If I were a political creature, I'd be tempted to start a new movement, or perhaps a party, and call it AARM: Angry, Abandoned, Radicalized Middle.
This week saw two strong rebukes to our political system, first by the historic downgrading of American debt, and next by a resounding market slump. Both have been attributed to the recent debt deal in Congress that came up short of its goals and settled nothing. Not a cent has been cut from the budget; we have merely a promise to reduce spending while the country borrows enough to tide us over until after the next election.
A committee of twelve has been named, evenly divided between the parties and the Houses of Congress, to negotiate just 1.2 trillion dollars (down from 4 trillion) in budget cuts. The party leaders named the members and it appears that on the hill, it's business as usual. There are no mavericks in the bunch.
Meanwhile we centrists, who we're told comprise a majority of the voters, are unrepresented.
The polarizing issues are taxes vs. entitlements. The Republicans oppose any tax increases, or "revenue enhancements" in the parlance of the euphemizers, whatsoever. The Democrats are defending Social Security and Medicare, plus a host of social programs, against all cuts.
The A.A.R.M. sees clearly that both sides are wrong.
Taxes were foolishly lowered under the Bush administration and should be put back where they were. Entitlements have been overpromised through the years; modest adjustments in them today may prevent drastic cuts, or even elimination, later on.
But there is no time to waste. And so far as this writer can see, that's all Washington is doing or wants to do: kill time until the next election when each side hopes to effect a sweep so that it won't have to compromise. In other words, the once coveted middle ground has been abandoned and neither party wants to answer to the nation's centrist majority.
Are you feeling as angry, abandoned, and radicalized as I am?
Solitude by Marc Chagall, 1933. The worried rabbi represents the Jewish people, outcast from the darkened city at the onset of the holocaust. The Torah scroll, the small and innocent looking cow, and the violin that's been set aside, recall the shtetl life that is no more. An angel flies unnoticed through ominous skies. Solitude decries the people's abandonment and isolation. Click on the picture for a closer look.