T.M. Sell. “A few kind words for earmarks”. Cross Cut. February 9, 2009 – The complaining about lack of congressional oversight in the stimulus package underscores the absurdity of the post-modern America polity: We brag about our freedom, democracy, and superior form of government, and yet relatively few Americans have any faith in it or understand how it works. (And if we’re the greatest nation on earth, why do we have to keep telling everybody?)
My own students will frequently say they know nothing about government and pay little attention to it, but they know that most people in government are corrupt. How they know this is never made clear. My response often is, if so many government officials were truly on the take, they’d dress better.
Some of this automatic distrust stems from nearly 40 years of candidates campaigning against government, a gift of politics in general and the Republicans in particular. For far too long, the typical campaign rhetoric has been “government is the problem; elect me and I’ll destroy government.” The first part is yelled; the second part barely whispered.
You heard it loud and clear from the right throughout the 2008 campaign — the system is broken. Exactly how it’s broken, nobody really says, but apparently we’re going to hell on a hot rail unless we elect a bunch of people who hate government to somehow want to fix it. That’s like saying we could fix education if we hired a bunch of people who hate school.