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Politics and Compassion

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posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 06:31 AM
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I wrote this awhile back in an attempt to define my political and social worldviews. Afterwards when I re-read it I saw that it could also be used as a statement of just why I personally feel a liberal worldview is ultimately a more humane and decent one that the attitude beging foisted upon us as a conservative worldview, when all actuality it has little to do with classic conservatism and is closer to nihilism than anything else.
 


I grew up believing John Kennedy’s famous, “Ask not what your country can do for you; rather ask what you can do for your country.” I grew up believing Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I have a dream.” I grew up believing, “All you need is love.” I grew up believing the Earth is all we have so we’d better take care of it because moving is not an option. Besides, what good are property rights if the land is poisoned and cannot support life? I grew up believing that to change the world you must change hearts and minds first. I still believe these things. I believe that society is not just an aggregate of business concerns but a community of people. I believe that until the needs of all the people; from the mansion to the hovel are met, nothing will change. I believe that unless it is applied equally, there is no justice. I believe that if you truly want to help the poor, then they must be given a reason to hope. Because without hope why should they care, much less even try? I believe as the Rig-Veda said almost five thousand years ago, “Truth is one, sages call it by various names.” I believe that the truth of a religion is in whether it leads the heart to God, and that only the individual can determine that. In short, I am a liberal and proud of it. And, at this late date see no reason to change. I refuse to accept a grim hearted conservatism that has perverted Kennedy’s call to public service to read, ask not what you can do for your country, rather ask what tax cut and bailout your country can give to you.
I am sick and tired of liberal being used as an insult, a dirty word, and a scapegoat. We have a long and honorable history. Work eight hours a day, forty hours a week? Thank a liberal. Are you on Social Security and Medicare or Medicaid? Thank a liberal. If the air and water are cleaner today than thirty years ago, thank a liberal. A minimum wage other than what the bosses can get away with paying, safer workplaces and public education, unemployment insurance? Thank a liberal. Conservatives didn’t give us these things, indeed they fought them tooth and nail. In fact they still are and would eliminate or privatize them entirely if they thought they could get away with it and God knows they are trying. I will end my days objecting as vigorously as I can to their cold-eyed reptilian world-view until they cart me away to the re-education camps. I cannot even call
them “The Right” anymore, they are so wrong.
I used to believe that there wasn’t any difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. I was wrong. Since the mid 1960’s, the Republican party has been taken over by extremists and it’s moderate and liberal branches are being forced out. I understand that there are still plenty of decent Republicans and conservatives in the rank and file. They are people of good will who truly believe in their political ideology. I have no problem with them even if we disagree. It is the Republican leadership and their media spokesmen that cynically play the politics of hate and division, then hide behind the flag as they do it. It is they who have poisoned the political discourse in this country by playing one group off another in order to gain and keep power.
It began with the embracing of racist elements in the old south that bolted the Democratic party over desegregation. They then took in anti-abortionists and the fundamentalist branch of evangelic Christianity as well as xenophobes, homophobes and right wing militias. When you throw in anti-tax activists, laissez-faire capitalists, nostalgic cold warriors and wannabe empire builders, you have a volatile mix that caters to all that is narrow-minded, hateful and selfish in the American spirit. On top of all this, they insist that they and only they are the true Americans, patriots and Christians. It is an extremely offensive and insulting stance to those of us who do not share their opinions.
Just look at their spokesmen in print and on the air, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and Grover Norquist for example. All four use their pulpits to spew poisons of the worst kind then hide behind their first amendment rights of free speech to say what they want. Rush Limbraugh has railed against drug addicts for years until it turned out that he is one. Now he claims he is being persecuted by the law for it because of his politics. Michael Savage was fired from his job on MSNBC for telling a gay caller that he was a sodomite, and that he should get AIDS and die. Ann Coulter has actually called for the banning of the Democratic party and creation of a one party state. I believe that's called Fascism. She has also said that her only regret in regards to the Oklahoma City bombing was that Timothy McViegh didn’t bomb the New York Times building instead. Grover Norquist, the Republican strategist and head of Americans for
Tax Reform has compared the estate tax to the Nazi holocaust. Comparing a tax to the holocaust where over six million died simply for being who they were? Give me a break. He is so anti-government and anti-tax that he is totally blind to the good that it can do and to the harm his policies would cause to the poor and disenfranchised. Of course, he doesn’t care.
They may not be the official face of the Republican party, but neither are they censured. In fact they are actually cultivated no matter how odious their views. That in itself speaks volumes.
