I just wanted to address some of the points Jeff has made. I think he really clarifies the differences in the two viewpoints between conservatives and liberals very well. I understand the lack of faith in our government and the fact that there is corruption and stupidity on all sides of every issue in politics. I would never advocate a one party system.
My back was fractured when I was 12 and a disc herniated. I spent the entire year laying on my back, by myself in my bedroom. The only education I received was American history and the constitution as I had to pass (this was in Illinois) a constitution test in 7th grade in order to move onto 8th grade. Needless to say, I got one hour a week from the principle who would come to my home and tutor me. I spent a lot of time reading the constitution, the bill of rights and reading about American History. The ideals and people that founded our nation were profound and beautiful. Our forefathers did an amazing job of working out potential problems. They had incredible foresight. However they did not foresee all things that came up in the last century which have truly corrupted our government. And of course they had built in the 2nd amendment not so people could hunt animals, but so we could have a revolution if the government got out of control. Problem is of course (which of course they couldn’t foresee, perhaps if DiVinci had been one of the founders) the advent of nuclear weapons and military technology that no rag tag militia could fairly fight against.
I really don’t have total faith in the Democrats. I just think they are less corrupt, more like normal politicians than the Republicans. And not all Republicans fall into that category. And especially regular American people who are not politicians but who identify with the party and vote Republican. They are not any better or worse than people who vote for Democrats. I’m talking only about the leadership of the Republican party; since the Nixon administration there has been a clarion call attracting many corrupt politicians with agendas to exploit the common working American people for their own personal gain on that side of the fence.
There are 2 types of politicians, those who get into politics to serve and lead. And those who get into politics to exploit, loot and are on power trips. I don’t think the Republican party has always been this way, and certainly the vast majority of people who vote Republican are not this way. In actuality I think the Republican party has manipulated many people’s deep love of this country, of tradition, stability, pride and our identity as self-reliant people against us.
But if we left morality up to the wealthy one percent to take care of the poor, the sick and whoever else, do you think they would do it? No. Certainly the feudal lords of Europe weren’t going around giving out loafs of bread to starving children, they were to busy denying them education and prosecuting them for stealing bread so they could put them to work in prison camps. With Democracy and laws, came taxation built on levels of ability to pay, the end of debtors prisons (when you could actually go to prison for life for not being able to pay someone you owed money to, can you imagine how many people would be in jail now if this law hadn’t been changed.) Government can’t solve all of our problems, but it can and should create a moral bone structure to hang our civilization’s body on.
As much as we like to pretend that we are all working on a level playing field with the same amount of talent, intelligence and acumen as everyone else. This is just blatantly untrue. Many of us our handicapped by our environments as children. We seem to be able to muster compassion for the abused child, but as soon as he turns 18 we seem to expect this person to magically be able to shake off the horrors of their childhood and compete in a game fixed by the wealthy.
I grew up in an area of Chicago that was very wealthy and I knew countless kids who were of average intelligence who went to ivy league schools because their parents were wealthy enough to give endowments to those institutions and it was family tradition to go to Harvard or Yale or Dartmouth. Is that fair? No. All the conservatives who claim B.S. on the whole affirmative action thing don’t complain about the wealthy legacy kids who get in with subpar SAT scores and average grades. Because it’s really not that they mind the game being rigged, they just want it rigged in their favor. And the people who are in power in the political arena (especially on the Republican side) are from extremely privelaged backgrounds. This hasn’t always been the case, but in the last 30 years the Republican party has drifted into the lane that promotes corporatism, gives a pass to the wealthiest one percent and turns a blind eye toward graft. The Democrats still have real people participating, like Bill Clinton (despite his personal sex addiction problems and foibles) he was a real guy who was raised by a single mother, in a poor family and through his brilliance and determination made something of himself. This is the America I believe in. This is the America I want to see win out. I don’t want our country to become a feudal one, where the wealthy one percent control us through their lobbyists and corporations. I want all Americans to be represented and to have a voice. I want to stay a democracy and not be bowled over by corporate interests masquerading as moral voices.
You know, the Democrats aren’t all that. They are really annoying and pretty lame. They don’t take the reigns, they blather around, seem to try to bend to too many voices and don’t have the passion it takes to convince others to get on board. This has been their problem now for over 30 years and I totally understand why they upset people who want things to be dealt with cleanly. Democrats don’t do this. For those (and this is the majority of Americans) who want decisive, clear leadership the Democrats don’t always know how to provide this. The Republicans have a huge advantage here, they have a common goal that binds them together which the Democrats don’t have. Democrats go into public service for all kinds of different reasons with all kinds of different agendas and are forced to compromise and work together in a quilt work fashion.
The Republicans have the binding passion of greed which they found a way to sell (ironically) to average Americans as Christian morality. However their policies and private lives show nothing of them living up to their supposed morality. I’m going to refer you to an earlier post here about the shadow self as it applies to the split that Republicans utilize to sell their advocacy for the wealthiest taking not only the share they already have but more of yours too so that the money can “trickle down.” Or so they want you to believe.
