Oops! I Grid it Again.
February 3, 2013 § 1 Comment
I define gridlock as not being able to leave the court and duck into the drink tent to refresh my lemon gingerini, nor being able to approach my croquet ball because my adversary is spending far too much time fannying about and sizing up his (though usually her) shot. In the go-go world of competitive croquet that’s called getting middled. You may define gridlock differently. Perhaps it’s one small stage at your local “club” and too many “dancers” trying to show off their skills thus causing a dangerous backstage logjam. The word gridlock has hundreds of uses but unfortunately its meaning has more or less been assigned to one thing in particular which is politicians being unable to pass laws and then foist said laws upon a helpless, though often uninformed public. Naturally the majority of the population, who’ve been conditioned to think they can’t even pop a squat without being overseen by their wise overlords, have come to believe that gridlock is a horrendous thing and that without activity out of our politicians the world may in fact decide to stop spinning on its axis. They then believe it’s their “civic duty” to put people in office who can play nice but when they come to realize that the majority of politicians are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine they become disenchanted with the process and begin to suffer from a form of Electile Dysfunction where they start to turn off, tune out, and drop off the voter rolls. I’m not going to argue for or against gridlock though in the this post. I’d have to go back and forth with myself, arguing for and against, then making counter arguments, I’d have to smack myself around, twist myself in knots, it would turn into individual gridlock and you don’t want that since you’ve consistently told me it would make me go blind.
All empires eventually fall. That’s the way of the world honey, it’s something you have to accept, just like daddy leaving us here in this little apartment with all these bills and never paying his alimony on time. Sorry, just practicing for a part as Alice in a summer stock version of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. I originally read for the part of Mel Sharples which was immortalized by the noted thespian Vic Tayback but they knew right away I had the chops to pull off the main character’s part even in drag. I got your number Linda Lavin, I’m gonna make it after all.
Any the hoo. Like I was saying, all empires eventually fall and let me ask you something. Do you think when these empires are falling that the people and the politicians are all getting along swimmingly and have a consensus about how to deal with the impending disaster? Hell no fool, that’s why the empires crumble. It’s finger-pointing time as circular firing squads are formed and re-formed with willing participants as far as the eye can see. For example, think the Romans went down quietly? There was plenty of literal and figurative backstabbing as the Romans saw the writing on Hadrian’s Wall and began to look for the exits. Gridlock my friend, Roman style.
So let’s go further and state boldly that our American empire is in fact in decline. There are plenty of indicators to point to to prove this. (I just used the word “to” 3 times in 4 words. May my 12th grade English teacher Miss Anderson rest in peace.) Culturally, financially, militarily, we’ve pretty much wrapped ourselves around the axle. So look, we all know America has peaked and we’re now on the other side of the hill and it’s as obvious as the carbuncle on my neck that most likely needs lanced. (I’m looking for second opinions though so if you’re interested contact me and I’ll shoot you a picture of the ugly bugger.) With that all being said, minus the carbuncle part, I see gridlock as being a natural outgrowth of two things. Sort of like my carbuncle.
First, the politicians follow the wishes of the voters as best they can, not because they care much about the voters but because they care about the votes. If you have an electorate who view themselves as living in a country teetering on a precipice and are pretty much split evenly (sound familiar?) between what they believe is the correct way to proceed, well then the suits will stake out a position on either of the far ends of the political spectrum and not allow themselves to be seen as compromising or fraternizing with the enemy lest they be drummed out by their entrenched voters. When a person strongly identifies with the far fringe of one political viewpoint then it becomes awful easy to blame every single problem in the country on those on the opposite side of the aisle. And like a cleanup squad following a parade of circus animals the politicians are there to pick up whatever shit the voters put down.
Second the pols themselves don’t want to rock the boat too much to make any changes because of course it can scare voters but just as importantly it may derail the gravy train that they themselves are sopping up with taxpayer subsidized biscuits. To a politician no group of words sounds better than status quo, except maybe free lunch or highly funded lobbyist. The politicians are the ones who orchestrated this empire with its ticking financial time bomb and stretched our world policing capacities to the limit and they really don’t want to be the ones to pull out the wrong piece in this bloated, obscene Jenga puzzle and have the sumbitch come crashing down on them.
Gridlock is a natural extension of these trends. This is what a country is supposed to act like and look like when it’s shaking itself apart. The population is supposed to dig in their heels and shun compromise because they realize they’re now playing for keeps and the politicians of the nation quickly follow this with their own form of entrenchment. This is nothing new or exotic. We’re going the way of all empires so get used to it and do your best to enjoy the ride. I know it’s hard America because we’re used to being ”el jefe” but remember what I tell my kids, it’s okay to be average, just don’t be too average. This also allows me to drop in one of my favorite quotes of all time. This concerns the Austro-Hungarian Empire which of course fell, but it’s applicable to just about any empire out there. It’s from Count Ottokar Czernin one of the last of the Austro-Hungarian foreign ministers.
We were bound to die, we were at liberty to choose the manner of our death, and we chose the most terrible.