Snell: Total eclipse of the political heart


Photo courtesy of Anthony Urbano/Facebook

Today, you can’t scare anybody or endanger a society with eclipse nonsense. Or can you?

Barry Snell

Without sound, the shadow rapidly advanced over the ground until onlookers across the world were cast into the darkness. The crowd looked up towards the sun, watching through special filters and pinhole cameras while for the first time in many years the moon came between the earth as it did during the recent solar eclipse.

The source of all life on this planet had its yellow nuclear fires dimmed orange as the moon moved across it, and together they slid into the horizon and astronomical history. For just a moment ever so brief, you could bear to see it with the naked eye too, the image of the black spot in front of the Sun temporarily burned into one’s vision.

Fortunately, the Sun came back the next morning.

Solar eclipses were once sacred, even fearful things. They terrified ancient cultures, many of whom worshiped the sun, who took its disappearance as indication of anger from the gods or a sign of evil or bad omens. Knowledge is power, though, and as advanced civilizations tend to do, they exploited their knowledge of the eclipse phenomena by using it to appear god-like to lesser civilizations.

In the early 14th century, Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes reinforced the Aztec’s belief that he was a god by exploiting his knowledge of eclipses. Knowing one was coming, Cortes threatened the Aztecs by telling them he would make the sun disappear if they didn’t obey his demands. Using this allegedly divine power, the Spanish held the Aztecs hostage until, from the sheer terror of being cast into the darkness and separated from the source of life, they relented. Of course, Cortes then pretended to bring the sun back.

Today, you can’t scare anybody or endanger a society with eclipse nonsense. Or can you?

Where Congress used to be defined by assiduousness, camaraderie, and collaboration, it is today characterized by antagonism and demagoguery, and an acerbic environment to civil discourse. No longer are intrepid men and women of political skill and diligence prosaic to the institution of Congress. Men like former Sen. Richard Lugar, recently defeated in Indiana’s primary, have been replaced with rancorous and impetuous political know-nothings hell-bent on grinding government to a halt, such as the more radical Richard Mourdock who defeated Lugar.

Democrats blame Republicans for the ineptitude of government to lead and conduct The People’s business. Modern Republicans are responsible for some of the greatest usurpations of freedom in American history, such as the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act and the suspension of habeas corpus. Nor can we forget the bank bail-outs and the expansion of the military industrial complex, which has ballooned the deficit to unprecedented levels. All this has occurred as the GOP has been infiltrated by religious fundamentalists, the occasional racist and other assorted Tea Party type radicals.

Republicans blame the Democrats for their moving right, claiming their shift away from the moderate center is a reaction to the increasingly liberal policies of the left: Gun control, the constant expansion of welfare, the push towards socialized medicine, the usurpation of our national sovereignty to the United Nations, the constant desire to regulate the market, the statist attitude towards private property, the willingness to raise your taxes all the time, more bailouts, the spinelessness on the illegal immigration issue and the general milquetoast, namby-pamby, bleeding heart vibe of the party.

Jesus, where does it end?

Regardless of one’s own feelings and political leanings, there is no such thing as an innocent party. The only argument left then is what the split between guilt and innocence is. Regardless, Congress exists to do the business of the People, so even if the guilt split is 50/50 between the two parties or 70/30 or whatever, it is nonetheless our elected officials’ job to, frankly, do their jobs.

To what degree that happens, though, is entirely dependent on us. We can continue the unproductive finger pointing, pretending as though blame actually matters when we face so many problems. Or we can move on. But so long as we continue to vote for apolitical imbeciles to occupy our public offices, we will be stuck in the political Dark Age we find ourselves in now.

President Barack Obama ran on a campaign of “hope” and “change,” but it was all a lie; the president has little command over anything that happens in this country. No, the hope and change comes from us, the citizen — the voter.

Hope has always been a beacon of light, cutting through the darkness. And for Americans and the world alike, that hope is freedom, the very light that guides the hearts of everyone who lives. How long will we tolerate our politicians eclipsing this light, casting us into the shadow? How long will we allow our elected officials to hold us hostage, abusing the system as they do, as Cortes did to the Aztecs?

You have the torch, and only you can set it alight. Poet Dylan Thomas said, “Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Will our sun come out tomorrow?