Friday, November 23, 2012

Divided America

America is more divided than at any time in its history. More than during the American Revolution. More than the decade preceding the Civil War. More than during the era of Women's Suffrage, Prohibition, or the Great Depression. Even more so than the turbulent 1960's. In fact, the division may be so deep and the gulf so wide that it never will be bridged. We have become a nation of two ideals. The recent presidential and national elections has served only as dark mirrors of our division. What are the two ideals that we've become?

One ideal is the belief in a limited federal government. Low taxes and a level economic playing field. The other ideal is one where government is the sole source of our social and economic salvation. The first believes in opportunities where one succeeds, or fails by one's own merits. Government doesn't owe you anything. The latter in entitlements, where all aren't just are all equal in the government's eyes, but some are more equal and should be given special consideration for one reason or another. What became of the idea of ability or quality or even best price? They've become passé. The former believes success comes from a solid education and hard work, be it white collar, blue collar, pink collar or any other collar; that teachers are there to teach the skills one needs to survive in society, not to babysit. They believe everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. The later believes in reducing the quality of education so they everyone "succeeds"; a society of mediocrity was superior to a society of meritocracy; that successful people "owe" those who aren't as successful because they spent their time skipping school or goofing off, or playing sports rather than studying basic English and writing skills; that they are owed a living just for showing up, if that, and poor attitude "entitles" them to high paying jobs. The former believes government has no business in our personal lives, while the latter believes government knows what's best for all of us. Different values. Different destinies.

Our Founding Fathers envisioned a nation of "Yeoman farmers" and local merchants. We're a long way from that, but the concept of small businesses, who are our biggest employers, being allowed to do what they do without a burdensome government red noose tape tied around their necks. They envisioned a nation free to believe what they wanted without being told what or who to pray to...or to pray at all. They believed that the right to petition their representatives meant the right to question them and if necessary recall them...not make secret deals behind closed doors. They believed America should look after America first. Indeed, they were ardent nationalists. They believed in the right to own arms. Not just for hunting, but because they didn't trust government. History and recent events had re-enforced that fact. An armed citizenry was much harder to intimidate than an unarmed one. Most importantly, they believed in a small federal government with little taxation power because they knew they the way to destroy freedom can come from just as easily from the ability to tax just as surely as it can from the barrel of gun. Power should rest primarily in the hands of the States. Local control was the best control.

Forty percent of registered voters now indentify as Independent. That means independent of Republicans and independent of Democrats and all they stand for...if anything. Americans as a whole are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the petty partisan bickering. The fact is that once they raise their right hand and take the oath of office, they cease being Republican or Democrat or Left wing or Right wing. They become representatives of the American People, nothing more and nothing less.
We elect individuals to go to Washington and our state capitols to work together to solve problems, but all too often those problems are the result of backroom dealing making and we left with the mess. We hear how it's always the other side who won't cooperate. It's more how the other side won't simply roll over and let them have their way. Playground antics and high school bullying instead of statecraftmanship. They play chicken with the welfare of the people they were elected to serve, but we all know that the voters are merely the inconvenient "evil" needed in order to serve their real masters...big business. Gerrymandering has, however, done much to eliminate the nuisance of the fickled voter.

Who is the "big business"? They are the ones who bankroll both political parties and pull their strings. They are the ones you are never allowed to see at the national conventions. They are the ones who draft the laws to allow them to make more money, but not more money to pay their fair share of taxes, but to avoid them or pass them own. They are the ones who walk through the revolving door of corporate executive to government bureaucrat and back again; the corporate lobbyist and Beltway insider. They're the new and improved global military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about. They are the exploiters of people and resources while showing us images of how we imagine our lives could be in ten second TV spots or 8 x 10 retouched glossy magazine photos. They know no national loyalties. They have turned us from self sufficient producers and citizens to mere global consumers; indentured economic serfs and captives to credit ratings, manipulative consumption, and built in obsolesce. They are the ultimate corruptors.

So, what are we to do? Can we mend this divide or is it too late? Frankly, I don't know. But this I do know. The system as envisioned by our Founding Fathers no longer exist. Our republican government is beyond mere reform. Perhaps we need a new system reflective of a global society as it is now rather than a 200 year old colonial mercantile society. Many already recognize this. A few are just now waking up. Some may never. They will remain blissfully naive, while others couldn't care less as long as the they're getting theirs and someone else is picking up the tab. Uncle Sam is on life support while his hopeful murders have their hands on the plug as his two doctors argue over the treatment, and you and I are soon to become orphans. The real question my dear readers, is what will you do?

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