During the climactic scene in the movie My Cousin Vinney, Mona Lisa Vito explains positraction, as she testifies as to why Bill and Stan’s car couldn’t have been the murders’ getaway car.
“It’s a limited slip differential which distributes power equally to both the right and left tires. The ’64 Skylark had a regular differential, which, anyone who’s been stuck in the mud in Alabama knows, you step on the gas, one tire spins, the other tire does nothing.”
I think Miss Vito’s description of a car stuck in Alabama mud paints the prefect picture of the political process in America. We’re mired in two ruts, one tire spinning, the other doing nothing.
A Facebook exchange I had with an old friend after Obama’s jobs-bill 3.5 speech illustrates this reality. I reposted a comment by Kevin Gutzman referring to the President’s lack of respect for constitutional restraint.
“What James Madison called the Constitution, Barack Obama calls “some rigid idea of what government could or could not do.”
My friend thought that was a bit harsh.
“Huh? You clearly were not listening to the same speech I heard last evening. Perhaps you should listen again… sans uber-conservative filters.”
You see, we haven’t discussed politics much in the last 10 years or so, and she assumes that I still hold the same neo-conservative, Republican Party viewpoint I did a decade ago. I don’t.
“Adherence to the Constitution isn’t a ‘conservative’ idea. Self-proclaimed conservatives aren’t very good at it either,” I said in my reply.
But my friend found it impossible to break free of the left – right, Republican – Democrat, conservative – liberal paradigm she’s familiar with. When another person jumped into the fray, she continued along the same line of thinking.
“No, I did not say Obama did not say what he said. He said it and I’m glad he said it. In fact I think the way the President challenged many of the sacred cows of conservative politicians was inspiring.”
And here we are, stuck in the mud. One wheel spinning. The other doing nothing.
You see, it’s not about left vs. right. It’s not about conservative vs. liberal. It’s not about Republicans vs. Democrats. In truth, the entire political debate in this country really represents two sides of the very same coin.
Sure, politicians throw mud across the political aisle. They feign fundamental disagreement. But when it comes right down to it, both sides believe in wielding the big government stick to shape the world into their own image. Oh sure, the image may look slightly different to the one peering out his left eye, as opposed to the one looking out of her right eye. But they all use the same means. Coercion. Threats. And if need be, violence. They use power to further their own interests. Rhetoric serves as a tool to buy votes. Regulation becomes a lever to favor the favored over the favorless.
As far as I’m concerned, there may exist a dime’s worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats. Between the American left and the American right. Between so-called conservative and so-called liberals.
Maybe a nickel.
Maybe none at all.
In truth, very little space exists between what Tom Woods calls the, “range of acceptable ideas between Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney.” No matter which party wields power, federal spending spirals ever upward. Bombs continue to drop. The federal government grows.
I’m tired of debating about whether we should tax the rich at 35 percent or 40 percent. I’m tired of arguing about whether the big government Republican health care plan will serve the needs of the country better than the big government Democrat health care plan. I’m tired of wrangling over whether stimulating the economy by printing more money and handing it out to unions and favored businesses in the name job creation will work better than printing more money and handing out as tax breaks to special interests and favored businesses in the name of job creation. I’m tired of giving up my freedom little by little so the politicians can”€œkeep me safe.” I’m tired of wondering when the Ponzi scheme will finally collapse on itself, and whether we have completely screwed my kids or my grandkids.
I’m tired of the false choice between left and right.
How about this. How about we take our foot off of the gas and stop spinning our wheels in an ever deepening rut. How about we push the car out of the mud. How about we look at things as they really are – a battle between big, overreaching federal government, favored corporations and special interests, and the average everyday citizen.
I’ve given up on political parties. I’ve given up on the left-right paradigm. I am no longer a Republican or a Democrat or even a Libertarian. I am just a man – a man who longs to live free.
Stop Gunning the engine. The car stuck in the mud. It’s time for a new approach.