Marples: Red tape, white-out and singing the blues

All of us have heard the phrase, “I wish I could cut through the red tape.” I very much pine for a time when our society can resume being “Americans” again.

I remember a day when Democrats and Republicans had their political spats, yet often enjoyed a good joke and handshake in the anterooms of Congress or even in the White House. Republican Ronald Reagan mingled with Democrat Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. President Harry Truman shared a bit of Kentucky bourbon with both his Democrat and Republican colleagues.

Back when I was a little kid, my parents were Democrats, yet a few relatives were Republicans. It was a different era. People were truly free. There were pranks, but not the twisted, perverted kind of today that kill or maim innocent people. This was before tamper-proof packaging made it difficult to get inside your own bottle of Tylenol.

I was born on Dec. 14, 1963, just 22 days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas that Nov. 22. I’d call my folks Harry Truman/JFK Democrats. My father personally met President Truman in Independence, Missouri, in 1949. However, I think my folks also had favorable historic views of Republican Presidents Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. They definitely admired Federalist President George Washington.

People forget there have been some squabbles among those INSIDE the same political party. Theodore Roosevelt felt his successor William Howard Taft betrayed his policies. Thus, Teddy Roosevelt launched his “Progressive Party” (commonly known by its nickname the Bull Moose Party) in 1912. T.R. was the target of an assassination attempt. A bullet-riddled 50 page speech in his pocket saved his life. And people think I’m “wordy.” Being verbose has its virtues. And Roosevelt even delivered the speech after being shot.

I am disheartened by politicians, historians, music and art composers and others who try to use figurative white-out to do what I call a whitewashing of history. I want to see our American history displayed truthfully, genuinely, and unvarnished, with warts and all. History is meant to be learned from, otherwise we will never learn the greatness, nor will we learn from our mistakes.

I counted my lucky stars on an August day in 2013 when I personally met and shook hands with Apollo astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, at the Kansas Cosmosphere, a space exploration center in Hutchinson, Kansas. When I’d watched that mission on an old black and white television in 1969, I never dreamed I’d meet the man.

But it’s the same moon our parents, grandparents and remotest ancestors saw. We must appreciate the mystic tie that circles us on this planet Earth.

Bureaucracy shouldn’t discourage people. It needn’t be rocket science. I hate cumbersome forms that are meant to protect us yet hinder us. I realize for security some agencies ask for a mother’s maiden surname. I have probably forgotten more user IDs and P.I.N. numbers than I can shake a stick at.

From filling out job applications to tax forms, we don’t need to run an obstacle course. Our nation and our populace have needs: infrastructure like roads and bridges, national security, cybersecurity, health care, and myriad others.

But we are becoming a nation bogged down by single hot-button issues, which I call singing the blues (and I don’t mean the musical definition of the blues, but a gripe-head mentality that is not melodious). It strikes a sour chord.

Most of us hate excessive government regulation. Some oversight is needed, some is not. I support limited government. I actually think some social safety net programs have too many strings attached for doctors and patients alike. All that does is hamstring parties on both sides of the equation. Many forms are too lengthy, too cumbersome, and some, too intrusive.

Our society is insult-laden and lawsuit-happy. Bureaucracy has tainted our national colors. It is what produces the red tape, white-out and singing the blues that is so prevalent today.

— James A. Marples, a Longview resident, is a regular contributor to the Saturday Forum.

Today's Bible verse

“The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.”

— Nahum 1:3

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