Saturday, August 28, 2010

Left and/or Right in America; why neither of them are the way to go.

Outside of the loyalists and the independence-seeking colonists, I cannot imagine a time in this nation when we were more polarized. Oh, could I forget slavery and the Missouri Compromise?

We have come a long way in this nation, with a very long way yet to go to live up to the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Constitution. As Dr. Martin Luther King so eloquently put it in 1963, America has a debt it has to pay and we have yet to see any payment towards that moral IOU.

America is essentially a concept. It "should" be a place where people can be free to be who they are and still prosper from their contribution to this nation. They should be free to worship and they should be free from tyranny. They should have the right to free speech and the right to free assembly. Those and a few more are conceptual in nature yet in practice we see curbs on all of them.

So, with ANY concept, the lenses through which one views it determines the way to get there. So, we have Democrats on the left and Republicans on the right...with the Tea Party on the FAR right and the Socialists and Communists on the FAR left. Both ends of that spectrum have their own view of the box top. I just finished reading a book called "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist" by Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Frank Turek. In that book, they drew the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle box and how ones' view of the world is shaped by the picture on the box top. Inside, there are hundreds if not thousands of pieces but how to make them all look like the box top is where the work comes in.

If you believe the box top to be the way it should look in the end, then you are working from that presumption. You either believe that the box top is true, or you don't.

With America, the political machinations on how to make the American Box Top look like the Constitution is where all the devil-in-the-details sprockets and cogs lurk.

I think all corners of the political debate seek a just nation where people can live out the box top articles of the Bill of Rights. I think that they all feel that once we get it to look that way, we'll all be in good shape. But, getting there is a major problem because of the approach each side takes.

Democrats believe that the government should be the engine which drives social justice through their power as the federal overseer. Republicans believe that individual liberties will allow all people to flourish to the best of their abilities and through that conduit, all Americans will be better served.

Democrats believe that people cannot be trusted to do the right thing so someone has to make sure that they do. Republicans believe that people, when left alone, will do the right thing from a moral standpoint.

Democrats believe that the bounty of this nation should be shared to the degree that no one should be allowed to suffer from the weight of the capitalist system. Republicans believe that the capitalist system is the great equalizer and that no one should be disallowed from participating and their participation to the best of their ability will allow them to achieve whatever level their talent dictates.

Tea Party people believe that the smallest possible government outside of protecting our nation militarily and enforcing the narrow interpretations of the Bill of Rights are enough to achieve this.

Communists and Socialists believe that everything should go through the government.

I submit that none of these people are correct "when it comes to America." At least not THIS America.

At this point, this society is much too large and far too diverse for any of their ideas to work well enough to achieve social and political justice. For those that nostalgically hold on to the pioneering spirit of the colonists who saw broad and open land (despite those who already lived on it) as their next frontier; to conquer this frontier they needed to be free from all restraints to do so. With so much land, and so much space between one group of people and the next, they were probably correct.

But, as villages became towns and towns became cities and cities became metroplexes, a set of standards of behavior (laws) had to be created to enable people to co-exist in peace and harmony. And, in my opinion, the larger the population grew, the solutions to getting people to co-exist had to change from an essentially European model to something else...something different.

In the states of Europe of old, the borders were the borders and each border contained a different homogeneous ethnic group. If something happened, they went to war and fixed it.

In the United STATES of America, we tried that once and 625,000 American casualties solved nothing.

So, what can be done to get us to see the box top? How can so many different people come together under one ideal to make the American Concept of E Pluribus Unum be true?

Well, for one, the Republicans have it wrong because the Constitution must be understood as a complete instrument upon which all American citizens can subscribe to. They must see it as for them too and not just for the Founding Fathers and their lookalike descendants.

The Democrats have it wrong because it costs too much to do what they want. Social justice can only go so far when you want to force everyone to pay for it.

The Communists and Socialists have tried it in Europe and Asia and it still hasn't worked so they are out. The Tea Partiers claim they want the box top to be there but only for those who like the 1776 version of America.

