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Publisher's Note: The blame game

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By Tom McDonald

“Some folks hate the whites who hate the blacks who hate the klan; most of us hate anything we don’t understand.”

— from Kris Kristofferson’s 1972 song “Jesus Was A Capricorn”

On the far right, the Tea Party has tapped a vein of discontentment by blaming the government for all our problems. And on the far left, the Occupy Wall Street forces have laid the blame at the feet of the big corporations and their greed.

Meanwhile, the  majority of Americans say both are the problem. They believe the problem lies in the way big corporations and big government have forced the rest of us into submission. Count me in on that crowd.

Do I have an opinion poll to back all this up? Maybe one’s out there but I don’t really care to waste my time finding it. You can find some sort of push poll out there to back up just about any analysis you want to make about popular opinion, so why bother? But if I could get a show of hands from my readers, even in this left-leaning town, I’ll bet the majority of you would agree that the problem doesn’t lie with government, or with the corporations; the problem is with both.

Something’s wrong and we can’t seem to fix it — that much we can agree on. Who’s to blame for it all, that’s where we differ.

This blame game has been at the core of our political identity all along. And it’s not just at the national level; we’re pretty good at it locally too.

Here in Las Vegas, we’re really good at it. The west-siders, the east-siders, the outsiders, the natives, the politicians, the gang-bangers, the powerful, the welfare recipients, and just pick your color or culture — all must take their turn at being “the problem” in our town. It’s always someone else’s fault.

I suppose it makes us feel better about ourselves to blame others for our troubles, but it doesn’t do much for problem-solving. Yes, we need to know the source of our problems, but we also need to understand that, one way or another, we all contribute to that which pulls us down. I think most Americans understand this, but they may feel trapped by the circumstances they’re in. For example, we all know that money isn’t the most important thing in life, but how many of us can quit our job just to take care of a loved one in need? That’s not the way our world goes round.

• • •

I also think that more and more people are identifying less and less with either political party. Instead, more people are coming to the conclusion that our national elections are rigged. Power comes in two forms — money and people — and while the people hold the power of the vote, money is becoming way too important in our elections. Lifting the limits on campaign spending, whether its a candidates’ campaign or an “issue-based” political action committee, has seriously damaged the process.

Most people see that but can’t do much about it.

Maybe it’s good that the Occupy movement — which is coming a lot closer to addressing this problem than the Tea Party — isn’t too structured just yet. Once an effective organization comes into play to guide this movement, money will also enter into the equation. Perhaps the incubation time for this movement is better off without the money factor.

My biggest fear for the movement is that the extremists — some of whom are already flirting with notions of a violent overthrow of Wall Street — will take over the Occupy movement. If that happens, the centrist majority will be alienated and the movement will remain on the fringe.

This nation is capable of nonviolent revolutions — which are, by the way, far more effective in the long run.

Tom McDonald is editor and publisher of the Optic. He may be reached at 505-425-6796, ext. 237, or tmcdonald@lasvegasoptic.com.