When you’re a part of the political power structure, you lose perspective about what matters. Before you know it, the thing that’s most important is yourself, your group and your place in the power structure. Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell provides the latest example of that.
For sane people who can do math, it looks probable that the federal government is heading inevitably toward defaulting on its debts one day. It’s just not possible to keep borrowing at this rate and still pay the money back at levels of taxation that people will put up with. For years, there’s been a need for a president and a Congress to face that reality and quit borrowing money and spending more, but it’s not political reality to expect that. And it hasn’t happened.
So now the two mainstream parties are locked in the latest deathmatch over control, each hoping that the other party will blink first. Republicans are demanding modest budget cuts before they’ll agree to let the government go on borrowing. Democrats are trying to avoid the cuts and offering insane plans of their own. Neither side offers any plan that deals with long-term reality.
In the midst of all this, Mitch McConnell said something today that tells us what he’s really thinking. He’s not looking at the reality of future default — whether the debt ceiling is raised or not — but at the effect it would have on his party if a borrowing agreement isn’t reached. He’s worried about the effect a government shutdown would have on the Republican “brand”:
“(Democrats) want to blame the economy on us and the reason default is no better an idea today than when Newt Gingrich tried it in 1995 is that it destroys your brand. It would give the president an opportunity to blame Republicans for a bad economy. Look, he owns the economy. He’s been in office almost three years now, and we refuse to let him entice us into co-ownership of a bad economy.”
Get that? The real issue isn’t that the Demopublicans and Republicrats have been leading us to financial ruin — and still are — but rather that if his party doesn’t agree to raise the debt ceiling, the other party might blame them for something. I’ve heard more maturity from angry kids on playgrounds.
I’m certainly not saying this to support the Democrats’ position. They’re just as childish and foolish. All of the people in the system are like participants of a giant power game — and all that matters anymore is winning the game. The fact that the state is going broke — and getting “broker” every day — is just a secondary issue to be exploited in a marketing game to get power for one side or another.
Seen in this light, the state is nothing but an elaborate game for elites who are competing with one another for power.
Toward the end of the 1983 movie, “War Games,” the computer has finally figured out that the “war games” it’s been playing aren’t winnable, so it says something that’s applicable to all of us who see what McConnell and the other players are really doing:
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?”
I have no interest in playing their game or letting the state play games with my life and future. The only winning move is to find a way out of the game. It’s time to opt out of the state.