Our Oxymoronic Politics: Defunding Government as a Major Fundraising Opportunity

by Martin Kich

Martin Kich

Martin Kich

All summer, various Far-Right organizations have been making money hand over fist by selling bumper stickers, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and all sorts of other paraphernalia usually associated with political campaigns but, in this instance, promoting three delusional political causes: (1) the impending impeachment of President Obama; (2) the impending confiscation of all guns from all American households, whether law-abiding or not; and, of course, (3) the impending collapse of American medical care and the American economy because of the long-delayed enactment of the final major provisions of  the Affordable Care Act.

Never mind, that not even the most radical of the Tea Partiers in Congress have introduced any impeachment resolutions—or even mentioned impeachment on the House floor. Never mind that, despite recurring massacres, the Federal government has not been able to pass legislation that makes it even marginally more difficult for mentally unbalanced individuals to purchase assault weapons and large magazines of ammunition. Never mind that the Affordable Care Act is essentially a Conservative-endorsed approach to healthcare reform that the Far Right has been denouncing only because President Obama had somehow convinced himself that bipartisanship was possible even if he completely caved to Far Right demands.

While the Democrats have been focusing on the nefarious schemes of the Koch Brothers, Far Right hucksters have been making millions off the true believers, who may not have the proverbial pot to piss in but can easily be talked into spending a few bucks to prevent nonexistent threats to their Liberty with a capital L. I’d like to suggest that the Brothers Koch begin marketing an anti-Obama elixir that can be sold in cough-medicine bottles. It can be positioned next to the ampules of Five-Hour Energy drinks at the check-out counters of convenience stores across America. It will soon outsell Coca-Cola or Pepsi, and the Brothers Koch will then not even have to spend their own millions to remake America into their funhouse-mirror image of it.

So I am obviously prepared to heap great scorn on the leadership of the Far Right for what seems an incredibly cynical manipulation of its own base.

But I should have anticipated that, as usual, the Democrats would try to replicate what the Far Right has been doing, but end up doing it in a much lamer way.

Each day over this past week, I have been receiving an escalating number of e-mails imploring me to contribute to some two dozen Democratic fund-raising organizations to offset the “Koch Brothers financing” of the Far-Right effort to force the defunding of the ACA by shutting down the Federal government.

Really?

Has the difference between governing and politically campaigning become so negligible that voters are now expected to make political contributions year-round, year in and year out, in order to sufficiently encourage their elected officials to engage in principled governing?

And if I am not, in effect, bribing Democrats to have some spine in standing up to the Far Right, then what purpose would my contributions serve?

Unless there is another mass shooting or a major hurricane suddenly bears down on our coastline, the twenty-four-hour cable news channels will be unwatchable until this “government shutdown” is resolved. It will be so bad that the “lock-up” reality shows that MSNBC runs after suppertime on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays will seem a welcome reprieve from the news, rather than what they usually seem like—porn for sociopaths. So, no one in America who actually cares about the sorry state of our national un-government will be able to claim that they have somehow been prevented from being so fully informed about this contrived crisis that they cannot escape a profound feeling of disgust–something akin to the feeling that comes over you if you singlehandedly eat a pan of lasagna meant to feed eight people. (I am not saying that I have ever done this, but I am not adamantly denying it either.)

So, on the one side, we have the career politicians who hate government, and on the other side, we have the career politicians who don’t seem to have the gumption required for governing.

And, since I have raised the topic, why would anyone elect someone who is anti-government to a political office—or, for that matter, why would someone who is anti-government run for office? Isn’t that kind of like going to–or being–a doctor who is disgusted by the very sight of the human body? Or, since we are in a season in which several major sports seasons overlap, isn’t it like paying to watch–or being–athletes who would all, very obviously, much rather be playing other sports?

I suspect that some of this sounds a little unhinged. But when one is surrounded by crazy people, doesn’t crazy become the new normal?

Martin Kich is the president of the Wright State University chapter of AAUP, which includes two bargaining units representing a total of about 600 faculty. He is also the vice-president of the Ohio Conference of AAUP, a member of the executive committee of AAUP’s national Collective Bargaining Congress (AAUP-CBC) and  chair of the Ohio Conference’s Communication Committee.  Posted initially to the Academe Blog [http://academeblog.org/]

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