Culture Crash - Desperation Politico
What happens to a culture when it has no visionaries or humanitarians seeking political office? What happens when virtually every political candidate focuses entirely on their ability to get elected, and not at all on elevating our society?
Do any of the current political candidates take positive stances on human rights, fair wages for women, the arts, slavery, poverty, the environment, sustainable energy, refurbishing our schools, or any social equity issues? No. No. No. How dim their vision. How thin their offerings. How insubstantial their character, how vapid their words, how sad their minds. How pathetic. Where have all the visionaries gone?
The answer is not that hard to find. In the great maelstrom we call politics, those running are almost entirely venal, greedy, self-serving, narcissistic and out of touch with the needs of most Americans. Even President Obama, who seemed a shining star in the run-up to the 2008 election, has turned out to be an empty vessel, expanding spying on citizens, supporting legislation that greatly curbs our rights, and utterly ignoring many of the most prescient issues of our time, including national poverty, women's rights, slavery in trade, environmental devastation, and more.
Right now today over 40 million Americans live in poverty. These people have an extremely hard time getting by, often must go without food or heat, and live hand-to-mouth existences within the national borders of the richest country on the planet. Which political candidate has taken a strong stand on this, and has declared a war on poverty and an end to this suffering? Not one. As Mitt Romney so famously said "I don't care about the very poor."
Despite the fact that women make up fully half of the work force, and despite the fact that women consistently earn less than men, has any candidate declared an initiative to stop this inequity? No. Not even startled-looking Michelle Bachmann, during her brief and clumsy leap into the presidential candidacy breach, uttered a peep about women's wages.
With torture now a full and active part of the wrong-headed national security program, has any candidate taken a strong stand against torture, special rendition, indefinite detention without charges, the NSA citizen spying program, or any of the other sinister programs initiated by Homeland Security? Absolutely not.
Now that GMO's are threatening the stability of the entire world food supply, has any candidate stood up to challenge the practices of Monsanto and other panderers of this misguided technology? Not one.
Considering that the United Nations has published several increasingly thorough, alarmed, damning reports on the state of the global environment, has any candidate risen up to declare pro-environmental policies that will provide stability and planetary health into the future? No. It is as though we are sitting in our living rooms, watching TV and eating Doritos, while our bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and basements are on fire.
If the candidates aren't focusing on these issues of life and liberty, what are they doing? Mitt Romney is pretending that the entire US is reducible to an Excel spread sheet. And despite the fact that nobody actually knows where Mitt stands on any issue with the exception of promoting the Mormon Church, he is our go-to guy for a dollars and sense approach to a complex society. Do you want as Commander in Chief of the US armed forces a man who sincerely believes that the sacred garment (magical underwear) bestowed by the Mormon church will protect soldiers from knives and bullets? I surely do not want that.
Rick Santorum, by contrast, has let it be known that contraception is a crime against God, that a pregnancy arising from violent rape is still a divine gift, and that when it comes to being a total hyper-religious wack-doodle, he is the man to pick. With absolutely zero foreign policy experience, he intends to lead by the Braille method, feeling for biblical crumbs in a country that he has explicitly stated is now firmly in the grips of an invisible, evil, magical spirit he calls Satan. For everybody who wants to be thrown back into medieval times, Rick is your man.
What about Newt? What does he stand for? His imagination expires after two dollar gas and a heavily populated moon colony. His smirk is bad enough, but the failed contract that he put out on America previously should sober everybody up to the fact that he is spent, his ideas are old, his time came and went, and he lacks the capacity to lead. He may have read the Federalist Papers, but he is still is out of touch.
Then there is peripatetic and fatherly Ron Paul, who in twenty-two years of political office, despite his affable manner, has been able to pass one bill. Since Ron does not stand a prayer, we can only marvel at his dogged determination. Yes, he does in fact believe in the Bill Of Rights, and refreshingly says so. But as a strident closet racist, he is not to be trusted.
Then there is president Obama, who smacked the blue states with feel-good rhetoric every bit as hard as the Bush/Cheney axis of incompetence smacked the far Christian Right. Lots of promises and no follow-through. It's all about the votes. What does Obama support? Greatly expanded restrictions on rights, no program to end poverty in the US, a seemingly rabid love of nuclear energy (when the sun dumps enough power on our planet to provide vastly more energy than we require), and expensive wars that feed the gluttonous appetite of the military industrial complex. Where is the audacity of hope now?
So again, what happens when a country's political candidates and leaders are people of dim vision, limited ideas, low ideals, meager character and reduced humanity? Everybody suffers. The national conversation becomes a mind-numbing slog through gas prices, taxes, trade agreements, and habitual sniping between parties. And the issues that actually matter are elbowed aside in the roller-derby of contest.
If you read the Declaration of Independence, if you read the Bill Of Rights, and if you read the Gettysburg Address, you will be reminded that once upon a time, people of character and vision determined to fashion a great nation with dignity for all, based on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a government of, by and for the people, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and other precious rights. And yes, many of the "founding fathers" kept slaves, women were second-class citizens, and there were many inequities. But what they set forth was still better than anything being offered today.
Krishnamurti once famously said that the only revolution comes from within. And John Stewart has recently commented that we are a nation of sheep, that we are unwilling to speak up for what matters. The juxtaposition of personalities may be a bit odd, but the points made work hand in hand. As individuals we have a responsibility, even a mandate, to transform ourselves within to become effective, positive social change agents in our world. As change agents, we have a moral responsibility to promote the highest and best ideals we can espouse, to make sure that our voices are heard, and to insinuate ourselves deeply into the media. Furthermore, we absolutely must demand more of politicians. Remember, if we do not set the political agenda, then they certainly will offer up a dumbed-down, lackluster platform, just as they are doing right now.
Women now have the vote, but they didn't previously. Racial segregation is outlawed, even if it is still partially in social play. Child labor laws protect most children, at least within US borders. Some of the most pernicious and hate-producing issues have been taken on head-long, with positive results. Now we must, as Chairman Mao said, take a great leap forward. But unlike Mao's slaughter of fifty million and repression of more, ours must be a leap of gigantic humanity, staggering love for life, passion for planetary harmony, and dismissal of the hate-filled, paranoid, militaristic and delusional mental trash that has influenced both political policy and public discourse for generations. If we can, each and every one of us who cares, in fact be the change we want in the world, if we can turn on the tap and let our love-guided intelligence flow, then we can be potent advocates for a true revolution of consciousness. And a revolution of consciousness is the only true precedent to a revolution in society.
As a nation, we have a right to choose intelligent, humane, visionary people who possess the capacity to focus on issues of human, environmental and global importance, without being solely about personal gain and power. We have an absolute right to demand a Mahatma Gandhi, a Martin Luther King Junior, an Aung San Suu Kyi, in other words, an actual leader. After all, most people will follow instead of lead. But what is better to follow? A dim-hearted hack with a craving for position, or an open-hearted hero with a determination to make this world a better place? I say go for the hero, every time.
Teaser image by League of Women Voters of California, courtesy of Creative Commons license.Tweet