Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thoughts On Our Current Political Climate

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty -vs- Tyranny


Editors note: Given the issues we face today as a nation Rational Nation USA is re-posting this article. Originally posted on October, 22 2011 it defines the nature of, and danger in wedge politics.

Politics is a strange business. Politicians are without a doubt a breed apart from the rest of the nation. Well, maybe when a person enters politics in the beginning they are just like the average person and want to make a difference. But, inevitably it seems that they lose their principles. Influenced by special interests they become part of the problem they initially hoped to change.

Maybe it's just the times we live in. But doesn't it seem that we are a nation that has become so polarized by competing ideologies we are no longer able to discus issues of national concern in a civil and respectful manner? It is sad that politics, and political discourse has sank to the level of a sporting event. In the process the nation and its people lose the values the nation was founded on.

Americans have always had competing views. From its birth as a nation the United States of America has dealt with differing political philosophies. Throughout her history she has always found a path to resolve any challenge facing the nation. Yet today we cannot find the wisdom and courage to resolve the issues the nation faces at present.

Should it be any different today than it was during that hot sweltering summer of 1787 in Philadelphia when great men drafted our Constitution? The document that united us and has withstood the strain of over two and a quarter centuries. Our constitution is perhaps one of, if not the greatest political document in history. It set a nation on the path of governance whereby the government was responsible to the people. Rather than the other way around as it had always been up until that time in history.

There are those who will argue that the Constitution was flawed. And it was. The singular glaring flaw, one that still haunts us today, was the blight of institutionalizing slavery. It was a contradiction of the very principles Thomas Jefferson so eloquently spoke to when he penned The Declaration of Independence. But (as in all things), it is important to understand the political realities of the time when the nation was being formed. When drafting the Constitution compromises were made so that the United States of America would become a reality. For the delegates to the constitutional convention, as well as most of the people, establishing the United States was the highest priority.

As 2011 approaches the end of the year we are witnessing the greatest internal threat to our nation since The Civil War. The polarization of our people through the divisive use of wedge issues in politics is tearing at the very fabric of our nation. Our politicians {as well as corporate America and other special interest groups} seem only too willing to stand by and let it happen. Perhaps the interest of ideology and irrational self interest are more important to them than pursuing (rational) interests that will help strengthen the nation both economically and politically.

I am a conservative with strong libertarian leanings, and a fair amount of classical liberalism mixed in for good measure. As my readership knows Ayn Rand has held strong influence as well. Many Americans I believe share some of the principles and values discussed here at Rational Nation USA. I am equally as sure that the majority of Americans want our politicians to find a path that benefits the nation and all people, not just the few who hold the power.

If this country is to resolve the issues that have us bordering on becoming a second class democratic republic, as well as a second class world power, our leaders in Congress, the Senate, and in the one in the Oval Office had better get it together. For if they don't this heretofore nation of liberty and prosperity shall cease to exist as we have know it.

Ayn Rand said, "The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." Putting this in the context of governance,... As long as our government protects the rights of the individual as enshrined in our Constitution and The Bill of Rights we should all be okay with opposing views on present day issue. In fact we should encourage opposing views. It has been said that the word {written} is mightier than the sword. And so it is. Through the use of words to describe rational concepts minds are changed, and so is society as a result.

If conservative and libertarians are to win the day then they must do so on the strength of their ideas. Ideas presented in such a way that people can first understand them. Then, if they determine the idea is a rational one be willing to ultimately accept and support it.

It serves no purpose, other than to divide, when politicians, the news media, and bloggers {on both the left and right}, use wedge issues to drive their point home.

The refusal to consider any opposing view with a active mind is not the mark of intelligence or wisdom. Rather it is the mark of a fool.

At the end of the day the future rests in the hands of those living in the present. What kind of future do you want for your children and grandchildren? It is up to each and every one of us to make it a better one.

Rational Nation USA leaves you with the following to consider. Written by Octopus a contributor at The Swash Zone in response to comments on a liberal blog.

This hyper-partisanship has damaged our country in ways too numerous to count. Let me elaborate. Hyper-partisanship translates into hyper polarization. It colors how we relate to one another. It turns neighbors and normal decent folk into the “other,” the enemy, those hateful liberals or those despised conservatives. It is a function of “identity” politics whose aim is to divide persons with common economic interests into warring factions. Divide and conquer. And a great many of us, liberals and conservative alike, buy into this bullshit and later pay a heavy price.

Hyper-partisanship colors how we think. It gives rise to ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING, where a party, a group, a person are either all black or all white with no shades of gray. Very few people in life are either all good (saints) or all evil (devils); yet hyper-partisanship demands that you think this way.

No matter what a person may achieve, the game of politics commands you to ignore the accomplishments and focus on the flaws; or spin good deeds into failures or characterize all deeds as evil deeds, despite evidence to the contrary. Demonize your opponent, that is the way the game is played.

