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Philip J. Rappa: Requiem to the Civics' Silliness

Requiem to the Silliness I Learned in Civics' Class

Philip J. Rappa*

The occupation of the White House is in its eighteenth-month and still, I can no longer keep silent as my visceral anguish bleeds from pen to page. As a patriot and a citizen, my conscience summons me to express my contempt and demands that I repudiate what was a repugnant send-up that masqueraded as a national election.

As an independent voter, it is my fervent desire not to mislead the reader to assume this to be a partisan rant. Nay, my contempt for this despicable charade would be the same had the alternative candidate sequestered the highest office due to the facilitating actions of a modern day version of a 15th century Star Chamber, known to us as the Supreme Court, which gave no deference nor continence to the letter or spirit of the laws that govern us.

Those observing offshore wondered aloud if a democratically elected government is just a sham, wondered if this nation of the people, for and by the people, a country that has reposed its hope in the principles of freedom is on the precipice of decline.

Maybe it's just me, but when I ask myself, "Who is the victim here, who's responsible for this?" Left with only my own devises I screamed, "it is I?" How and when did it happen? What day, month, year, did the citizen's of this country become its refugees waiting for the exodus to the promised land, become its political prisoners in the land where their father's died to secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Sadly, what's left of the fourth estate and its stepchild, the visual news media, resembles a time-share co-op. Our brethren in the media and the press are continuously monitored. Their livelihood rests in the hands of multinational conglomerates, which have the arbitrary ability to make them stewards of truth in the eyes of the viewing public. If any one of them waffle on that allegiance to the corporate line, that individual shall feel its wrath with no reprieve, certain to be reprimanded, censored and as certain as death to expect reprisals.

What becomes of our legacy, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, the written words that have made us a nation like none other? With no investigative reporters, no one to check the facts, no one to look over the books, ask the questions needed to be asked, what is the consequence of these tactics perpetuated on the American public? Accountability and responsibility get no airtime, we are left abandoned with no one to stand up and demand more from our public servants.

What's left when we turn on the idiot box or listen to talk radio? We have been duped by a deliberate duplicitousness, watching like voyeurs a staged reality where ambiguity is now acclaimed as a high art form.

The life of a democracy demands debate, decent, protest and the right to ask questions. Instead, we have consensually allowed these well-tailored and coifed new improved agents of intoxication to deliver their pretentiously scripted spoken words. Leaving us to be entertained by their contrived images and symbols that are nothing more than a brazen hypocrisy and total antithesis to who and what we are.

These so called reporters are liken to the endman in a minstrel show. Teasingly they speak of our heritage and birthright as if it were antique gossip. Rather than a purposeful dialogue at a town hall meeting or a round table discussion of issues, we get some kind of operatic shamanism's, with itencs high priests of arrogance akin to the likes of Allie (North) and Rush (Limbaugh) acting as mediums allowing their good and evil spirits to sing song from their bully pulpits.

Here we are at the turn of the century, and a majority of Americans is, least I say, skeptical, as to the State of Our Union. Our democracy is at the crossroads. Only forty-nine percent of those who could vote took advantage of their franchise, that means less than twenty-four percent approve of the present day occupant in the White House. We, as a nation have reached a new high water mark of disillusionment, our birthright finds its biggest encumbrance: the lie we call representative government.

In my youthful naiveté, I thought being a public servant to be an honorable exercise of citizenship. From what I was taught and read, public service was never meant to be a lifetime career, but merely a sojourn. In the best-case scenario, public service was meant to attract the best and brightest individuals from the private sector - certainly individuals who actually worked for a living, those who actually lived within a budget. But most importantly, public service sought individuals seeking a higher purpose and those who felt a genuine responsibility towards their fellow citizens; individuals to whom character, integrity, honesty and accountability are words to live by - not just some ad campaign for a new detergent.

But forgive me I digress. Back to present day reality. Politicians' attitudes towards the public at large are a fusion of indifference and contempt. Their creed of behavior toward the average American citizen was chiseled from a quip made by Lyndon Johnson. Who once said, "If you're going to tell someone to go to hell, make sure you can make him go." At this moment in time, Washington, DC, epitomizes the ultimate apocalyptic Machiavellian nightmare. Dorothy we're not in Kansas anymore and this isn't a place where Mr. Smith should ever go. Washington is a kind of Faustian Club Med for the rich and powerful.

