How Did We Get Here?

Professor how did we get here?  It’s a short question, five words, none with more than four letters, and only fifteen letters total before the question mark.

I paused to ponder before voicing a response.  The definition of “here” had been defined within the discussion.  She referred to the circus like, junior high school type of atmosphere which in my opinion is an accurate yet kind description of our continuing presidential campaign and the actors relishing the spotlight.  Regardless of personal ideology, it seems that even people on opposite ends of the spectrum agree more than disagree that the level of buffoonery and idiocy is reminiscent of the worst of a bad fictional television script.

Personally I no longer see evidence to continue the argument that we are witnessing differing political and legislative philosophy in our traditional two-party political system.  Sure the words differ.  What one side calls a rose is known as a thorn to that group while their rose is the other’s thorn.  A description that the bowl of gumbo is cold by one is reported by the other as that the same bowl of gumbo has not been sufficiently heated.  Left, right, liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, crawfish, or mudbug, may be the label attached but in actuality there is nothing more than the expression of “same ole, same ole.”

That’s one reason.

For years I’ve heard others calling for a restoration of America.  I usually ask restored to when and the responses vary.  Actually many responses are legitimate in that the restoration is to a time when they felt secure.  Legitimate not just from feelings but the reality was that for any number of reasons they were in fact protected or sheltered from the elements that bombard them today.  That’s different from any “Lost Cause” syndrome or the proverbial “rose colored glass” perspective such as the glorious and prosperous Old South myth.

That’s another reason.

I wanted to respond to the inquiry with reasons that we need to study history.  I wanted to illustrate how the pushes to limit and often eliminate programs in the arts and social sciences help lead to this path of ignorance.  It’s true that these programs might not provide detailed training appropriate to a single job.  They do, however, assist in learning how to learn and to apply specific skills to multiple areas.  To me arts, humanities, and social sciences share much with the experience one has being reared in a farm setting.  Often a repair is not possible with familiarity in only a single area, but the circumstances necessitate pulling pages from many books of knowledge and combining them into its own tome.

Contemplating but prior to responding my thoughts went back to 2009 when Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted “you lie” at President Obama during the President’s address to Congress.

I exhaled slowly and posed a quick question to those gathered around awaiting a profound response.  Historically in the US, who is more likely to gain seats in Congress during the midterm or “off year” elections?  Almost immediately several voiced the minority party.

I asked in the years 2010 and 2014 what was a common theme among GOP candidates in their respective quests for seats in the House and in the US Senate?  Again all listening, regardless of personal ideology, voiced or acknowledged in agreement that the refrain was to prevent President Barack Obama’s agenda.  The difference in opinions rested upon how one defined the President’s agenda.

I asked some of the most ardent critics of Barack Obama if they really believed that the President was not a citizen.  If they thought he was a Muslim and if that religious “test” really mattered.  Did they really think he intends or has the resources available to confiscate my or their personal weapons?

I responded that his opponents always talk about their opposition to the man, but they say that it’s not about race but about his programs and agenda.  How many people know enough to explain any of the programs in detail beyond the scope of a soundbite?  How was it that they themselves as students in a history course could not differentiate between speeches of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, but their opinions of the content changed abruptly when they learned that the President different from the one I stated actually delivered those words?  Perhaps their sentiments were explicitly or even implicitly connected race, but their personal perceptions influenced their thoughts.

When a scapegoat is created upon which to blame problems, and those problems remain even after the scapegoat has been taken from the equation what happens?  You find another scapegoat, but what if the problems remain after that scapegoat?  Ultimately one runs out of others to blame.  History, both in authoritarian systems or those which lean toward self-governance, has many examples.

Agree or disagree with President Obama, but his opposition has built up the “danger” in his programs and agenda.  Has the opposition with majorities now in both Chambers changed anything?  Has the doomsday predicted since 2009 taken place?

The opposition turned windmills into fire breathing giants, and they failed to topple the windmills.  Many in the general populace still believe that the ogres bent upon the destruction of all still exist and since those who first spoke of the danger have proven incapable, it allows for someone to ride in and gain the support as that outsider who can put down these leviathans of obliteration that do not exist other than in the partisanship rhetoric.

Too many cried the proverbial wolf for too long and now manque slayers are scrambling at the doorsteps to partake of their fantasy in a realm created by fiction.

No profound response, but that’s how we are here.  Reality became caught in the middle and isn’t as exciting as the alternatives.