Suddenly, one of our readers says: “Hey, wait a minute! I’m pissed off at something but I don’t know why.” It is this hyper-partisan programming pulling, tugging, sucking you under until you gasp for air. Time to break the cycle.

We are living in an era of non-stop character assassination and defamation, of political hostage taking, and legislative gridlock at a time when millions of people are suffering. There are powerful corporate interests that want us to be this way – divided – so they can cash in their chips and turn into serfs. Unless we break this cycle and say “To hell with you, I am not buying this bullshit anymore, then they win, and our country will wither away as dry wind-blown leaves of Autumn.

Sorry folks! Either we get our act together, or we will have no future at all.

And this.

All of us guilty of allowing ourselves to get sucked into the vortex of hyper-partisanship, and I admit to being as rabid as any … especially when baited by “libtard” epithets or facsimiles thereof. Sometimes I run hot or cold trying to end the cycle of mutual recrimination.

Case in point: Almost two years ago (October 26, 2009), I posted this article: DEMOGRAPHIC CLUSTERING AND THE SELF-SEGREGATION OF AMERICA, which touched on some these points. The comment thread is even more revealing than the post (and you will recognize the names of our conservative friends). Here is a quote from the article:

“Over time, according to Bishop, a preference for living with like-minded neighbors in extreme homogeneous communities incubates ever more extremist views. Voters in landslide districts tend to elect more extreme members to Congress while moderate candidates shun public office. Among highly polarized lawmakers, debates degenerate into shouting matches as legislators engage in obstruction and gridlock. That is how our most urgent and pressing issues go unresolved.”

When I look at the current political situation, it seems the article was prescient: We are now more polarized and gridlocked than ever before, and the current slate of candidates are even more extreme to the point of caricature.

Recalling some of RN’s recent comments, he distrusts the corporate plutocracy as much as we do – for the same reasons – and you would think we would have common cause; yet, identity politics and old habits always get in the way – witness the hyper-sensitivity that always accompanies hyper-partisanship.

I am wonder if it would be worthwhile revisiting this subject again and see where it takes us.

Conservatives, libertarians, and classical liberals can and should remain true to our principles, so should modern liberals to theirs. However, it is time to back away from the wedge issues that both sides of the debate have used to polarize the nation.

I think Jefferson and Rand would understand.

23 comments:

  1. For me, this has been a time of year to contemplate the meaning of life. This may come as a shock and surprise, but cephalopods do not worship Cthulhu – a cult followed by readers of H. P. Lovecraft. We prefer the Tetragrammaton, ‘WAHU,’ pronounced “wah-hoo,” which has nothing whatsoever to do with holy mackerel or monkfish. Sometimes, we attend the Universal Universalist Church of CD, pronounced ‘cod,’ which has nothing whatsoever to do with carp. Most cephalopods are free thinkers.

    This week in The Times of India science section, there was article on spiders, specifically why the male of the species let the females eat them during sex. Apparently, when female spiders nibble off the heads of males, it prolongs sex and makes insemination more likely. Not so odd, I thought. In the human species, there is also a close correlation between sex and headless males.

    For black widows and orb weavers, cannibalism results in healthier babies, since head-munching the male transfers nutritional benefits to the offspring. Not so odd, I thought. How many human males lose their heads to growing teenagers.

    Cephalopods also experience a close correspondence between Eros and Thanatos, since propagation of the species is our last undertaking in life. After we find a mate and exchange wows, Mr. and Mrs. Octopus attend to the clutch without rest or food until we drop from exhaustion – and fall easy prey for any predator. It’s an inglorious end to an otherwise sublimely contemplative life; nevertheless, I consider myself fortunate. At least there are no prerequisites to raising our young, who come into this world fully programmed to survive without any training or intervention from the parents. It means no encumbrances such as life insurance policies, mortgages, retirement annuities, or college savings plans.

    According to my human friends, they have spent a lifetime saving for retirement and their offspring’s education. Yet, their IRAs, 401Ks, and 529s are all underwater.

    Underwater is normal and natural for a cephalopod but apparently very bad for a human being.

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  2. Octo - Generally smiling. It is interesting how few free thinkers there are traveling amongst the bi-pods. Relatively speaking, and most specifically in regards to the body politic.

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  3. "Politicians are without a doubt a breed apart from the rest of the nation. Well, maybe when a person enters politics in the beginning they are just like the average person and want to make a difference. But, inevitably it seems that they lose their principles. Influenced by special interests they become part of the problem they initially hoped to change."

    Les, this strikes me as hyperbolic cynicism. Not all politicians are corrupted by money and power. Many politicians stick to their principles, which is much easier to do if one of those principles is to compromise for the good of the people. Compromise is not a dirty word, and in fact can be quite virtuous - and smart.

