Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Popularity of Hell

Why Politicians Love War

            Now we know, if we didn’t before. For me, it was good to have my memory refreshed. I’d lost perspective in the political tsunami of the past year, forgotten my basic ABCs of non-partisan truth. Once Bernie Sanders, who best represented my political views, was bumped off the bus, the election for me became a defensive measure to keep Donald Trump’s hands off the levers of power.
            When that strategy failed and the inconceivable happened, I lost all sense of a political base for myself. The right-wing corporatists had finally taken over. All those heart-warming policies, like letting more people with non-violent offenses out of jail early, going easy on illegal immigrants and pot smokers, requiring non-discrimination in public facilities, granting equal protection under the law to sexual minorities—all those policies of mercy Obama put in place, inadequate as they may have been in truly relieving suffering, poverty, and a poisoned environment—are suddenly wiped away, and gone with them are many more protections and charitable measures to help ordinary people struggling in an increasingly top-heavy economy.
            The Democrats raised hell about all this, of course, but how many of them will give up their corporate donors—who have become their social friends—to embrace humane policies already in place in every other major industrial democracy? Almost none.
            So they hedged. They always hedge. They’ve hedged so long they’ve lost their relevance.
            Curiously, though, when it comes to war, there is very little hedging, very little partisan divide. As the news broke of Trump’s “decisive” action against the contemptible  Assad regime, Democrats fell in behind him and his gang like mindless robotoids. “He did the right thing,” a block of them agreed, “but he should have asked us first.” The news media, of course, noted how the Democrats seemed more supportive of the attack than many Republicans.
            What message does that send to us, the people, when two sides who would rather slit one another’s throats than back one another’s ideas suddenly become comrades-in-arms, cheering on the peerless leader for his act of war and only criticizing him for not letting them approve it first? Obviously, they would have approved it.
            The message I get is that the Democratic Party is no place for me or any true democrat who supports the franchise for all citizens of age, which we now set at 18. Maybe there should be a Voters Rights wing within the Democratic Party to distinguish Democrats who uphold full participatory democracy from Democrats who want to keep the corporate thumb on the scale, just to assure that “the People” don’t get too much power through the electoral process.
            That strategy didn’t work so well in the last election, but Democrats show little sign of giving it up. Chuck Schumer’s rails against the Republican agenda come across like the rants of an impotent goat butting his own image inside a bank vault. You almost have to laugh at what a clown act he’s putting on.
            What will it take for politicians to recognize and correct the imbalances in our society caused by the unequal distribution of wealth and power? We spend so much of what we have to assure ourselves that we’re ready for war that we have little left to make peace in our own land. War—or its domestic equivalent of police shootings and citizen reprisals—becomes a default position, not a last resort, in a society permeated with fear and paranoia because of our monumental failure to get along with each other.
            We need to disarm before we can dispel our fears. That’s counterintuitive, I know, and I know that even with hands up—or arms open—you can still get killed by a nervous cop, who will likely get away with it. But more weapons, more high-tech killer bombers and drones—all that war stuff that costs so much money, some portion of which finances friendly politicians—that’s  what we can count on Democrats and Republicans coming together to protect. They are the War Party, always a majority, always a priority. War is the common ground of our elected government, and it has been for decades. It’s the one issue politicians consistently cross party lines to agree on, and not by slim majorities, either. Peace is political suicide.
            But it’s very disappointing to consider that of the great many human activities supported by government, war is the most popular of them all.
            How can that be? Few disagree that war is hell. Is it a human thing to prefer hell when there’s an idea called heaven available? If we can create hell on Earth with war, it seems we could do at least as well in realizing its opposite, just by figuring out what hell is not. And then funding that.
            Hell is not love, for instance. Hell is not comfort. Hell is not generous or kind to strangers. Hell is the opposite of everything that warms your heart or gives you pleasure. You can fill in the list for yourself.
            If we spent half as much money addressing the causes of war as we now do on the preparations, chances are at least even that the risk of war would decrease, maybe even significantly. But we need better politicians on both sides than the ones we’ve got now or we’ll never see the end of war, though we may see the end of a lot of other things we’ve come to value, including the whole Enlightenment-era idea of America. It still shocks me how many of our people don’t even know what that is.
            Then again, maybe I’m the one who doesn’t get it. Maybe the Enlightenment experiment is over. Maybe it ended when a black man, defined in the Constitution as three-fifths of a person, became President of the United States, fulfilling America’s enlightened destiny in the nightmarish hell of history.
            And now that play is over. A new drama, a thriller, has opened on the world stage.
            If people like the nightmare—the thrills and chills and clashes of passions that keep us ever on edge behind locked doors—more power to them. But if they don’t, they should lay down their arms. That’s the alternative I’m working on. It’s not a single action, either. It’s a way of life.


At 10:17 PM , Blogger kate loving shenk said...

Tulsi Gabbart is the last hope for the dems, as well as other progressive dems coming along with her. Bernie woke us up. Trump is a nightmare within this moment in history. But he isn't the first, nor will he be the last.


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