A bit of a rant here... Over the past few years there seems to be a pervasive and growing concept of government as "the other". I've had people describe government as a bunch of fat-cats sitting in back rooms smoking cigars.
Where does this image come from? It's clearly not accurate. If it were, Representative Giffords would never have been in the line of fire. Instead she was out meeting voters and getting ideas from them.
So what causes this concept of government-as-other? I mean, we're a government "of the people." My representative is a former high school teacher. There are a ton of similar representatives. I'm curious what possible facts this idea can even be founded on. I know a large number of people who are government employees. They work as teachers, as EPA staffers creating nation-wide initiatives to recycle electronics, as attorneys taking on abusive and dangerous employers, as welfare workers who help the neediest members of society and are constantly trying to fight waste (the other day I almost wasn't able to get a copy of a file because it cost the government $.30. Please don't tell me about run-away spending in welfare.). These are all people who are devoted public servants. None of them are perfect, I'm sure. But they're all doing very good and important work.
More important, they're all people. Just like everyone else. There is no "government-as-other." The government is us. What it does is what we tell it to do. We don't need rhetoric railing against government. That's the same as railing against people. That is what the tea party and small government advocates are doing. They're presenting an image of the world that says "government is this big bad entity that's wasting all of our money," never paying attention to the fact that they, their family members, roughly 20 million Americans employed in government and 300 million of their neighbors are "the government."
The rhetoric upsets me. It doesn't upset me because it's loud and filled with vitriol. It upsets me because it's founded on an absurdist reality. We can discuss government waste and excess spending. We can discuss whether entitlements have gone too far or what tax policy will lead to more jobs. We can discuss military expenditures and congressional budgets and anything else under the sun. But we can only discuss it when we're operating in reality.
And in reality, we are the government.
Where do we go
Where do we go now?