The solutions are as complex as our nation.

For me, we must eliminate all federal taxes on income to begin with. The poor can't afford them because they don't have it and they don't get what they put in; the rich can afford it but their money (and I mean the entrepreneurial rich; not the upper middle class) is used to create opportunities because they seek a return on investment. Taxes on earnings limit their incentive. Taxes on the earnings of the poor (through wage taxes) limits their growth. Having so much money leave our local neighborhoods to go to a federal government proven to waste so much of it begs the question of why send it in the first place.

At one point in our history, all of the money the government ever got was from excise taxes on trade with other nations. It was all the money they really needed to do what the Constitution told it that it could do.

Since all politics are local, the money raised locally should be used to accomplish local goals and objectives. Well, Don, what about the poor neighborhoods who don't have the money to have better schools, and infrastructure?

Where ARE the poor? Are they out in some isolated mountain hamlet? No, they are here with all of us...tucked away in their class-segregated enclaves where the Tea Party bloggers tell you to avoid, or from where similar hued-people turn their eyes away. If they live in a city (where most do), then the local taxes should be used for them as well.

Well, Don, won't more people go out and incorporate themselves into smaller towns so that their exclusivity can keep the poor out? Yep...but, as long as they cannot keep someone with the means to buy in their neighborhood out of it, I personally have no problem with it. Their snobbiness can only affect me so much to where I won't care what they think. Then, they'll just keep on moving away into smaller and smaller towns where they will just become non-factors.

If we hold our local representatives more accountable to their charge to serve us, the "trickle up" effect will change the nation in profound ways. Right now, people are trying to "change" this country from the top down when that is just no longer practical. Turning the jigsaw puzzle box upside down and expecting all of the pieces to just fall into place...even if you do it slowly (trickle down), is an improbability.

When you hear people rail against "diversity" they are not so much against ethnic and cultural integration, per se, but they are against losing their view of the American Ideal in favor of the notion of tolerance of other people's belief systems. If the Concept of America was strong enough in today's society, those that come here won't be able to insist that this country be remade into their former one. The freedom norms that we all feel we can enjoy will be so strong that insisting that one group not be able to dictate to the rest of us will become silly.

As it now stands, the conceptual America is framed through the culture of the majority population. There are FAR more of them than ANY of us but together, America can be strong enough to accommodate all of us. Neither the Democrats or the Republicans can make that happen.

Who can then?

First, get your Constitution and see what it says. See what it can and cannot do. Now, see what role you can play given those parameters. If there were any more of them, it would lose its potency. It's just brief enough to say all that it needs to say--for those who choose to live here.

Second, fight to keep your money away from everyone you can through burdensome taxation. If you cannot, then fight to make sure that EVERY penny goes to do what it is supposed to. Attend every political meeting involving your money either in person or electronically. Your representative would love to hear from you since you voted them in...and even if you didn't, you need to let them know how you feel. If you make sense, he or she will hear you.

Third, be a good citizen to your neighbors. Create a common identity for you and your neighborhood that is moral and just. Don't be a disruption to another's peace just because you have freedom of speech, etc., etc. Allow them to worship, or not worship, if it is not infringing upon your right to do or not do so.

In the end, America's strength will turn on her people's sense of patriotism to the Ideal...the Box Top...and won't let anything cause it to not happen.

If you listen to the debates between the Right and the Left, do you see any of this going on? So much acrimony; so much literal hatred for those who don't believe as they do.

There is a better America lurking under the onion peels. It may be bitter to the senses to get there but when you do, you will find a sweet center that will enhance the recipe of our nation which is still in the making. Further, if you can overcome your fear of what you will find when you peel back the layers, only to find nothing to be afraid of, then moving forward with the rest of the recipe should be simpler.

If you're afraid of the dark, then just turn on the light!! Let the box top of the Constitution be that light so that we all can see and not be afraid of each other.