Stoking the Fires

Extremists and populist movements are exploiting people's fear of those who are not like us. We can see the consequences in the form of terrorism and racially motivated violence. - Kjell Magne Bondevik

As the rhetoric continues to heat up around our political discourse I think it is important to understand the ramifications of such rhetoric. While there are those who see it as a vehicle to accomplish their short-term political aims, I think we should step back and look at its long-term consequences. It appears that as part of the Republicans long-term strategy of crippling the federal government and making it look impotent in solving real large-scale problems in the lives of its citizenry (except of course in the case of war and national security) they have decided that to help stoke the fires of populist anger they are going to use every tool available in our political system to obstruct the power of the government in any way they can.

While this strategy may yield the short-term political points they seek, what they are either unwilling to accept or willingly hoping to bring about is the total collapse of the faith of a nation in its government. Governments were created for a reason. What governments were created to do was to allow societies to take groups of people with differing selfish pursuits and allow them to unite under a larger purpose. While I would be the first to say that governments haven’t always lived up to their lofty goals I am not ignorant enough to believe that they are unnecessary. We as nation should be always debating the intrusion and scope of government in our everyday lives but the debate we should not be having is the loss of government. Now there are those who will say that the removal of government is not the debate we are having today, but when you intentionally sabotage the ability of governments to serve their people and then hype up the hyperbole concerning governments over-reaching and inability to serve those needs it doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out what the natural outgrowth of that will be.

So one must ask what would be the benefit to politicians to encourage the loss of government. The answer is simple really without the government to look out for those who cannot look out for themselves the rich and powerful will have unfettered rule over our daily lives. Now while you may believe that having government intrusion into your life is intolerable that would in no way compare to the intrusion that corporations and other tools of the wealthy would exert in our lives. The rules that the government currently have in place to protect consumer safety, equal treatment under the law, and financial regulations would only be obeyed at the discretion of the corporations and the wealthy. Being a student of history I am not willing to rely on the “kindness of strangers” to protect me against the greed and corruption that would be sure to follow any loss of government protections. One only need to remember as far back as…..last year!

There is a reason we have Social Security. Prior to its enactment seniors in America were forced to work until they died. There is a reason we have child labor laws. Children were taken out of school and forced to provide cheap labor. There is a reason while we have civil rights legislation. Minorities and women were systematically excluded from our society. So these populist movements that yearn for the good ole days obviously are not familiar with their history or they are choosing to use some kind of selective amnesia. Either way as we become a more diverse nation the idea of going backwards to some false Norman Rockwell Americana will not hold much appeal to a great many Americans who were not depicted in those paintings. The population that these types of appeals reach out to is dwindling and as their lack of diversity demonstrates it is not resonating with the majority of Americans.

My advice to the folks who are stoking this anger for short-term gain is be careful what you wish for. When hatred and vitriol become your platform you never know who or what is going to jump out of Pandora’s Box. As any lion tamer will attest when the lions are hungry they have very short memories.

Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Disputed Truth

Tags: Tea-Party, Extremists, Republicans, goverment, populism (all tags)

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