Saturday, May 08, 2010

Our Two Party System

There is no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. That is the claim of the far left and the far right. Leftists argue we need more socialist reform and that we must make radical change in our way of living to protect the planet and the environment. The far right, including Libertarians, want as little federal government as is possible-- no social security, virtually no taxes, no universal health care. Those on the right think free enterprise means no government regulation of business.

Democrats and Republicans alike reject these positions. But they are hardly the same. The majority of Democrats do believe the federal government must regulate business, stop abuses, and provide essential services to people who need them, the poor, the elderly, the under-privileged, the sick. Most Democrats favor universal health care, a system freer than the current one just passed, that limits the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies. They want a more equitable country regarding taxes, financial freedom, and opportunity. Most Democrats would limit the power of banks, big business, the oil companies, and the insurance companies.

Many Republicans believe in giving big business more power and privilege, less taxes, and less regulation. Under Mr. Bush, the Environmental Protection Agency opened wilderness areas to loggers and other business interests. Had they the chance, they would have opened up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.
They agree with the libertarians that big business should not be under the control of federal agencies. Our national park system was sorely neglected under Bush. Republicans also believe in huge military budgets, if not outright war. Look at how Cheney and his company, Halliburton, prospered under the rule of the Republicans. Look at how many no-bid government contracts they got. Look at the Blackwater company.

Nothing demonstrates the difference between Republicans and Democrats more than civil rights. Civil Rights heroes such as John Lewis, who marched with MLK and took the blows and injuries of bigots and hate filled mobs, are Democrats for a reason. Most Democrats now support gay rights, if not everything we gays demand. They support civil unions, if not marriage equality. Republicans, for the most part, oppose such social reform. There is great irony in the Republican charge that Democrats are elitist. There is no one on Earth more elitist than the quail hunting Cheney and his rich cronies. Many Republicans really do take the "Let them eat cake," point of view.

Yes, it would be great to see the rise of a Green Party in this country. It would be heartening to see all those who supported Nader come to power and bring about "real change we can believe in."  But after watching how Nader brought us Bush rather than Gore, I believe we leftists need to plan what we do far more carefully. Voting for people who can win is essential. In Vermont, we can elect a socialist U.S. Senator like Bernie Sanders. In Mass. we can get Barney Frank elected to the House. But all our efforts as activists or just as voters, should be to elect the most liberal candidate possible. Nader never had a prayer of a chance, and those who voted for him gave us the most corrupt president ever, one who passively allowed us to go to war and passively allowed Big Oil and big business to fuck us over big time. Tax cuts for the rich and to Hell with the middle class and especially the poor suckers who bought into his election because of religion, guns, or bigotry.

In ancient times, people thought natural disasters revealed the anger of the gods. As a Pantheist, I think our abuse of the planet may well bring on the wrath of Nature. Homo Sapiens may well be condemned already. How we vote may not ultimately stop the onrush of destructive capitalistic industry that is raping the Earth, destroying the rain forests, killing wildlife, and changing the climate. Religious intolerance and superstition continue to foster over-population, poverty, bigotry, and hate. Maybe retreating to a little garden of like spirits in the vein of Epicurus or Edward Carpenter, or my beloved Kalani, is the best way to live. The difference between Republicans and Democrats may not be substantial enough to save us. Yet, I do think the Democrats, very generally, have more compassion for people and for the Earth. For that, I'll continue my support-- for now.


See also,   Left-Right Politics for an interesting discussion.

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