Once one gets possession of that platinum plated brass ring known to us as appointive office, this new inductee takes a long, heady, sagacious breath, intoxicated with the knowledge that he/she has achieved what mere mortals could never perceive: Nirvana here on earth. Exhaling with a gentle sigh of utter contentment, safe and toasty in the glow of perpetual self-aggrandizement their only remaining task is to strip away and shed any remaining semblance of honesty and integrity. Then, effortlessly they will slip into their new second skin: that of fraternity. So tight a fit it makes the Shroud of Turrin seem simply a Band-Aid.

With no hope for campaign finance reform never ever to be - the combination of vested economic interests in a mystic communion with those who believe themselves to be the elite are the very sinews of our misfortune. In this private DC community of nefarious individuals, baleful to the principles of democracy, devoid of shame, they no longer shun the light of day, but instead sport their greed and bribery like a talisman. There exists a collective criminalized consciousness. Our representatives are mistress to their original sponsors pledging their fidelity and offering their service as shills for their self-interest. Happily they sail through life on a sea of deceit, with their lavish salaries, generous pensions, with loopholes in the law for their personal benefit, skimming from campaign funds, merrily they go double dipping all the way home.

In a gathering of such godless, unscrupulous individuals who go about their dealings with a wink wink and a nod nod usurping the Godfather's notion that "It's not personal just business". This brand of reality TV Washington-style teaches our youth by example: that fabrications, half truths and lying is not a crime, and thanks to recent history, that depending on who you are neither is perjury.

It seems the only secret in America that's not for sale is the existence of National Socialism - found in our nation's capital with fifty retreats for its minions located in each State House. During the thirties and forties we deemed this ideology Fascism, but today those of the ilk of politically correct thought would have us believe it's just a new world order. The only place left where one can find the remaining vestiges of those with full time employment and a health care package befitting royalty in America, is in federal service.

In the last election, both candidates were son's of son-of-a-guns. Maybe now is the time for American's to finally cast adrift the romanticized infatuation with the ridiculous, loathsome, vacuous fairy tale: the absurd notion popularized in the sixties of Camelot with its asinine idea of an heir-apparent. The only thing nepotism has spawned is begetting a once removed from the original whey-faced-whelp-of-a-man. One from Yale, the other from Harvard, learned in the practiced art of slight-of-hand. One speechifying poorly the notion that he is one of us while the other, with help from handlers, tries to wheedle us to believe he is the better man.

To all Americans, private business owners, entrepreneurs, working mothers and fathers trying to raise a family. To all gay and straight singles, and significant others, and to the salt of the earth: our parents and grandparents, the working class heroes who fought for, or stayed home, to help preserve and build this great nation, many of whom now must make the daily choice between medicine or food. To those of you one mortgage payment away from becoming homeless. Whatever your color, ethnicity, creed, or financial status, it is my contention that despite all the broken promises and unfulfilled wishes of our birthright and heritage, in spite of the bankruptcy of our representative government, I believe that the American dream is not forsaken but merely deferred.

We are overwhelmed by the daily influx of facts and truths of the besmirchment of our nation's institutions by greed. As we witness the results of the last sixty-five years of history, we must become vigilant to what oozes up from the cracks in our foundation of liberty. That it not be allowed to morph itself into the emergence of some political messiah wanting to enact Marshall Law to cleanse the nation of what he perceives is making it ill.

We must not await some distant spring hoping for some fortuitous cosmic intervention. Nor is it time to sit on our collective asses and let history record the blame and complicity of this nation's citizens for the demise of its democracy. We must never shirk, relinquish, nor abdicate our responsibility to this generation and future generations to the rights of free men and women to self-determination. We must never feign amnesia to our principles and convictions. We must be willing to fight the fight in honor of those who came before us who shed their blood and perished for our core beliefs. In spite of the adversarial tide of propaganda and special interests that uses our differences to sow dissension, to divide and conquer us, we must never acquiesce to those adherent to the teachings of hate. Lastly, we must recognize the abomination of these collaborationists and acknowledge the Achilles heal of their offers of comfort over freedom.

Word Count: 1790 © Philip J. Rappa 2002

- * Philip J. Rappa is an award winning writer, documentarian, filmmaker and gifted lecturer. To his credits are: a United Nations Award, 8 gubernatorial awards, and an Emmy nomination. His writings have appeared in numerous publications. Presently he is working on a television special in development, entitled: "Bar Stool View of America". Email: Web:

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