These people are clueless. They call themselves conservatives, but in reality they are often opposed to historical conservatism which is more isolationist and cautious in outlook. They are more reactionary and nihilist, and are so obsessed with their own ideologies that they blind themselves to basic realities. Most notably, that the world is varied and complex and that no one ideology can possibly embrace it. Considering the wars that have been fought over the past hundred years, we should know this by now, but they obviously don’t. America has long been a multicultural, pluralistic society and any attempt to change this runs counter to the ideals this country was founded on. Ideals, though never fully achieved that are still worth striving for. And then there is the basic fact that we are at our very core socially communal animals. This is not voluntary on our part but built into the very fabric of who we are and in ways that we don’t even understand. To assert that each person is an island of selfish interest is to deny the interdependence we all share.
In the meantime, the Democratic party has remained (despite the rhetoric from the right) centrist or slightly to the left thereof. The saddest spectacle over the past thirty-five years has to be the Democratic leadership capitulating to right wing extremists, abandoning the social activism that made them great, and trying to position themselves as the conservative lite party. No wonder they keep losing elections. People want real alternatives to choose from, not some timid hey I’m conservative too nonsense. If that is all the democratic party has to offer, then why bother voting for them at all?
Simply put, the struggle between the Republican and Democratic parties, between conservatives and liberals is just the political face of the struggle
between two vastly different world-views. One essentially closed, punitive and self-interested, the other, more open, humanist and community oriented. Cognitive scientist, George Lakoff has written a fascinating book called “Moral Politics” that deals intelligently with this subject.
If this reads as a one sided attack on conservatives and Republicans, it cannot be helped. The politics of greed, prejudice and self righteousness is deeply offensive to me and runs contrary to what I consider simple decency. The liberals and Democrats also have their fools, opportunists and raging ego’s as well. It has also capitulated to corporations and vested interests, selling not just America, but the world short. It has also lied, stolen and manipulated its way to power. In fact the entire political system in this country is rotten to the core and deserves to be ripped out by its roots. But that is far easier said than done, especially in this age of cultural passivity and applied ignorance. So, for those of us who for some God forsaken reason still care; and lacking any viable alternatives, can only work with what we have. That being said; I personally believe that a liberal world-view is far more constructive, positive and less offensive than the politics of division.
When all the rhetoric is stripped away, the purpose of government is to provide a safe place to raise crops and children. The rest is merely icing on the cake. The question is, what is that a mandate for? Is it solely a mandate for internal policing and external defense leaving everything else up to a laissez-faire marketplace and the individual? Or, is it a mandate for broader social and environmental concerns as well? For the conservative the answer is yes to the first question. For the liberal the answer is yes to second also. Put another way, the conservatives claim the rights and freedoms of the individual are deemed paramount. For the liberal, the rights and freedom of the individual must segue with, and at some point give way to the greater concerns of community. The environment is a classic example of this.
The rape and pillage of the Earth is foolhardy at best and self-destructive in the long run. It boils down to this; unless we are willing to accept a massive die off of the human race to bring our population more in line with what the Earth’s resources can comfortably support, or change our lifestyles so that the
resources we have are distributed more equitably, then we must nurture what we have. Already whole fisheries are collapsing and the rain forests, our main source of oxygen, are being destroyed at an alarming rate. The polar ozone holes are growing larger, the Earth is warming and deserts are spreading devouring precious crop lands. These events should be outside the realm of politics and be a matter of great concern to all of humanity. It is morally wrong to assert that the common resources that we all need and share can be owned by any one person or corporation and exploited for short term profits. This narrow minded vision will only lead to disaster. Chief Seattle said, ”The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.” The planet and all that is on it must be nurtured for all and held as a common inheritance. After all, if we waste and lay bare the Earth then we are, simply put, doomed. There is no other Earth to move to. Ways must be developed to cultivate what we have for the good of all and come up with alternatives for what we lack. If we must talk profits, to do so would reap in the long run far greater profits, to fail to do so will only reap the whirlwind.
One of the most frightening things about the hard right is their denial of global warming and other important environmental issues, asserting blindly that property rights are paramount to all ecological concerns. This attitude is a endangers everybody.
Several civilizations in antiquity collapsed because their environments degraded to the point that they couldn’t support themselves. The Maya are the classic example. This is not political posturing but a matter of historical fact. We are part of the planet. If we destroy the resources that support us, we will fall. And, if we are too efficient at it, there may not be another civilization to follow us. This is a matter of our heritage, our children and our future. Not one person or company should ever be allowed to claim precedence over it.
