Americans now live in a political environment dominated by extremes.
One burgeoning faction, looking through red tinted lenses, seeks “freedom from.” Another, looking through blue tinted lenses, seeks “access to.” A fading faction, looking through clear lenses, fears all will become tinted.
The grassroots conservative movement sees national government as the great enemy and seeks freedom from oppressive taxation and regulation, while the grassroots liberal movement sees national government as the great provider and seeks access to expanded government succor.
No representative democracy can survive for long with either extreme in power. Indeed, our founding fathers, whom Providence blessed with the uncanny collective ability to see through clear lenses during the stressful birthing of our nation, designed the U.S. Constitution to force balance among extremes. They put in place checks and balances, deliberately gave different roles and representation to the House and Senate, limited the power of the federal government, and mitigated the power of the majority through the first 10 Amendments.
Regrettably, those willing and able to peer through clear lenses to protect us from extremism are fading away. Red and blue tint has seeped into most of our institutions and the processes by which our leaders are chosen. Even judges, the intended ultimate stronghold of clear-seeing patriots, are now chosen based on their tinted views of the law. Our Constitution’s intent for balance is largely ignored.
The founders also intended for this Providence favored nation to be steeped in virtue. The growing and intense hatred of conservatives for liberals and vice versa – Americans all – shows America’s virtue is fading too.
All this, essentially, because of greed.
Ayn Rand schooled us about greed in her 1957 epic work “Atlas Shrugged.” Looters and moochers she called them, the profiteering businesses and non-productive masses who thrive off the accomplishments of productive citizens and siphon off their opportunities for prosperity.
A great irony for grassroots conservatives is that they may become the victims in this political environment, not the grassroots liberals who portray themselves as victims. The freedom dogma attractive to so many sounds good, but if established will primarily benefit the profiteers who fund the tinted foundations and advocacy groups spreading this creed. Big business profits would soar exponentially more than livable wages and broad prosperity.
On the moocher side, we already see government unable to sustain Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs at current levels, much less at the expanded programmatic and funding levels desired by grassroots liberals.
Government’s role is not to benefit either looters or moochers, but to bring competing politics into balance so as to determine the appropriate level of taxation and regulation needed to sustain the national defense, commerce, homeland security, and public safety while providing adequate support for the general welfare. Representative democracy expects the push and pull of politics, but relies on clear-eyed patriots of good will from all sides who will come together to provide balanced government.
Sadly, there is no mood for compromise between the red and the blue, nor much good will. A nation cannot be indivisible and under God, or debt free, without both.
» Bill Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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