2012

29 August 2012: Election shows opposite views for U.S.

Like Reverend Hale and others on this stage, we conceive the Devil as a necessary part of a respectable cosmology.
Ours is a divided empire in which certain ideas and emotions and actions are of God, and their opposites are of Lucifer.
(The Crucible by Arthur Miller)

Social/economic class suggests status and privilege as well as inequality and separation.  When one pronounces “I’ve worked for/earned what I got,” he/she is simultaneously implying to others of lesser or no means, “I’m better than you.”

It flies in the face of the Declaration of Independence statement that “all men are created equal.”  Wealth is the great American unequalizer.  While the rest of the world is about living, we’re about making money and worshiping the Donald Trumps and Mitt Romneys of the world.

Tomorrow Mitt Romney will accept the Republican/Tea Party nomination for the presidency.  That’s no small feat for Romney or for his soon-to-be running mate, Paul Ryan, given their religious affiliations: Romney is a Mormon and Ryan a Catholic, a first for Republicans in that their nominees for the two top national offices are not Protestants.  (Democrats broke that barrier on 1928 with the nomination of Al Smith, a Catholic.)

That reality will be an interesting factor for Fundamentalists and Evangelicals who consider the Roman Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon and Mormonism a cult, a product of Satan.  And who said the GOP isn’t a big-tent (revival) party?

Both men claim “conservative” credentials, but past behavior indicates otherwise.

Romney invented Romney/Obamacare while governor Massachusetts, the only state George McGovern carried in the 1972 Nixon landslide.  He was for gay rights and women controlling their own bodies before he was against them.  Romney is a classic flip-flop, Etch-a-sketch politico: “To get your vote, I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear then will erase the thought before I shake the next voter’s hand.”

With the Obama presidency, Ryan saw the light and became a true believer in pure capitalism as defined by Ayn Rand, a goddess of the American Right.  There wasn’t a deficit-laden bill under Bush he didn’t like, voting to increase the national debt and funding two unpaid-for wars and the Medicare prescription drug bill among them.  His born-again economic revivalism parallels the rise of the Tea Party.

Their religious faiths aside, Romney and Ryan are essentially two peas in a pod: white, hetero, tall, handsome, and rich—OK, Ryan’s a pauper compared to Romney—males used to calling the shots in their little fiefdoms.

Next week Barack Obama, also tall, hetero, and rich but neither white nor nearly as handsome, will accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for re-election.  He’s facing a monumental task with the economy still suffering the blues after a decade of economic policy, begun under his Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton with the repeal of the Glass-Steagle Act that had prevented your bank from playing high-stakes roulette with your savings, predicated on the idea that all men are not created equal and that the Trumps and Romneys are not only different but also wealth, however gotten, raises the value of a human being.

That fundamentally held belief is a small step from the Calvinistic/Puritan tenet that wealth and prosperity are God’s signs he/she is favored on earth and will be in heaven.

For all their inadequacies, I do not judge Romney, Ryan or their supporters in context of good and evil, but the RTP leadership does judge their opposition in those terms.

“Where is the compromise between good and evil?” it asks.

It’s the new McCarthyism, which consigned political debate to the realm of heaven and hell.

In The Crucible in which he uses the Salem Witch Trials as a metaphor for the McCarthy Era, Arthur Miller writes when “A political policy is equated with moral right and the opposition to it with diabolical malevolence…an equation is effectively made” and “society becomes a congeries of plots and counterparts, and the main role of government changes from that of arbiter to that of the scourge of God.”

Amen, brother.

Ultimately, this election is one of choice between polar opposite visions of America.  The gap between progressive pragmatism and ideological conservatism couldn’t be wider.

The choice is clear: a land in which everyone deserves and gets a fair shake and opportunity or a dystopian American in which one’s intrinsic worth is measured by his/her bank account, stock portfolio, and material possessions.

As a liberal, I believe in an America that values the dignity of all, and if that’s evil, then perhaps I am a little devil.

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