November 3, 2008

Winners and Losers: Finding the Balance

As election day approaches I am conscious of pressures beyond normal; it is as if an enormous hurdle is looming and something must be done, yet the reality of what I could do is quite limited. But the television, newspapers and radio converged events to create an anxiety trifecta: the campaign wrap-up parties, Halloween and the NYC Marathon. Now I fear I’m forgetting something or am not quite "fit" for this election. I want more time and I want it to be over--yesterday. Perhaps this is a kind of stage fright, but in addition to a preoccupation with “winning,” I’m also conscious of the burden ANY change will bring. In a weird way I dread what winning will bring. Which ever scenario plays out, it seems everyone will both win and lose and we will all have something to get over .
Unlike past elections when I was voting for the lesser of two evils, tomorrow's vote will be an affirmation for a new America. I know Senator Obama will disappoint me and most of my friends, but I also know that a corner will have been turned and we will be on a path which can never be reversed. This is a thing of great joy and also trepidation.
There can be no doubt in any reasonable adult that these candidates appeal to Americans whose dreams of the future are polar opposites. Senator McCain wants an America that looks like Sarah Palin and “those folks,” while Senator Obama wants an America that looks like Joe Biden, (metaphorically, of course) and I’m down with that. This wasn’t the perfect ticket for progressives, but at least we know the Dems’ candidates are reasonable adults with sophisticated and fully developed analytical skills, ready to run the country.
Opposed to this image, the repugs run bland and pretty faces which declare despicable words of hatred and division. Their rants to FIGHT for America, for REAL Americans aren’t even code anymore. Their racism and fear of noncompliance is as conspicuous as the nose on my face. A McCain/Palin America will exclude everyone who doesn’t conform to their world view which was exactly the problem with Bush/Cheney. THAT attitude got us 9/11 and two covert wars and national disasters caused by human incompetence and an economy in the toilet.
Yet there are still “undecideds” and/or people who think their vote doesn’t matter. The problem with being undecided is that by taking the path of least resistance you not only avoid responsibility, but also you abandon your fellow citizens. Unlike a situation that can’t be helped, such as getting into a car accident or diagnosed with cancer, this is a position of choice. Beyond cowardly, most undecideds are snug and smug in the comfort of their living rooms. Most important, choosing to opt out is the position of someone who still has enough privilege and power to ignore those who have neither. So, you see, it’s not so benign to opt out of voting, is it?
The problems ahead are going to require serious sacrifice, as we all hear on tv and radio every day. But I’ve yet to hear anyone seriously argue on mainstream TV that, in future, all CEO’s must give their bonuses to public schools and projects which rebuild the levees, bridges, etc. I’d really like law firms to show their leadership in the sacrifices we must share. Instead of firing 20 workers, partners will present their sum total billable hours to a fund which feeds people and keeps them housed. Most partners could live quite comfortably off the income from investments, don’t you think? By keeping people employed you are investing in the future of American, c’nes pas?
Americans need to know they do have a right to a roof over their heads. It’s in the Declaration of Independence, right here:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —
It so firmly places responsibilities where they belong, in each of us to hold our representatives accountable for their actions and to redress grievances and when not met:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Has your safety and happiness been well protected by the repuglican party, Bush/Co. and his McCain lackeys? Am I really to feel sorry for Halliburton/Blackwater/GE/Boing, et al when their scams go down? I don’t think so and more important, the smart guys back in 1776 knew so! They understood it is the nature of humans to cooperate, to try to make life better for each other and that the greedy amongst us are suffering from delusion:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Could George Bush and his administration, rich people who grew richer as the rest of us fell, find it in their hearts to not just suspend their salaries, as NYC Mayor Bloomberg did upon taking office, but return them out of shame for the shambles they’ve left for the next president? Would it be appropriate for them to take the lead in showing the corporate masters of the universe that patriotism starts in their pocketbooks, to demonstrate to those who have excess that we will all be better off if we simply learn to share?
That simple gesture of generosity would not even make a dent in the daily habits of BushCo’s families, but would show leadership, true patriotism and egalitarianism as our founding parents desired.
Finding the balance between personal need and public obligation is not easy but it is imperative. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are not abstract, academic concepts to be treated as inconvenient truths. Do what Jesus did: lead by example, and share the wealth!

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