right wing

The Common Wisdom

We all know that the country is center-right.  Perhaps it’s there as a result of a pendulum swing from the socially farther left pendulum of the 60’s and the politicians and pundits now like to tell us we’re center-right almost as throw-away line.  Or maybe people just keep saying that and have done so for such a long time that we’ve come to believe it, but repetition doesn’t make the claim accurate.  Take a look at just a few issues before us.

Jobs – About 306 million of we 307 million Americans want the government to take energetic action to ramp up the economy and create jobs.  The noise from the far right is the only thing that is making it seem like there is huge opposition to that.  As a nation, we are left of center now on jobs.

Voting rights – Americans believe overwhelmingly that all of us over the age of 18, with the possible exception of convicted felons, should vote.  That’s pretty much smack dab in the center, not center-right.  On the other hand, there are Republican strategists who have openly stated that the only people they want to vote are those who will vote Republican.

In the 2010 election many states voted far right legislators into office and they have enacted laws they have fraudulently proclaimed are to protect us from a blight of voting fraud.  The thing is that voting fraud almost never happens – not even in Chicago.  These laws serve solely as an obstacle to voting for young people, the elderly, the poor and those in minorities who tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic.  Let’s see, righty R’s preventing D’s from voting.  Hmmm.

Immigration – Most of us believe that if people do something wrong that they should bear the consequences.  And most of us believe that children of illegal immigrants, born in this country and who have broken no laws should not bear those consequences.  Righties don’t want to pass the Dream Act and they are completely out of step with the majority of Americans.  The R’s continue to oppose it because they’re afraid they’ll get “primaried” in the next election by a fanatic on the lunatic right fringe.  That keeps them disconnected from everyone but the aforementioned lunatic right fringe.

This issue is complex, but as a nation we’re pretty much in the center.

Taxes on the wealthy – Depending on the week and the poll, anywhere between 62 – 80% of Americans favor increased taxes on the rich.  Only the righties who signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes, along with some already wealthy people are opposed to that.  That is to say, the country is center-left on this issue.

Contraception – Do you really need an explanation about this?  Even 98% of Catholic women have used some form of birth control and only some fundamentalist righties have a problem with it.  It’s just that a few of them have very loud voices.  We Americans are far left in favor of contraception.

Women’s choice – The majority of Americans continue to be pro-choice, although by a smaller margin now than in past decades.  In part that’s because of the loss of institutional memory of how things used to be before Roe v. Wade.  It wasn’t pretty.  We are center-left on this.

Global warming – It’s not just all the environmental scientists; most Americans believe that the Earth is getting warmer and that mankind’s activities like burning fossil fuels is contributing to it.  The only question is why anyone denies that.  To find the answer, follow the money.  It’s way on the right.  (Ref: “And another thing” below)

Social Security & Medicare – These are the two most popular programs ever created by the federal government and America is far left on them.  Only the righties want to abolish or privatize them.

Note to budget hawk absolutist righties: We made a contract with the American people, who pre-paid for these services and we must keep our word.  I know you’ll understand that.

Education – The righties want to abolish the Department of Education at both the federal and state levels.  They are starving schools of funds, so teachers, administrators and janitors are being laid off.  School maintenance and improvement projects are being halted and the disparity between the education of our poor children and the rich kids who get to go to elite schools continues to widen.  Our children are suffering, their future becomes bleaker every day we fail them and we are putting the future of America in peril.

Americans don’t like this.  They want their children to be educated and think public education is a very good thing.  The righties are completely out of sync with America on this.  This country is way left on education.

Healthcare – Most Americans want the government to do more to fix it.  All that is standing in the way is the resistance borne of the hundreds of billions of dollars being collected every year by the medical insurance companies, big pharma, big hospitals and a few others.  We’ve tried letting the market fix this.  That has resulted in our having the most expensive healthcare in the world, while at the same time we’re getting just middling results.  Only the far righties with megaphones attached to their faces think that continuing to let the free market work is the solution.  We want affordable healthcare and are at least center-left on this issue.