Way too many are poor and way too many are starving, if not for food then for meaning, direction and hope in their lives. In the glaring disparity between the have’s and the have not, the seeds of hatred are sown. The extremes are vast. When the poverty level here in the United States would support a person like royalty in many parts of the world, something is terribly wrong. And, to add insult on top of injury, many of the well off here resent the poor their needs. When too
many people are hungry and the talk of hope cruel, when justice is only for those who have, when whole communities have nothing left to lose, watch out. Desperation breeds desperate measure as terrorism has shown us. Underneath the global veneer of Nike, Disney, McDonald’s and Wal-mart, the old cultures and civilizations still exist and for many, they are still worth fighting and dying for.
If we really want to fight terrorism then we need to fight it by supporting responsible governments answerable to their people not to international corporations. Give real assistance to the poor in the form of honorable and decent ways of making a living, not a 10 cent (or less) an hour job in a Nike sweat shop or worse. Don’t pillage their environment and heritage in the search of a quick profit. Respect cultural traditions and treat people honorably and with justice. Fighting terrorism with bullets and bombs will achieve nothing but more bullets and bombs. The sad history of Israel has shown us that.
These are deep and profound issues that cannot be dealt with via sound bites and photo op’s. If we are truly a global society, then we need to finally put nationalism aside and behave responsibly. America’s response to these issues will make or break what Bush the first called “The New World Order.” Bush the second has hired a Wall Street ad agency to sell America to the world, which simply shows how out of touch he really is. Terrorists aside, the vast majority of the world population do not hate America or Americans. They may be poor but they are not stupid. What they hate are the selfish policies of the American government and the corporations which they serve. These issues have never been about simple material goods and marketing ploys but are deeply spiritual, rooted in a sense of justice and fair play. Trying to deal with these resentments with bombs and ad campaigns is to simply ignore the reality of them.
Many countries in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century outlawed or severely limited the life span and scope of corporations because it was felt that besides being a way to disperse losses, it was also a way evading responsibility for their misdeeds as well. Nothing has changed except that the American courts have stupidly ruled that corporations are individuals with all the rights that designation allows yet, it seems, with none of the responsibilities. In short they
can pretty much do what they want with impunity, all in the name of profits. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and others as well, have given them a carte blanche to ride rough shod over citizens rights in search of profits to the point of forcing sovereign governments to repeal laws that would interfere with it. Mussolini said,” Fascism should more properly called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.” He should know. Just look around at what is going on almost sixty years after his fall and honestly ask if this is not what is happening.
A global economy doesn’t have to be built on giant multinational corporations, ignoring the needs and wishes of local people in the search for profits. It can be built on cooperation and mutual need as well.
Neoliberalism, the economic “theory” that gave rise to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, NAFTA and scores of other trade agreements is designed more to keep the industrial countries on top than to help the third world ones. It has nothing in common with true liberalism and is simply a front for predatory capitalism. Just as Neoconservatism has little to do with historical conservatism but is more a front for aggressive American nationalism. In this case the two seemingly opposed world views work hand in glove to dominate and pillage the planet. There is not one instance of a developing country being helped by their policies. If the truth be told, the IMF and the World Bank behave more like global loan sharks than tools for development. The result for any country that is seduced into accepting their “assistance” is akin to the poor man having to pawn his possessions to re-coop the money lost from paying off the pawn shop. The result for any country accepting their aid is a never ending downward economic spiral, destitution for its citizens and increased hatred for the west.
True justice happens when it is applied equally and the playing field is level. True justice happens when race, gender, sexual preference or nationality means no more or less than the color of an eye. True justice happens when the smallest and poorest among us can stand up and have their voices heard. True justice happens when it is finally realized it is the people not corporations that really matter.
Whoever said the bottom line is profits lied. The real bottom line is people. If those who actually do all the work aren’t happy then they won’t do a good job or give good service. And, if the customer isn’t happy, there will be no profits. The same is true of wages, if workers are underpaid and can barely survive then they can’t afford to buy. Even those who think only of gains and losses should be able to realize that. People must be given a reason to hope and something to aspire towards and a minimum wage job at Wal-mart or McDonald’s isn’t it. Finally, true justice happens when we realize that no man is an island, that we are all in this together and that the fate of the least of us matters too.
There are those who when reading this would call me a dreamer, idealist, damn fool, liberal or communist. I happily acknowledge all of them except communist. I would challenge those critics to look the most impoverished and disenfranchised of the world in the eye and proclaim with a straight face that their corporate, conservative right wing agendas will ever help them at all. I seriously doubt that they could do it without cracking a grin.


