Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

You are probably surprised to hear from me since, being Jewish, I haven’t written before. But things are really getting dicey here in the good old U.S. of A., and I was wondering if I might ask for one teeny-weeny gift this year.

I’d like some sanity, if you have any on hand. (I know it’s been getting harder to find.)

I wouldn’t bother you if we were just dealing with the usual hypocrisy. You know, congressmen screaming about how we need to keep the government from getting between you and your doctor while simultaneously voting to get between a pregnant woman and her doctor. Or those Republican Senators who screamed bloody murder during the Bush Administration about how the filibuster is wrong and undemocratic (small d), and who are now filibustering everything in sight, or the Democratic (big D) Senators who were doing the filibustering then and are screaming bloody murder about it now.

We’re used to that sort of thing.

What’s got me worried is the “Nero fiddling while Rome burns” behavior. It isn’t just politicians, either. As you know, Santa,  America is facing big problems. The cost of medical care is threatening to bankrupt the country. We are fighting two unpopular wars, at least one of which was unnecessary. The economy is in shambles. So our media fixates on Tiger Woods’ infidelity and Sarah Palin’s book tour. Really? And don’t get me started about the deranged  “birthers” who insist that President Obama is a Muslim-communist-Nazi socialist.

Speaking of fiddling and burning, despite overwhelming scientific consensus that the world  faces calamity if we don’t do something about global climate change, we have people—including several in congress—sticking their fingers in their ears and going “la la la—I can’t and won’t hear you!”

But what really got me, Santa, was reaction to a bill to regulate Wall Street. As you know, big bank shenanigans made possible by lax regulation were a major cause of the recession. (I know it has affected you and the elves, too; families have less money so you’ll have fewer toys to deliver.) Opponents of this bill are calling it “socialism.”

Santa, I understand arguing that a particular regulation is good or bad, but to argue that making banks play by some rules amounts to a “government takeover” is crazy; it’s like saying that giving an umpire authority to call outs is “socializing” baseball.

It’s paranoid.

I know it isn’t new. Back in 1964, Richard Hofstader wrote “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” and gave examples of various lunacies through American history. (Remember when Robert Welch insisted that President Eisenhower was ‘a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy’?) When the problems we face seem enormous and their solutions impossibly complex, people do tend to “leave the reservation” as the saying goes. We’ve lived through the anti-Masons and the Nativists and the Klan. We’ll probably survive the current paranoia.

But just in case, Santa—can you bring us some sanity?