Years ago I wrote the following blog (with minor recent additions) which no one read and which I now realize was a bit pessimistic. Perhaps that was just how I felt at the time — or I was using hyperbole to get a response. In any event, with the recent vote on the ACA by the Republicans in the House and the talk about voting the bums out of office I thought it might be timely to revisit the theme. Are people finally going to get off their collective butts and vote the bums out and try to elect people who will be responsive to their own needs? That’s the million dollar question at this point. How much does it take to make people realize that the real problems are ones that are being ignored altogether — problems like climate change and overpopulation? The answer is, of course, it will happen when people wake up and realize that these problems are not theoretical: they will directly impact their lives in a very serious way. In the meantime I wonder if my cynicism was out of order.
Generally speaking, radical change, if it occurs at all, comes from the top down. It is rare that those at the bottom of the food chain are able to effect meaningful change. There are exceptions, of course, as in the case of revolutions. But after their revolution the French would probably point out that the rascals who take over often exhibit the same qualities as the rascals who have been chased out. Lord Acton was right: power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It doesn’t seem to matter who holds the reins of power, they tend to choke those at the other end.
My good friend Dana Yost made an excellent suggestion recently about how to change the mess that is college football, where corruption is rampant and greed is the name of the game. He suggested that the NCAA be scrapped and that limits be placed on coaches’ salaries — at least in the public colleges and universities. This would be an excellent start, but unfortunately this won’t happen. And it won’t happen because the only people who can effect real change in this situation are those in power and they don’t want to cut off their noses to spite their faces. There’s far too much money involved. Or the change could be mandated by government. But that won’t happen either, because elected officials owe their place on the public dole to the wealthy power-brokers who will resist change. The NCAA has considerable political clout. And in this case politicians are smart enough (barely) to know you don’t mess with sports in this country. It’s tantamount to messing with religion.
Solutions are sometimes so easy to see, not only in the case of collegiate football, but also in the case of the mess in our public schools, as I have mentioned on numerous occasions. It is quite clear that radical change is in order — elimination of the education bureaucracy that has a choke-hold on the system, and eliminating the ridiculous “methods” courses required of education majors, among other steps .But that won’t happen, either. The problem, again, is that those in power are not about to give it up. And only those in power can mandate change. It must come, once again, from the top down. The idea that real change can be effected in the schools by reducing teachers’ salaries is positively stupid. Teachers are already underpaid, and that’s a big part of the problem. But while it is obvious that change in the schools is needed, it won’t happen, either. The education establishment (the “blob” as it has been called) would have to be eliminated, or greatly reduced, and the only people in a position to do that are the members of the education establishment themselves. One might as well ask the local school superintendent to reduce the number of administrators in his school, or state university boards to reduce their own numbers instead of cutting academic programs. It isn’t going to happen if left up to the people in charge: it diminishes their control. Or, again, we could appeal to the politicians to make change. But the education establishment is powerful enough to exert considerable influence in political circles and politicians are smart enough (barely) to know which hand feeds them.
So, in the end, one must peck away at the fringes and hope that a sufficient number of people become disgusted enough to exert influence on those in power to counter the effects of those with big money who hold the reins. But, short of a revolution, it will take a huge effort to effect any of these changes, if it happens at all. And to make matters worse, there is no guarantee that change, if it comes, will be for the better. Often it is not — as the French will attest, and as we ourselves learned in the 1960s when we saw radical change initiated by the counterculture destroy civility in this country and, some would say, brought about the rise to the top of people like Donald Trump.
I ask again: has the time come when the sleeping giant, which is the American public, finally wakes up and demands change? Change in the case of the current administration can only be change for the better. Time will tell.
“Are people finally going to get off their collective butts and vote the bums out and try to elect people who will be responsive to their own needs? ”
Always the gentleman in the room, you again prompted a smirk…Sometimes the public tunes out the sounds of those who share daily grumblings, no matter how real they are.. but they are startled — or perhaps awakened — when the quieter ones bark!
You also stated, “…in this case politicians are smart enough (barely) to know you don’t mess with sports in this country. It’s tantamount to messing with religion. ”
and that’s the problem – most people have placed their dedication to sports higher than God…
I seem to be barking in an empty room! Thanks for the visit and the comment.
Your voice is very important, even – or especially – when it appears that no one is listening. Perhaps they’re tuned in to the sports channel?
Probably! Or checking social network!
Hugh, I hope something will happen. It annoys me that people don’t vote. A large number of the anti-Trump protestors did not vote, so they felt guilty. The same thing happened with Brexit. The young Brits wanted to remain the EU by a large majority, but picketed after the vote. People have to vote. Yet, what also frustrates me is my former party has taken measures to suppress vote to win. To me, that says your narrative is wrong.
I noticed today our President is following the Russian narrative of the election to say our voting system is flawed. The Russians used this narrative when they thought Trump was going to lose. So, Trump grasped it.
This President may have caused his own Waterloo yesterday. So, we must pressure the Senate and House Committees to forget party and be patriots first. Our President is obviously hiding something. We need to find out what.
We can only hope he has taken a step too far this time.
You are not barking to an empty room … I am here … better late than never. Puff, puff … I ran to get here! 🙂
Joking aside, though … we all, I think, feel that we are either ‘barking to an empty room’, or preaching to the choir. But as you said, chipping away at the fringes … eventually it must do some good. And as for he-who-shall-remain-nameless (at least for this moment), I believe he is very rapidly sinking his own battleship this week. What will come next after that change? As you said, it almost has to be better, but methinks it will still not be good. So … then we will keep chipping. Take heart … I do believe the tides are turning, although I’m not sure what they will carry out to sea with them … that remains to be seen.
I sense that you are right. There seems to be a steady undertow taking the man further and further away….from reality.
If only it would take him somewhere like Botswana!
We need to keep in mind that there are a great many people who realize what a mistake this country has made and some of them are in a position to do something about it. I suspect they are biding their time until they have sufficient evidence to make a move they know will be effective.
I suspect you are right, and it makes sense to wait, rather than jumping the gun and accomplishing nothing. I certainly hope so, at any rate … his behaviour this week does not even resemble sanity, and it needs to stop. I am patient … as long as it happens in the next … oh, say 48 hours … I’ll be happy. 🙂 Sigh.
I agree with you completely (surprise!) but if they aren’t prepared to make the strongest possible case it will be all for naught. This is the man who put the word “litigious” in the dictionary and he will fight any attempt to unseat him.