OPINION – You don’t need the psychic abilities of Nostradamus to understand that we are on the threshold of a very important year.
How we prioritize it all is a matter of personal judgment, although it would be difficult to point to something more important than the impending election.
Whether we have the ability to supplant the oligarchy that has kicked democracy to the curb or not remains to be seen.
But, we’ve got to give it our best shot, even though the field is fairly thin.
While the race for the White House is important, it pales in comparison with the Congressional races because the root of the nation’s problems lies within a House and Senate bent on mutual political destruction to prove its combating ideological precepts.
Of course, it is quite easy to be hardline when you have the bucks to back you up.
And, the members of Congress certainly have the bucks, with more than 50 percent worth a million dollars or more.
Now, I realize that a million dollars isn’t quite what it used to be, but considering the economic discrepancies in the U.S., it represents a far better financial position than the overwhelming majority of the voting – and, nonvoting, as a matter of fact – public.
They made all that money representing special interests, not our interests, yet we cling to the foolish notion that our guys are the good guys and the others are from the dark side.
It just doesn’t sit well.
At least not with me.
How can somebody with a nice fat paycheck, with ancillary money rolling in from special interests and lobbyists, relate to me or any other working stiff? How many of them worry about a monthly car payment? How many worry about the outrageous cost of health care or sweating out the monthly electric bill?
These folks can’t relate to you or me, yet they are the ones passing laws and appropriating money that comes from taxes generated by our hard work.
There’s a lot of focus right now on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the others, but have we really seen much about our incumbent Congressional members and those who would challenge them?
But, my friends, that is where the essence of our troubles, as a nation, lie.
Stop pointing fingers at the White House. Like him or not, President Obama is not responsible for the current state of the Union and your quality of life.
It’s the elitists in Congress who you should blame.
How can Congress really understand the importance of raising the minimum wage, hiking social security benefits to keep pace with the cost of living or providing additional veterans benefits when most of them have their pockets stuffed with green?
So, while they have been reported with an air of importance much greater than they deserve, the debates have been nothing more than cheap entertainment rooted in mostly odious dialog and a lot of huffing and puffing.
I mean, seriously, is there anybody among them who you would invite over for Sunday dinner? I didn’t think so. It’s a preposterous bunch that leaves me with an overwhelming sense of fear and loathing, to borrow a phrase that seems ultimately appropriate at this juncture.
But, a shiver runs down my spine when I think of Congress, where the decisions are made.
Yes, the presidency matters, but only in terms of statesmanship and leadership. As we all should know, however, there are bigger fish to fry as far as keeping the nation afloat, and only Congress can handle that job.
So, you can argue all you wish about how many vacation days this president has taken, how he views same-sex marriage, how he feels about gun control. The fact is it doesn’t matter because the real power lies in Congress. If you want to learn whose interests Congress really represents go to followthemoney.org and you’ll get a full, nonpartisan listing of who fuels the House and Senate with infusions of campaign contributions, which, in turn, results in political and economic favoritism that has nothing to do with the needs of you, me or anybody we know.
Still, we get all hot under the collar about Trump or Clinton or Carson or Sanders, to the point of a rising incivility that has rendered us further apart than at any other time in the nation’s history, save for the Civil War.
Yes, it is going to be an important year in U.S. history.
We have to figure some way to help the disappearing middle class, which was once the backbone of the nation.
We have to figure out how to pull people out of poverty and the desperation that accompanies it.
We have to find a way to educate our children without saddling them with outrageous, crippling tuition fees.
We have to find a way to ensure all are covered with a health care plan that really works.
We have to find a way to deal with Russia as it drags us closer to confrontation as a result of the trouble in Syria.
We need to find a way to bring jobs back to the United States instead of shipping them overseas and undermining our employment figures while the fat cats get fatter.
We need to find a way to effectively step away from the Middle East instead of further entangling ourselves in yet another unwinnable war.
Most of all, we have to find ourselves again and repair the damage we have done to ourselves as a people, find the compassion we once offered the world and the hope that once was part of the American fabric.
Yes, it is going to be an important and very busy year.
So buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
But, we can make it through.
All we have to do is think of “we” instead of “me.”
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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