Bill Murchison

What this country needs is … an election!

Didn't we just have one? Yes. Can't we see through the windshield a follow-up election just down the road? Yes.

None of which obviates the present point: Never in recent memory has confusion over the course of public affairs been so dense, so impenetrable. A vast number of things need clearing up so that normal politics, if there's such a thing any more, can proceed.

While voters labor to digest what Congress and the White House have done to their health care system, the same players are cooking up more in the kitchen -- financial reform, immigration reform, energy reform. The shiny-smooth word "reform" should be handled with caution. Reform generally connotes constructive change. On the basis of what happened with health care, ideological overhaul looks like the main motive in Democratic-controlled Washington, D.C. We seem to have voted in a presidential team determined to have its way in all things, while portraying the hesitant as selfish, greedy, overpaid, overfed obstacles to the Divine Plan.

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It's hard to recall a president as bent as Barack Obama on defaming the opposition, defined as Republicans, bankers, health insurance companies, "Big Oil," big this, big that. On Rahm Emanuel's plausible theory that you don't waste a crisis, Democrats seem determined over the next few months to put their indelible stamp on American life. The latest brainstorm: a tax on consumption -- the famous value-added tax, or VAT -- to pay for the spending that Congress and the administration think we need. This, while taxes on income and investments capital rise. Oh -- and there's the federal Institute of Medicine, which is urging government to start policing consumer intake of salt.

Polls show 22.5 percent of Americans -- a record low since polling began -- trust Congress. Does that surprise? The jobless rate remains just below 10 percent. Meanwhile, we see that the "change" for which Americans voted only a year and a half ago carries a price tag larger -- in terms of freedom, along with money -- than most could have suspected in '08.

We need an election. We need it in order to clear the air, to sort things out. We're not where we thought we would be as a nation at this point, with the new federal establishment rearranging the national living room, tossing out whatever looks to the establishment like trash.

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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