This really speaks to how I view politics:
In one of the most shameless displays of political narcissism in recent memory, presumptive Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) choked up on Election Night when it became clear that he was gonna get to bang the big gavel come January 2011. Of course he started crying! His longtime goal of “chasing the American Dream” (i.e. securing a big boy chair in Congress) has been realized like Gollum finally getting his bony paws on the one ring to rule them all. It’s powerful stuff, getting misty when you’re describing just how great it is to get where you’re goin’ to, especially when the destination is Washington, D.C. (gotta love how Boehner implies sacrifice on his part to enter Congress, where he’s been hanging out since the early ’90s). He wasn’t bawling when he described how shitty the past decade has been for regular Americans, that’s for sure. And he somehow failed to apologize for the GOP majority’s huge role in killing the budget as we know it back when President Bush was, well, president.
I’ve been more than a little surprised at how many friends and acquaintances assumed that I’d be overjoyed by a Republican takeover of the House. I’ve tried as gently as I can to tell them that this week’s elections were no particular victory for liberty, except insofar as divided government is usually a bit better than undivided.
The assumption, as always, is that one simply must choose a team. From then on, keeping score is easy. You know you’re winning when your team is in power. You know you’re losing when your team is out of power. If you do not choose a team, one will be chosen for you, and their joys and miseries will be ascribed to you, whether you ask for them or not.
Most people never even try to avoid choosing, of course. And the few who stand outside for a while usually acquiesce sooner or later. But this presumably useful heuristic has some funny side effects. The goal of politics is no longer the sensible management of power, let alone its reduction. The goal is power — to get it, to keep it, to bang that gavel. That’s what parties do to us — they place the reality of politics, and the power of it, beyond moral censure. Power is what everyone wants.
That should be a little disturbing. Shouldn’t it?