Since the political birth of this country there has been a raging debate between those who feel the collective good of society is best gained by a government focused on maintaining the social health of its people and those who feel it is best gained by one that fosters their complete and unrestricted economic freedom. We cannot have both. This debate has been silent since the 1980s, when one side apparently lost the initiative to speak.
Now is the time to reengage that debate, out loud, for all to hear. It is our duty as the citizens of a critically wounded democracy to not only question the corrupt authority that now governs it, but to deeply consider the very institutional rules of the game that allowed it to come to power. There are countries all over the world that are rebelling wildly in response to the deplorable corporate practices that we in America seem to have taken as standard operating procedure.
While we occupy foreign countries in a supposed effort to promote freedom and equality, the largest separation between the rich and poor in the industrialized world is right here in America. We have a volunteer army consisting largely of soldiers who come from rural towns and city slums where the economic environments are much worse than Iraq was -- before we sent our young soldiers to kill more than 100,000 of its people. Those who want to support our soldiers ought to be out on the streets demanding rational reasons for the sacrifice of their lives -- let alone that they at least have adequate supplies and proper cost-free heath and psychological care when they get home. How much more un-warranted carnage must we see upon the picture tube before these actions are taken? We, the citizens who pay the salaries of the feigning neoconservatives who took us to war, must make a commitment to reclaim the government and to restore our dignity in the process.
Let’s not fool ourselves any longer. We have ceased to have a representative democracy in the United States. This became nakedly obvious when millions of our most progressive citizens were somehow coerced into walking with John F. Kerry, who led them into foxholes rigged with the false hopes of a restored progressive ideal. Fear is the antithesis of progressivism, and fear was the method of coercion used by the Democratic Party.
It certainly was not the poor, who make up 40% of our society, who were being served by the “anybody-but-Bush” strategy. The wealthiest five percent of America holds the equivalent wealth of the remaining 95 percent. This is not a brand of capitalism that democracy demands. This is a brand that corporations demand. Andy Grove, ex-CEO of Intel, said it best: “The goal of the new capitalism is to shoot the wounded.” It is not just the ethically bankrupt Democratic Party that has been wounded by its capitulation to this fend-for-yourself capital ideology; it is the soul of the American people.
The dilemma of America is no one single issue; not even the war in Iraq, the plight of the Afghanis, the Israel-Palestine conflict or the “war on terrorism.” Our dilemma lies in finding the lost philosophical grounding that our humanity rests upon. It is only through that fundamental examination that we, as a people, will begin to repair the damage we have already done. And it is only then that we may achieve the necessary skills, trust, and the invitation to peacefully venture off to foreign lands in an effort to teach freedom and equality of opportunity -- the real tenets of democracy.
Christopher Robin Cox is a student of political science at Sonoma
State University, where he is also an active
intern. His writings can be found in the North Bay Progressive, the
Subway Chronicles, Escape from America Magazine, and
Censored 2005. His blog, “the Mad Optimist”, can be viewed at
www.themadoptimist.blog-city.com. He can be reached at: