Me the People

Don’t call me The American People.  Not unless you mean it.  And not unless I hear a compliment when I hear you say it instead of a subtle reference to “typical voters who share my narrow,  profit-mongering,  and religiously backward view of America.”

 Mitch McConnell. the turtlefaced Senate minority leader with a heart of mould, says The American People will not be fooled “this time around” by tax and spend Democrats. Eric Cantor says The American People want a balanced budget–just like they expect to have every month when they make decisions about eating out at restaurants or paying the mortgage (Odd equivalence that: eating at Denny’s once a month and health care for the poor).

     Michele Bachmann, the intelligent Christian’s Sarah Palin surrogate,  says the American people deserve to keep what they earn and that the Income Tax Amendment (that’s XVI if you’re counting) is unconstitutional. In fact, in an extraordinary moment last week, she said that The American People had decisively spoken in her favor at the Iowa caucus where she received 28% of 17,000 votes, a number comparable to a high school election for student council president. Sarah Palin, when she was interesting, said she was in touch with The American People and knew what they wanted–in language only a little reminiscent of what an employee of Shady Lady Ranch in Nye, Nevada,  might say.

The Democrats aren’t blameless, of course.  They use this fustian  all the time. Just like having to wear flag pins in their lapel and sing “God Bless America” on cue, they have to counter references to the American People with references to the American People. But I have to say that when they do, there seems to be at least a glimmer of  good intent to it–an evocation of “real people” who do their own laundry and have to check their bank balance before getting the car fixed, rather than people, like the Tea Party crowd, who actually enjoy wearing jackets and ties and going to church.  Alas, many people who do their own laundry and wear wife beaters on Sunday while they enjoy a football game on their 72 inch HDTV (fully paid up in 18 months)  actually think the well-pressed set on the links are the best ones to look out for their welfare.  The American People is a many-splintered thing,

$12.95, a small price to be an American


I think it boils down to this: when the Democrats use the phrase, they are actually referring to other people. When the Repblicans use it, they mean themselves and the like-minded individuals they play golf with. The American People need to wake up and smell the difference.

And why do they use it–or rather, why do the Republicans use the phrase to the point of making me want to burn a flag using campaign posters of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell as kindling?

Because they can’t say “God.”  Oh sure, certified evangelical nutters like Rick Perry can get away with talking about Christian America and what God has done for the country and how The American People are basically decent and good (implication: because they are Christian and know who to thank for that).

But a politician who spoke about God all the time would probably lose people’s attention after a while, even in this preternaturally religious country.  “I ask my colleagues to pass this Deregulation of Oil Companies bill without delay because it’s what God demands and what Jesus would do” sounds a little tetched after all.  Better to say, “What the American People want and the American People deserve.”  Say it often enough and the association will become natural: two wills happily joined in political wedlock, incarnate in We the People.  It all sounds pretty good until you look at the priesthood that presides over this “secular” sanctuary.  We the People are no more recognizable from their invocations than God is in the prayers of pedophile priests.


Can we do anything about this, or will we just have to put up with the cynical use of our collective name (and will) being taken in vain? After all, we put them there, and we permit the sacrilege to go on.

Maybe the fatal flaw in the argument for the wisdom of The American People is the tsunami called the 2010 Mid-term election.  Unlike God in the official theology, We the People are sometimes impatient, dumb, and prone to make mistakes that injure us.  It was fine when We the People were Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Hamilton speaking for acquiescent farmers and merchants.  Not so good when We are Perry, Romney, Boehner, and Bachmann framing ideas for suits, corporate thieves, the merely uninformed and NASCAR reactionaries.

But unlike the real God (or unreal god) who gets invoked all the time, I think the (real) American People, hapless and reckless beasts that we are,  deserve better.  Stop treating us like ancient deities who just need a little incense on the fire, a sheaf of burning wheat, a few prayers, and an occasional virgin-sacrifice to keep us happy. Stop thinking you know what We want–or worse, being so priestly in the discharge of your duties that you think that what you want and what we want is the same thing.  Clearly it isn’t, and just as clearly the polls say that The American People would like to round you up and  drive you out of town.  But because it’s expensive for us to keep the buildings open and pay the heating bill, we have to vote for more of you in 2012, just to keep the People’s House occupied. Taxes my axes.

