Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bread and Circuses

Over the past month, the American people have been informed that the Internal Revenue Service has been targeting certain groups of their fellow citizens for special harassment because of their political views. Our Justice Department has been seizing phone records of reporters deemed hostile to the government's version of the truth. In addition, a low level contract employee at the National Security Agency named Edward Snowden leaked information to a British newspaper which revealed that the American people have been systematically spied upon in ways previously unimaginable,  ironically, all of this happening under an administration that promised to be the most transparent in history. So far, the reaction of the American people has been a collective yawn.

It has long been a fear of mine that my countrymen would one day, like the ancient Romans be satisfied with “bread and circuses” while everything fell apart around us. That day apparently has come. With our 500 cable channels, thumbs frantically tapping out minutia on ubiquitous cell phones, we seem blissfully unaware. We Americans take it for granted that our politicians are corrupted, so on almost every level we have tuned them out. As long as we have our Duck Dynasty, as long as the cable isn’t out, as long as we can score us some free health care, everything is fine. So, we hear something somewhere about the government seizing our phone records and we flip over to watch TMZ instead. A few cranky Libertarians get all freaked out, an assortment of hypocritical Republicans who couldn’t have cared less about this sort of thing when Bush was in the White House, and even a couple of Democrats warn that the government is getting too powerful, too entangled in what used to be considered our privacy, and all we can think to ask is, “Are Kim and Kanye going to get married?”

So, the various investigations in Washington will exhaust themselves and disappear with nothing having changed, and by inertia the government will grow stronger, more unstoppable by law, less and less answerable to its citizens. Then there will be another election and some idiot will promise the most transparent administration in history again and we won’t even know what the word means anymore. Meanwhile, 2 million people have taken to the streets in Brazil, fed up with their corrupt government’s incompetence, sparked by an increase in bus fare.

Bus fair!