We have all heard the term “Existential Threat.” If you watch the talking heads that propagate digital screens large and small like mosquitos after a hearty summer rain in the south or if you listen with any regularity to the pontificating politicians as they spend more time bloviating rather than actually solving problems you’ve heard it. It is a phrase uttered casually with the aim of inducing maximum fear. North Korea and the regime of Kim Jung -un, ISIS, Al Qaeda. Iran, Russian meddling into our elections even our President have all been labeled with this life ending apocalyptic end of humanity phrase. But here is the thing, existential threats are real, they exist but when you cheapen the phrase by calling everything you don't like as the end to everything we know and love then nothing is a threat.
So, why am I even writing this? I am writing this because the real existential threat, the one that threatens you, me, our kids and the future generations is not those mentioned above, it isn't some shady group halfway around the world or some rogue regime or some bad actor nations. The real existential threat are the politicians who like the great Wizard of Oz, sit behind a curtain pulling levers, blasting smoke and noise as a means of distraction rather than action. They do little to advance our society and everything to divide it. They Gerrymander safe districts, enrich their own lives while claiming to serve the public. They play to their individual bases ignoring those who don't serve their thirst for yet more and more of your money as they collaborate to steal more and more of your liberty. Example, they talk about reducing the deficit, a clever way of convincing you that spending less year to year is somehow not tied inextricably to our national debt. Most people don't even know nor could they explain the difference between the deficit and our debt. Rather than focusing like a laser on those things that truly threaten us, they utilize a clever three card monte style of distraction to shift your attention away from what matters. The sad truth is that most Americans suffer from what I call “Battered Citizen Syndrome.” We have all been beaten so badly that we have retreated to our own safe spaces, a place where we huddle with those who like us, have been beaten into submission. We feel like the poor soul next to us, we sympathize with one another and speak quietly of our abuse. We don't invite others in, we protect each other, validate each other and draw some kind of broken weird strength from our fellow survivors, those sitting in our camp. We huddle around the little fires careful not to let it burn to brightly for fear that we will be discovered by the other camps of abused citizens locked in their version of this collective nightmare.
This is the cleverness of the Wizards of our Oz, they distract and divide and steal from us our freedom, our voice and we let them. We have forgotten that these Wizards were elected to serve us, they are our employees. The existential threat we should fear has coopted the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government. We have allowed 545 Wizards of our Oz, 435 in congress, 100 in the senate, 9 on the supreme court and one in the white house to subjugate us, 325, 145,963 million Americans. As I write this, polling shows that collectively both Houses of Congress have an approval rating that averages approximately 20%, the President’s approval rating 40% and the Supreme Court’s approval rating is 49%. The collective Wizards of our Oz share an average approval rating of 36.333%. Let that sink in for a minute. We, the people, all 325 million plus have been bamboozled into thinking that somehow this is what our version of democracy looks like. We accept that our representative republic is just fine humming along with an approval rating of 36%. So, here is the bottom line, the question that begs for an answer, Who or what is our greatest “Existential Threat?” Is it some obscure terror group, some third world Tin Pot Dictator? Does our greatest threat exist outside our borders or is it right here at home where no amount of regulations or some wall can protect us? Or is our greatest existential threat those we elect to represent us?
Every good story has a hook and then a swerve. The hook in this story is to present you with a boogeyman, the villain, our collective victimizer and in this case, it was the 545. Now for the swerve. I have looked deeply into the abyss that is my government and shouted loudly at it and the reflection I saw, the voice that I heard echoing back was mine. It was said by greater and smarter men than I that “we get the government we deserve” and that “the greatest threat to democracy is an ill informed and ignorant electorate.” I fear that our greatest existential threat is us. We are responsible, we are not victims, we are willing participants foolishly handing our power to those we approve of 36% of the time. Where else in life do we accept such low expectations? Where else would you follow someone who you only approved of 36% of the time? In the end, the problem is staring back at us when we look in the mirror. It exists when we surround ourselves in the echo chambers and individualized bubbles of self-reflection. We buy their version of snake oil in the form of distrusting those who don't look like us, feel like us, believe as we believe. We sign our duties and responsibilities over because apathy is King, we are either too busy or too bored with managing what we mistakenly view as the minor details of our existence. The divide will continue to grow, our liberty will continue to shrink and until our expectations are raised to exceed the aspirations of those diligently working to subjugate us we can expect no better than approving a mere 36% of the time. Of course, that is just my take.