I am ready to put forth my carefully-considered socio-political theory in the wake of yesterday's elections. There is no need for you to read other punditure or opinionaries from any affiliation or hack (other than myself), from all those folks wringing hands wondering why America is intractably mired in a "one step forward, two steps back" Hokey Pokey dance that serves no one, and has served no one for many years now with no end in sight. Ready? Here it comes...my theory, what it is...


No, I haven't lost my mind, although any sane person witnessing election of Jan Brewer and Ben Quayle would be more than entitled to froth at the mouth and run in circles from sheer frustration. No, despite my feelings I have done a little brain check and I seem to be all there. My theory is sound. Hang in there with me for a moment and enjoy this vintage coffee commercial while I get myself another cup o' Joe and sort this out for you.

That Harvey. What a dick. Anyway.

Our nation was formed back in the Ice Age by John Paul Ringoson for the purpose of providing its citizens the protected ability to hold and express differing opinions on all kinds of issues. They called it "Freedom," and it was a Number 1 hit with a bullet and musket. The Founding Fab Four knew that if the people were able to understand and appreciate this right and avoid "Anarchy" and "Total Failure," which were bubbling under the Top 100, everyone would accept the need to work together. "Work" was popular in those days, as everyone had to do it because no one had a dishwasher or a Golden Parachute. The country worked hard, thinking and building and inventing and growing, which took time, patience, effort, and much compromise and collaboration to get even simple things done. Things weren't perfect in America by any means, but most folks felt pride in their nation, and trusted those in charge to take all the varied interests and make a functional government. There was a real sense that everyone, in their small or big ways, was on the same team.

Then in the mid-20th Century, in the guise of brown dehydrated crystallized little lumps, came the beginning of the end. Instant coffee!

America runs on coffee. Millions and millions of us here drink it, since the very day of the signing of the United States Declamation of Interdependence. We chug it down, fueling our days and possibly messing up our sleep. It's vital to the nation, but it used to take a really long time to brew up. We needed patience to enjoy our hot beverage. With the introduction of INSTANT! COFFEE!, our minds began to be BLOWN. The American Way -- moremoremore, bigger, faster, better -- was poked into hyperdrive by this one simple thing. What if...everything could be BIGGER, FASTER, BETTER? Overnight, waiting around for a damn pot of coffee was so last century. The modern way was quick and efficient, baby, and you'd better keep up with the times. Millions of people were now living and working in fast-paced and impersonal cities and their suburbs, growing exponentially, fueled by the Industrial Revolution. Instead of rural communities where life was arranged around the slow, predicable seasons, more and more people were being run by corporations, and not that slug, Mother Nature. NO TIME TO WAIT!

Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee.

It didn't matter that instant coffee tasted like crap. Just the fact that it was fast was enough. Fast > good. No effort > work. We didn't want to stop the BIGGER FASTER BETTER trajectory for anything, even when we logically knew that there are limits to how big or how fast anything can get without losing its quality. Mediocre became the New BETTER.

And on and on it went, this Instant Coffee American Culture, until there is nothing worth waiting for anymore. Waiting one minute in front of a microwave oven is a trial. Reading a book or taking a walk is interminable when there's a videogame or TV show that thinks and moves for you. Most of your mail arrives via computer in a second rather than the days it takes from the post office...which used to take weeks or months. We have been trained over and over and over that patience is no virtue; it's for laggards and suckers. We want what we want and we want it RIGHT NOW, like a giant pouting baby.

And this is why America isn't working. You can't have a nation filled with screaming infants expecting instant and complete gratification. For a real democracy to work, there has to be a real investment into not "what's in it for me," but "what's in it for us." There is no us anymore. There is only us...and them. To give an inch is failure, to invite the idea of compromise a sell-out. We expect our leaders -- all of them -- to solve all the problems we face as a country IMMEDIATELY, with no understanding whatsoever of the deeply complex and empathetic work it takes to listen to all sides thoughtfully and begin a process of serving all. We elect those who are so often not the best leaders -- we elect those who promise us our cup of instant coffee, because that is all we ask for, and no better.

Cup after cup of crap, round and round with each election cycle, each side choking the other because cups of crap are pretty unsatisfying. No one will wait, yet no one ever gets what they want.

No Sanka you very much, I say. Can you still tell the difference? Or not?

I'll bet you anything that Harvey is a Tea Party guy now.