My fellow liberals, celebrating the political demise of John Boehner: Stop. He was a moderate and a decent one at that. In line to take his place are people who make, well, Rand Paul seem reasonable.
Boehner was the one standing between us and them, telling the far right to stop being unrealistic and start getting things done, for the good of the country.
Now that he’s leaving, this doesn’t bode well for Congress, its ability to govern effectively, or the fate of our country’s poor and disenfranchised, for the foreseeable future.
When did it all get so ugly?
“The telecommunications act sought to open markets to competition, but the result was consolidation. This included large companies like FOX and NBC buying smaller, independent TV stations and cable news channels.”
In a nutshell, this act allowed news stations to start tilting their coverage toward their audience’s tastes, catering to viewers’ belief systems and world views. The population at large responded by watching television news that reinforced what they already thought.
The tail started wagging the dog.
Political discourse has gone downhill ever since.
Now John Boehner is stepping down, after his meeting with the Pope last week where they discussed a commitment to children and education. He’s stepping down because he’s done with “false prophets” whose goals are to create problems, rather than solve them.
Can anyone blame him?
This is the country we deserve when one half watches MSNBC and vilifies the right, while the other half watches Fox and demonizes the left. Those of us who work in politics both in Florida and around the country understand the dimensions and shades of gray. But we do a terrible job of articulating them.
Instead, most politicos and pundits are happy to line their pockets with lobbyists’ cash and stir up just enough trouble to keep themselves permanently employed. Too many elected leaders don’t want to lead, they want to get elected and help companies in order to secure cushy careers once they’re done with the Beltway.
When Marco Rubio announced to the conservative Values Voters Summit that Boehner was retiring, they cheered, sounding like a medieval group of witch hunters, thirsting for a hanging. What kind of values do these voters support? Limited rights for women and homosexuals, death for certain kinds of criminals, and the ability to blow other countries to kingdom come.
They’d also like Ted Cruz to become the next president of the United States.
Their Speaker stepped down.
And they cheered.
Marco Rubio wants to get elected, badly, so he and others provide these wingnuts with a mirror for all their fears and assertions, no matter how ridiculous. Tea Party politicians also said disparaging things about the Pope last week, a spiritual leader who champions the sick and the poor. Some refused to attend his remarks to Congress.
I’m done, finished with leaders desperate to get elected. I want someone who will tell the truth. I’m not alone in this, not when Bernie Sanders’ numbers keep going up.
This is why Donald Trump is popular on the other side of the spectrum.
I’m not equating the two, but they are tapping into something that’s bubbling just below the surface. People are sick and tired of traditional politics.
Politicians like Sanders are rare, a truly decent man who doesn’t want to get elected so bad that he’ll lie, bullshit, or capitulate to corporations, their mouthpieces in office, or the followers who want blood so bad they can almost taste it and go along with whoever tells them what they want to hear.
The Pope is similar, too, and moving millions to pause and really consider our purpose here.
During his speech to Congress, Pope Francis talked about Dorothy Day, from the Catholic Worker Movement. He could have talked about anyone. He talked about her.
It was a moment of subversive brilliance.
Dorothy Day was a wonderful woman, a brilliant speaker who articulated the disaster of capitalism and the evils of war. She refused to pay her federal income tax. Hauled into jail on many occasions, the FBI investigated her for most of her life. Day supported socialist policies that helped the sick and the poor. And the Pope used his precious time before the powerful in our flawed system to shame them and praise her.
I don’t know about you, but this former Catholic girl almost uttered an Amen.
It’s worth noting that Bernie Sanders, a Jewish socialist who honors truth over ambition, was the only member of Congress who understood the sanctity of that moment. This past weekend, he spoke about Dorothy Day and also said he admired John Boehner’s “tenacity.” Then he went on to talk about issues that matter.
Catherine Durkin Robinson co-parents twin sons, organizes families for advocacy purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, runs a few races, and supports Bernie Sanders for president.