The Hopeless Detachment of the Political Class

There is no quote made recently which better encapsulates the complete obliviousness or perhaps indifference to the condition of the American citizenry than this one made recently by Joseph Lieberman:

“we can’t protect these entitlements and also have the national defense…to protect us…from Islamist extremists”

National defense in this case can be presumed to mean the wars of choice being openly fought in places such as Iraq and Libya, the covert wars being fought in several other countries from Somalia to Pakistan, and the gargantuan, unaccountable national security state which every day tracks and stores 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications made by regular Americans. That politicians such as Lieberman see fit to advocate cutting the social safety net which supports millions of the most desperate people in society in order to continue the pursuit of this empire-building agenda speaks volumes to where they see their real interests as lying. The idea that the appropriate attitude towards government should mean  “starving the beast” in practice apparently means “starving social security and Medicare recipients” in order to continue feeding the beast which is the defence industry. It is truly unfortunate that Americans struggling with double digit unemployment and facing the spectre of another recession do not have advocates in Washington who are as single-mindedly committed to their interests as Lieberman and others are committed to the interests of those profiting from more wars and more domestic surveillance.

The political class of the preeminent nation on earth has led the country to a point of such disrepair that not only are its creditors beginning to speculate on its inability to pay back simple debts, formerly supplicant countries such as China are now in a position of such relative strength that they can berate the United States on the need for it to live within its means and break its addiction to credit. Indeed, in the wake of the stunning and humiliating decision by Standard and Poors to downgrade the value of U.S. debt, the S&P released a statement which is an indictment of the failures of the American political leadership and a testament to how unnecessary and avoidable this downgrade was:

the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues”

The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.”

It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options.”

The ideologically driven tax fundamentalists in part responsible for this debacle continue to call for cuts only where it will hurt Americans most, but largely leave aside the enormous sums continuing to be spent on wars which have hardly even a tangential relationship with U.S. national security.  That the pursuit of empire is now the holy grail of American politics, taking primacy even over ensuring that the citizenry has the basic necessities of life, is a sign of a political class that is hopelessly out of touch with the people and wholly uninterested in pursuing anyone’s interests but their own. This is not solely an indictment of any one political party but also of the “progressive” leadership (keep in mind, this is a Democratic administration) which has presided over an expansion of the neoconservative empire-building project far beyond what George W. Bush and his administration were ever able to accomplish.

It is worth wondering at what point Americans will begin to pay attention to the utter contempt and disregard their political leaders appear to show for their wellbeing while they pursue their own ideological agendas. In their wildest dreams the worst domestic or international terrorist would never be able to match the suffering which cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits would cause to the most vulnerable people in America, and that this is being advocated in order to protect war spending makes it even more shocking and egregious. Whatever little worth Bill Maher’s words normally have, his call for a “liberal Tea Party” may actually be an idea worth heeding as it may be the last hope for legitimately addressing America’s problems and rescuing it from its demonstrably hopeless leadership. The hapless, quixotic pursuit of global empire which has characterized the past decade of U.S. policy is now coming home to claim the American people as its next victim; don’t expect the political class to stop it.

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5 Responses to The Hopeless Detachment of the Political Class

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head hear. The real policy agenda for this congress and president is not “what the people need” but “what we think the people need.” Even people who don’t see eye to eye on economic issues can agree that the current game on capitol hill has become ridiculous.

    Even if entitlement spending does need to be curtailed (one could make that argument that long-term it is needed) the priority must be cutting our bloated defense spending. We don’t need to maintain fleets of nuclear submarines in order to fight a relatively small group of people with rocket launchers and machine guns. Since what we’re doing overseas is immoral anyways, that type of wasteful spending should be the first item cut.

  2. thepoliticalcat says:

    I just read your guest piece in Salon, regarding Iraq’s “reparations” for its own destruction. Perhaps you’re not aware that the Western nations have always charged their colonies the cost of colonizing them and putting down any “rebellion” against them. Chinese history is very educational in this respect, and Han Suyin, in several of her books, especially her autobiography, points out that, although China was never physically colonized, the great poverty she suffered between the 19th century and her ultimate independence was, in large part, due to the heavy “reparations” the Qing dynasty monarchs were forced to pay to Britain, Belgium, Germany, and other European nations for the cost of quelling the Boxer rebellion, among other such “costs.” Britain certainly insisted that India repay her for the cost of colonization and the ensuing centuries of blatant robbery that followed.

  3. mazmhussain says:

    I’m familiar with it, my point was to point out that it is not the transcendent liberation which political leaders claim (and many people still on some level believe) it to be. There is no “just” reason for continuing this exercise, and nothing “good” has been accomplished. Hopefully the next time they try to get this machine rolling (Iran) people will be more wary of these claims

  4. Ethan Lee Vita says:

    excellent guest article (sorry this thread got hijacked for your other article), but I much prefer to think of it as the Protectorate of Iraq paying tribute to the American Empire. There’s a lot of comparisons to be made between the roman empire and american; an entire article’s worth. Reparations are payments of restitution, which this case does not qualify as. Yet another case of the political elite using words and phrases with the wrong meaning for propaganda value.

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