Sunday, January 08, 2006


A Sunday meditation on freedom

My colleague on Mercury Rising, Phoenix Woman, once apologized to me for indulging one of her hobbies ahead of doing some political writing. I assured her that there was no need to apologize since, I said, we do the politics so that we may do what we really enjoy, not for it's own sake. If the people who vote, whatever their political persuasion, would just be as well-informed as Phoenix Woman, the country would not be approaching $10 Trillion in debt [*], with most of its fighting forces mired in a classic guerrilla war and much of its leadership headed for disgrace or even jail. The fact is that the American people are abysmally informed. Many right-wingers want to be misinformed, because keeping themselves misinformed is the only way to justify to themselves the deep wrongs against their country they are complicit in. Some examples we're all familiar with: 1. we offered a thread to right-wingers to argue the case for invading Syria. Months have gone by, with no takers. 2. we have offered another person, who claimed in e-mail to be seeking a dialogue, a thread to argue the case for Iraq. Unfortunately, he wasn't interested enough in dialogue to actually read our offer. 3. we have witnessed the unfortunate self-humiliation of another right-winger who tried to use misdirection, ad hominem, and even outright falsehood to try to diminish the gravity of Bush's lawbreaking in eavesdropping on Americans without a FISA warrant. I happen to be working on a longer piece that deals with rhetorical techniques and can supply the Latin names for each of these kinds of game playing, but think there's a single Anglo Saxon noun that provides a far better description. But it's not people like the right-wingers with ADHD that are the problem. Such people have always been with us and always will be. Usually they are kept in check (and at the margins of power) by ordinary citizens who realize that their own long-term self-interest lies with making sure that the budget gets balanced more or less, that corporations don't get too powerful, and that the poor don't get ground down too far. Absent blind hubris, all of us know that disaster or illness could reduce us to the straits of the shopping cart people. A small dose of "there but for the grace of God go I" does wonders to achieve political balance. No, the problem is that most Americans have put the slave collar on themselves. They don't pay attention to politics, they don't challenge their assumptions, they don't visit the other side of the tracks, and they don't vote. When they see wrong, they stay silent. Until the tens of millions of disengaged people get off the sidelines and start doing their duties as citizens, America is not really a democracy, no matter which party is in office. One of the Web's finest moments--so far!-- was when the British ambassador to Uzbekhistan released his correspondence to the British government showing that the Blair Administration knew about American complicity in the vile tortures going on in that nation. The British government threatened every publication that reprinted them with prosecution, at which point many websites picked published the documents themselves. The cry, from a thousand blogs, was "I am Spartacus!"... as they reprinted the articles. These are people who know what freedom is, and that it comes at a price. That price, at a minimum, is staying well-informed and involved with neighbors and community, seeking out other points of view (and wanting to be sure they are represented in the public square), and refusing to grant wrongdoing the darkness it loves. We are people of the light not because we are in any way Elect or morally superior, but to the extent that the light of truth gives us joy, even when it illuminates our own error for the world to see. The darkness is already lifting from America as the people see that the so-called "conservative movement" was never about anything more than money. And so, as I reflect on this day of rest, I give thanks for my colleagues PW and MEC, for our readers, and for every other person who loves the light. __________________________________ * See The National Debt Clock. Total debt stands at $8.2 T, up from $5.7T in May, 2000. In other words, Bush has added $2.6 Trillion to the debt in about 4.75 years, or at the rate of $525B per year. At this rate, the national debt will cross $10T at about the time of the next inaugural. But since this year will almost certainly bring bad economic news, that moment could come earlier. Worse, most of the old debt was held by America, while new debt is held by foreigners. What this means is that should there be a financial crisis, Americans will find that the means to resolve it are not in their hands. Republican irresponsibility has created the bizarre spectacle of Ed Feulner of Heritage praising Nancy Pelosi. Even some self-styled conservatives understand that the Bush Administration is selling the nation into debt slavery.
Thanks, Charles. That was good to see this Sunday afternoon.
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