The list can go on until sunrise.  Those saying that we are a center-right nation have either bought into the Big Lie or think they will benefit by making you believe it.

It turns out that the common wisdom isn’t so common, nor is it so very wise after all.

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And another thing .  .  .

Have you seen the TV commercials with the pleasant looking blonde lady in a black pants suit talking about American energy?  She tells us how plentiful it is and all we have to do is go get it.  As an example, she walks across a map of the lower 48 and tells us about, ”  .  .  . tapping Canadian oil sands for U.S. consumers.”  Sounds great.

Except the plan for the Canadian oil sands crude is to transport that heaviest, dirtiest crude oil with the greatest global warming footprint via the XL Pipeline to our gulf coast for exporting to other nations.  I need for them to explain once again how that stuff is for U.S. consumers because I’m not seeing how exporting it makes it for us.

One last comment: That ad and the others like it are sponsored by the American Petroleum Industry, the promotional organization of Big Oil.  Just so you know.

“We move through life like a man in a rowboat, looking back even as we move forward.” – William Landay

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Means, The End and Freedom

I was reading a news magazine recently about Pat Robertson, former candidate for President of the United States, owner of the Family Channel on cable TV, and head of the very conservative Christian Coalition.  It said that he plans to go to Congress and introduce an amendment to the Constitution that would allow “moments of silence” in public schools.  It said he figures this should be acceptable because he thinks it doesn’t violate the principle of separation of church and state in that it doesn’t prescribe prayer in school, just moments of silence.  That scares me.

I remember my mother telling me when I was young that the end doesn’t justify the means.  I think there’s sound wisdom in that.

Don’t  get me wrong:  I like the idea of instilling family values.  I like the idea of mom and dad marrying and raising children to be positive, healthy, contributing members of society.  These are good things, as I see them.  And, as I understand the people of the religious right, I think these are the kind of family values that they want and which most of us agree with.  But achieving the end of instilling family values does not justify whatever means are used to achieve them.  History teaches us that from such well intentioned actions have come some of the cruelest hatred and oppression.

In Sam Keen’s new book, Hymns to an Unknown God, he says that when people,  “ . . . claim to possess the only true revelation of God, they provide themselves with a theological justification for war.  There is a high degree of correlation between true believers, known gods and high body counts.”  If you have trouble with that, review your history book for what happened in the Roman Empire, during the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades, and even today in Rwanda and Bosnia.  In each case, the true believers started with what seemed like good intent and eventually used it to generate high body counts.  Somehow we humans always seem to gravitate that way and I don’t think that we in the United States are somehow immune to that terrible gravity.

So far, we’ve managed to avoid legally declaring this to be a country of one particular religion, thus leaving room for all of us and our potpourri of beliefs.  We’re all the richer and safer for it.  Our Constitution mandates that there be no laws restricting freedom of religion.  That prohibition is there because the people who crafted the Constitution came from places where there was no such protection and they knew full well the terrible price that is eventually paid when religion and the state are mixed.

We as a nation have consistently said that freedom of religion also means freedom for all religion and from religion.  That specifically means that we have the right to practice religion as we see fit, but that freedom does not give us the right to force others to do as we do.  Institutionalized “moments of silence” in our public schools would violate that freedom with a tacit instruction to pray in the prescribed manner.

The place for formal prayer in schools is in private institutions; prayer doesn’t belong in the state arena.  I don’t want prayer in public schools forced on anyone’s children.  I don’t want us to take this step backward to having a state-endorsed We and They society.  Indeed, it’s taken decades of civil rights work for us to agree that we can all eat at the same restaurants, use the same seats on busses and not be subject to employment discrimination based on gender and race.  Let’s continue to break down the We versus They mentality, not build it up again.

I don’t want those who want us to conform to their views to use principles that most of us support to manipulate us because it will inevitably lead us into a downward spiral.  The end does not justify the means.  What history teaches us is that when true believers attempt to force us to their way, their means will likely separate us and become the beginning of the end.  And that end is cruel and, ironically, even god-less.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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