I don’t have a lot to say about the State of the Union tonight.
Rather, watching it made me reflect on my own views of politics. Over the past ten years, I have moved from being a Republican to being a Democrat. Now, I do not subscribe to either party. That’s right, I am a man without a party. The State of the Union reminded me why that is.
During the address, President Obama didn’t talk about that important piece of paper we call the Constitution a whole lot other than mentioning gun control. Meanwhile, Senator Rubio of the Republicans seemed to think our country’s great wealth is the result of our economy — not mentioning that our Constitution is what allowed our economy to grow — I think he should have harped on the Constitution rather than on the economy. Instead, I felt like Rubio’s argument treated the economy like the deity in the South Park episode “Margaritaville” (Season 13 Episode 3).
Here are my thoughts on President Obama’s actual address.
President Obama gave a relatively visceral speech that did appeal to the passion of American wants and dreams. In fact, if I wasn’t so cautious about politicians, I’d probably be swept away in the whirlwind of emotional excitement.
I’d liken it to the time I voted for President Obama in 2008. Back when I thought, “Change is something we could believe in.” Now, 4 years later, I’ve become a bit pessimistic.
Year after year, we do this dance. The dance tends to involve our emotions and the words that politicians choose to fire at us. These words are not chosen through happenstance.
What has happened to me over the past years is that I have realized that words have meaning. They impact us at our core and can inspire use to do things we might not otherwise do. I used to think these words were hand selected by the speaker.
Instead, they are chosen by a panel of psychotherapists and linguists who pick them for being the most or least impactful, depending on the situation. Politicians know how words affect us, and they hire these specialists to tell them how to engineer consent with well-crafted speeches.
For example, at one point I believed in a word called justice. Whenever I heard a politician talk about justice, or whenever I read a law book espousing justice, I thought it meant something real. “Justice” was tangible to me, as if there was some kind of “rightness” in the world. Law school fixed that myth, and I now know that justice can mean a lot of things. In our legal system, it can mean merely the person with the deepest pockets gets what they want. Justice tends to fall on the side of the person who can afford it.
In a similar way, I used to think politicians would act on behalf of the people who elected them, and for no other reason. Now, I know that they do work on behalf of some of the people most of the time. Like justice, political will tends to be proportional with the size of the cause’s bank account. Goldman Sachs, they get political will. People needing veterans benefits from the government, they might need to wait a few more years.
I used to think party lines mattered and that those we elect are principled and not working for special interests that actually finance their elections. Political reality has been turned on its head for me. White is black. Right is left.
Then, I watched tonight’s State of the Union Address. I have literally heard many of the things President Obama said in numerous other rehashed altruistic policy presentations. It would be great if all the things he said came true. In fact, it would be like the Tooth Fairy leaving, instead of a silver dollar under your pillow, the key to all the world’s problems.
But it’s likely that what he said today will have as much of a chance of coming true as the Wall Street promises he made last year. Yes, he promised that those who ripped off the American public would be held accountable for ripping off all of us normal Joes.
I have ridden on his “Change” train. It’s fun. It’s hip. It’s popular.
As an advocate hearing story after story of veterans getting their dreams destroyed by the VA, my tune has changed. I have testified before the Democratic Platform Committee and written about how President Obama will give us veterans chocolate milk streams with starburst flavored raindrops. I also used to believe Republicans would create jobs and protect the family. But it just ain’t so.
This past weekend, I watched the House Committee on Veterans Affairs hammer the Department of Veterans Affairs for wasting $100 million on parties in Orlando dubbed “training conferences.”
Democrats and Republicans alike chastised the Veterans Administration about its misspending of tax dollars and its failure to account for where the money went.
What started off as “hearing as hardball” resulted in the Veterans Administration chastising our Congress for daring to accuse the VA of mismanagement.
What?! How could a governmental agency ever chew out Congress during a hearing? Then I realized something. When the GSA had an $800,000 conference, Congress and the press trounced Martha Johnson. She then resigned. SHE was a woman working for a nonmilitary related agency.
Meanwhile, the Veterans Administration blows $100,000,000 on training conferences and the head of the agency doesn’t even show up. Secretary Eric Shinseki was not even required to go. To make matters worse, the hatchet man, Scott Gould, went as far as to chastise Congressman Jeff Miller. ‘Holy cow! Is there no God?‘ I thought.
So, over my years of being educated in law and life, dealing with the VA, and now being misled by politicians, I have realized that the system is an upside-down runaway mess.
Congress acts like eunuchs when it comes to the executive. And it is clear that the executive is taking his orders from Wall Street. Democracy is in a state of free fall and trust in the system is crumbling. It will continue to do so until we move away from a dual party political system where only Republicans and Democrats are propped as our only tangible options for running the country.
When it comes to the will of the American people, those who at the end of the day will be stuck holding the tax bill, we will be left holding a big pile of you know what where our Liberty and Property used to be. And all those who are laughing about how they ignored the will of the people and broke the law will be asking each other, “Hey, do you know the name of a good stockbroker?”
Notice: If any politicians in Washington D.C. should choose to fix the VA disability backlog by hiring more adjudicators immediately, I will delete this entire post, because you will have proven me wrong. Democrat or Republican.