Sunday, February 28, 2021

To be Governed or to be Ruled?




Earthfamilyalpha is now in its 16th year of publication. For many of those years, we published a broad range of stories about politics, technology, climate change, art, the human condition, and consciousness in general.  And I invite you to dig deep into this work that now has more words in it than the Bible.  One of the best ways is to go to the contents pages at the bottom of each post.  Or select a label and see all the stories in that subject.

But over the last five years or so, most of the content has been political.  We've written about energy and climate change and certainly the pandemic when we can, but the political stage has been so daft, that it seems to suck the air out of the clear issues and challenges that face us as a people.

Many years ago, I wrote a piece about Liberty and Justice, and how as we repeat our Pledge of Allegiance that we end it "with Liberty and Justice for all."  My thesis was that Liberty and Justice come out of the same bucket.  That we want the liberty to drive any speed we want, but justice says we must obey the speed limit or we endanger others who might lose their life due to your belief that your liberty is more important than their justice.  From this thesis I made the case that the two party system in this country was effective because the Meta "Rs" in their best aspect represented  "freedom" and the Meta "Ds" represented "justice".  With each party representing these great principals of American values, the parties could vacillate in power as the great pendulum of time worked its way through our history. 

And clearly, we see this today as "Rs" refuse to wear a simple mask in the name of liberty as "Ds" demand that masks be mandated so that justice can be served.  But something more important has occurred in these last five years.  Another Dialectic has developed that is not a great principal, but rather a psychological manifestation of our human condition.

Republicans for years have stated the best government is a small government; that in the words of their previous idol, Ronald Reagan,  “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”  Since they don't want government to work well, they get elected in the name of efficiency but often just do their job poorly to prove their point.  Our government's response to the pandemic is a prime example.

Democrats, on the other hand, run on the idea that government, if done well, can be very helpful in developing many of the things we need:  like roads and water and security and freedom from want and fear.

Democrats wish to govern.

Republicans want to rule.

And this unhealthy dialectic is problematic for a functioning democracy.

It's not a big problem if most of the citizens want to be governed, but it is a huge problem if the electorate  actually wants to be ruled; by their party, their strongman, or the hate that has seized them as exacerbated by that party or strongman. It is ever so more dangerous when those who wish to be ruled use their power to disenfranchise those who wish to be governed.

Occurring exactly eighty years after FDR's famous Four Freedoms speech, the events of  January 6th are not a portent of the future.  They are a  manifestation of the present. The last five years have brought us a political landscape of alternative facts.  Alternative facts are lies. 

And as author Timothy Snyder says, "Post-Truth is Pre-Fascism."

Here is more from Snyder:

A nationalist, 'although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge,' wrote Orwell, tends to be 'uninterested in what happens in the real world.'

Nationalism is relativist, since the only truth is the resentment we feel when we contemplate others. As the novelist Danilo Kiš put it, nationalism 'has no universal values, aesthetic or ethical.'  

A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves. A patriot must be concerned with the real world, which is the only place where his country can be loved and sustained. A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well—and wishing that it would do better.” 

“The odd American idea that giving money to political campaigns is free speech means that the very rich have far more free speech, and so in effect far more voting power, than other citizens.”  

“Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.” 

Do not be blinded by this light.

In a perfect Union, We become the light. 

To be Governed or to be Ruled

Is not the question, 

but our outrageous fortune.

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