Bob Franken

Sacrificing Reality

We always have to declare winners and losers. So I should point out it was a clear victory for Barack Obama that William Ayers did not attend the debate. He was not in the audience..was not part of the discussion. That’s probably because even John McCain decided Ayers wasn’t really relevant.

To maintain balance I’ll mention the absence of that other bomb thrower. I mean Sarah Palin, of course. She was probably sitting in front of a TV set, watching the exchanges…listening intently, as her campaign tutors explained what McCain and Obama were talking about.

That’s OK. They weren’t really saying that much. Those of us who were expecting a knock-down-drag-out smackdown, instead witnessed two middleweight boxers bobbing and weaving, ducking reality’s knockout punches. Each tried to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”.

First of all, as Sarah might say (I’m still assuming it’s OK to call her “Sarah”), let’s give a shout out to Tom Brokaw for his restraint, in not losing it as the candidates as they flat out ignored his desperate pleas for them to pay attention to the clock.

After all, dazzling footwork takes a lot of time. It was astounding to watch both of these guys dance around that internet question about just what sacrifices Americans might have to make during the next presidency. Considering that our entire economic structure could be
heard loudly collapsing offstage, that seemed to obviously beg for an answer.

It didn’t get one. These two were not about to throw caution to the winds and be straight with the voters. Each of them did his version of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. So, at the risk of smudging all their rose colored glasses, let’s consider the answers we should have gotten had they decided to be straightfoward about our grave new world.

For starters, we should be more careful about larding up on stuff we don’t need. Our minds will have to be reprogrammed after decades of “gotta have it” hypnosis. Leaving the Cult of Conspicuous Consumption will seem like a wrenching experience.

Perhaps we’ll discover that in truth, maybe we don’t really need each and every new electronic doodad that comes along, so many hi-def TV’s in the house that is way more than we can afford, with so many overly expensive cars in the driveway.
Strangely we may find we can cope with that.

If so we will need to figure out how to employ the workers involved in the manufacture of this stuff. It’ll help that most of them work in Third World plants for slave wages. So that’s a problem for other countries. Our workers will be on the job repairing our crumbling infrastructure in the New New Deal series of public works projects.

Neither party, neither candidate wants to admit this but we will need to pay higher taxes. All of us. It defies logic that we can dig our way out of this crushing deficit and national debt without more revenue, in addition to cutbacks. “Trickle Down”, the idea that money in thehands of the wealthy dribbles to the rest of us is bunk. The “affler Curve is laughable. Always has been.

We will need to rein in our expectations. Instead of Upward Mobility, we can to discover the satisfaction that comes from avoiding Downward Free Fall.

All of this points to an even more significant sacrifice. We will have to give up the “What”s in it for ME” mindset that grips just about all of us.

It’s easy to understand we have come to expect that everyone else is try to con us, to take what’s ours without delivering on promises. We don’t trust each other. It may be justified but it’s fatal.

We may have to suspend disbelief and follow the lead of our national leaders as we try and march together out of this quicksand.

That would be a lot easier if the politicians could make their own sacrifice: They will have to discard campaign deceptions like pretending we don’t have a tough road ahead.

Maybe it’ll happen in the final debate.

I wouldn’t bet on it.

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