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November 07, 2004

Golden Rule Politics

A proposal for the Democrats: Starting today, start preaching the gospel. Adopt a simple theme, and apply it to every possible issue. I'll make it easy for you: The Golden Rule. As I learned it, the rule is very simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or, even simpler but less mantric: Treat everyone else like you would like to be treated. Therefore:
  • If you'd like health insurance, you need to help others get health insurance.
  • If you would like to know that your children are going to be able to grow up in a world with plenty of clean air and water, you're going to have to start taking better care of the environment.
  • If you want social security benefits, you have to be willing to continue paying into the system, and you have to support measures that will keep that money safe for future recipients.
  • If you want the right to marry the person you love, and to enjoy all the legal benefits that are attached to such a union, you have to be willing to grant the same to all other Americans.
  • If you want a decent wage and some sense of job security, you have to support increased minimum wages, living wages, and other measures to make employers more responsible to their employees.
  • If you don't want to have to work in a sweatshop, you're going to have to support trade policies that prohibit sweatshop labor—and you're going to have to stop shopping at Wal-Mart!
  • If you would like to know that you'll be able to safely and legally get an abortion if you became pregnant and did not want or could not afford to have a child, you need to support and preserve a woman's right to choose.
  • If you want your kids to go to good schools, with good teachers and rich, diverse opportunities, you have to support school funding measures to ensure these schools have the resources they need. (Voucher programs do not qualify here, since they allow people to be selfish in making sure their child gets a good education, while leaving other children and parents to cope with failing schools. Is that how you'd like to be treated?)
  • If you want to be free from terrorism and the fear of outside forces trying to control the way your country governs itself, you have to support the autonomy and security of all other nations around the world. Admit that the so-called “American exception” is a cruel hypocrisy that you only tolerate because you're an American, and which you would not tolerate if you were an Iranian, an Iraqi, a Venezuelan, etc.
I could go on, but you get the idea. It's strong, visionary, yet simple. Sure, there is more nuance and complexity to each of these issues than the simple application of the “golden rule” can capture, but that can all be fleshed out as we go forward. The magic is the apparent simplicity of Golden Rule Politics. Most people will just “get it.” It will help the Democrats speak to the millions of Americans who see faith and values as their most important issues, and it will play equally well with more secular voters. Golden Rule Politics is nondenominational; every major world religion I know of has some form of the Golden Rule within its most basic teachings. (Are there any religious scholars out there who would provide textual support for that?) Golden Rule Politics has the added advantage of exposing the Republican view of morality and values for the hypocritical sham that it is. If anything, Bush-type religion may find support in the Old Testament's “eye for an eye” kind of thinking, but it displays little of the moderation and tolerance added by the New Testament. Golden Rule Politics could remind religious conservatives of the values many if not all of them were probably taught as children, and should create common ground between them and the rest of the planet. Disclaimer: I'm no religious scholar, but the beauty of Golden Rule Politics is that it doesn't require any particular religious knowledge or affiliation. If you have those things, you get the history of the ideas, but w/out that background, the rules are still simple and clear. Anyway, it's an idea....

Posted 01:45 PM | Comments (8) | election 2004

A Partial Explanation

I've heard talking heads say, and I agree, that many Americans have long supported Bush because they simply can't bring themselves to believe that he could have done all the bad things his critics say he's done. And really what we're talking about is this: Many Americans are simply horrified by the thought that their president, the “leader of the free world,” could take them to war and send more than a thousand American soldiers (and counting) to their deaths—on a stack of lies, exaggerations, and intentionally misleading innuendo. For these people, voting Bush out would have been an admission that they were wrong, that their president was a liar, and worse, that he was such an abominable person that would put greater value on oil or global power than he put on the lives of their loved ones and the peace and stability of the world. In this view, voting for Bush was a defense mechanism, a way for people to protect their minds and preserve their basic hope and belief that human beings—Americans, especially, and American presidents even more so—are good, trustworthy, and would never, ever, send thousands of people to their deaths without damn good reasons. Oh, and on a more basic level, voting against Bush would also be potentially admitting that we are not safer since invading Iraq and removing Saddam from power. In fact, it might be an admission that we are less safe because by doing this we have created more terrorists, not fewer, more hatred for America, not less. If you're kind of worried about terrorism to begin with, afraid that there really are shadowy armies of militants around the world who would like to see you or your country suffer, well, wouldn't it just freak you right out to admit that a huge part of what your country had been doing to supposedly make you safer was actually making you more vulnerable to terrorism? The mind recoils, then hand pushes the button for Bush. So yes, this election was about values. People did vote based on their core beliefs of right, wrong, good, bad. But this is not to say that more Americans agree with the republicans or Bush on these things; only that their basic beliefs in the good and the true made them utterly incapable of facing the horrible truth they would have to acknowledge if they decided to vote against Bush. Yes, Bush and Co. are winning the culture war—by bludgeoning the hijacking the basic goodness of Americans and turning it against us. By the way, if you're baffled by the vehemence of the anti-Bush sentiment in the country, look no further than the simple fact that loathing and even hatred are almost unavoidable responses for those who see the Iraq war as a mistake. Many of these people, myself included, really do believe that Bush and Cheney and the whole gang lied, manipulated, and intentionally mislead in order to get the authorization and support they needed to go to war. Exactly why they did this is the subject of some disagreement, but that they actually did it is not in doubt for these people. Can Bush “reach out” to these people who voted for Kerry and “heal the division” in the country? Yeah, sure. But first he'd have to publicly admit he'd lied, apologize for taking us to war on false pretenses, renounce all future interests in Iraq and Iraqi oil beyond a basic desire to see an autonomous and more or less democratic Iraq, invite the U.N. to take over control of all peacekeeping and rebuilding in the country, and maybe revoke every contract given to Halliburton since Bush/Cheney took office and get his Justice Department to bring suit against that company for stealing millions of dollars from the American people. Is any of that going to happen? Ha.

Posted 01:30 PM | Comments (1) | election 2004

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