Today we will have an election. We will either favor the rule of law and liberty or endorse again the rule of power and advantage. Those are the choices.
No one should imagine that a Democratic victory will guarantee a victory for democracy unless that also involves a new vision from that side of the aisle. Thus far the Democrats, Howard Dean aside, have offered in a crafty whisper to do nothing differently, or better still, to do nothing at all.
That will not restore public order. It will not bring foreign and domestic war criminals to trial. It will not restore habeas corpus which is the basis for our Constitution. It will not bring balance and equity back to our tax system. It will not insure the use of eminent domain only when it is essential to the public well-being. It will not guarantee the liberty of half the population to do what they think best with their bodies. It will not take a nation of fat, illiterate children and make them fit or cognizant of their language, history, or culture. It will not insure your right to say what you think no matter who you annoy in doing so.
It may well, however, be better than those currently in power. If the Democrats follow the model of Hilary Clinton, we can only depend on the personal loathing between politicians and political factions to retard the rising tide of chaos. We need to speak up for order and liberty in our votes. For twenty-six years we have pursued the opposite through two hazy goals.
First, we have sought to centralize authority in the hands of those who are beyond the reach of the fickle and unpredictable populace. We have done that by eliminating public education and replacing it with basic industrial training. We call that, “no child left behind.” That says, “don’t think, just read and follow the directions if you can” to children.
Critical thought (PC for skepticism) has been eradicated by an institutional enmity to intellectual distance. Uncritical acceptance has insured an ever-widening division between those with the power to make decisions through their wealth, and those who serve the wealthy at their pleasure.
Second, we have sought to lay claim to a wide assortment of dubious successes to which we have no claim in any case. Reagan’s Star Wars did not bring down the Soviet Union. In many ways Stalin’s five-year plans did. He created guaranteed obsolescence through central planning. That was not the fault of socialism which was never really implemented in the USSR. It was the fault of too much power in too few hands. They were not very clean hands at that.
But history is not that orderly. One could also say it was Brezhnev’s soporific acceptance of corruption. Perhaps it was the fact that Russian culture has a much longer history of corruption dating from the Boyars than of public order. Perhaps it was that the Soviet establishment could never connect the nature of culture with how people respond to government.
Now we Americans (who have no unified culture) are trying to make bits of the Middle East over in our own image through the unscrupulous and often ridiculous efforts of bargain basement imperialism. The trouble is the efforts are no bargain because, like the central planning of Stalin, they were ill-conceived, vainglorious, and executed by fanatics. That is yet another project that is all but over, like Viet Nam, long before it is near to being finished. What is more, it is likely the criminals who perpetrated the war will get away with it. But the US, and even the Iraqi’s, can survive all that.
What we have lost is the fundamental understanding that people can reason even when they are not very good at it, and when the problem is hard to grasp. That is what the founders did see. People reason best when they do it slowly, deliberately, and collectively because none of us is very good at it on our own.
Societies survive by implementing and upholding laws based on principles of fair play and equity if not equality under the law. The founders’ model, like ours, may have been imperfect, but that was their fundamental idea. It was based on the two basic virtues: honor and courage. Now we aspire to pride and guile. It’s not only the US that has gone that way, but we lead the pack.
If you do not vote, you should shut up. That does not mean you have to vote for either major party and their bozos. You can write in candidates. Write in yourself. Vote an independent party so that point of view gets noticed and a place in the discussion. Whatever way you vote, remember this is the first time in several decades that you, the voter, are back in the race. Don’t fall to the sidelines just because you have surrendered to apathy. Apathy is a five-dollar word for lazy, and lazy is for bums.