It is getting more and more difficult to try to find good news in the news. On the one hand we are presented with the spectacle of Sarah Palin seriously considering running for President of the United States. This, despite the fact that she has done her level best to prove to every American that she is absolutely lacking in the skills, ability or intelligence that would make her even a mediocre president.
On the other hand we are witness to President Obama and the G.O.Tea Party engaged in a monumental game of Chicken. The federal deficit cap must be raised by August 2, 2011; otherwise there is a very real risk of global financial meltdown. The G.O.Tea Party is linking the vote on the deficit to a budget proposal that will pare trillions from the federal budget without increasing taxes to pay for what used to be thought of as essential federal services.
President Obama has doubled down on the budget/deficit debate by offering to consider what can only be described as draconian cuts in social programs such as Medicare and Social Security. He has also proposed eliminating the Bush era tax cuts by 2012 and revising the federal tax code.
It seems as if we are watching the ship of state careening towards the unknowable abyss that could come from the economic apparatus of the United States government coming to a screeching halt. Since this has never happened before no one knows if apocalyptic predictions are valid. But that is like saying that, never having jumped out of a 22nd story window one is cannot be certain that death will be the result of such a leap.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, who famously could not name a newspaper or magazine that she reads regularly, somehow fancies herself as being presidential timber, as the saying goes. When celebrity is mistaken for leadership and fame (or infamy) is seen as a qualifying asset for the presidency, it may be that the Apocalypse is truly at hand.
But someone needs to remember that Sarah Palin’s irresponsible rhetoric – “lock and load” and gun-sight cross-hairs targeting the offices of political opponents (one of whom was shot in the head) has exacerbated an already overheated America. That Sarah Palin tried to portray herself as the aggrieved party after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head should have disqualified her from being considered for public office for all time. But this is the United States, where the collective public memory is about the length of time that it takes to click a remote – and all is forgotten, if not forgiven.
The election of Sarah Palin as President of the United States would confirm the arrival of the Apocalypse. The fact that she can be considered a possible candidate is cause for concern that the Apocalypse isn’t that far away.
And all the while the President and the G.O.Tea Party are engaged in a Texas Death Match, bound at the wrist, each with a knife that promises to eviscerate the vision and future of the other. Of course, the real losers in this fight are the American people who will have to face the consequences of unwarranted reductions in social and governmental services that will fundamentally downgrade the quality of life for millions of us.
There is simply no way that so-called “entitlements” (which are really part of the social contract between the government and its people) can be suddenly and drastically reduced without creating serious dysfunction for people who can neither afford it nor endure it.
The ill, the poor and the elderly will certainly suffer. But also suffering will be young people who will see their hopes and dreams for a better life extinguished with the elimination of education and training programs. And the embers of those hopes and dreams will not be easily re-ignited, leaving ashes at the feet of the youth of America that deserves so much more.
The vision of a future America that is mean and stingy and careless when it comes to the concerns of those most in need may not be apocalyptic, but it isn’t a vision that can give comfort to anyone who even pretends to being compassionate. And the irony is that these cuts and reductions would be taking place while it is clearer than ever that this country’s competitiveness in the international arena depends upon the quality of life that it offers its citizens – including education, healthcare and an enhanced environment.
A better United States that is bereft of hope and compassion is a tragic oxymoron. The G.O.Tea Party has framed the entire budget/deficit debate based upon the assumption that social and governmental services must be slashed and that the wealthy cannot be taxed any further. Within that construct lies a future where dreams will no longer come true.