead of demanding solutions, we keep accepting their excuses. We form Tea Parties and are full of pretty speeches from our President searching for bipartisanship solutions. However neither of these actions will solve our problems.
We look at the source of this farce every morning in the mirror. The Truth is that we have met the "problem" and it is us. There is no one else to blame.
We returned home recently; nothing had changed since we left. What the hell is wrong with our country? I'll tell you what is wrong with America; get rid of the two party system and change our government to the Parlamentary system. You'll see how soon politicians learn to work with each other and get the country back to work. That's change you can believe in!