The System is Broken: The Politics of Insanity

I must preface this column with a quote from Albert Einstein. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The word “change” was made famous during President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, but the fact is that word has been thrown around since who knows when (let’s say 1990, for grins and giggles) and continues to be thrown around today. Of course, Mr. Obama doesn’t have a monopoly on the word – Republicans, Democrats, previous presidents, and their mothers have been talking about change.

But what has changed?

Remember, reader, I am not trying to discredit any of Obama’s political victories, no matter how big or how small.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repealed? Awesome. US courts will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act? Fantastic. Health care reform? I’m still not convinced it’s going to work the miracles people are hoping for, but I’m glad something was done.

But the fact remains that despite all of these victories, one consistent theme persists: no one is addressing the gorillas in the room.

And there are many. The national debt? Oh my. The virtually forgotten wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Oops. The War on Drugs? Meh. The list goes on.

The reason this column is titled, “The Politics of Insanity,” is because our elected officials are doing the same thing over and over and over again: trying to fix the issues facing our country while working within the same framework and with the same methods that haven’t been working since…well…ever. And for whatever reason that is not quite clear to me, these elected officials of ours are expecting different results.

Let’s just throw out some ideas that could at least help the situation our great nation is in. The War on Drugs: California has made it very clear that marijuana is a profitable business when regulated.

I’m no fan of full legalization of all drugs like cocaine or heroin, but we need to really put pot into perspective. Legalize it and regulate it.

There’s a boatload of state and federal revenue to be had, not to mention the savings states would benefit from with fewer prisoners clogging up the system – a whole other discussion on its own.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: things are starting to wind down in Iraq, but Afghanistan is still proving to be a massive money sink – $450 billion to date; throw in the number of people killed – nearly 20,000 in Afghanistan and 900,000 in Iraq, and the wars become even harder to justify.

If I recall correctly, we went into Afghanistan to wipe out a bunch of terrorists. When did that mission turn into nation building?

The national debt: we continue to trim away at discretionary spending, but at some point someone is going to have to take a long hard look at our entitlement system – Social security, health care, Medicare, etc. – and figure out how to bring down those costs.

I am inclined to dish out a lot of blame to the Republican Party, as I’m sure many on this campus would and do. However, everyone is engaged in the politics of insanity.

The Republican agenda is totally out of touch with the reality we face (see: tax cut extension for top two percent of American earners).

Democrats continue to display chronic political weakness (see: being held “hostage” by the Republican agenda when Dems held a majority in the House and Senate).

Mr. Obama continues to not exhibit the leadership we need as a nation to move forward.

I have no doubt in my mind that all of our elected officials are scared of the same thing: suggesting fundamentally new ways to approach these problems and fundamentally new solutions to fix them.

In other words, politicians are too scared to seriously pursue something like, say, drug reform for fear of not being re-elected. All I have to say to that is get some courage. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Of course, none of these problems or potential problems is new, which is exactly what makes it all so insane. I suppose if I’m not happy with the way things are going, I should be exercising the great American privilege of voting.

But in this environment of political insanity, I don’t know who to turn to anymore.


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