18 January 2012: 2012 elections to have lasting results

2012 elections to have lasting results

I recall a copy editor adding th to commonweal in an article I submitted a few years ago, altering its meaning and, thus, the point I was making.

A commonwealth is a political construct, e.g., the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but the commonweal is the “common good.” Rightists, particularly disciples of Ayn Rand, disdain and many even reject such a notion. That which is held in common such as roads, parks, and schools would be much better off, they aver, if they were private: Thus, the “common good” is self-contradictory, since no good can come from what is held in common.

That belief extends to other areas including unemployment benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and lately here in Colorado about imposing tighter standards on online schools and harvesting and shipping of produce, specifically cantaloupes that caused the listeria epidemic, and about establishing civil unions for gays and lesbians.

Like athletes insisting there is no “i” in team, rightists could point out there is no “we” in “me.” Their answer to Cain’s essential question “Am I my brother’s keeper?”: “NO!”

In response, liberals and progressives can point to our founding document as evidence of and for community. It begins with “We the People” and includes in the Preamble the phrase “promote the general welfare,” which seems pretty wide open for interpretation.

The questions before voters nationally in 2012 are substantial but go beyond whether Barack Obama should be awarded a second term and which party should control Congress. The greater question: The role of government vis-à-vis the private world?

In the smoldering ruins of the unfettered capitalism the Roaring Twenties wrought, Franklin D. Roosevelt deigned government a force for good and created Social Security among other programs during the Great Depression.

Nearly a half-century later in a counter-revolution against what he and his allies dubbed the “welfare/nanny state,” Ronald Reagan declared government evil and in so doing unleashed forces that have out-Reaganed Reagan.

As I noted tongue-in-cheek two weeks ago, this election is taking place in the year the Mayans predicted, like Hal Lindsey would two millennia later, the beginning of the end: the Late, Great Planet Earth.

While our political discourse and culminating election might not result in apocalyptic results, unless it’s about climate change or nuclear proliferation, the outcome will settle, at least for the short-term, the role of government.

One’s view of human nature, the work ethic, and responsibility towards local and even global neighbors—the brother’s keeper query—are barometers indicating where one comes down on the political spectrum.

Another factor is one’s perspective regarding our economic system. Does it need to operate, as Adam Smith posited in “Wealth of Nations,” unfettered, without interference and restriction by government, allowing its “invisible hand” to work its magic?

Or is it a flawed system that allows for a tiny percentage through wiles and manipulation to corral and control an extraordinary percentage of the society’s wealth that had been created through the collective efforts of the society’s citizens?

At the state level, Gov. Hickenlooper in his State of the State address labeled the discussion we must have regarding the direction for Colorado as TBD: To Be Determined.

My questions: Should TABOR and the amendment banning gay marriage be repealed?

What if the Supreme Court agrees with District Judge Sheila Rappenport’s conclusion that our school financing system does not provide for the constitutionally mandated “thorough and uniform” education for all Coloradans through age 21, which would suggest even post-secondary schooling? That would throw the entire state budget into a tailspin.

In Clear Creek, with two-thirds of the Board of Commissioners being replaced, the ongoing debate about the balance between growth/development and preservation, both historical and land, will be in the forefront.

In District 3 (west end), former Georgetown police judge/mayor Tom Bennhoff and former Democratic Party co-chair and owner of Wheelock Construction Randy Wheelock are squaring off for their party’s nomination. In District 2 (east end), Christopher Trainor and Thomas Hayden are vying for the Republican nomination.

The Republican caucus will be on February 7th and the Democratic caucus, March 6th.

With the new members likely to serve for eight years and current Commissioner Tim Mauck likely having six years remaining in his tenure, this election will have long-term consequences.

Unlike the emotionalism that pervades Mayan, Christian, and Islamic apocalyptic scenarios and the silliness about Tim Tebow as God’s quarterback, the substantive issues of 2012, from county to federal, demand rational consideration.

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