Tuesday, December 30, 2014

If You Want Peace ...

     The Middle East is stuck between authoritarianism and extremism. The dictators of Iran and Saudi Arabia vs. the chaos of Syria and Iraq.

     But what about America? Is it any different? The Democrats are authoritarian. The Republicans are extremists.

     The so-called liberal Democrats want to control our lives so we behave in a way they believe is appropriate for modern civilized society. And to make us behave, they press for more government regulations, more government programs and the higher taxes to pay for them. They force us to get health insurance, force us to save for retirement, and in every way manage and manipulate our behavior with laws, laws and more laws.

     You can't smoke -- it's not good for you.
     You can't drink a large soda -- it's not good for you.
     You can't have a gun.
     You must go to school.
     You cannot discriminate against other people.
     You must help pay for my abortion.
     You cannot pollute the environment, or cut down a tree in your own yard.
     You only earn money because the government lets you.
     You must conform to our model of a good citizen.

     As they go about controlling us, our lives become ever more complicated. You cannot figure out your own taxes, or your own medical bill. The rules for retirement are complicated, and if you make a mistake you get penalized. You need an adviser to get into college, an agent to land a good job, a counselor to help you with Social Security and Medicare.

     They want us to hire experts who, for a fee, will guide us through the labyrinth of laws. A lawyer, an accountant, a social worker and psychologist will control our behavior and make sure we don't disobey orders, or engage in unacceptable behavior, or offend the established routine. The thought police even decide what we should say and how we should say it. Don't say, "illegal alien," say "undocumented worker." Meanwhile, you must get official approval before you name your club, design your logo, or open a nail salon or barber shop.

      But if Democrats are authoritarian, Republicans are extremists. Leave me alone, they say. Let me do what I want; let me be free to live the life I want, even if you say it isn't the healthiest, most self-actualizing thing for me to do. Let me associate with the people I like, people who are just like me and who believe in the same things I believe, even if they are old irrational myths or ideas that are not approved by science, and even if we want to exclude people of a different religion or skin color.

     I know smoking is bad for me. I want to smoke anyway.
     Guns are dangerous, but they make me feel powerful so I want one.
     It's not my job to care about the environment.
     I get my moral values from the church, not the government.
     I earned my own money; don't take it away from me.
     My family did it this way for generations; I want to do it this way too.
     We believe what we believe, and don't try to tell us any different.
    
      And why do we have these two poles -- the authoritarians and the extremists? Because they are the passionate people, the ones who will pressure the politicians and raise money for their cause. And they have this in common: They don't believe in the First Amendment; they ridicule and demonize people who don't agree with them.

     The politicians are not stupid. They raise money from people with vested interests on one side or the other, not from the majority in the middle. They know that for the most part people don't let facts determine what they believe. People believe what they want to believe, then choose the facts to support their opinions. So politicians choose a side, and then like their most avid supporters, they latch onto a few facts and distort them and extrapolate them and use them to prove their indefensible positions.

     But you know, the authoritarian vs. extremist problem in America is mostly a manufactured situation. Between the 20% ultra-liberal left, and the 20% radical right are the 60% who are roughly in the middle.

     Even as divisive an issue as abortion proves the point. According to the latest polls, about 20% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all cases. About 15% say it should not be legal under any circumstance. But the majority of Americans -- some 65% -- agree with the Supreme Court that it should be legal early in a pregnancy, but they balk at the idea of late-term or partial birth abortions, which they believe come just a little too close to infanticide.

     Didn't William Yeats say it in the aftermath of World War I, almost a almost a century ago? "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold . . . the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

     All I'm saying is: In the new year let's try to ignore all the hotheads and the media outlets that exploit them for ratings (you know what they say in the media business: if you want to draw a crowd, start an argument). And as we go along let's try to see the other person's point of view, without demonizing them, and respect our fellow Americans and go about our lives in a more reasoned and enlightened manner.

     In other words: Peace be with  you.

19 comments:

Rita said...

