Just wanted to check in with everyone before Amy and I jet off to spend the Labor Day weekend with her family out in Phoenix.
On Tuesday I went with Amy and a couple of her iSchool friends to see The Apartment at The Paramount. I'd never seen it before, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn't quite what I'd expected. I'd certainly heard of the movie, but with Jack Lemmon and Fred MacMurray starring as the film's leading men, I guess I expected more of a lighthearted comedy.
And the movie was funny, but it surprised me with its dark undertones. It's a testament to Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, the movie's writers, that a film involving themes of exploitation, misogyny, suicide, and dysfunctional relationships somehow managed to remain humorous and warm while still giving the audience a chance to relate to and sympathize with the characters in a genuine way. Of course, the strong acting by the entire cast helped, too (I think it was the best performance I've ever seen by Shirley MacLaine). Anyway, I'm sure that everyone but me has already seen this movie, so I guess I won't spend too much time dissecting it, but I really enjoyed it. Thanks to Amy for making sure that I finally saw it!
I haven't been blogging as much about politics and government lately, but to be honest, it's just because I've been finding the whole topic a little too frustrating and discouraging to even approach. I'm sorry if I sound negative for saying this, but I just don't have a whole lot that's useful to say. I'm ideologically opposed to most of the people on the far right, and leaders from far right seem to be controlling most of what goes on within the Republican Party these days (e.g., the Tea Party and people who share a similar mindset). They have a sort of "make no compromises/take no prisoners" mindset, and Obama and the Democrats are far too weak and conciliatory at almost every turn (on health care, the debt ceiling and fair taxation, terrorism trials and troop withdrawals, environmental protection, etc.). The Democratic leadership doesn't seem to be able to do much to protect America's middle and working class families other than to try to somewhat limit the damage that the Republicans are doing in the name of the American elite and big business, and genuine progress on most progessive issues still feels frustratingly out of reach.
Meanwhile, the American people seem to be making their political decisions in the sort of unthinking, reactionary manner that I've come to sort of expect. Mostly just frustrated and frantic about the country's failing economy and the national debt, voters sit poised to pour out their anger by heading to the voting booths to cast their ballots against whoever is in charge. Having extremely short memories, they seem to have forgotten that the economy had already started its tumble toward the end of an eight year period of Republican leadership, and that the national debt was hugely fueled by an extraordinarily expensive war in Iraq that never related to the events of 9/11 in any legitimate way, prosecuted under the leadership of an administration which mischaracterized intelligence data in order to induce a conflict (costing between 3 and 4 trillion dollars, by most estimates). People are angry about the economy, and they're ready to take it out on a bunch of elected officials who have mostly been in office a short time, even though the economic crisis has been long in the making and has affected not just the U.S., but almost every country in the industrialized world.
Other voters, perhaps less fueled by anger, are disappointed by the president's failure to make any headway on the economy since taking office. Even recognizing that he did not create the problems which he inherited, this second class of potential voters is deeply frustrated with and troubled by the president's unending, apparently tireless desire to cast himself as a "uniter"- a fantasy which has led to repeated capitualtion in directions of the failed policies which brought us to the untenable position that we currently find ourselves in (e.g., do we still need the Bush tax cuts for our wealthiest Americans if they helped drive the county into debt and ultimately failed to prevent a recession?).
I'm tired. I'm tired of the economy and tired of the government, and I'm just dreading the looming election year and all of the soundbites, slogans, shouting, and lack of meaningful discussion. Some people get more bothered by the empty promises and the sales pitches filled with hollow inspiration, but I'm more tired of the factual lies and the negativity.
I'm tired of our leaders, but, sadly, I'm even more tired of an unthinking, apathetic/apoplectic electorate that demands this sort of political process. I'm tired of voters who don't really make any attempt to gain any independent knowledge or make any sort of objective assessment about what's best for the country. I'm tired of voters who are so narrowly focused on their own self interest that they fail to see that complete inflexibility is going to ultimately be really bad for us all.
Our elected leaders seem to be in perpetual gridlock, and it feels like they're utterly incapable of getting anything done, but we can't solely blame our leaders for this fiasco. Congressmen and senators face constituencies who vow to immediately vote them out of office if they show even the slightest inclination toward compromise- no matter how reasonable. Leaders are hounded to sign pledges and oaths of loyalty, knowing that they'll immediately face a competitor from their own party during reelection if they make even the smallest deviation from strict party doctrine.
There's no way that our leaders can govern in this sort of situation, and there's no mantra or narrow ideology that can correctly inform every decision in every given situation.
I know this sounds hopelessly naive, but in order for Democracy to work, it really does seem like you need to have some level of education in your voters beyond soundbites and campaign ads. You also need flexibility and a willingness to compromise with neighbors who have differing points of view. And flexibility needs to come from both ends of the political spectrum.
But it doesn't seem like we're moving in that direction.
In fact, it feels like we're moving farther from it.
So I'm going to keep hanging out with Amy and eating froyo.
I'm pretty happy in my little corner of the world. But I find myself worrying from time to time that things will get nasty enough in the world at large that, ultimately, the world's problems will become my own. Given the economy, the job market (mostly for Amy), and my job (I work in a veterans court with war veterans who have been affected by our policies and in a mental health court that deals with health care and social service funding issues on a daily basis), I guess the bigger world is intruding already.
I'm watching, but I just want something new to discuss. It would be such a relief to hear some real discussion and to see some legitimate change.
So.... just have patience with the ol' blog.
And enjoy the posts about yogurt! ;-)