tideshift

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Matter of Scale

Bill Moyers' speech, published at Common Dreams, excerpt:

Despite Thomas Jefferson's counsel that we would need a revolution every 25 years to enable our governance to serve new generations, our structure - practically deified for 225 years - has essentially stayed the same while science and technology have raced ahead. A young writer I know, named Jan Frel, one of the most thoughtful practitioners of the emerging world of Web journalism, wrote me the other day to say: "We've gone way past ourselves. I see the unfathomable numbers in the national debt and deficit, and the way that the Federal government was physically unable to respond to Hurricane Katrina. I look at Iraq; where 50% of the question is how to get out, and the other 50% is how did so few people have the power to start the invasion in the first place. If the Republic were functioning, they would have never had that power.

Yet the inertia of the political process seems virtually unstoppable. Frel reminds me that the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee can shepherd a $2.8 trillion dollar budget through the Senate and then admit: "It's hard to understand what a trillion is. I don't know what it is." Is it fair to expect anyone to understand what a trillion is, my young friend asks, or how to behave with it in any democratic fashion?

He goes on: "But the political system and culture are forcing 535 members of Congress and a President who are often thousands of miles away from their 300 million constituents to do so. It is frightening to watch the American media culture from progressive to hard right being totally sold on the idea of one President for 300 million people, as though the Presidency is still fit to human scale. I'm at a point where the idea of a political savior in the guise of a Presidential candidate or congressional majority sounds downright scary, and at the same time, with very few exceptions, the writers and journalists across the slate are completely sold on it."

Jan Frel is dead-on right, which is why I think part of the upheaval/realignment of these next few decades will be all about decentralization - a fragmenting of the U.S. into more manageable parts with far more regional control by citizens. That, or a military dictatorship with martial law. The official military may be too tired or disinclined to participate in such a project, but Blackwater mercenaries probably wouldn't. -KW

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