The so-called liberal Democrats who "want to control our lives so we behave in a way they believe is appropriate for modern civilized society" haven't been leading the government for decades, if ever. The government regulations that you decry are lacking, think about the recently passed removal of the prohibition on no longer bailing out big banks. Then, higher taxes? Our infrastructure is in a state of decay. Governments at all levels aren't raising taxes to pay for basic government services because raising taxes isn't popular. More government programs? I don't see many being adopted. There isn't enough tax money to support the current government services let alone adopt more. They force to save for retirement? I don't think so. Nearly 50 percent of boomers are ill prepared for retirement. I don't see anyone forcing boomers to save a cent. Manipulating our behavior with laws, laws, and more laws? Congress is at a stalemate. One good thing that was done before Republicans took control of the House and Senate was to establish a small agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I'll be writing about its success in helping consumers in year-end roundup of the best consumer stories of 2014.

Most of the things on your list of things that Democrats make you do aren't in effect anywhere:

You can't smoke -- it's not good for you.
You can't drink a large soda -- it's not good for you.
You can't have a gun.
You must go to school.
You must help pay for my abortion.
You cannot pollute the environment, or cut down a tree in your own yard.
You only earn money because the government lets you.
You must conform to our model of a good citizen.

Too much government regulation? Despite all the mass killings in America, my state has an open carry law for guns. A friend saw two men walking around a downtown park with Uzis. It's hard to believe that this is where we are in America today.

Florence said...

OTOH, while there are mild similarities, I will take life in our authoritarian-extremist dichotomy any day over life in the Middle East authoritarian or extremist countries any day.
I agree wholeheartedly with you that ignoring the hotheads on both ends of the spectrum is the best way to keep our sanity both personally and as a country.
Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I am a democrat with liberal loving ideals, I think most people can decide what they want to do when they want to do it..I think to abandon human beings hungry for food and a chance at a decent job is horrible, the republicans have always thought that oky doky! It seems the rich are the only ones who can run for political offices and once they run and are elected they think they can do anything and everything to get rich and well lived!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cindi said...

The regular Democrats you refer to Tom, no longer exist.You're thinking of the Democrats during FDR and JFK time. Those people are long gone. What we have in their place are these so called -"Progressive Liberal Democrats' which Hillary Clinton and Obama proudly state they are. This is a different breed of politicians, the likes of America has never seen before. It's what America has always feared and yet they have continued to push themselves upon us, till now, it is a reality.
Most Americans do not like these Progressives (they believe in abortion up to time of birth, godless society and government as the be all to end all. Hile Hitler!) as it has become apparent on how they have taken over America. Is it any wonder then at the past election the Republicans have won overwhelmingly. America needs to get back to its basic roots. The Republicans can get us back to square one and then we can start from there all over again. Our Founding Fathers already figured out the best way to be governed but why oh why do some Americans continually push against the establishment is puzzling.
Do You know why gas is hovering at $2 a gallon and down from $4+ a gallon? It is due to fracking. The fracking going on on free land, not land owned by the government is freeing the entire United States and proving to the world we can be energy independent. What does that statement mean? It means the Progressives had it all wrong. We don't have to switch to wind or solar or whatever to make our country energy independent and free from Saudia Arabia. We always had the power to set ourselves free.What is Obama's reaction? Veto the pipeline. I dare anyone to go out and buy gas at $4 a gallon. If you are paying the $2 you just confirmed that the progressive energy policies are noting but lies and bogus! As soon as the Republicans take power 1/1/15, the first thing on their agenda is to pass the pipeline.

Tabor said...

I do not want to regulate others with many detailed laws, but I do not want to pay for their lack of saving, insurance, mistakes with guns, eating unhealthy foods. And I will have to pay for these results in this country. The states fighting government laws are also the states taking the largest amount of money from the government in socialized programs. Liberal states are the most solvent. Yes, there are many tiny regulations that hinder progress and these are put forth at the local level or the result of a lobbyist paying a legislator. If we get money out of politics the little laws will not be brought forth.

Cindi said...

