The Widdershins

Archive for May 8th, 2014

It is difficult for the common good to prevail against the intense concentration of those who have a special interest, especially if the decisions are made behind locked doors.

Good Thursday, Widdershins.  We have another forgettable week behind us, and are likely staring at another one ahead of us.  Much has been written, cussed,  discussed, and mourned about the fracturing of American society along any number of fault lines – regional, religious, political affiliation, educational, aspirational, and other too numerous to count.  Clearly, things are not improving, and not doing so at a high rate of speed.

Most of us were reared with parental and societal admonitions to think of others as well as ourselves.  Food must be finished, because children were starving in India.  Remember to put some money into the Poor Box at the Church.  Be sure that your outgrown clothing was passed on to someone who would make use of them.  If you used a public picnic area, clean up after yourself.  Return your library books promptly and in good condition because other people might wish to read them. There was a sense of social responsibility fostered in everyone at the time, and I’m not completely certain when this gave way to a social norm of “Get the hell out of my way”.

Even our factions now have sub-factions.  Remember the Democratic Party prior to 2000?  We were all aware of the Jeffersons and the Jacksons, but there was general peace until the disgraceful performances of the primaries.  Those wound are only now beginning to heal.  As bad as the Dems have been – and still are with the Neolibs already cranking up about Hillary Clinton’s unsuitability for office – the Republicans are putting everyone to shame.  They have the Chamber of Commerce wing, the Neocons, the Tea Party,the Libertarians, and the Evangelicals.  This loose and unhappy coalition hung together during the Bush years, and gerrymandered their way to success thereafter, but now appear to be well on their way to self-immolation.  The general demeanor of both groups has been disgraceful, and the public good has been washed away by laws, committees, PACs and SuperPACs that appear to be in business for no one but themselves.

Of course, it’s really hard to expect the average citizen to be thoughtful of others when our elected leaders are anything but.  There are really no impoverished members of Congress, and their wealth appears to expand exponentially while in office.  We have been made privy to the nifty little insider trading schemes that would incarcerate the rest of us, but are perfectly legit when used by our illustrious leaders.

Granted, the tasks of leadership are enormous, especially when they are done for all of the right reasons.  That said, I wonder how many of the current decisions are being made for the common good.  There is – or at least should be – a moral objective of leadership.  The righteous path would seem to be the one that puts the most people on the road to a decent life.  I am not attempting to denigrate the complexity of such decisions, but I am wondering how so many people who have sworn a solemn oath to protect and serve appear to so far off the mark.  Is it that they are all inherently evil, are they serving a special interest, or have they really deluded themselves into believing that they are fostering a system that serves all equally?

I doubt that any of them are basically evil people, I fully believe that they are serving special interests, and I fear that they may actually have begun to think that they are serving the people who sent them.  Perhaps this third part is painfully true, as such a small percentage of the population actually votes.  Republicans must hate abortion, birth control, gun control, taxes, welfare, entitlements, food stamps, regulations of all stripes, Barack Obama,  the minimum wage, and science.  They must profess utter devotion to freedom, liberty, fractured history, home schooling, Hobby Lobby, and public prayer.  Not too many Americans are on board with this nasty assortment, but the ones that are will run over you to get to the polls.  While the Democrats do not have such a rigid litmus test, we do mumble about DINOs ourselves.  DINOs. of course, are in the eyes of thebeholder.

Further, we rarely permit politicians to break ranks with party principles in matters of conscience.  I’ll bet you a dollar to a doughnut that there are many pro-life Republicans who would not dare say so.  I know that there are pro-life Dems, and Marcy Kaptor comes to mind.   I hate like the devil to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, but he was right in his statement that someone who agrees with you 80% of the time is not your enemy.  The one thing that we must do is to insist that they represent us most of the time.  We, the people, have the right to effective leadership, and I believe that 80% would be an enormous leap forward.

This is an open thread.



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