[edit on 2-10-2005 by DJDOHBOY]




posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 06:59 AM
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They may not be the official face of the Republican party, but neither are they censured. In fact they are actually cultivated no matter how odious their views. That in itself speaks volumes.


Two points here. Since you acknowledge they are not the official face of the Republican party, why did you so freely use their opinions as evidence in your attack against the Republican party?

And second...did you just promote an official political party censuring private citizens??? Why in the world would you want a political party to start attacking individuals who speak their opinions? Do you really think that party censuring of private citizens is a democratic move? YOU'RE SCARY!


Are you on Social Security...


Don't worry - I've long known who to blame this taxation without representation on. I've often wanted to dig Roosevelt up and slap him a couple of times for it.

And in your list of all the reasons we probably wouldn't be able to even breathe if it weren't for all the Messiah-like salvations the liberals have laid claim to you forgot to include the fact one of yours has taken credit for inventing the internet as well.

Don't know what to tell you here. You started out talking about liberal versus conservative in a moral/social/philosophical approach and wound up with an attack on Republicans and one can only suppose implying that the Democrats are synonymous with the humanity-saving liberals you started with.

Which leads me to believe you're so screwed in the head you think the difference between Democrats and Republicans is completely moral and social issues. Which shows you haven't got a damned clue what you're talking about. If you'd like to come back and state which of these discussions you would like to continue here - i.e. moral and social issues? or Republican/Democratic political principles? that would help because contrary to what you've implied here

THEY ARE NOT THE SAME.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 07:22 AM
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Follow-up. Here are all the people in the two party system:



Please note you've got conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans when it comes to social and moral issues. But then you've got complete politically different views of how this country should be ran, which has nothing to do with social and moral issues.

Could you clarify whether you are stating that the only RIGHT people are the ones that fall in the lower left hand corner??? Are the conservative Democrats also scum-sucking bottom dwellers?

OR, are Republicans so lost that even being in the liberal row still doesn't move them from the pariah category.

It appears to me you're condemning three-fourths of the political positions above by throwing out four different terms and attacking two of them.



[edit on 9-27-2005 by Valhall]



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 07:43 AM
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there is no suggestion whatsoever in that essay of censoring anybody, and as for equating all conservatives or republicans as bad I offer this....

I understand that there are still plenty of decent Republicans and conservatives in the rank and file. They are people of good will who truly believe in their political ideology. I have no problem with them even if we disagree. It is the Republican leadership and their media spokesmen that cynically play the politics of hate and division, then hide behind the flag as they do it. It is they who have poisoned the political discourse in this country by playing one group off another in order to gain and keep power.

