The Times They are a’Changin’

As a boomer, I have seen many changes in our country, both good and bad.  The world I inhabited as a child no longer exists and we have been transitioning every since.  But, and this is going to be considered a political entry by some, I have to admit that I am very worried by where our country seems to be heading these days.

I spent my youth overseas.  I lived in third world countries and in war-torn countries.  I lived in countries that had the shadow of communism looming over them and countries that were developing their own identity of the word Democracy.  All told, there is nothing, absolutely nothing in this country that resembles any of the countries that I just described having lived in.  Yet, this year, more than any other year, I am hearing the words “socialism” and “circumventing the Constitution”and “undermining our religious rights”

Ironically, President Obama, the individual t0 whom these outcries are being hurled, is more centrist in his approach than President Nixon, a Republican, was.  Where our country was at the time of President Nixon’s tenure (and, by the way, he was very involved in the whole mass hysteria that existed in the late ’40′s early ’50′s, during the Joe McCarthy “Red Scare” in which people –including Ronald Reagan– turned against their friends in the hopes of avoiding being turned in themselves — wait, that only happened in the Soviet Union, didn’t it?  Oh.  I guess not).  But back to Richard Nixon being more liberal in his position while in the White House than President Obama is today.  More than likely this was because President Nixon had more freedom to maneuver than has President Obama.  The vitriol that exists in today’s politics is at an all time high.   We live in a time where the President of the United States has been so disrespected by the opposing party, the regular Joe, and by certain media outlets that I, for one, wonder just how long our form of government will be able to continue to exist.

But what is most frightening to me is that the “Republican” party has become so radicalized that they have citizens defining patriotism by their position on abortion and insisting that if one does not buy into the party line, then they need to step aside.

I feel frightened over the fact that money now becomes the basis by which elections are run rather than by the people’s votes.  For a country that certain news agencies just a few months ago claimed to be on the verge of bankruptcy, the amount of money spent on this election is staggering.  And yet, as a people, we are not focusing on this.  Instead the focus is on whether or not President Obama is a Socialist; whether or not he is a Muslim; whether or not he is an American; whether or not giving the woman the right to choose is a choice white males have a right to impose on the women of this country; and, whether a gay couple has the same rights as a conventional couple do.  The first three are downright stupid, and yet, people in this country and in their ignorance actually believe all three about President Obama.  The last two speak about the basic rights of American citizens, an item inherent in our Constitution, if not always followed by society in general or communities over the last couple of centuries.  In other words, these, for different reasons, should not even be the focus of this election.

I actually believe that our constitutional rights and maintaining our rights as free citizens in a democratic form of government is what is at stake here and that a bunch of red herrings are being used to distract the general populace to this fact.  I also think, that as a population, we have become too big and too comfortable to do anything about it.  Oh, in my day, I did hold up placards in huge marches against the war in Vietnam (yes, I am one of those); I worked to increase the pay of workers being given less than minimum wage; and I worked for the candidates I thought would best represent “Da’ People!”  But in the end, I have become part of the generation that has metastasized the American Dream to new heights of consumption, the group who can’t live without their Starbucks Latte.

Our founding fathers warned us that we needed to keep church and state separate.  Yet more and more “political” entities are appearing, claiming to be a knowledgeable source for understanding our government and they turn out to be run by ultra-conservative, right-wing religious groups.  The National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS) is such an example.  While googling the Constitution, their name came up as an educational entity in the area of the Constitution.  It was clear to me after the third page, that they were pushing an agenda.  But not knowing whether the agenda was one I wanted to embrace or not, I did further research.  Someone who is not a political science major, as I am, or who has not taken an active interest in American politics for thirty years, as I have, might not have wondered and might have taken the information presented as being based on scholarly input.

We live in times of sound bytes and pundits.  No one does their homework.  Most newscasters, who at one time did their own research, now read what is on the teleprompter with only a general sense of the story they are “reading” to the public.  Welcome to 24 hour/7 days a week news streams.  Then you have the opinions spewed by people in the field.  Again, we watch a group of people who have done very little homework and are only interested in pushing their opinions.  In fact, by writing this blog, I also fit the profile of this day and age.

So we listen to pundits and “news” agencies that tell us what is happening and we (some) believe that is what is happening.  We do not know what is happening.  We only know what we are told is happening.   That makes us very vulnerable to falling victim of the following words written by someone who lived this reality:

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked. [9/11?]  Denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism [Iraqi war?] and exposing the country to danger [removing regulators in the financial arena and the media?].  It works the same in any country.” Hermann Goering, Nuremberg Diary (1946)

We all need to vote Tuesday, November 6.  We may or may not still have some influence over events by doing so, but until it really is apparent that we have lost the premise of what the founding fathers put forth as a form of government, we should continue to assume our responsibilities in ensuring its continued existence.

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