I suggest a national The American People Won’t be Appeased, Bought, Cajoled or Lied To campaign before this election cycle renders the phrase meaningless.

I‘ll be happy to serve as president of this coalition.  I think the American People deserve that.   You can thank me later for my service.

12 thoughts on “Me the People

  1. It should be remembered, for those of us who may be tempted to pass by on the other side of the road, that the ‘America’ hallucinated by Bachmann et al is not slow in seeking to impart its visions on this side of the pond as well as elsewhere in the wide world.

    We recently had to fend off an attempt to change our laws by an anti-choice group who titled themselves ‘The right to know’; it will probably come as no surprise to discover that in their view the right to know did not include the right to know where their money was coming from.

    That money could have been spent on feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, befriending those in hospital and prisons and so forth, but it wasn’t.

    Odd, really, since the people doing the spending profess to be Christians, whilst studiously ignoring what Jesus had to say about what they should be doing with their money…

  2. Guess it depends on what one wants: Socialism Lite (Republican) or just down to home plain old Socialism (Democrat) I choose neither; we already have to many who want to put jack boots to our throats.

  3. Excellent post, as usual. I just have one comment. Well, one comment and one question. First, as someone, probably famous, once said, “Never underestimate the stupidity of the American voter.” And also, could you give me the directions to the “Shady Lady Ranch” in Nevada?

  4. The fellow with the bandana and sign seems like the sort that would do his own shopping and check his bank account before he had his car fixed. Have you seen him on the links or getting his Sunday suit tailored?

    • Ah, you mean the mandarin? He’s just fodder for the links crew–the “merely uninformed”–but I dare say he does his own gun shopping.

  5. Herb… I think everyone famous has said it, at least twice, as well as the rest of us.

    Behold the new messiah (who will not crucify except metaphorically). You have alot of work to do: change the ‘democratic’ system and end barbaric death penalty, implement free public healthcare, and kick out the creationists, fix the tax system, sack all the “global warming is a liberal conspiracy” (creation) ‘scientists’, end the robot drones and indiscriminate slaughter, halt the building of the super gitmo in Afghanistan and stop all the wars, bring all the troops home and get out of bed with Israel… Oh Lordy Lordy there’s too much to do!

    It’s still an excellent post as usual.

    • @Steph The democratic system is completely subverted when (as in America) the election cycle is endless. It is back to back marathon football matches with no half time. Everything is political, nothing really “statesmanly”, and alas I include Obama in that assertion, though he’s the least of a thousand evils. Executing people by firing squad–or at all is barbarous, yet the country is willing to engage in sober discussions about what constitutes torture. A debate about the environment can’t go on because pollution is just the reflection of a healthy carbon based lifestyle that makes the plutocrats richer. Fighting endless wars that have long since ceased to be of interest to anyone except the generals and don’t seem to have any purpose except to save face for tottering US military prestige (whatever that is). Israel–a joke, though (he says sheepishly) the Brits did more to create the problem originally than the Americans and now with typical but certain aplomb act as though it is only America’s problem… where to begin. I do think extending the length of a presidential term would help–to five or six years with one repeat. But essentially I think the American system is broken, when members of congress elected just a year ago, and having done nothing since of any merit, are now out trying to save their seats for the next round. this isn’t government–it’s a Disneyland ride. The big question is, if America had been an ancient city state, would its politics be described by one of the tragedians as a fall from greatness or by Aristophanes as greatness that never was. i have my theory, of course.

      • All regrettably true. And this broke isn’t fixable. You can’t stop this rollercoaster. War has been normalised, and it’s still the same people in positions of influence. The tragedians would have created some previous mythical Golden Age from which it fell, but Aristophanes is on the button. And it was far too big, with too many Puritans and far too much power, ever the be great.

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