Let me start with a clear statement of the premise of this post: the political behavior of both politicians and we the people has become downright abysmal, and it threatens our future.

Start with the politicians. We have members of Congress who cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that President Obama is constitutionally qualified to be president. Literally cannot get the words to come out of their mouths. Others who cannot bring themselves to rebuke Rep. Wilson for his unambiguous violation of the House code of conduct. Still others who cannot bring themselves to rebuke Rep. Grayson for his characterization of Republican healthcare plans as, “don’t get sick” – and if you do, “die quickly.” We have Sarah Palin out there fanning the “death panels” flames. We have Rep. Franks declaring that our president is “an enemy of humanity” who has “no place in any station of government.”

Why is this? This is done because it sells tickets, i.e., it generates political support and votes. It’s good for business among the political set. Does anyone of serious mind actually doubt the president’s constitutional qualifications?  Or that that Wilson, Grayson, Palin or Frank were out of line? Have you ever heard anyone express support for these politicians’ actions who isn’t also ideologically aligned with them? You have not. Ideological blinders are an absolute prerequisite to seeing these any of these actions as justified, or intellectually honest, or in any way creditable.

And, that’s where we the people come in. We buy this stuff. We soak it up. We love it. If you are an obscure South Carolina or Florida congressman or a small state governor or whoever, this stuff works. It works politically. You get more donations. You get bigger tiny crowds at your appearances. You get more votes. In the end, you get re-elected.

Where does all of this lead us? To the state of affairs in Congress today. Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, is among the most disdained and reviled institutions in the land. Various polls show an overall approval rating of Congress in the mid twenties percent range. If you or I set out with boundless determination to ruin our reputations, it would take a miracle to earn the disgust of so many.

We are caught in an ever-worsening feedback loop. Politicians on the right disconnect further and further from reality, become more and more willing to abandon all reasonable standards of discourse — and are rewarded with money and votes from an increasingly marginalized right wing electorate. And in turn: Politicians on the left disconnect further and further from reality, become more and more willing to abandon all reasonable standards of discourse — and are rewarded with money and votes from the left wing electorate. (I omit “increasingly marginalized” for the left wing only because it is in the ascendancy now; five years ago, it would have been reversed, and it will reverse again.)

Here is why this matters. There are real issues to be confronted by our government. We live in times which require thoughtful, forward-thinking, fresh, creative and wise leadership. But we punish those who are thoughtful, forward-thinking, fresh, creative and wise. We are left with a big bunch of losers, play-acting at being “Congressmen” and “Congresswomen.” I cringe to think that this generation in Congress will be the ones to decide how to handle healthcare policy, or energy policy, or environmental policy, or economic policy, or fiscal policy, or any other important policy. Frankly, I would cringe equally whether it was Pelosi or Boehner with a 256 – 177 majority and the task of crafting the thoughtful, forward-thinking, fresh, creative and wise legislation these issues demand.

Just remember, though: it is not their fault. We voted for them. We sought out and got exactly the kind of rhetoric-filled, ideologically blinded Congress we wanted. Good luck with that, America.

Without yet getting into whether Rep. Wilson was “right” or not, what he did was one of the most profoundly un-conservative acts in memory. The first principle of conservatism is to conserve. Conservatives more than any other segment recognize, or ought to, our mutual responsibility to conserve, defend and protect those basic institutions on which order, stability and prosperity depend. His act demeaned and belittled the presidency, an institution which has been constitutionally ingrained in our way of life for more than 200 years. If he has something to say, he has any number of legitimate means of expression. Whatever happened to op ed pieces in the paper, or appearances on Hannity, or speeches to his constituents, or posts on his website? Whatever the merits of his outburst, he chose the one radical means of expression that utterly belies conservative principles.

I also have to point out this irony. There are many aspects of Pres. Obama’s healthcare ideas that require a hard swallow to accept at face value. He is, after all, a politician by trade, and he is going to spin the story in his favor as much as he can get away with. Yet, Rep. Wilson chose to brand as a lie one of the most incontrovertibly true statements of the night. Who is this guy, and, basically, WTF on that???