    As for "Jefferson and Rand" (emphasis mine)... I don't know how ol' Thomas would feel about that connection, but I doubt he'd like it. Rand was as divisive a corporatist as one could imagine.

    JMJ

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  4. JMJ - Hyperbolic cynicism? Perhaps. Or quite possibly reality.

    I assure jmj you need to read more of Rand. Free thinking, a reasonable amount of skepticism, and a active mind results (usually) in forward movement.

    Hide bound adherence to any ideology is generally problematic.

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  5. Those quotes are rich, coming as they do from a screeching hyperpartisan. Octo's comments were the only irrational thing in this post.

    It is human nature to want to cluster with those similar to us. Progressives, doing battle with human nature.

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  6. Silver - Actually Octo is no more partisan than those of us with a perspective that the government that governs least governs best.

    His point that hyper partisanship colors ones ability to think objectively is a valid one. I've personally witnessed it, as I'm sure you have as well.

    What is important is to find a way to arrive at resolutions that the lions share Of the People of the United States can live with.

    Failing this consider the alternative.

    The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Persuasion can and should win the day. The ideas that have the greatest number of advocates generally wins the day. Agreed?

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  7. one big difference in the compromises that the founders made and the ones now days, RN. their compromises was for the sake of a greater and specific cause, a confederation of the States.
    and it was for this reason compromise was given by both sides for each side knew and agreed on the value of the greater cause.

    that is not the case in today's compromises. in today's world the only cause is the cause of political ideology. and it is this that is polarizing this nation in every segment of society.

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  8. Griper - Is one to then assume, following the great compromises of 1787 that no further compromise would ever again be required to effectively address the inevitable challenges of the modern world?

    We're not talking about compromising principles. That has already occurred. About 2 and a 1/3 century ago.

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  9. Les, Senators Coburn, Crapo, Durbin, and Conrad ALL supported the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission (to which they were also well-respected members). The fact that the bulk of these recommendations are presently gathering cobwebs in Washington is a real underscoring of what you're enumerating here.

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  10. Jefferson would have nothing to do with Rand. That's your lie. trying to make Rand out to be a mind for the centuries. When in reality she was a selfish egomaniac whose ideas couldn't survive her own lifetime. She was denounced by any serious thinkers 50 years before she died.

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  11. Not a lot of nuance from anonymous on this one, Les.

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  12. Well Will , once an ass always an ass. And anon is such a ridiculous ass I think I just ignored my own site policy. Next time said ass visits with their assinine remarks said ass will be summarily deleted.

    How's that for nuances?

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  13. Works for me, bud. Probably the numbers guy, btw.

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  14. the answer to your first question is nope, RN

    and yes it is a matter of compromising principles.
    the federal Constitution expressed the principles of government in this nation and those principles were agreed on by all.

    and any ideology is an interpretation of those principles. we, as a nation, no longer abide by that agreement. and it is because of this disagreement we no longer are united as a nation.

    we are two nations living under the umbrella the same State when we should be a single nation by agreement of interpretation of the federal constitution.

    in other words, people have made their ideology the priority over the constitution instead of subordinating their ideology to the constitution.

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  15. Griper - A very interesting response. I'm quite sure many agree.

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  17. Anon said: "When in reality she was a selfish egomaniac whose ideas couldn't survive her own lifetime. She was denounced by any serious thinkers 50 years before she died."

    I have some major problems with Rand. But her selfishness is not one of them. She was selfish about controlling her own life, her own destiny, and she believed that none of this belonged to the ruling elites.

    I know plenty of serious thinkers who believe in her, whether or not I agree with Objectivism. And these thinkers are a lot more serious, than, say, leftists or Marxists, who completely ignore human nature and shill for the powerful to have even more power over us.

    The world would be a lot better off full of Randists than Marxists.

    If kids accidentally kick a ball into a Randist's yard, the grumpy Randist would complain about violated property rights and keep the ball.

    If kids accidentally kick a ball into a Marxist's yard, the Marxist would destroy the ball (symbolic of how Marxism destroys economies) and then kill the kids and make lampshades of their skins, to punish them for owning the "property of the people" (the ball) and to make an example for other imperialist-lackey-runningdogs.

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  18. dmarks - Well said! However, it is as close to an absolute certainty as anything could be that anon will continue in his failure to comprehend the concept(s ) you effectively addressed with respect to Rand.

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  19. Marxists are megalomaniacs. And that is a flaw entirely lacking in Randists.

    And its why the list of the worst tyrants and mass murderers in history is populated mostly by socialists.

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  20. Like you say, gentlemen, it's all a matter of perspective. wd compared Rand to L. Ron Hubbard and that was idiotic, too.

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  21. Will - Some perspectives are simply more rational than others. Yes?

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  22. Is there any comparison? I doubt Rand charged people tens of thousands of dollars to read her fiction. Hubbard did.

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  23. The socialist view, that everything will be better if you just trust government, is one of the worst.

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