The 2012 election: part of the insanity
If you read the paper, watch TV, or talk to most of your friends and family members, it’s easy to get sucked into the “reality” of the 2012 presidential and Congressional elections. If you step back even just a bit, however, and view the frenzied hoopla with a longer lens, you may see, as I do, a bunch of big dogs fighting over some bones and a multitude of little dogs, excitement and fear in their eyes, hoping to pick up some of the leftover scraps. Not a pretty picture.
Does it have to be this way? Is this kind of conflict and hierarchy based on power just “human nature”? That’s what most of us appear to believe, just as we accept the two-party political system that’s always done just what the “founding fathers” designed it to do – keep “the mob” (the people) from wielding any meaningful political power. Good cop/bad cop – they’re all still cops, and they don’t have your interests at heart.
If you look deeper, you’ll see that it’s a matter of culture. The culture that we’re brought up in forms our so-called “nature” and our beliefs. And cultures can be changed and created.
Our culture has become increasingly violent, as economically and politically powerless people distract themselves with movies, music, and video games full of the same death and destruction meted out in faraway lands by our armed forces, defending not our freedom, but that of big corporations and the dominant economic and political elite. Others in our country and around the world fall under the spell of fear-based, hate-filled fundamentalist religions that deny rights to women and non-believers. A few in our country go even further into insanity, and, taking advantage of our “right” to possess as many automatic weapons as we want, kill or injure ten, twenty, or thirty innocent people. We’re starting to experience the dystopia of science fiction novels – it’s surreal, it’s insane, and it’s unnecessary.
Why did our culture turn out this way? Because it’s based on fear and suspicion, extreme individuality, and lack of care for others and the natural world. Its capitalist materialism forces it to ignore its more spiritual and humanist values.
But culture can be changed, and values re-ordered. Human beings are as capable of caring and cooperation as they are of unreasoning fear, greed, and violence.
How can we start to make a change? By putting what we value most at the top of our agenda – in our minds and hearts, and in our behavior. What do you give your attention to? Ranting, hateful political speeches that may be just an attempt to con and deceive you? What do you support? A continuation of a political system dominated by money and designed to keep you powerless by giving you almost no meaningful choices? This year you get to choose between a centrist candidate who will do nothing to offend corporate interests like Big Pharma, the insurance industry, and weapons manufacturers benefiting from the no-end-in-sight “war on terrorism,” and a right-wing candidate who in addition represents the same trickle-down economics and lack of regulation that caused the economy to fail in 2008, not to mention government control over women’s bodies and the probable end of the separation of church and state.
I’m tempted, by fear, to vote for the first guy (Obama), seriously tempted. By doing so, however, I would be signaling my acceptance of an illegitimate political system and my support of a candidate who, despite his election-year populist rhetoric, has no intention of addressing the real needs of the people of this country. This is the guy who wouldn’t even allow discussion of a single-payer healthcare system in this country, guaranteeing a healthcare “reform” that changes little and guarantees continued profits to drug and insurance companies. We don’t need health insurance – we need health care, funded by a truly graduated federal income tax.
By voting for Obama I would be living a lie, going down a road I already know is wrong.
What’s my alternative? I have none at the moment, other than writing these words, bearing witness to the truth as I see it. That’s the kind of honesty I think we should all start with. Do we want more of the same, or something worse? What do we want? What do we value? How can we move in a better direction, toward world peace; an end to hunger, homelessness, and species extinctions; global cooperation to address global warming; equal education; and guaranteed health care? Those are the things I care about, and I doubt that I’m alone.
None of those things are going to be discussed at either the Republican or the Democratic conventions; neither will they be among the goals of another Obama or a Romney administration.
Working through the system doesn’t work. Refusing to go along with it and trying to set something else up might.
Move away from the insanity. Refuse to accept the unacceptable. Do what you know in your heart is right, even if it doesn’t change things in the end. Don’t worry about the end – just take care of right now (the means are the ends).
Voting is easy, but is it responsible? Isn’t there something else you could do that would better express your beliefs?