Tag Archives: speaker of the house

Heroic Democracy

Joseph Campbell enlightens us on the cycle of the hero story in his work “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”  He explains that most cultural heroes (even Jesus) share common themes and they definitely follow a pattern of rise-fall-rise again but stronger.

I suggest that US Democracy is in a moment of its own heroic cycle.

There are some commonalities between US Democracy and Campbell’s exemplary heroes: Born of a meager background, thirteen colonies with not much else but trendsetting ideas and a strong sense of independence, carved themselves into a nation unlike any other of its time. Then follows a slow rise to prominence in the international limelight where its tenants of equality have been accepted by some, rejected by some.

Ironically, it’s the hometown that usually brings down the hero, so it is with our Democracy.  Our own leaders have aided the crucifixion of Democracy through inaction. Where the legislative branch normally checks and balances the executive, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have refused to intercept the blatant degradation of ethics by our current president and appear to happily allow a hostile, foreign nation to implant its fear mongering talking points into our national narrative.  Similar to Pontius Pilate, they have washed their hands of the issue, enabling the mob to raise Democracy up for a brutal death.

We now live in a moment of uncertainty where our hero has disappeared and many of us feel lost, hopeless, and betrayed. We huddle together in supportive groups, planning what next steps should be taken, eager to carry on the timeless ideas of Democracy, even while it struggles to overcome.

According to Campbell, heroes typically languish for a time in some dark depths before they are able to rise to greater heights, usually with the aid of some helper or assistant. While two short years of destruction and mayhem without Democracy may seem brief to some, we should deem it enough – we really don’t have the luxury of floundering (See Timothy Snyder’s “On Tyranny”).

We really do have the luxury of hope, however. There are helpers arriving in droves to ensure a resurrection.  There are those running for office, local and nationally, who bring the ideals of Democracy with them. There are those who work tirelessly to knock on doors, make phone calls, write letters, or offer their voice in some manner.  There are special elections won by citizens who espouse Democracy and its inherent equality.  There are donations of five or ten or hundreds of dollars going to women and men unwilling to cede to the Oligarchy, willing to bring Democracy back from the grave.

But it’s not just that Democracy will be revived, but that it will be revived stronger, more resilient, more powerful. You see, in every story, resurrection empowers the hero to  greater strength than it had before. If we can get it right this fall, if the #Bluewave2018 becomes a reality, then Democracy will have returned with a vengeance, ready to stand up to those from the outside who would delight in our complete demise, ready to send them running.

Fellow citizens, I submit that we are poised to see our hero, Democracy, rise from the ashes and shine brighter than before.  It is important to understand, however, that each of us is a needed helper to the cause.  Encourage one another, elucidate the good and right, get out of comfort zones and talk with each other, and we can resurrect our Democracy from the depths of darkness to be stronger, more vibrant, and more effective.

Yours, in peace.


John Boehner as Don Quixote: The Knight – Errant of Politics and Economics

Like our infamous hero who set out on a series of dubious quests, so does our infamous Speaker of the House lead us along a series of mishaps that does nothing but bring disaster and despair upon his loyal followers – and the nation he pledged to lead.

The cry of “Fiscal Cliff!”  rings out from the Speaker’s mouth with much the same absurdity as Don Quixote’s claim of “giants!” in one of his first adventures.

“But look, your Grace, those are not giants but wind mills.” replies the knight’s faithful companion Sancho.

“But look, Mr. Speaker, that is no fiscal cliff, it’s just that deal you made two years ago, coming to fruition.”    Just as Don Quixote raises a false pretense to attack the windmills, so does our Speaker blurt out a false pretense of economic danger to attack the political process – creating an emergency where there is none.  One received a dislocated shoulder, a broken lance, and wounded pride.  The other further injured the faith of a nation, set up a path to a more difficult fight, and created even more divisiveness.

And just like Don Quixote, our John Boehner continues on his quest to make an issue where there is none, spinning tales of fantastic economic gallantry based on fiction rather than reality.   “Plan B, I have a Plan B!”  He touts as he works the press and the public into frenzy over another possible, (maybe, this time???) compromise.  Alas, Plan B was nothing, literally nothing, since he didn’t have the support he knew it needed.   Ah, but injuries are sustained even in this little ruse.  Again, America learns that her leaders are not all they claim to be – “we have a plan, but we don’t have support for the plan.” I can hear us expelling a collective “Huh?” along the same lines that Sancho exclaimed when Don Quixote declared that approaching sheepherders were indeed fierce and terrible enemies with whom he must engage.

“The Debt Ceiling, The Debt Ceiling!”  What about the debt ceiling oh faithful leader?  “Well, its…its…its THERE, in front of us.”  Yes, we’ve always had a debt ceiling, your Grace, we’ve always just let it pass. “Well, that’s just preposterous!  Of course we’ll fight the debt ceiling; henceforth it shall not pass for free!”

“Marauders, thieves, murderers!”  Don Quixote exclaims to Sancho and the stars, as they listen to the cacophony of some approaching group or other.  Our infamous hero takes off into the night only come upon a caravan of mourners, complete with a corpse upon its death bed.  No longer is a mourning group able to pass unmolested, it is accosted and defiled under no precedence except that which exists only in the illusion of the perpetrator.

Damage report:  life threatening wounds inflicted upon our hero, and a national credit down grade inflicted upon our nation.

Not to fear though, our hero has a holy remedy, a sacred balm, which will cure all wounds and which is available only to the divine knights-errant.   Some tincture of mixed herbs administered thusly to Don Quixote’s faithful Sancho afflicted him with an admirable bout of loose bowels, and a non-magical carpet ride by local villagers because his Squire refused to pay the bill.  In our universe, the recipe for a similar balm (deemed affective by the order-of-the-knights.  ie. the republican party), consists of spending cuts without a balance of revenue to pay for existing debt – spending cuts that only serve to slow down an already weak economy that is still recovering from the economic loose bowel episode of 2007. Sancho was wise to refuse further treatments of his master’s exotic balm.  We should be so wise.

In the end, our infamous hero came to his senses and realized he had been living in a false reality.  His realization came only at the expense of his humiliating defeat however.  Who knows what humiliating battle might befall our dear Speaker, let’s hope common sense prevails and he avoids such an ordeal.  I do fear for us though, as a nation.   Having a leader crying over injustices or fighting battles that are non-existent has been a drain on us as a nation.  I worry about the degree of polarization taking place amongst us because of false claims and illusionary thinking.   Please, Mr. Speaker, let’s stop the charade.  We are better than this.