It wouldn’t be the first time and don’t worry, I’ll get to how this relates to the animals eventually.
But I thought the suggestion sounded reasonable in the wake of an election won by slivers but proclaimed as landslide, a march on Washington attended by 200,000+ people but deemed irrelevant, and of our “representatives” in Harrisburg deciding to call it a year and go home with five voting days left and a pile of important bills awaiting consideration.
I happened to be wondering, again, many times again, how so many people seem to be so completely missing the point and, worse, getting on TV to tell me, completely inaccurately, what my point was in the first place, when Dale Bozzio came on the iPod. “My lips are moving and the sound is coming out. The words are audible but I have my doubts that you realize what has been said.” Believe me, sister, I know how you feel. Maybe dying my hair blue might get someone’s attention.
I’m not generally an ardent populist but I can’t help but feel like we are represented and reported on by a bunch of narcissistic people viewing the lives and demands of “we the people” via the reflection of a carnival mirror. We just had an election that was decided in the nation as a whole by a few percentage points total. The losing party crawls around like they were the last picked for dodge ball. The winning party puffs up and crows about their new “mandate” bestowed by “the people”. Well, to quote Gil Scott-Heron, “Mandate, my ass.”
I am not making a political case; there is plenty to go ire to go around. I am making a case for the utter lack of reality being perceived by either political party. In 2010 election, the total number of votes cast for all Democratic candidates for US House was 35.4 million compared to 41.1 for Republicans, or a 5.7 vote margin for the Republicans. A win? Certainly. A shellacking? Maybe. A mandate? Hardly. If 41.1 million votes count as a mandate- not even 41% of Americans but 41.1 million votes- then certainly the Democrats had also had one in 2008, when they received 65.2 million votes with a 13 million vote margin- 50% more votes than the Republicans received this time. And certainly many Democrats claimed their mandate then, too. The Dem Mandate- now with 50% more mandatey deliciousness!
So winning between 5 and 13 million more votes- about 10% of the total votes cast and only 2% to 4% of the total US population gives a political party a mandate? It gives a party the right to claim they are doing the will of the American people? Who do they think they are? I’m 20% of my nuclear family and I can’t speak for my three daughters without catching hell. And John Boehner or Nancy Pelosi is going to speak for me? How presumptuous.
After all, nearly half the voters voted against each of the two of them (I know I did). That would be like a football team winning by one point on a two point conversion and claiming ownership of every fan in the opponent’s city. And as much as I wonder where these people get off telling us something that they must know is patently, baldly a lie, I wonder more why no one calls them on it.
Poor John Stewart (and it’s hard to say “poor” about anyone making $7 million a year) wondered the same thing. He got over 200,000 people to join him in wondering why the media treats every event as an equal crisis and every claim as equally valid. Without making a political point, he made a serious point that the fuel that is driving our damaged politics is in part a media and journalists who should be calling “Bull****!” when they see it and that failing to do so results in a state of white noise in which everything is a crisis and we fail to respond to anything any longer or even recognize when we are being lied to. Or are lying to ourselves.
Well, of course the media didn’t like their former darling to call them out for being part of the problem. Dance, little monkey boy, entertain us! Throw your poo at Fox News, what a lark! Hey, where are you aiming that…don’t throw it at me…hey, you’re not funny anymore…bad monkey boy, go back to being a comedian. John Stewart had a point all right, they just didn’t like this one.
And finally, we get to Harrisburg. In the PA House, with five voting days left, the Democratic leadership packed up and went home (see end note). Apparently there wasn’t enough important work to do. Except 68 Democrats and Republicans did stay. They said the Pledge of Allegiance, identified themselves, and then had to leave since no work could be done. That 68 knew that there was work to do, much of it uncontroversial work that simply required votes. Some of it controversial but important work that simply required true leadership.
After a year of hearing that there were other more important things to do than vote on bills I and many others in animal welfare wanted, the leadership decides they are too busy to even show up. After being told there is not the political spine to vote on some issues, why not take a shot of lame duck courage and at least take a final principled vote? I guess they were as short on principal and courage as they were time.
I had things they could have voted on. What about the Gas Chamber ban? That would have been a good one. What about the pigeon shoot ban? Now there’s one they’ve been avoiding for a while. Oh, I know! Why not help the HSBC and other cruelty law enforcement agencies who are now the victims of frivolous lawsuits which are the new tactic of disgraced or convicted breeders. There was a bill that would extend us the same immunity given normal police agencies. Maybe they had to run home to write us a donation check to cover the legal bills.
Think about it. Would you accept it from me if I stopped working in November and told you I had helped all the important animals, the rest didn’t really matter? Could you get away with that at work?
I know a lot of people out there (present company excluded, of course) don’t think animal welfare issues rise to the level of importance of other vital interests right now, and I understand that. But many of these issues have the overwhelming support of “the people”. Yet our politicians are so busy claiming to speak for the people and wielding their razor thin winning margins that our actual pleas fall on deaf ears. Our press, which is supposed to be our surrogates in naming wrong doing and doers, leads with bleeding and doesn’t stop long enough to ask themselves simple questions like, “Wow, these guys string a lot of words together, but exactly how will that make jobs/keep us safe/take your pick?”
And our elected representatives in Harrisburg, who had plenty of time to pass “Lights On After School! Day”, couldn’t stick around for five more days to do the work they were sent there to do. Guess what? While they are at home for the holidays, being paid with my taxes, I’ll still be at work trying to figure out how to help animal shelters who want to get rid of their gas chambers but don’t have the resources to do it; I’ll still be here fielding cruelty calls about pigeon shoots; I’ll still be getting sued for doing the State’s cruelty enforcement work for them; and I’ll still be helping take care of the animals abandoned without any government resources- just like lots of other “American People” who work in animal shelters.
I doubt I’ll be getting any volunteer time from any of those State Reps to help out this holiday season. I doubt I’ll get much attention by from the press. I doubt I’ll be first and foremost in mind when politicians tell me they are doing the things I sent them to Washington to do. Don’t pay any mind to the American People. But just in case they can’t tell, we’re not waving, we’re drowning.
Somebody pass me the hair dye.
End Note: While I was penning this, the House leadership was recalling all it’s troops back to Harrisburg on Monday (hope they enjoy the six day weekend).
End, End Note: And when they returned they passed the bio-security bill which give puppy millers a way to cut off access to their “farms” by making them “bio-security zones” and by turning Humane Society Police Officers into “eco-terrorists”. Sweet. Read more here.