The Widdershins

Remain Calm, Etc: For the Common Good

Posted on: May 8, 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.



14 Responses to "Remain Calm, Etc: For the Common Good"

Great post Chat. And yep, the little daggers are already coming out from the folks in the “Warren Wing” for Hillary. Steve Kornacki was subbing for Maddow one day this week and had to talk about her weaknesses or some tripe. It was very veiled and I want to try to go to MSNBC on the web to watch it again. And then there was Politico’s story of What is Hillary Clinton Afraid Of?”. It turns out to be the press. Uh-huh, right. Thank God for Charles Pierce knocking down the silly article in is own very special way.

What an excellent, thought provoking post!

There is a whole school of leadership study around “servant leaders” and “altruistic leaders” — both are virtually impossible to spot and close to extinction in the wilds of politics.

The other day I heard Hillary in an off-the-cuff remark say, “I want us to get back to fact based decision-making.” In every leadership model, if decisions are data based, they fulfill the goals you describe so well in your post.

Call me crazy and if not crazy naive, but I do believe a vast majority, even approaching 80%, crave data based decision-making. The one thing it requires is a capability Obama sorely lacks — the ability to explain a concept without the interjection of first person “i” and “my”. It’s my guess that was a behavior pattern established before the age of 7 or 8.

Oh, there’s nothing quite like decisions based on reality.

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.

No they probably aren’t evil people, but I’ll say I believe a lot of them have almost nothing but contempt for we the electorate who have to put them in office every two or four years. I think they believe it’s just a nuisance they have to deal with every few years just so they can stay in office. Sorta like this guy:

Reed’s payments to his son’s companies, which have reached nearly $95,000 since 2009, were highlighted as part of a comprehensive review of campaign spending by | The Times-Picayune and WVUE Fox 8 News. The $29,400 payment to Liquid Bread in the fall of 2012 stood out, in part because the invoice that Walter Reed provided included only a one-line description: “Beverages and liquor for 2,450 persons at $12 per person.”

Reed is the D.A. in St. Tammany parish and he probably feels like his campaign donations are his to dole out as he sees fit. As the campaign laws are fairly lax in La, why be concerned about it?

I don;t disagree. Their sense of entitlement is enormous.

Lovely post, Chat. I think about these things all the time, especially when I see rude kids doing obnoxious things.

Fredster, I like the Charles Pierce piece you linked. The msm will always be hard on Hillary, look at the latest Vanity Fair crapfest with Monica Lewinsky, who just had to “break her silence” on all matters Clinton. Break her silence? When did she ever shut up? She is a total famewhore. If what she did had happened in the aughts, she’d have a reality show. I think Monica was part of the right wing conspiracy and think she was paid to do what she did, and think she’s being paid off now.

Did you guys see this about the Occupier girl who was convicted of assaulting a cop? There is a pic of what he did to her. Sickening.

Good for the jurors that have petitioned the court for probation/community service.

Yes, I’m glad they did that. I can’t believe how vicious the prosecutor (a woman) was though.

@6: Apparently many have forgotten that HRC’s approval rating was never higher than when the Monica fiasco was in progress.

Really? I thought it would have been higher when she was a senator or SOS.

Hey annie!! I haven’t been commenting a lot lately, have an infection on my ring finger and it hurts it to type! I do peck, peck, peck..OUCH!


Ouch! I hope it heals quickly. I smashed my middle finger at the airport, so am in similar straits. It is healing quickly though.

When did you change your avatar?

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