“The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation a spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.” Adolph Hitler, 1933.
This quote popped up in my email after the presidential election. It got me thinking about the “mandate” that President Bush said he had just gotten from the American people. Nothing is new about politicians giving lip service to issues in order to get elected and then ignoring those issues and the people who voted for them.
American democracy works because it’s a system of checks and balances, which are protected by the constitution and its amendments. Traditionally, our political system deals with two primary issues. These issues are the social well being of the citizenry and the economic well being of the nation. The first feeds our souls and the other feeds our bodies.
The system works like a pendulum. The needs which reflect the well-being of our country swings back and forth between the left (liberal needs) and the right (conservative needs). Traditionally, the Democrats have represented the social issues of the nation and the Republicans have represented the business issues. Obviously these roles switch and overlap depending on which faction is in office and the economic state of the union. This has created the perception that the Democrats are liberal and the Republicans are conservative. Fortunately, as a byproduct of an educated populace, most people in this country, depending on the issue, think for themselves. On some issues they are liberal and on some issues they are conservative. Only the extremes on both ends are all liberal or all conservative.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Democrats were elected to address the social ills of the country. The economy boomed during the 1920s and, as a natural progression of a free market system, went bust with over supply and, as Allen Greenspan once said, “Irrational exuberance.” The economic system, other than some checks and balances, which were imposed on Wall Street and the banking system, is still basically the same then as it is now. What was needed change was a social safety net. The world at that time didn’t know which system (a representative democracy, communism or fascism) would emerge as the most variable form of government.
As it turned out, “the business of America is still business,” represented the best way to go. Communism and fascism were not conducive to human nature. It is always better to “just make the money… we can always divide it up later.” What was needed was a way to stave off socialism and communism while keeping our market driven economic system. The answer was the New Deal which ushered in the big government which was needed to not only distribute the country’s wealth but was used to win WWII. From that era we got a social security system of welfare, retirement and unemployment benefits. This system stabilized our society and created the environment for the free market system to flourish.
Common wisdom would have predicted a Democratic victory. The unemployment numbers are higher that when this administration took office; we continue to lose jobs to outsourcing; the budget and trade deficits have soared; we are in an unpopular war; and the welfare rolls are growing. So how did President Bush get reelected? By appearing to be more democratic than the Democrats. The traditional protectorate of social values has been the Democrats. The theory goes that Republicans just care about making money. Employees and social support systems were just costs necessary to get to profits. These “costs” could be passed on to the consumer. The Democrats were there to champion labor and to protect human and consumer rights.
Like it or not the Republicans will now be the keepers of both the county’s social and economic well being for the next four years. Fortunately, an American was elected president and so I see no real threat to our civil liberties. Even with the terrorism issue, this administration wouldn’t want to face the wrath of the American people if you start restricting our basic freedoms. Plus, this would adversely affect our free market system.
I will, until further notice, give the Republicans the benefit of the doubt regarding the health of our current economy. The world economy is changing and all negative elements aren’t necessarily what they seem. The trade deficit not only creates an environment for other nations to consume US goods and services but also favors our multinational conglomerates. Tax cuts, although lowering the taxes of the rich and increasing the amount paid cumulatively by the middle and lower classes, should create jobs as more money is spent. This is similar to the Reagan, “trickle down economic theory.” favoring the rich. Although this administration is giving lip service to a simplification of the tax code, such as a flat tax of say 10%, this would not favor the rich as they would be paying more real tax per capita. America is still the “big dog on the block” with the dominant economy in the world. Plus, if Allen Greenspan isn’t particularly worried either am I. We have some pretty smart people doing business in this country.
Now for the mandate. With the reelection of this administration some disturbing social issues have been seeping to the surface. The American Heritage College Dictionary defines mandate as 1. An authoritative command or instruction. 2. A command or an authorization given by a political electorate to its representative. The problem I have is which definition this administration is using. If it’s the second definition, it would imply that the will of all the people who voted would be taken into account on all political decision making. That would be good. If the first definition were used then the “authoritative command” would be open to interpretation such as say, a god. That would be bad.
President Bush, as a self proclaimed “born again Christian,” has, on several occasions, referred to following God given commands, not commandments, but commands. This mentality is coming awfully close to combining religion and state. A big “no-no” in this country. Organized religion was the precursor to modern secular government. The problem with religion, as we all know, is that it has no accountability. Anyone in charge can say, “God told me to do it,” and no one can argue except the guy who says, “no… God told me to do it.” And if these two didn’t have hidden agenda and actually believed that God is taking to them, they both might be up for a psychiatric examination.
Quite frankly, religion has out live its purpose. It came into existence to fill the void created by the human ability to conceptualize “forever” but not being able to live forever. This created a fear of the unknown, which was alleviated by religions promise of eternal life. This may be true or it may not be true. The fact is, none of us will really know until we die. What we do know is that there is no shortage of people willing to exploit this natural fear in people, especially religious leaders and politicians.
