Point of View Columns

Modern Day Fairy Tales

When we were children we listened to fairy tales and fables. Cows jumping over the moon and gingerbread houses and magic beans were all part of our nightly fare. As parents, we have told these magic nighttime stories to our children replete with goblins and fairies along with wizards and warlocks.

It all seems to be perfectly harmless. After all, reality is always lurking outside the door, waiting to ensnare children in the coils of responsibility and sober reason. Some mystical escapism tempered with the lessons of the day has been a timeless combination that continues to this very day.

The only problem with fairy tales and fables is when children become adults and still believe them. Women waiting for Prince Charming and men searching for Cinderella can really be quite sad in reality. Political candidates invoking the boogie man and trolls under bridges along with pots of gold at the ends of rainbows are really quite dangerous given the gravity of the problems and challenges facing this planet.

I imagine that all of us wish the travails of Mary and her little lamb and little Miss Muffett and her arachnophobia were the biggest problems of the day. But these are grim times and not Grimm times – there is a difference.

The G.O.Tea Party has sauntered its way to the presumed precipice of victory on November 2nd by peddling fairy tales and fables that, repeated enough times, have taken on the aura of reality. The fable of “death panels for grandma” ranks right up there with the seven dwarfs, but somehow too many of the American people believed and of an important end of life counseling feature of the original healthcare bill was eliminated. And those of us living in the real world must suffer the consequences.

There have been so many “statements” and “inquiries” regarding President Obama’s nativity that questions of his citizenship have the same currency as the NORAD tracking of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Most adults know that the NORAD tracking is just for the amusement of children. The damnable questioning of Barack Obama’s citizenship is shameful and stupid, but more people question his birthplace today than when he ran for President two years ago.

The G.O.Tea Party and its cohorts (with brown shirts and sheets and torches and pitchforks safely tucked away for the moment) would have us believe that the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party have embarked on a left of liberal, quasi-Marxist legislative agenda that will subvert the rights of every citizen.

Like the three little pigs hovering in their brick home, the G.O.Tea Party adherents believe that Big Bad Obama will huff and puff and blow away all of their freedoms. The fact that there is no proof of such an agenda has not deterred the proponents of these diatribes and the lack of reality has not caused true believers to even pause and wonder.

The stimulus package in all likelihood saved the American economy from cratering and collapsing. There is no doubt that the Obama Administration saved the American auto industry and the millions of jobs related to an industry that has been the very embodiment of Americana for over a century. How that translates into taking away freedoms, aside from the freedom to be poor and unemployed escapes me. But then reality escapes most of the G.O.Tea Party, so we are even.

Mice running up clocks and spiders washing down water spouts may be great conversation points for five year olds, but it is not helpful to the national discourse. Advocating the dismantling of the United States Department of Energy and the United States Department of Education are stories to scare children at night – they are not part of a useful political agenda when this country’s energy policies are in dire need of reconfiguration and this country’s education system teeters between world class quality and dysfunction (depending on where you live and how much money you can spend).

While Halloween is fittingly two days before the midterm elections, even Christine O’Donnell flying by on a broom can’t make reasonable people believe in these fairy tales. We are living in very difficult times with an uncertain future.

This cannot possibly be the time for fables and confectionery stories that make us feel good right after we have our warm milk and cookies. The fact that the Obama Administration has tackled the structural problems in this country’s economy is not a cause for alarm, no matter what is said in the multimillion dollar advertising campaign funded by individuals and corporations that have made billions by reason of these structural problems.

What is important now is for people who are awake and in possession of their wits to go and vote. Too many people who want to believe the G.O.Tea Party fairy tales are going to vote, supposedly in record numbers – with their anger and their refusal to acknowledge the fables that they have been fed for what they are – cynical lies intended to distract voters from reality.

And the reality is that the day after the election, if too many people believe the fairy tales, there will be a real nightmare that will not end.

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