The Elephant On The See Saw

There’s an elephant on the see saw, and the donkey’s gone and flown!
The elephant used to be little, but by gosh, he sure has grown.
We’ll need a whole zoo to unseat him – when the see saw snaps in two.
The donkey has gone old and gray, not to mention black and blue.

Politics simply has to be amusing, in my opinion, having no other redeeming quality. Therefore, I’ve decided to take a light-hearted look at government, in the interests of holding on to sanity for a while longer. That is, my own idea of sanity – no one else’s definition need apply. I am not an equal opportunity employer of standards, beliefs, or definitions, and until forced to do otherwise, will happily employ my own, thank you… meaning no disrespect toward anyone else’s ideas. I’ve found making strides toward tolerance for things I disagree with to be an open-minded exercise, even an eye-opening experience – and I’ll happily respect other people’s standards, and tolerate their beliefs, when they’re not applied forcibly to me.

The structure of society has become a tinker toy for any powerful, well-connected, or politically preferred fool to tinker with, and many of "the people" seem to have confused politics with pinball.   Scoring points against other people’s freedoms will send one’s own liberties down the chute on the next round, when someone else is trying to raise the score. Maybe it’s the modern American version of the Roman Coliseum – our own gladiatorial sport. So much less barbaric than having the players kill each other quickly; we can all take turns stabbing each other in the back and then fighting each other in the political arena – in an endless battle that everybody loses. (An oblique reference to a scene from “The Gladiator” – in case anyone missed that memorable movie, along with a glorious sound track.)

A strange sort of logic applies to filtering money through government for various projects and services. It’s logical for government, of course: For the rest of us, it’s like pouring our money into a giant sponge – and waiting for that sponge to become so saturated that a few pennies begin to drip out again. Therein lies the dilemma of the taxpaying citizen: either soak or get soaked, squeeze or be squeezed – no wonder most of us feel pretty darn wrung out. What a practical joke party politics is on the taxpayer: dollar for dollar, it has to be the most expensive, predictable, un-sportsmanlike, and consistently overrated form of public spectator sport ever invented.

It's funny how bureaucrats, who have the foggiest concept of everyday reality for the rest of us, are the very people who wield the most influence over the things that disrupt it. Politics is one of the primary reasons that we fail to communicate with each other, or get along with each other. We all know better than to discuss politics (or religion) at the dinner table. The very things that ensure disagreements amongst us are treated like sacred cows, and they give us plenty of sour milk to spill out animosities over. When the personal becomes political and/or dogmatic, opposing viewpoints become bitter enemies instead of stimulating each other toward cordial and illuminating conversation.

Political activists often like to flout convention and take controversial stands. They're so accustomed to thinking politically that they apparently fail to grasp and/or honor the “mind your business” principle that lives at the heart of individual liberty; creating contentious public issues out of private, and frankly, even intimate choices. Acting on the assumption that personal freedom should entitle us to get in each other’s faces regarding private behavior can only add superfluous issues to the fundamental ones underlying political disagreements. There's a distinction between having the freedom to behave as one chooses and having the freedom to rub other people's noses in those choices. Good fences may make good neighbors, but good sense makes better ones.

When the law pokes its nose where it doesn’t belong, tweak it: Dragging the rest of the body politic into the tent has pretty much destroyed privacy for everybody. No wonder we’re on the verge of becoming a nation of rats and snoops watching “reality TV.” The distinction between observing personal boundaries and making them transparent is lost; now we have government hiding behind privacy screens that should have protected the people, and our lives are see-through while our “representatives” veil theirs in armor and camouflage. Quiet outrage is probably a mightier tool than loud demonstrations because for some strange reason, a public spectacle will attract one mob to cheer it on, and often another to jeer it. Acting as a mob always gets us into a mess; only acting as intelligent and thoughtful individuals will get us out of that mess again.

Government is the mechanism by which you mind my business and I mind yours. We even find ourselves mysteriously bamboozled into supporting the absurd pretense that political participation has something to do with self-government. It has nothing to do with self-government in reality, and everything to do with not being able to pinpoint who it is in fact is really governing us, or to what end. Are we the stooges of a liberal media, or a conservative agenda gone out to eat grass? Or perhaps they really are our stooges, as the theory goes: Wouldn’t it be more practical to drop the middlemen and self-govern?

Do the labels liberal and conservative still mean anything when they’ve danced together until they’re both dizzy, and lost any steady footing or communicable meaning they once had? Intelligible meaning that any three individuals, chosen at random, and thinking independently of Government Incorporated, or a teacher’s union administration – could agree on? Don’t burn your dictionary yet, but it’s toast already when words can change their spots so completely: Think of it as a handy, if unreliable, reference where politics is involved.

When the elephant on the see saw throws a party, the game of choice will naturally be “Pin the tail (and everything else) on the donkey.” Maybe instead of a two party system, we need one giant “United We Stand” political party instead, with Leviathan as a mascot: gosh darn, how come nobody ever thought of that?


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