San Diego — To me, the upcoming election for President of the United States presents the clearest contest between two very opposing views of the world, the economy, and the role of government we have witnessed in my lifetime. As I perceive it, the core philosophies the two candidates represent differ on the following primary issues:
- The role and ‘job’ of government,
- The contest of freedom versus security,
- The best economic model to follow, and
- The role and place of the US on the world stage
- The ethical appraisal of America itself
I said “core” philosophies because I believe one of them is a true believer, steeped to his toes in the tenets of his beliefs. I’m not so sure about the other to be honest but to take him at his word and his claims du jour, if he is sincere, then those issues will break down pretty much as follows.
The Role of Government. Is it constrained by the very specific requirements and limitations spelled out with absolute clarity in the Constitution or is it to be all things to all people and the source of determination as to what is fair or not and how to remedy it or not?
Freedom versus Security. Do we as a people value our freedoms as granted in the Constitution enough to sometimes risk danger or are we so cowed by circumstances that we prefer to be protected against all danger even at the loss of essential freedoms?
Social Justice. Do we believe that those who are productive should be encouraged to be even more productive because it has a broader positive effect on society or do we believe that those who are productive should give the results of their efforts to those who are not? Do we believe in the equality of opportunity or the equality of results?
Economic Models. As we look across the geopolitical stage of history and examine nation states based on the economic models they adopted, do we think those that pursued a more or less free-market system were more successful than those who adopted a government-controlled system?
The World Stage. Do we look out at the world and see it filled with people who would gladly be our friends and supporters if we only would continue our aid to them and allow them to butcher their people and their neighbors as they wish, or do we see it populated with people whose schools and places of worship teach them to kill or convert all who disagree and most especially America? Do we see the world as a safer place with the Soviet Union on the midden heap of history or do we see the world grown more dangerous with rogue elements holding serious weaponry and totally unconstrained by a larger power?
America Itself. Do we see America as one of the grandest, boldest experiments in the history of mankind which, despite mistakes and failures still strives to be that beacon for freedom to the world or do we see it as a result of a flawed founding document that needs to be transformed into a different view of propriety from that of the founding fathers?
The parties in play could not possibly be farther apart philosophically in their espoused core beliefs about what America is and what it ought to be. If ever there was a clear distinction in goals and objectives this election seems to provide it. if ever it truly mattered it is now. Based on those opposing points of view at play, this could be the most important election in our nation’s history in terms of how it advances into the future.
But is that real or is it a giant shell game of red herrings and straw men whose purpose is to rally the true-believers on each side and keep them focused away from the real action? There are a growing number of observers who believe the facts point toward a very different shadow power that really runs things and uses such issues as distractions to keep the passionate populace focussed away from what is really happening.
Unfortunately, that ‘conspiracy theory, normally relgated to the realm of crackpots and political loons, contains a certain logic because there is a common thread that binds the otherwise opposing parties. Now to me it could either be the result of a benign and coincidental philanthropy, or, as the conspiracy loons suggest, revealing of an ugly oligarchy underlying it all and making our apparent choices pretty much irrelevant. Here is the problem…
The major funding – for BOTH parties — comes from the SAME sources, mostly financial institutions including such banksters as Goldman-Sachs, Credit Suisse Group, Morgan Stanley, HIG Capital, Barclays, Bank of America, JP Morgan & Chase, USB AG, Wells Fargo, Blackstone Group, Citigroup or their proxies. But it is Goldman-Sachs that would be the chief entity of interest in a search for a primary Oligarch pulling political strings since they not only provide more money than the others, they also have provided the manpower to populate administration officials and officers throughout the government. A simple review of resumes will reveal this interesting common employer.
Now a financial entity so huge certainly has a huge employment base so a few dozen individuals in key governmental positions all coming from it could be coincidental. It is also quite possible that these well heeled groups donate to both sides because they believe in allowing each a loud voice to reach the voters and are simply and patriotically doing their share, collectively and individually to facilitate that. It is possibly a sheer and amazing coincidence that these major contributors, all capitalist pillars, included the groups bailed out because they were ‘too big to fail’ and allowed to rise above the law as it would apply to normal citizens which could not possibly be more antagonistic to capitalist principals.
Consequently there is a certain uneasy logic to the people who see this as evidence of a vast conspiracy; not of the left or right, but of the world’s oligarchs to be able to influence the policies of what was, at least, the world’s greatest power (and perhaps other powers as well). I do not know the answer to that; I am not fully persuaded by either argument about their intents and goals in political funding. but it does raise some interesting questions.
Unions are much more obvious: they are working in their own self interest which is what I believe they do all the time while pretending to protect but instead work to gain dependencies from the workers in their various clutches. But big banks and financial institutions? From a political perspective they could be either the ultimate evil or one of the more benign aides. As usual in such cloudy areas the truth is most likely somewhere in the middle.
So until I am persuaded one way or the other about the sources and results of this major money I’ll continue to assume – or perhaps more accurately, hope – that the candidates are true to their core or avowed philosophies and vote based on that. But that doesn’t help me much because, truth to tell, I think BOTH ideologies as they are currently finding expression, are wrong and living in some other century.
