The Road to Normalcy May Be Less Government

The Road to Normalcy May
Be Less Government


Leonard Zwelling

         Our guide Gil says fewer and fewer Israelis participate in
national elections. Especially the young. Sounds like some place else I know.
There is a general sense here, I guess, that the government is unresponsive and
doesn’t speak to the issues that concern most Israelis. Sounds like some place
else I know. The participants in government are viewed as fairly inept, but
mostly harmless, if they stay out of the way of the people. Sounds like some
place else I know.

         You have to be impressed that in societies in which the
government is playing a lesser and lesser role in the life of the people and
whose official spokesmen may have the longest spokes, but speak only for
themselves, the people have unplugged from government and are just as glad they
have. Maybe Ronald Reagan was right all along. “Government is the problem.”

         This all may sound pretty strange coming from a single payer
guy who loves the country in which he currently sits (Israel), a country born
of socialism and the one in which he resides, born of blood. But there is a
certain regression to the mean of free societies. At some point, the government
has extended into the lives of the people too greatly and the people just walk
away and run their own lives despite the government. That is surely the case
with the federal government in Washington, DC and the people of America and may
well be the case here in Israel. In both places, the major role of the
government is to provide security so the people can go about their business.
Thus both countries struggle with internal violence, terrorism and civil unrest
as the people try to run their businesses, families and lives. There are some
striking differences. Israel believes that access to quality health care is a
right of citizenry. That is not the case in the US just yet. Israelis have guns
to defend themselves but mass killings of Israelis by other Israelis are rare
indeed. The US still struggles with gun violence born of a grossly
oversimplified view of the Second Amendment and the lobbying efforts of the
NRA. Both countries were born of blood but only America continues to wade in
its own.

         Israel has other struggles, too. At age 67, America had
reached 1843. There were wars behind us then and a bigger one less than 20
years later that was fought to resolve the problem of having a whole portion of
the population be less than all the others. Resolved on paper any way. The
fight is still going on 150 years later. So is the American struggle over
immigration. Israel, so young by comparison, also may have a civil war to fight
at some point over whether or not the Arab minority will have full rights as
citizens or even their own country. This too remains unresolved.

         But today’s Israel and today’s America bear far more
similarities than differences and perhaps this is best exemplified by the
people’s attitude toward their government. Meh!


how lucky both Americans and Israelis are to live in countries where Meh is an
acceptable relationship between the people and their government. The mediocrity
of the politicians is reflected in the apathy and antipathy of the people
toward them. How lucky can you get! It is only when the government is out to
get you that you need to pay close attention. Today—Meh!

is one of the greatest triumphs of a capitalistic democracy that the people can
ignore the government and the government can ignore the people and everyone may
be better off for both. After all, do you really want Barack Obama or Mitch
McConnell telling you what to do? Me, neither. And that’s pretty much the
average Israeli’s view of Prime Minister Netanyahu who has been wrong far more
than right about foreign enemies yet still clings to power—again.

we should thank our stars we live in such countries. Not caring about the
government means you can afford to and not be killed.

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