Now is the time for some new thinking
February 14, 2005
Is there anyone besides me who is tired of seeing the same arguments over and over again on these pages? I’m hoping in this column to kick-start some new thinking so that we can move some of the debate forward.
No. 1: global warming and the environment. Does it really matter whether global warming is a natural cycle or man-made? Evidence is, it is some of both and it IS happening. The point should be, “are we doing what we can to understand it, and, as necessary and feasible, to mitigate the effects?” This is ripe for one of local cartoonist Crabb’s excellent social observations – how about two people arguing as the flood waters rise around them? Make no mistake, we appear headed for some major challenges to civilization within our lifetimes; I hope those who minimize concerns about the environment are right.
No. 2: Iraq. There is no argument that has been put forth into the public arena that has justified this debacle that isn’t hypocritical or downright mistaken. My personal belief is that we really wanted to go after the Saudis because they are the ones who hit the towers and they are the ones who trained in Afghanistan – but that would have brought down the entire Muslim world against the U.S. and threatened OPEC and our oil supply. I think our leaders thought they could get away with hitting the only secular state in the region and show what we could do – unfortunately, we underestimated Hussein’s planning and regional religious zeal. Recent hopeful indications are that the Bush administration might be starting to act like world leaders instead of petulant children.
No. 3: the election. There has been so much damage done to credibility around the issues of voter manipulation, lack of accountability, secret computer voting systems designed by arch conservatives – anyone who truly loves our country would insist on doing whatever is necessary to make voting absolutely transparent and verifiable. This should be a nonpartisan issue. Our founding fathers gave us possibly the greatest form of government the world has seen to date, and it is time to stop acting like a corrupt Third World dictatorship. When some of Ohio’s own official government voting Web sites show more voters voting than are registered to vote, alarm bells should be going off all over the country.
No. 4: patriotism. Our founding fathers recognized that patriotism is not the same as blind obedience and designed our government to have checks and balances, so that no part of the government could remain long unchallenged or become too powerful. “My country, right or wrong” is fine for the fascist state but does not recognize that our legislative, executive and judicial systems were designed to accommodate every-changing and unforeseeable circumstances. I think Winston Churchill pointed out the difference between law and justice, and was it Benjamin Franklin who said true patriots challenge their leaders when they threaten democracy? Indeed, my understanding of the right to bear arms was to keep the government in check if it got too far out of line.
No. 5: polarity. This ties in some to the previous paragraph. It is a fundamental American right and obligation to voice opinions and speak out. As hard as it is to hear some of these voices, this is what keeps our country alive and dynamic and ultimately strengthens us when the average person believes he or she WILL be heard and CAN make a difference. The American Civil Liberty Union fights for this very American belief. Constructive voicing of differences may be polarizing, but it is healthy.
Unhealthy polarity is best represented by those who see the recent election as a mandate for implementing a narrow ideological agenda. When almost half of America is told (by some), “Too bad, you lost, shut up,” this does not create much team spirit. One can argue that it fosters a mentality of “the heck with it, the big guys do what they want and don’t care, so I might as well do what I want” (like steal from employers, vandalize soul-less institutions and otherwise unravel the social fabric).
No. 6: liberalism. Our form of government was and is liberal, relative to current and historical choices. It is also a form of socialism. It is also the best at giving its people a voice, a voice you will never get in the so-called “free market,” which advertises that capitalism is better for you than democracy – if you are rich. Don’t buy it!
Terry Lamphier is a proud liberal and Nevada County resident.
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