In the current republican party, even Nixon would be considered too liberal, and you will also note I took the democrats to task as well.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 07:52 AM
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P.S. The moral, social and political are indeed the same....we vote our beliefs all the time and to say that we don't is laughable...after all it is your people who ran around saying that the moral issues are what got Bush re-elected when it was actually incompentance in the Kerry camp that tossed the election.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 08:13 AM
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Yeah, I know you didn't say anything about censoring that's why I didn't comment about that, I replied to comment about censuring. And I really think that wishing for that type action is something you would later regret. We just don't need political parties attacking private citizens for stating their opinions. No matter how obnoxious those private citizens may be. And we do agree that Michael, Anne and Rush are all obnoxious morons.


P.S. The moral, social and political are indeed the same....we vote our beliefs all the time and to say that we don't is laughable...after all it is your people who ran around saying that the moral issues are what got Bush re-elected when it was actually incompentance in the Kerry camp that tossed the election.


I have no people. I am a Republican refugee. I have been driven from my party by the neo-cons not only for their decades long struggle to replace foundational political principles with moral issues that the federal government needs to stay out of, but because they have also embraced liberal (not using that word as a social adjective) fiscal spending habits and have become more "democratic" than the democrats. I am homeless until the true Republican party rises from the filth that is eroding the republic.

By the way, thanks for sharing your opinions....I don't have to agree with you in order to let you know that reading the aggravations of some one that sees things from the 180 degree perspective from me still adds to my life. I just like getting points straight...that it's not "Republicans", nor is it "conservatives". I think it has been best described by another member here in the past 24 hours. I gave him WAT vote for how he put it. I'll quote him since I can't say it better...


Courtesy of brimstone735:

"Ten years ago, if you had asked the average Republican voter if it was possible that "An Evengelical Christian Republican president would tamper ever with the the Posse Comitatus law to allow Federal troops to operate on American soil" You'd be laughed completely out of the room.

And yet, here we are, on the very brink. And the people who support it, I don't even know what to call them? They're not my father's Republicans. They're some kind of sick, masochistic political mutants who hate the very freedoms they claim to protect.

They'd be first in line to be chipped and tagged, and tracked like animals.

But, these are the same people who willingly burn books, and declare wars on ideas. Stallin killed all the intellectuals first. Pol Pot murdered anyone with glasses, because he thought it was indicator of intelligence. These self loathing, anti-civilization people have existed from the beginning of mankind, and will continue to plague the human race long into the future. "



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 11:13 AM
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I would agree with brimstone....and in alot of ways I agree with classic conservatives but definately not with those in power now...I am from the south yet I lived for almost 20 years in New England and have come to have alot of respect for the fiscally conservative/socially liberal political breed that resides there with their take care of our own but lets do it right and watch our pennies doing it attitude. Here in Va. we have a renagade republican running as an independent and the man is a classic republican who states right out in his ad's that he hates taxes but he loves Virginia more and if taxes are what is needed to set our house in order so be it. He doesn't have a snowballs chance in hell of winning but ya got to respect him especially since the state republician party has dubbed him a persona non grata. By the way Virginia is a classic example of what happens when the no taxes for any reason crowd takes over....the whole damned place is falling apart at the seams, services are pathetic, the state has one of the worst environmental records in the union, its state parks are a mess and its physical structure like roads and all are falling apart.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 11:20 AM
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Yep...that's what happens when dogma comes before practicality. And it is also what happens when the taxpayer's money goes to the federal government instead of the state level. For instance this bloated highway funding thingy that's going on. I would have preferred to have paid highway improvements on the state level and not had the pork that is being doled out in that massive federal funding project. And by the way, it appears my state it raking it in. Meanwhile we just shot down a gas tax proposal for rebuilding bridges in the state. That proposal was at the state level. Of course, $3 gas probably is what killed that one.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 11:27 AM
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Would you be so kind as to break your piece down into paragraphs with spaces or indentation to make it more readable? Thanks.



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