Bill Murchison

It helps to read history. We know, or should, that American life shows us nothing like the social and political conniptions that Germany experienced in the 1920s, France in the 1790s and the United States in the 1850s.

But something is cooking. Indignant people -- I'm sidestepping the adjective "angry" so as to avoid connotations -- don't mysteriously materialize in the capital city to fulminate and castigate on their own nickels. They have to want to. What might make them want to? I would venture, the sense that something's badly, seriously, woefully out of joint in their beloved homeland.

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Note that the "tens of thousands" (general media estimate) or the "million" (Daily Mail of London) demonstrators last weekend went to Washington, D.C., not to New York City. They went where they judged the problem to reside. That would make it a political, not an economic, problem -- one arising from an accumulation of offenses and indignities peculiar to how their country is run.

We've seen it before, haven't we -- as far back as the gasoline lines and inflation of the '70s, continuing through the movement that made Ross Perot a household name, with his pledge to look under the hood and fix the motor. Then there was last year's thirst for "change."

Do the monarchs of politics get the impression no one loves them, whatever their party? Whether they get it or not, it's true.

"Congressional Job Approval" survey, Sept. 3-8, Associated Press: approve, 28 percent; disapprove, 69 percent. Neither political party creeps up even to 50 percent in terms of generic public approval. Democrats finish less than 3 percentage points ahead of Republicans.

For now the Democrats, who at least nominally rule the capital with a mailed fist, draw most of the hostility. Only a year ago, it was the Republicans who couldn't turn a trick, what with moral scandals, Iraq, Katrina, etc. Next year at the midterm polls, Democrats will likely take a hit, not unlike the one Republicans took in 2006. So it goes.

The size of the political footprint on the public's back is the main reason for public discouragement with the modern cult of politics. The bigger the footprint, the larger the likelihood of disrupting normal life.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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