Political Gridlock and Moral Bankruptcy – Insights from the Wilderness #43

Click here to listen to Dick read this NuggetI was reminded last week of the power of our individual and collective primitive ego to take the air out of a life-giving, badly needed patriotic “wow” for our country.

Gridlocked Congress

Our nation is in trouble. Our national debt is clearly out of control. Our elected officials in Washington are hopelessly gridlocked in their struggle to convince each other, and the voters, of the truth in their position; that their own particular political ideology is not simply a good idea; it represents “absolute truth”.

Political Gridlock and Moral BankruptcyMoral Bankruptcy

There is no hesitation on their part to intentionally exaggerate and distort the facts to support their ideological beliefs. They have abandoned their ethical and moral grounding when they knowingly, and intentionally lie to one another, and attempt to intentionally deceive the voters of our nation. It’s as if they believe it morally acceptable to blatantly lie if they are doing it to defend their extreme and rigid ideological beliefs.

No matter who chooses to use intentional distortions and lies, and no matter how they might justify why they think this kind of behavior and thinking is acceptable, it reflects moral bankruptcy. Politicians that choose to engage in this kind of behavior need to be voted out of office.

There is little doubt that the self-serving primitive egos of our elected officials, on both sides of the political aisle, are fixated primarily on their own re-election, and not on the welfare and future of our country. They appear frightened to death to talk about the real sacrifices that need to be made.

The most frightening part of this picture is how many voters, who hold similar beliefs, are not only allowing these lies and distortions to go unchallenged, they are actually supporting the politicians that are using them.

Our government was on the verge of shutting down last week because politicians were trying to convince the voting public that cutting spending for Planned Parenthood was a major issue in reducing our fourteen to sixteen trillion-dollar national debt. If our growing debt were not such a serious issue for the well being of our country, the whole debacle would have been an excellent example of sick humor.

Last week, President Obama gave what I believe was one of the great Presidential speeches in recent memory. He called on us to hold fast to the values and ideals that made our country great, he made it clear that everyone, including the super-wealthy, are responsible for supporting our country by paying taxes, he called on both houses of Congress to find ways to come together for the benefit of our country and find ways to work together to embrace compromise on the spending cuts that are so badly needed—-and to do it without abandoning the pledges we’ve made to the elderly, and without abandoning the educational, health care, and critical infrastructure programs needed for future generations.

He talked for almost an hour about compromise, learning to embrace a middlepath consciousness of compromise and cooperation, building a viable future for our children and grandchildren, and most importantly, his faith that we have come together in the past and we can come together again for the future strength and ideals of our nation. He acknowledged that both parties need to focus on the needs of our nation.

It was a great political, patriotic “wow” speech.

Within minutes, the pundits and political “spinners” were telling the television audience that it wouldn’t happen, there was no way Democrat’s would cooperate, no way the Republican’s would cooperate, that the president was appealing to the emotional fears of our nation. The rhetoric was clearly grounded in the ideology of the person “evaluating” the merits of the talk.

For example “another speech that was good on rhetoric, but short on details”, “he continues to increase the national debt to unfathomable and irresponsible levels”, “he needs to lead”, “he would like to pin the blame for our $14 trillion debt on hardworking Americans in the form of higher taxes”, “he made it absolutely clear today that Democrats will cling bitterly to deficit spending until our nation is bankrupt”.

There was no mention of the President’s call to patriotism, no mention of his focus on building hope into our future as a nation, no acknowledgment of the role of government to achieve what individuals are unable to accomplish, no comments on his vision to protect the things that made our nation the great country it is——it was simply fifteen minutes of derision, beliefs as to why it wouldn’t work, the fact that he was “hard” on the Republicans, how wall street would react, how the May 16th deadline to raise the national debt ceiling would not happen, and how the voters would not support an increase in taxes or a reduction in services.

What I heard was the over inflated, narcissistic, primitive ego of their inner-child criticizing and blaming others for the problems. It wasn’t “my” fault, it isn’t the fault of my political ideologies or my political party, it was “their” fault.
Their lack of faith in the voters ability to understand the reality that taxes need to be increased, services need to be pulled back, and that all of the entitlement programs are going to be impacted, was given as the primary reason the President’s ideas would never get traction. They seem to believe that voters are too self-focused to understand the severity of the problems that face us. Talk about projecting your short-comings onto others.

I heard no comments about the lack of political will on the part of the politicians in Washington to risk re-election by talking to voters about the dangerous fiscal realities we face if we do nothing, or the hard decisions that “have” to be made to get us back on a sound financial footing. Planned parenthood is “not” the problem….and most voters know it.

We are going to need tax increases “and” cuts in services….and we may not like it, but most voters know it. Voters are not naive, they understand what it means when a credit card has been over used;  everyone has experienced the need to tighten their belts.

Within minutes of the President finishing his talk, the air had been totally removed from a great, patriotic “wow” speech. The self-serving primitive ego focus of the pundits and politicians commenting on the speech could not let go of their own black-and-white ideologies, and the importance of their own self-interests, to acknowledge the patriotic message they had just heard. If re-election is so important to our politicians that patriotism is not their highest value, perhaps the answer is term limits.

The growth of our individual, and collective, primitive ego consciousness to that of an enlightened and awakened consciousness is one of the most important challenges facing our nation.

The dangerous, rigid, black-and-white thinking process of our self-focused primitive ego, and its insistence that its’ beliefs represent “absolute truth”, must be transformed into more enlightened, more evolved, middlepath consciousness; a consciousness that affirms and searches for the truth on both sides of every issue.

Our primitive ego is conditioned to be critical, not supportive. The primitive ego divides the world into good and bad, right and wrong, black-and-white, and the primitive ego’s of our politicians have succeeded in dividing our nation into dozens of tiny political and religious factions all claiming absolute truth and all battling to gain power.

Until voters begin to insist on truth telling and compromise on the part of our politicians, I fear that our nation is going to face a very painful future. As Wendell Berry reminds us, those who go to the fringes to explore the issues that face us do us a great service in that they define the territory at the extremes, but our culture cannot live on those fringes, we must find a way to live in the middle between those extreme positions.

We are a nation built on the high ideals of justice, caring for the poor and elderly, the democratic concept of compromise and cooperation, and the rights of every citizen to be able to trust that the “facts” that come from their politicians are truthful.

Without that trust, the future of any nation, ours included, is treading very dangerous ground.

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