Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 10.01.02


Is this the best we can do?

If you own a dish you probably receive your local TV channels out of Boston. I do.

Lately, I have had my gag reflex tested over and over by ads vomited over the air waves by politicians like Mitt Romney, a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts.

In one of his ads he takes up a full minute of my time telling me how he met his wife in college and fell in love at first sight. This is followed by a testimonial from said wife who beams a toothy rictus into the camera and extols the virtues of Mitt, who fathered her litter of kids and is now dandling a snotty-nosed horde of grandkids.

Not one issue is brought up and not one societal difficulty is addressed.

It started me thinking about the way politicians must regard you and me, the voting public. The contempt in which we are held just boggles the mind.

What kind of drooling, slack-jawed morons do they think we are if they spend enormous sums portraying themselves as virile, lantern-jawed, ever-loyal family people in order to get our X next to their name on the ballot?

There indeed must be some truth to the above low opinion of the voting public because we all know that if they are willing to spend the earth for an ad, then it must work on some level. If we extrapolate from the premise that we voters are collectively about as sharp as a sack of doorknobs, we can see the seeds of most of our problems.

We abide a health-care system that is grossly inadequate and astronomically expensive.

Other countries have universal health care. Swedish men live five years longer on average than Americans. Singapore and Taiwan have a more favorable infant death rate.

Why do we stand for this?

Our war on drugs is a monstrous joke.

We gave Colombia $2 billion last year to fight the manufacture and export of cocaine. Why don't we have the intelligence to insist on changing this losing strategy?

Our gun laws are orchestrated by the gun lobby, whose sole purpose is to sell more and more weapons.

Children shoot up high schools, toddlers shoot each other, handgun violence proliferates in every major city, and yet we scratch our butts and squeal about the second amendment. If there was an amendment demanding that one out of every 50,000 citizens be arbitrarily executed, would we go along with that?

We stare at the tube and learn about the accounting scandals and CEOs like Kenneth Lay who squeeze workers and stockholders of their last dime. Has anyone gone to jail for stealing these millions upon millions of dollars?

Go down to the 7-11 and swipe $50.00 from the till and see how long you are on the streets.

Is it because all of our lawmakers and politicians are in bed with these white-collar criminals? The answer is indisputably yes, and there is an orgy going on.

Like medieval peasants we allow religion to dominate us in our schools with the new voucher system, our finances through their tax-exempt status, and finally by molesting our children with virtual impunity. They do this in the name of God and we fall to our knees giving up our money, educational freedom, and our children in hopes of a passport to the Hereafter, only available apparently from an authorized government-approved religion.

Now we perch on the precipice of a war that will condemn us to international isolation and outrage. We were once criticized for being the "policemen of the world."

Now we are fast becoming "the bullies of the world."

We are being steamrollered by a cadre of secretive politicians who won't even let us in on the Why? of this impending war. The reasons given are such indigestible pap that your average simpleton couldn't hold it down, yet Bush and Cheney ignore all protest and requisition the body bags.

We don't seem to have much control over anything that happens in government these days, do we?

Look at our choices in the last election.

Al Gore, a simpering robot without originality or the ability to comprehend what a loser he really is.

George Bush, a pea-brained shill for big oil who can't utter a sentence without butchering the language.

And finally Ralph Nader, a man who is able to identify all of the problems above but who has the charisma of a lump of coal. He is without question one of the most boring individuals ever to draw breath, his books are turgid tomes of pure ennui, and his speeches drone like a defective air-conditioner.

We have 273,254,306 people in this country. Is this the best we can come up with?

This goes beyond getting out the vote. We need to identify some politicians with integrity. We need men like Bernie Sanders, who must be the most frustrated individual in Washington.

You and I and every other citizen need to become a lot more active. Currently, unless you can spare a few hundred grand to toss in the campaign trough, then your prospects have nowhere to go but down.

Have a nice day.