Religion is a testament to the insecurity caused by human fear. It is amazing that religion has survived at all. Most all of the world’s ills are caused by right wing religion and all religions have extremist factions. Given Islamic terrorists, pedophile Catholics and predatory Evangelicals, its surprising religion hasn’t been outlawed. The Catholic hierarchy, which had the hypocrisy to dictate who Catholics should vote for, should all be in jail for aiding and abetting. Islamic clerics should be incarcerated for their treatment of women and children. Evangelicals should not be restricted from collecting money from their poor congregation, which they used to buy mansions, yachts and obnoxious life styles. The world’s great cultures should be preserved and protected. The world’s great religions should be outlawed.
The treatment of homosexuality is another example of the inhuman hypocrisy of religion. Homosexuals don’t make a choice to be homosexual, they just are. Homosexuality is a human condition just like brown eyes, blonde hair and sex. Since the dawn of time 10% of any population has been gay. If you were gay, or your children were gay, wouldn’t you want an environment where you could live in peace? Most gay people are law-abiding, contributing members of society. They are intelligent and add to the quality of our lives. Two homosexuals living together, or even legally married for that matter would never replace our traditional marriage because they are not physically a man and woman. Who cares what they do in their bedrooms. I don’t care what they do in their bedrooms and I don’t want to know what they do in their bedrooms. I don’t want to know what anybody does in his or her bedroom either. Homosexuals are a fact of life and should be afforded all the same rights as the rest of humanity. Religion’s professed homophobia is nothing more than just another way to manipulate people’s fears that blindly trust their church leaders. Politicians are well aware of this.
Abortion issues are another issue that is being held captive by religion. The predators that run these religions could care less about the human conditions involved and care only about more people to feed their ideology. It seems the Catholics, especially in poor third world countries, would be happy to see poor populations grow to a point where all support resources are cannibalized. The Christian Right’s fanatical anti-abortion stand is similar to fundamental Islam’s attitude toward women. If they had their way they would send young frightened women back to the filth and brutality of back alley abortions.
A person’s belief in a god is personal. Just as a person’s sexuality and how it is manifested is personal so should a person’s belief in their god. As soon as two people join their belief in a god that belief becomes corrupt. Group sex is a bad idea and so is group religion.
This administration will be addressing such social issues as health care, welfare and social security reform. Health care can be reformed once laws are enacted to eliminate the corruption involved in the system. A transparent federal agency should administer the system just like social security. Restricting it to only people below a certain income and asset level could reduce the cost of the system. An accountable and transparent government agency should administer the system.
Welfare reform is totally related to jobs. Most people would rather work if they could get a job which pays enough money to afford a decent and upwardly mobile life style. The problem with that is jobs of that caliber have been shrinking and/or being sent overseas. The answer is to retrain people so that they can self-educate themselves (a skill that should now be taught in high school). This should be a high priority for this administration as the vast majority of people who are on welfare are members of the Christian majority.
The Social Security system is in need of a make over. The system was based on a growing population. Based on the iffy future of the world’s resources, population growth in the US cannot be assured. People will be living longer and the benefit age should be raised in accordance with longevity rates. Allowing access to social security benefits, like health care should be by need. This is an insurance program and should act like an insurance program. The only way to get money back from auto or homeowner’s insurance is a claim through need. It should be the same for this social security system regardless of what a person has paid in. Allowing people to self-direct their benefits I don’t think is such a hot idea. This would pit the average person, many in declining health, against Wall Street. Talk about throwing the Christians to the lions. A person should have to qualify to be allowed to self-direct their benefits. It’s one thing to have an Evangelical steal from their congregation but quite another to have a government steal from its citizens.
Now that this administration has been given a “mandate” for another four years and the Republicans have increased their majority in the house and senate it will be interesting to see what they will do with their elected responsibilities. They are now the keepers of our traditionally liberal values. Oh sure, the Democrats can still filibuster in the house and senate and block any radical attacks on our constitution and/or its amendments; and we still have a strong set of minority rights, but what will the Conservative Right try to do to influence this Republican majority?
Will any social progress be made or will they try and move us back to a time when women and minorities were second-class citizens? Will our human condition be advanced through the support of stem cell technology? Will our quality of life be improved by the development of alternative fuel sources such as solar power and fuel cell technology or will it be business as usual with this oil administration’s special interests? Will we regain our respect around the world as we evolve into the United States of the World or will we decline into political isolation as we bully our way in the world order?
I have an undying faith in my county. We are a great country because of our secular cultural diversity not in spite of it. It’s not a question of whether or not a mandate has been given. The question is, which one?