And no, I do not mean just conservatives. I also mean the liberal/progressives because their ideology belongs to the past just as much as some of the conservative ideology does.
Both are based on thinking starting in the 17th century and flowing forward into the late 19th century when it solidified. While I do believe one of them comes closer to representing accurately the underlying human nature at play in political interactions (and that is the ideology flowing from Locke and Burke) as they are being expressed in this contest in 2012, neither is truly dealing with the world as it now is.
Both are based on a world view predicated on sovereign or nearly sovereign and nearly self sufficient nation-states for whom trade was a common and handy but unnecessary thing. Neither are, in their pristine forms, fully suitable for a world of global markets, revolutionary changes in the methods of production and the sources of revenue, nor well calculated to serve anyone, in any class, in a world of mutually capable destruction and growing competition for global but finite resources.
Conservative philosophies are based on a world that largely no longer exists while progressive philosophies are based on a world that NEVER existed. And yet passionate partisanship has convinced us that we have a simple “either-or” set of choices and ignored the reality that the best choice is probably… “neither.”
I do believe that conservative ideals, however, are based in a far more accurate appraisal of the realities of human nature and that modern liberal approaches are based more on a marvelously Machiavellian awareness of the power that flows from dependencies but unfortunately that requires a subjugation of human nature to work. But both now are off in fantasyland, ignoring the inconvenient truth that while they were busy focusing on fighting each other the world changed and with it, the U.S. Our relations with that world in both an economic and a geo-political sense have not kept pace. So though I think the best foundation for addressing this new world would come from the Locke/Burke/Jefferson flow of thinking but I see none of the current candidates attempting to apply it. They are mostly applying it to a world that hasn’t existed for 50 years and maybe longer.
I have watched the debates hoping for someone to get beyond petty in-fighting and speak to the realities of the incredibly dangerous issues facing us both internally and externally and offer their ideas as to how to best deal with them. I have heard nothing but platitudes and promises of results but not a single working plan. Pabalum for the true believers of all stripes but no real meat in any of them. If they would come up with that sort of implied leadership then I think they would win, and if they do not then they may once again cede the election to King Barrack and unless the congress falls completely to the other team, we will, in my opinion, see a systematic dismantling of the Constitution; a concentration of power in the executive and his appointed czars in opposition to the legislative branch, and a transformation of this country just as he said he would.
And that scares me to death. But, to ne honest, not all that much more than having someone from the other side, equally oblivious to the changed world realities, fomenting policies and actions in blind obediance to obsolete policies created in blind ignorance to a world that has changed while they were not looking.
But maybe, in the end, even that fear is unfounded because perhaps that same bankster-contrived and controlled oligarchy, if it actually exists and actually does understand the new world because it created it, will not allow its own golden goose to be cooked and will rein in either side as its pendulum starts to swing to far wide of a workable middle. I do not know the answer to that nor will pretend to. And I do not know if that potential phantom safety net would be a good thing or not een if it existed.
Orwell, who foresaw something eerily similar did not think so nor did most people who read his book when i did back in the 60s. But those people must all be dead since there was no cry against recent announcements of domestic drone surveillance following the passage of the act allowing us to be targets of interest for domestic spying. While on one hand you might try to argue that a world-wide oligarchy who rules from the shadows in utter self interest would not allow real war to break out, I would suggest you re-read 1984 to see a true nightmare: phony wars with real casualties all to keep the people distracted and in line but without actually destroying production centers and facilities.
Possibly Orwell’s 1984 was simply set in the wrong century. is there any possible clue we can look for to tell us the truth of it all? i think there is. First, will the outcome of the primaries seem to correspond to any sense of reality? Remember Joe Stalin’s great observation that political power is not in the hands of the voters but in the hands of vote counters.
Then, once the final candidates are chosen, will any of them offer real leadership and some practical, workable, logical solutions to the major issues that face us to include energy costs, the debt crisis, and the middle east power keg? These are all smart men with the ability, as president, to convene a forum of the brightest minds available to address nearly any subject. Will they? And if so, will they follow the recommendations. Before you answer too quickly, think of the Simpson-Bowles bipartisan commission on the debt and whether ANY of their recommendations were followed.
Now, am I advocating that we throw in the towel and simply walk away to let the wizards behind the curtain do their thing in peace and quiet? That is what the conspiracy theorists are saying: that it does not matter at all what we do or how we vote. Do I accept that? Absolutely Not!
Until some new data surfaces to support that theory beyond refute then this still remains the most important election of my lifetime and maybe of the lifetime of this country. Even though i believe the philosophies espoused are too often based on a flawed and/or obsolete world view, I do still believe one of those world views has a better chance at bringing its ideology in line with reality than the other because I believe its political aims and goals are far more moral, practical, and most importantly, far more in keeping with the realities of human nature.
Discussing these possibilities is fun but also important because it helps to focus us on context as well: how do subsequent actions correspond to pre-election rhetoric and if not, why not. Without knowing why not, we do not know how to fix it because we are bring a hammer to drive in a screw and a wrench to pound in a nail.