Google limited my response. Here's the rest:
As for Rita:
You can't smoke -- it's not good for you.
You can't drink a large soda -- it's not good for you.
You can't have a gun.
You must go to school.
You must help pay for my abortion.
You cannot pollute the environment, or cut down a tree in your own yard.
You only earn money because the government lets you.
You must conform to our model of a good citizen.
Rita, come live in NYC and light up a cigarette in a park or a restaurant. You'll be ticketed instantly. You can't order large sugary sodas, they're not for sale here. You can not carry a handgun or any type of gun in NY. If so, you'll be arrested and thrown in jail. If you don't stay in school till you graduate high school you will be arrested and placed in detention.Obamacare makes ALL people pay for everyone else's abortions. Ditto for birth control. If your property or business pollutes, expect a visit and a fine from the EPA. You can't even build your own home on land that might be saving a black-toed lizard or some other endangered species. Our local hospital here has just been sued by 1 person who objected to the hospital cutting down 8 trees to make way for a parking lot. He fought in court, at much expense to the hospital for one whole year. According to the current progressives, you can't even own your own business because the roads you use to deliver your products were built by the government thus giving them carte blanche to tax you to death. You didn't make yourself a success, the government did. If you don't tide the lines and speak PC, act PC and become PC, you bet your bippie the government will make sure you conform to their 'good citizen' standard. You can't even have a private conversation anymore nor private email anymore. The government knows all. As I am sure they are reading my comment right now.
Mass killings? Define mass killings? To me, the 3000 dead on 9/11/01 at the WTC is mass killing. I haven't seen any of that lately.
Thank God the Republicans have been elected back into office. I hope every single Progressive Liberal enjoys their soon-to-be kick in the ass. Good riddance to bad rubbish. They tried their ways. They failed. As our Founding Fathers predicted.

Cindi said...

PS. You ARE forced to save for retirement. If your job has a 401K or some sort of retirement plan, you, as an employee are automatically enrolled. You have to opt out in order to be left out. The new Obama myIRA has just gone into effect 1/1 and social security and medicare are forced forms of retirement. You can not opt out of those.
Perhaps you should listen to FOX News and become more enlightened. Yeah. That should do it.
Excellent post Tom. You always have the guts to put it out there. Thanks for that. That's what makes you a great writer and blogger.

Rita said...

I have to laugh about not being able to order a large soda. Anyone who wants a large amount of soda can order five small sodas and have lots and lots of soda.

Stephen Hayes said...

I like your summation, but as I read your post and the comments I was reminded of why I don't discuss politics in my own blog. People believe what they need to believe and facts aren't important anymore. America is in crisis and everyone is fiddling.

Olga Hebert said...

Is it 1984 yet?

Dick Klade said...

Seems to be a lot of demonizing going on in some of the comments. I'm with you, Tom: Peace.

June said...

We have met the enemy and he is us.
~Pogo

Pam said...

No matter how crazy the politicos may seem, I'm still glad to live in a country that allows its citizens to choose. The USA is far from perfect, but I'm glad to live here. My son's career led him to live in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. We learned much through his experiences. Tom, I embrace your sentiment that peace is worth pursuing. Maybe we seniors should lead the way.

Anonymous said...

As a person who studied politics for a while- you have hit the nail on the head.I cringed a bit at some of the description- but that is the current state from what I see,

As a firm middle dweller- I do appreciate that each extreme brings issues to the forefront.
From a visiting computer- Janette

rosaria williams said...

Great job!

Anonymous said...

I agree that there is far too much demonization going on among different factions in our nation, in my state, and even to this blog posting. Can we not grant one another the courtesy of respecting our differences without de-humanizing one another.
Peace to you, Tom and others - regardless of your stances.
Cop Car

Anonymous said...

You had me right up until the "The Politicians aren't stupid" line. There may be a lot of smart people around DC but when they wind up under that capital dome they collectively morph into the village idiot.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Ha Ha, Good to go out an a rant. I used to say they would have to pry my coffee cup out of my cold dead hand. However, recent science indicates coffee is good for you. Nevertheless, I am back on tea and all the cookies I can eat.

My daughter and her husband are loaded up with guns. Nuts I think. All I need is my ferocious dogs.

Never good to generalize I think, but one does get the feeling the pols go nuts once they get under the capitol dome. Did you read they have a new bill (Republican sponsored) to make the White House comply with the school menu for White House dinners? Otherwise they eat about 2500 calories per meal...no kidding.

Anonymous said...

As the year draws to an end there is no peace in the land, people hate this one for the color or ethnicity of their beliefs, why oh, why can't a level headed person run for office, because they know they would have to be haters to even be in the running..I say shout out peace, embrace diversity and be calm and carry on, happy of the new year and take peace to heart!