Lack of Consensus is Not the Problem With Politics


Articles abound blaming the lack of consensus for today’s
malfunctioning politics and they are right, but only to a point. We yearn for
the good old days of cross-party consensus on such issues of common interest as…

  • Income
    inequality
  • Job
    loss
  • Infrastructure
    meltdown
  • Social
    isolation
  • Outright
    fraud and corruption
  • Immigration

…and others too numerous to mention. We piss and moan,
wring our hands and point fingers at one another, all too often fracturing long-term
relationships and staying away from family get togethers. It’s a national
disease as most of us retreat to those who ‘think like we do’ on Facebook and
Twitter. If consensus is dead, we, killed it quietly at home watching Fox News
or MSNBC.

When was the last time you sat over shared coffee, quietly discussing
opposing political views and arriving at consensus on those areas where you
found agreement? When was the last time you actually listened to another point of view without ‘pre-loading’ your
response? When was the last time you left such a discussion by learning something you hadn’t thought of
before? 

I am guilty of the same. It
took me a long time to realize that those who oppose me have a lot to say with
which I agree, alongside that I don’t. The Dalai Lama said it best, “If you distrust your wicked government, look
inside yourself because it is a reflection of you, who allowed it.
“But I didn’t allow it,” you will insist, “it was thrust
upon me by those idiots on the other side.
Really? And how many votes did you
change on the other side by listening
and quiet conversation on those values you had in common? Yeah well, that’s
nearly impossible today because we made
it impossible.
The far greater threat to our democratic republic at the
moment is the money in politics that all but drowns out the voices of
consensus. 
A majority of Americans want
single-payer (Medicare style) health insurance, gun control, good schools, fair
taxes and some controls over corporate greed at all levels. They are getting
none of these because of the unlimited legal
corruption of politics. 
It’s legal because your and my
Congress made it legal on their own behalf and the Supreme Court backed them up. Whether
or not it’s moral is another
question.
You and I may not have much
money, but we have a vote. Corporate America has no vote, but it has almost unlimited money. So, as corporations
often do, the created their own specialty loophole
and found a way to pay Congress for
its vote. 
Pretty neat. Other governments call it graft, corruption and fraud
(and we castigate them for it). In this fine democracy we call it PAC advertising and lobbying, but it stinks the same and has the same purpose.
Hence, we do not have single-payer
health insurance, gun control, good schools, fair taxes
and even a modicum
of control over corporate greed at all
levels.
Because those dudes we elected to represent us have been paid not to let us have them. Legally paid I guess, but morally corrupted for sure. 
And you know what? They’re not really happy about it either, but the Faustian bargain has been made.
The blame falls equally on both political parties. That’s
why this has remained unresolved under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Harry Truman’s buck doesn’t stop at the Oval Office anymore. It’s been
fast-tracked.
In election after election, both parties promise change and fairness. Once elected, they
are willingly paid to govern both
unchanged and unfair. Reflect upon this:
When Florida Republican David
Jolly came to Washington after winning a special election in 2014, he was
surprised by what he was told was his No. 1 priority–fundraising. Jolly told 60 Minutes he sat behind closed doors
with party leadership, where he was told he had six months to raise $2 million.
He said he was told, “Your job, new
member of Congress, is to raise $18,000 a day. Your first responsibility is to
make sure you hit $18,000 a day
.”
To accomplish that, he said
members of Congress are given lists of names and scripts. Because members
aren’t allowed to fund-raise on Capitol grounds, the campaign arms of both
parties have set up call-bank headquarters near the Capitol, where members can
duck in to spend a few hours on the phone.
A cute little work-around, that. Your average elected
official spends 30 hours a week—raising
money
. Small wonder the government is gridlocked, as it’s busy with other more important work—begging the cash to
get re-elected.
Something more to think about:
It costs $20 million to
support a Senatorial campaign. That, for a job that pays $174,000 in salary.
Wow, that’s not much return on investment, so there must be something else
going on. 
What do you suppose that ‘something else’ might be? The ability to
continue funding the next election cycle? The promise of a fat corporate job
after retiring?
Far be it from me to
speculate, but those just might be
smoking guns.
So, brave hearts, don’t give up on politics. Simply accept
the fact that the enemy is not a lack
of consensus. We still have consensus
on many issues by both Republicans and Democrats. But we’ve been brokered out
of bipartisan agreement by a co-conspiracy
between corporations and our elected representatives. 
Lack of consensus is not the enemy.
The enemy is Big Money.

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