Okay… What the hell is this entry going to be about?
I’m all ears.
Good, glad to have you with us.
I’ll get to the title of this thing eventually. But first, come on a little journey with me, won’t you?
A couple of weeks ago, here in sometimes sunny Knoxville, TN, I had to occasion to be out driving. On my trip, I happened across an overpass on which there were several people, (more than four, less than twelve), holding signs. They were waving these signs at the interstate traffic passing beneath them. Many of the vehicles, seeing these signs, were honking horns in support.
Quite often, when I see people standing on an overpass with signs, I, like many of you, pass by without paying any attention to what those signs say. I mean, come on, it’s traffic and I have somewhere else to be.
But there was a lot of honking going on, and since I found myself spending an unentertaining few minutes stopped at a red light, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
The people, ostensibly protesting on the overpass, were not trying to draw attention to the plight in Africa, nor towards the plight here in the U.S.
They were holding up signs that read:
“Honk if you want to impeach Obama.”
(and various misspellings and atrocities against grammar to that affect)
And, well, that annoyed the shit out of me.
(If you guessed that I’m about to tell you why, Ding, Ding, Ding, we have a winnner!)
(Disclaimer: Yes, I voted for Obama, twice. I did so because he was the only candidate who spoke to some of my issues. Incidentally, if you vote for a candidate for any public office, for any reason other than that person speaks to your issues, you’re a damn fool. If there isn’t candidate that speaks to your issues, don’t vote. Or, and this takes more energy, become an activist and/ or run for public office yourself. Voting, simply to vote against someone is a hollow satisfaction and, I think, runs counter to the whole idea of democracy. But I digress…)
What pissed me off about this rampant display of ignorance, (other than the seemingly endless amount of vehicular support it seemed to be garnering), was this:
I’ve heard a few arguments in favor of impeachment, and none of them hold water. In fact, many of them simply boil down to, “We don’t like him/ He’s ruining the country.”
Now, you are perfectly welcome to feel that way about your President. You are. And, it’s really not worth my time to dissuade you from your feelings about the current administration. Feel them, or not, as you like, doesn’t really bother me.
What bothers me is, does anybody in the general public fucking know what the constitutional grounds for impeachment are anymore?!
Certainly not these poor fools, wasting their time in the Tennessee heat.
The grounds for impeachment, of a President of the United States of America are: High Crimes.
Specifically, Article II, section 4 of the Constitution states:
“The President… …shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
That’s it folks. That’s all there is. You can’t impeach a government official, especially the President, because you neither like nor agree with his/ her positions on an issue.
As an example, the House did not vote to impeach President Clinton because they did not like him, or even because he got a blow job from an intern. They voted to impeach him because he lied to Congress about it. Perjury is, by definition, a high crime or misdemeanor.
Someone want to explain to me what high crime/ misdemeanor President Obama has been indicted or convicted of committing?
Yeah, didn’t fucking think so.
(Now, to be clear, I have my own problems with how the current administration is handling some issues: warrantless spying on Americans, drone warfare, the war on drugs, privacy, the big banks & Wall St, the list goes on. Don’t for an instant think that this missive is meant to be some flag waving counter-propaganda. That just isn’t my bag.)
What I want to talk about here, and thus the title of this piece, is why, at this point in history, it seems less people know these facts – about how our government is supposed to run/ govern – than really should.
(Optimally, in a government of, by, and for the people, everyone of voting age should know this information, and much more besides.)
We have the internet, and widely available books, and this thing called mandatory primary education in this country. Why don’t more people know and understand this information?
(I expect some rocks to be thrown after I say this, but as far as the statistics show, Americans, on average, aren’t any less intelligent than in years past. They may be less skilled at critical thinking, but no less intelligent.)
And so, I see the problem as being two fold:
1)There are people too ignorant and too unskilled at critical thinking to
properly understand and digest this information, so as to make better use of it.
2) There are people informed enough and skilled enough to know this, and
choose to willfully ignore it in favor of baseless yet inflammatory rhetoric, in order
to achieve some political end.
The first class of sand in the machinery of democracy can be fixed with proper education. (and I am not talking about the nonsense, learn to the test paradigm we are mired in at present.)
The second class…
…Well, there will always be con men. Always charlatans out to bilk and manipulate an unwary, uneducated, and unsuspecting public. Unfortunately, for our species, it has ever been thus, and may well ever be; whenever a system is created, a small population will always seek to subvert, use for their own gain, and generally go against the spirit of that system. Thankfully it’s usually a small percentage of the populace as a whole.
So, how do we fix that?
The same way we fix the first class: education.
The more we educate our populace on how our government actually works, the more we teach people how to think critically and for themselves, the more people learn that there is a difference between facts and rhetoric, the better this country will get.
Because a well educated and thinking populace will be less likely to succumb to baseless nonsense, even if it stokes the fires of their visceral reactions. And, in time, the instances of the media/ government/ religious institutions using rhetoric to sway the masses will dwindle. They may never disappear, but once people begin to see that they aren’t useful to achieve their particular ends, these tactics will stop being used – as much – in favor of something that actually works.
Ask just about anyone you meet, from any strata of society, about what they think is going to cause The Decline of Western Civilization.
You’ll probably get a whole host of differing answers and opinions: rock music, people moving away from the church, big business, big government, ad nauseam ad infinitum. Everybody seems to have an opinion about why things are circling the drain. Maybe some of them are right. But how will we know?
How will we know if we lack the education, knowledge, and critical thinking skills necessary to separate the useful facts from the dross. Without those faculties, how will we even know what the useful facts are?
The answer is, in a sea of stormy rhetoric and pseudo-science, we won’t.
We just fucking will not know.
It is my feeling, from watching political debates, the media, and the populace at large, that this unfortunate end is exactly where we are headed…
…The continuing decline of western civilization; a depressing destiny.
Maybe not. Maybe you’ll surprise me.
It could happen.
People could wake up. They could sit up and take notice. They could learn and think and participate. And, after that, the general trend could be reversed.
A part of me hopes for that; works toward it.
But a part of me is afraid it’s already too late.
But that’s me.
Where are you? What do you think?
What are you doing about it?
Are you waving signs over the interstate, or are you educating yourself and the people you care about? Are you learning the Constitution? Are you speaking with/ writing letters to your local and federal representatives?
Are you taking the legal steps to keep this beautiful and fragile experiment from slipping into the sewer?
Or, are you just bitching about it?
Well, are you?