I’m a news freak. I’ve been a news addict since Walter Lippmann opened my eyes not only to the dirt, but also to a lot of good, that came out of Washington in those post-World War II days. I really believe that it is to him that I owe, at least in part, my devotion to national and world events, although I’m not sure whether this is a blessing or a curse. In any event, this addiction of mine led me to become utterly opinionated, much to the chagrin of my wife and the rest of my family. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
Now it so happens that fifty years after Walter Lippmann, I find that a lot has changed in America, but mainly at the grassroots level, where we the people have finally matured to the point of electing an African-American as our president. Something extraordinary in view of our almost 250 years of shameful bigotry. The American people deserve a big “atta boy” for this.
Regretfully, at the congressional level, in those hallowed halls that were the cradle of our democracy, a beacon on which most of the world pinned their hopes for peace, freedom and a better live, very little has changed over the decades.
Democrats and republicans are at each other’s throats, as usual. In yesteryears, when the democrats were the party out of power, they were the ones that vilified the republicans. Today, it’s the other way around. Except that the decibels are higher. The courtesy that should characterize the debates often turns into shouting matches and bitter exchanges. There is real anger, even hatred, in Congress.
After having watched the deeds and misdeeds in Washington for all these years, I ask myself, what has happened here? Why is it that the issue of our country’s public health care system (and yes, it is public, since it involves the American public in general) is stirring up so much more debate and controversy than any other crucial issue facing our country? I think I know the answer. It is because over the years the insurance companies, aided and abetted by a Congress open to hidden deals, hungry for so called “contributions,” were allowed to entrench themselves, to gouge the millions of Americans who could afford to pay the ever increasing premiums, and who did so, loyal to a system of which they thought as being a part.
But inevitably, the greed that for so long nourished the Wall Street behemoth and the insurance moguls who are ripping off Main Street turned out to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The people got tired, and began asking questions. The clamor in Congress got louder, more acrimonious. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh and Ed Schults got more strident.
In the meantime the world is watching, puzzled, for it can’t understand what is happening here. In London’s pubs, Paris’ cafes, and Berlin’s cabarets there is laughter and satire directed at us. People there scratch their heads and ask, “What the devil is all the hullabaloo about. Why don’t the Yanks just come over and ask us how to do it?”
In the meantime, here at home, we the regular folks scratch our heads and ask, “Don’t those bozos on Capitol Hill care for us? Who really cares there about America?”
“Think I’m opinionated? Yeah, very much so.”