Let’s get it on!
What is the role of the government in 21st century America?
Smaller and smaller safety nets for those can’t provide adequately for themselves at any point during their lives? Increasing wealth for those who already have enough wealth to be able to provide the insurance, the protection, they need to escape the pain inflicted by all things but death?
Or a government that for all its stated intentions of bringing balance to competing interests and protecting the poor, the vulnerable, the sick from being left to their own inadequate devices more often than not does a far better job of looking after its favored segments of the populace than those it presumes to speak for?
With Mitt Romney’s selection of Congressman Paul Ryan, the battle for the future of America is more sharply drawn than seemed possible only days ago.
Characterized in its starkest terms, it is this: No Government vs. Bad Government.
For all the billions in poisoned money being spent on each side of this critical national debate, for all the lies to be told and the trivializations to unfold, Americans are not as dumb anymore as the perverted political apparatus believes.
We may be slow-witted and easily misled but when our attention is focused intensely enough for a sustained period of time, we can figure out thanks in no small part to the Internet what is going despite the spinmeisters, the biases of the corporate media or our collective aversion to facing reality when our fantasies are so much more pleasing.
The campaign gimmickry — the ads, the incessant pleas for money — is just foreplay to the performance art that will decide the out
Obama-Biden are going to have to defend not just their record in office but the fundamental premises of the Democratic Party as a timid expression of socialistic ideals, that unable to generate sufficient popular support, thrives on political segmentation, appealing to race and class, far better serving union members than the other 88 percent of the work force.
Romney-Ryan have an equally tough job explaining how cutting taxes for the rich so that they can invest their wealth to create jobs so desperately needed by the masses actually works when nobody – not even the little guy with a small 401k – invests money to create jobs.
The goal of investment of capital is to make more money whether it kills or creates jobs. That’s how Romney’s Bain Capital makes money and how union and public employee pension funds seek to profit from China’s boom even if it means outsourcing their own members’ jobs to faraway places.
Then look at Medicare. Ryan’s formula of giving everybody a voucher and if it’s not enough, you die in the streets or go to an underfunded and failing public health hospital, but what is Obama’s answer to a system that is working worse every year and inevitably headed to collapse?
These are some of the questions at the heart of the American dilemma.
Today, it is about what it has always been about: Whether free people can push their personal values and interests to the limits and yet still find common ground that has room for all despite all that separates us. Or whether the whole dream of America – the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness while seeking justice for all – was just a delusional notion of colonialists who lived long ago.
Those values are inherently contradictory, the individual versus the collective.
Let’s face it: We are not doing very well these days in balancing the complexities.
We are engaged in a civil war, a kind of national suicide, at this critical time in history.
This is a time of such enormous changes in the nature of human existence on earth, at time where there are too many people but not enough water and food, where the air is becoming harder to breathe and the seas poisoned, where globalization has changed the economics of the world, where we in the luckiest advanced nations somehow have to figure out to transform our societies or slip into oblivion.
The one chance we have left to re-establish democracy in America is this election. I never write about things beyond those we can fix right here in our neighborhoods and in our state.
But Romney-Ryan vs. Obama-Biden is the battle for the hearts and minds of America. If we speak out and make clear we demand that confront the hard questions and offer honest and real responses, they will engage in the kind of public debate on serious issues we have needed a long, long time.
This crisis is too great, the stakes too high for more of the nonsense that has disgusted us for so long, turned us off from our belief in our government at all levels, and, worse, our belief in our fellow man.
Let this be a no-holds-barred, winner-take-all election. Let us move forward even if we fall off the cliff into disaster because we were wrong in our choice. We are strong enough to survive the crash, learn from our mistakes.
But we cannot any longer endure the gridlock and stalemate, living in suspended animation while the world around us changes at an unprecedented speed. The clock is ticking and we are going to have to decide whether to go left or right – and live with the consequences of the decision we collectively make.
We will both embrace the pace of technological change and reach high for our better selves or we will cease to have the right to call ourselves the UNITED States of America.