02/22/2011 05:03 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Government by Dinosaur Repellent

I spray my yard with dinosaur repellent. It must be working -- I've never seen a dinosaur around here. That's an old joke, of course. But it's no joke when it's our system of government. The entire Washington establishment is engaged in a mighty game of "pretend that's the problem."

The Democrats didn't lose some seats in the midterm elections because they tried to do too much. They lost because they did too little, and then claimed to have accomplished a great deal. They boasted they'd solved real problems that were not, in fact, solved at all. Republicans, meanwhile, did great business selling dinosaur repellent. And even now, it looks like Washington Democrats are buying the stuff in bulk.

As things continue to get worse in this country -- which they will, because nobody is focused on the real problems we face -- the crises are going to get harder and harder to ignore. Democrats may eventually start doing something about them, regardless of the apoplectic harrumphing of the opposition. I'm thankful they haven't started making up imaginary crises of their own. Not yet. But the Democrats do seem to respond to Republican scare tactics as if they were genuine. So right now we're locked in a vicious cycle, trying to keep the dinosaurs at bay.

Is the budget deficit the biggest economic problem in America? No. But Republicans pretend it is, and all of Washington seems to agree, including the president, who ought to know better. Are public employees paid too much? Do unions have too much power? Of course not. But they're the latest monsters in an endless parade. This time last year, it was Muslims and Latin immigrants. It will be somebody else next year.

During the midterms, Republicans promised to solve a bunch of straw man problems they more or less made up out of thin air -- but with a compliant, corporate news media, they were able to sell a whole bushel of them. Now they're fiercely "solving" those problems, attacking erstwhile foes such as women, schoolchildren, the elderly, teachers, police, and fire personnel. Why? Because of the deficit, apparently. Or because taxes are evil. Or to honor the Founding Fathers' intent, or something. Maybe because of the dinosaur situation.

Why won't Democrats resist this nonsense more vocally? Republicans obviously couldn't care less about the deficit they created -- not really. But they do want to make sure every last public, taxpayer nickel goes to their friends in big business, rather than the little people known as public servants. They want to channel Social Security, health care, the updating and maintenance of the national infrastructure, and all the natural and human resources that exist in this land, straight through the offices of their immense corporate donors. If the money doesn't flow through corporations, it can't be skimmed for profit. Which will cut into politicians' revolving-door personal wealth creation schemes.

There's the problem, of course. Democrats are in the same corporate pockets, although at least they're a little bit ashamed of it. Yet make no mistake: Mr. Obama will not be making any populist waves before he has that projected billion dollars of campaign financing in his war chest. The man needs ten hundred million dollars. He's not getting that from us common citizens. So don't expect a wave of high-level arrests on Wall Street any time soon. Don't expect any foreign policy decisions that will upset General Electric or Lockheed Martin. Don't expect much of anything -- unless it's tilting at windmills.

I see good news, however. Ordinary Americans -- that means government employees, union members, home owners, renters, the unemployed, women, retirees, minorities, and all the rest of us -- are starting to show some gumption. People are getting educated, fast. For some time now, the American dialogue has been drowned out by the fringe cranks who hate and fear their fellow Americans, the government, half the amendments to the Constitution, and the society we live in. Republicans (and Fox News) made hay (and tea) during this period. The ascendancy of these America-haters may be coming to an end.

The resistance in Wisconsin is a good sign. Rational Americans are starting to demand real responses to real problems, perhaps inspired by the example of Egypt. Or perhaps they're just tired of the nonsense. In any case, I look forward to a time of change for the better.

But thank you, Republicans. If it wasn't for your steadfast efforts, we might still be afraid to venture outside and protest -- you know, because of all the dinosaurs.