The New Politics of “I blame me.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

I have an expression. It’s my expression. I made it up. I’m going to tell you the expression. You can think about it, but if you use it, you owe me a royalty.

“Screw you, buddy!” …Hey! I heard that! I was just kidding about the royalty – unless you were actually considering paying me one, in which case I was serious. No? I didn’t think so. Anyway, I was kidding about the royalty, but thank you for helping me make my point. My point is that everybody nowadays, people, governments, everybody is way too uptight, too sensitive.

I’ll give you only one example, but there are zillions, many of which, unfortunately, have major and too often negative implications for the quality of our lives, here in America and around the world. This particular example is a fluff piece, but then I don’t want to be accused of being too serious while I’m in process of complaining about just that.

The other night, Michele Bachmann, Republican candidate for President, appeared on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” As is their custom, the show’s band, “The Roots,” mocked the guest in its choice of music. It’s a great tradition. This particular night, they played Rep. Bachmann on the stage with strains from Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.”

Personally, I thought it was hysterical. Do I want Ms. Bachmann to be our next President? No, but The Roots’ musical introduction has nothing to do with it. I don’t think she’s anything of the sort, a lyin’ ass bitch, that is. I just don’t think she knows what’s she’s talking about when it comes to economic and social policy and don’t want her running our government.

To her credit, as far as I know, she wasn’t the least bit bent out of shape, probably because she couldn’t understand or wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics, and has taken the whole episode in stride making it, in my opinion, one of her finest moments as a candidate. I still don’t want her to be President, but she gets points I wasn’t willing to give her before.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares my own and maybe Rep. Bachmann’s sense of humor. NBC has apologized and chastised The Roots. The Roots have apologized, and Jimmy Fallon has apologized. For what? Because a handful of Bachmann supporters and tight ass, humorless viewers, who probably didn’t even watch the show, complained? Com’on already. It’s live-on-tape comedy headlined by a former star of SNL. Using intro music to mock the guests is a tradition, and a good one. A bit irreverent perhaps, but exactly what we need. Did Serena Williams or her fans complain, and did NBC apologize when The Roots introduced her with EU’s “Da Butt”? Of course not. The show starts at 12:35 AM. Who’s even watching?

It’s all a sign of the times in which we’re living, which takes me back to my expression: “When things are going well, nothing matters. When things are going badly, everything counts.” Scientifically speaking, sensitivity increases in times of stress. Unfortunately, sensitivity begets stress, and it’s all downhill from there.

When you’re in love, for example, that babe you’re dating could have coffee breath and an entire stalk of broccoli stuck between her two front teeth when you introduce her to your parents, and you won’t even notice. And if you notice, you won’t care. On the other hand, if the relationship is having problems, the way she flosses will be annoying, routine decisions – where to eat, what show to watch, etc. – will become impossible, and sex? What sex?

Sound familiar? Yes, I’m talking about Congress, about Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers and the President. Things aren’t going well, in the economy in particular, but elsewhere, too. Your instincts for self-preservation have taken over and have you blaming everyone else, often for your own shortcomings. Everybody’s blaming everyone except.. except themselves. Well, I’m letting you all off the hook and blaming my-self.

You know what? I don’t think the problems in Washington are about Democrats or Republicans or anyone in particular. Nor do I think they happened overnight. I think they’re symptomatic of a much more serious problem, the long-term malaise, laissez-fair and indifference of the American voter, me included.

And so, I have decided to found a new political party that has only a single item platform: If we’re not satisfied with the way our government is behaving, we vote against the incumbent, period. I’m calling our movement “The Next Contestants.”

My Congressman, for example, has been in office forever, through okay times and bad. Same with our two Senators. They’re basically good people who, I guess, have done their best to represent me, doing more or less of what politicians do. The thing is, doing their best wasn’t good enough. They didn’t necessarily cause the problem, but they sure as hell let happen on their watch. Okay, I’m not going to argue fine points of government policy or advocate anything in particular. That’s way too hard and makes my brain hurt. My only, admittedly simple point, is that my representatives were there when things were going wrong. Whether they did their best to stop it isn’t as important as that they didn’t stop it. They either didn’t see it coming or didn’t do anything or enough about it. Either way, I blame them and, more to the point, I blame me for not having voted them out sooner.

Starting next November, I’m going to vote for the best of the candidates who aren’t already in office, preferably, but not necessarily for an independent because party affiliation discourages compromise. Independents have no choice but to work with each other. Unless he or she is a serial killer or has some really unacceptable facial hair or other personal hygiene issue, I’m voting for “the other guy.” You want to get re-elected? Make my government work. Until then, “Next contestant.”

-Next Contestant

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