Saturday, May 21, 2011

Government for the people?

It has only been 150 years since the Civil War and yet we have forgotten the how polarizing it was. Slave owner versus non-slave owner, states' rights versus federal government. Us versus them. In Lincoln's Gettysburg Address he stated that the civil was was fought so that the government of the people, by the people and for the people should not perish. In every conflict that the US has engaged, even if it was not popular, we entered in on what we felt was the side of right. The enemy was clearly defined, we engaged him and eliminated the threat.

Yet 150 years later we are engaged in another internal struggle, another us versus them fight. However, the us and them are not clearly defined and if you watch the news or read the papers, the sides change places or even change names. Yet the polarizing words "us versus them" carry great weight. Big business versus the worker, the elderly versus medicine, legal immigrants versus illegal immigrants.

Instead of being the voices of reason and providing options and ways to settle these conflicts, our elected officials seem to be fanning the flames of discontent. The reason this seems so shocking to me is that I have labored for many years, under the impression, that by voting these individuals into office, that my voice would be represented. How naive. My vote may have helped elect them to office, but their views and opinions were formed long before the election. They were bought and paid for by the special interest with the deepest pockets or the best retirement package. Many elected officials upon leaving government service, go into the private sector, some via the lecture circuit but others through employment with the very companies they were responsible for drafting legislature to govern their activities.

All political parties foster the us versus them mentality because it is the only way they can stay in power or at least garner some power for themselves. The latest "them" was Wall Street. The housing market tanked, investment firms went under, companies too big to fail were given government bailouts and told to reduce management bonuses and salaries. Once the dust settled and the worst offenders were eliminated, everyone else went back to business as usual and corporate bonuses were once again being posted in the papers.

Yet nothing has really changed. The housing market has not recovered, unemployment is still high the doomsday predictions for Social Security and Medicare are still being used to either reduce spending or increase it depending upon which side of the aisle you are seated. Slowly but surely our government has turned its back on the very people it was formed to serve. The checks and balances that our founding fathers installed have been trampled in the dust and the Constitution itself, ignored.

We no longer have a government for the people and it only took 150 years from the war that was fought to preserve it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Fanatics come in all sizes, shapes, colors and types. There are the religious fanatics such as those who orchestrated 9/11 and those who burn Korans. There are political fanatics who believe that their political party is always right and everyone else is wrong. There are also the patriotic fanatics who take love of country to an extreme level of hating everyone else.

They all have one thing in common. They believe that they are right and that everyone else is wrong. They feel that belief gives them the right and obligation to convert everyone else to their way of thinking or eliminate them. In their world there is only one option to believe as they do or die.

I love my country and believe that the USA is the best place to live in spite of all of our problems. That does not mean that I do not respect the right of a Canadian or Mexican or Iranian to feel the same about his. I am also a Christian but I also respect the rights of Buddhists, Jews, Muslims to worship as they see fit.

Fanatics know no limits. They will do whatever it takes to press their cause. We must be vigilant but not rush to condemn. We must be careful not to become one of them.