So far I haven’t been to any developing nation or as Jeff aptly stated, communist country, where the money ever managed to trickle down. Once those on top have anything their heart could ever desire at their fingertips why would they randomly want to share it with strangers? This goes against human nature. We are naturally selfish creatures which is why we have laws, moral codes, and religions that teach us how to be more than just self-absorbed, self-satisfying, opportunistic, uncompassionate beasts.
Let me just say here as an example I’ve known many very famous people (through my work). They can have anything they want whenever they want it, no one ever says “no” to them. They often surround themselves with adoring admirers (not all but many do this) and see themselves as better than everyone else. They often get sucked into a weird cartoonish state of being where they are living entirely a life of the ego. They may have started out as good people and are not necessarily bad people, but they loose percpective and do horrible things to others because they no longer see other people as human beings anymore. And how could they? They are not participating in real relationships anymore, just the ego heroine of fame feeding their insatiable insecurity and making them more and more pathologically narcissistic.
My point is, we all need to be held accountable. And we live in a very narcissistic culture where value has been placed on being special, famous and wealthy to the exclusion of common sense and common decency. It seems anything goes if you can get rich or famous from it. I don’t believe in that. I believe in personal integrity and spiritual growth both of those values are almost impossible to hold onto once a person becomes famous or insanely wealthy (I’m not talking comfortable or even rich but in that one percent club wealthy.)
Spiritual growth requires honest mirroring by loved ones and the world around you which the obscenely rich and famous don’t get from others anymore because that person becomes objectified and identified as a symbol, no longer allowing others to have real exchanges. While this is great for the ego, no one ever disagrees with you, you are always the greatest genius and everyone stops to listen to what you have to say, you actually, eventually become something of a persona, an empty shell, and often this can lead to great feelings of isolation, depression and obsessive behavior. Which is why so many celebrities have drug problems.
And of course in the case of the insanely wealthy, everyone wants a piece of their pie, and they can’t trust anyone around them. They never really know if people love or care about them for who they are or for the money they have. You think this problem sounds easy, but it’s actually very messy and dark and leads to behavior like Bernie Madoff who so desperately needed to stay in that special billionare club that he started ripping people off when the market started going down and he realized it was easier to con people than to actually invest their money. This is the sickness that can happen with outrageous overabundance as Christ said, “it’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.” Because the disassociation that happens with that sort of wealth leads to callousness, and bad behavior.
Average people like my in-laws, who are Republicans, make the mistake of believing that heads of corporations and the super wealthy have the same values they do. Let me tell you, they don’t. Their values are so far a flung from ordinary Americans that they may as well be Martians. There are of course good people who are exceptions and do amazing humanitarian work with the money they have made, but really they are probably less than one percent of the ubber rich.
While we all fantasize that our problems would go away and life would be perfect if we were just rich and famous, the opposite is actually true. Being in the spotlight only magnifies problems and immense wealth creates an emotional telescoping phenomena where your ability to relate to people who are struggling financially disappears and instead of feeling compassion for those people the wealthy find a bizarre righteous anger toward the unfortunate so they can stave off their guilt at not doing anything to help.
So what I want to say is that I don’t believe we can leave people’s lives, health and education up to the potential good graces of the wealthy one percent. I’ll leave everyone with this weird random example. The first time I went to London, when I was in my early 20s I met a guy who was a monarchist. I actually didn’t even know they still existed. He believed that the best form of government was what he called a “benevolent monarchy.” He explained that in that system things got done quickly and the benevolent king to good care of all of his subjects, sort of like a good dad takes care of all of his kids. But then I said, “But what happens if the monarch is not benevolent, like King Henry or Caligula.”
“Well, I’m talking about a benevolent monarchy,” he firmly stated again.
“Yes, but that’s the problem if its a monarchy the people can’t do anything to get rid of the next in line and what if they’re crazy or a horrible person. In a democracy you can vote a nut jobber out of office. There are checks and balances in place that help eliminate the possibility of someone terrible taking over.”
And again his answer was, ”Well, I’m talking about a benevolent monarchy.”
What we do in our Democracy with checks and balances, laws and amendments had its counter part in the world of business as regulations and the notion that corporations being led by the best people would perform the best and therefore those leaders would continue to move skyward. But instead with deregulation came easy money through scams, the ability to lie about your company, to cheat your shareholders and to fail upwards based on lies and fudging numbers.
Our country is as much about capitalism as it is about democracy. And in order for capitalism to survive it needs to have enforceable rules to play by or no one on the world stage is going to want to play with us anymore. Those toxic loans we bought up that have been helping the stock market, are helping because by our government standing behind our corporations we are saying to the world, we screwed up and we won’t let everyone fall down, we stand behind our system and we want to continue playing ball with everyone. If we didn’t do this the entire world economy would fall apart due to lack of confidence in us the champions of capitalism.
Anyway, enough blabbing.
Best wishes to all and many blessings,