One of our oldest sayings is “time heals all wounds”. That regardless of what has happened, a scab will form eventually. Of course, we have misguided expectations. We hear the word heal and we assume all will go back to normal.
But there is no “normal”. There is progress and there is stasis, but no normal.
One of the things that the Wisconsin Recall has highlighted is the buffer of time: how distance from actions gives the sheen of democracy: that the same ol’ song is being sung. With the passing of time, the battles between the Hatfields and McCoys look normal and routine. That it is business as usual. And the inept media is unable to see its place as anything other than supporter of that status quo.
What kicked off the recall effort was not a normal Republican doing Republicanny things in a normal way. He was a Republican who misrepresented his priorities in the election and in office, moved within his first week to rewrite a balanced budget for 2011 so that it would be out of balance and therefore grant him emergency authority. Within the first three months, he was stripping unions of their rights and thumbing his nose at his political opponents like a schoolyard bully. Any right-thinking person would recognize that this is anything but normal. But, the state’s recall law gave him a year before a recall could be called, which gave him an additional six months (so 1.5 years in total) to campaign for the new election and change the narrative. And by now, his transgressions have been scrubbed into that business as usual, partisan bickering that just goes on between the Hatfields and McCoys. Which plays to his advantage and makes his transgressions disappear.
Despite our preference for reasonableness and coming to fair conclusions, time doesn’t grant us this. Instead, it merely delays our more impulsive selves and allows a vacuum of confusion to mess up our living room. Lost in the recall talk was how Gov. Walker created the budget crisis, as he was able to establish the narrative over the last year and a half as an economic savior, averting disaster
of his own making. What a scoundrel hero!
If we set aside our feelings about recalls or partisanship for a moment and deal with a political structure that seems to reward tricksters and liars and gives them a cushion of four years to manufacture how we perceive them, we must recognize that time does not enhance democracy. Like police that must storm a company before it is able to shred its documents, democracy thrives on immediacy. It operates in the now. Our four-year terms challenge us to actually assess a politician’s tenure because they have had plenty of time to craft their own narrative. Democracy survives on honesty and dies behind curtains of lies and secluded alleyways in which average people are afraid to walk.
This week we watched a man, whose crime was swift, hide it in the fog of time. Eventually a wound like this one will scab over, but its bound to leave a scar. And in a few years, if we’re smart, we’ll look back at the scar and wonder what could have been, and what foolishness brought that wound in the first place. But if the media will have their say, and they already have, that reflection will be more foggy and we’ll forget all about the scar and treat it, instead, as if it has always been there; as if we were born with it. All reasonableness is lost and only misdirection remains.
What are your thoughts on immediacy and democracy?
[See also yesterday's response: Ideologies Do Not Win]