Many have claimed that politics has been very polarizing. The claim by many is that this has worsened over the past twenty years to the point that if one side says that it's Monday the other side will say it's Tuesday.
It is true that politics is all about "gotcha". But has it really gotten worse in the past twenty years? Has one side cornered the market on the truth? Several stories have come to light or come to a head in the past few weeks that have brought these thoughts more into focus.
The overall big news of the day recently has been the coming tax increase on January 1, 2011. The Bush tax cuts expire on the final day of 2010. The question becomes, does government extend the cuts, make them permanent or do nothing and let them increase?
With the elections coming, they are now talking about extending the tax cuts. If they don't vote on this before the election, do you really think they will extend them after the election? It boils down to them making their decisions based on their need to get re-elected. Naturally, if the Democrats maintain their majority, the liklihood of those tax cuts in any form will take place. If the Republicans take over the tax cuts will likely be passed, but then it must go to the President for signature. Will he become the new "party of no" and veto it?
Yesterday, the Congress was called back for a special session to vote on a $26 Billion bill to save teachers jobs. Much of this money is going to unions. This was nothing more than a campaign fundraiser disguised as saving jobs for teachers. That money will now end up in the coffers of many Democrats.
The Republicans got fat and sassy leading up to the elections in 2006. They spent money as if there was no tomorrow. They lost.
One topic has brought this all into focus for me recently. The mosque in New York near ground zero. I've listened to Sean Hannity for several nights. He believes that this mosque shouldn't be allowed because of what happened on September 11, 2001. There's just one problem with this. In our Constitution there is a line that says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof:"
We must follow the Constitution. If we don't, the Constitution becomes nothing more than a worthless piece of paper. Yes, it's wrong for them to put this mosque there. But it's not Constitutionally wrong. It's not illegal. It is morally wrong, but not legally wrong. If the rule of law means anything, it must mean something even when it works against our beliefs or even offends us.
Doing the right thing means doing it even when nobody is looking. It's wrong for this Imam to start a mosque at that site. It's also wrong for Hannity to rail against them doing this and wanting to find a lawmaker that will prevent it by some legal means from going in there. Putting this mosque there is the wrong thing to do though. But that's a moral choice, not a legal choice.
I believe that our politics has been more polarizing the past twenty years than it has prior to that. However, there were other times when it was just as bad and possibly even worse in our history. For instance John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jacksons campaigns. John Quincy Adams won the first time in a back room deal. The next election Jackson came back hard and the two of them participated in one of the most contentious elections in our history.
I believe it is difficult being Conservative and more difficult than being a liberal. It's easy to spend other people's money. It's difficult to resist spending that money. It's easy to see someone suffering and give them a handout. It's difficult to look for other means of help for them without forcing expenditures of the people's money. It's easy to take over people's freedom and use confiscation (taxes and tax increases) or eminent domain to give people what you think they need. It's more difficult to give a minimum to help them to their feet and watch as they try to build on that assistance and make a better life for themselves so that they too can help someone out with a hand up.
Republicans are not good at pointing this out. It's not sexy. It's not as heartwarming as giving someone something for nothing. In the Declaration of Independence it says we have the right t0 "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". It doesn't say we have the right to happiness. We have the right to PURSUE happiness.
The people have tried to point this out to the poltiicians through the tea parties. The people got fed up and are in effect saying that Washington is not representing the American people. The stimulus bill was passed without being read, and against the wishes of the American people. The health care plan was passed without being read, and against the wishes of the American people. Arizona has passed a law that the people agreed with and the government is challenging that law in the courts, against the wishes of the people.
The politicians answer to the tea parties? Some are jumping on the bandwagon. Some are serious. They are taking what the people are articulating, that the politicians couldn't articulate, and they are working with the tea parties. Others are bad mouthing the tea parties (the people) because it goes against what they have had as a vision for this country. Still others are creating fake tea party candidates that are really liberals trying to divide the vote on the right because they know they are in trouble. This has been shown in Pennsylvania and Michigan and was exposed with one guy over the past weekend who showed up with a racist sign at a tea party rally and then later was at a Democrats event without the racist sign.
Any parent can tell you that it's difficult to see a child make a poor decision or choice and have to assist them in correcting that mistake whether financially or by example. Yet we all make choices in our daily lives. Some correct, some incorrect. We either correct our mistakes, hide from them or make excuses and look for someone to get us out of it so that we don't have to deal with it ourselves.
I keep coming back to always trying to do the right thing even when nobody is watching. It's a tough standard to live up to, and we're all going to fail at it. But we'll fail much less than we succeed if we continue to live by that standard.
As I've been writing this, it's been reported that a Democrat in New Hampshire has said that he "wished" Sarah Palin had been on the plane that crashed killing former Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska on Monday.
Politicians, once elected, hold the trust of those that they represent. They are there to work for the people of their district, state and country. They are not supposed to be there to satisfy their own personal desires. Unfortunately, the majority of them seem to be there to get their names on schools, bridges, libraries, roads and anything else they can have their names seen for years long after they are gone. To do this, they have to spend money and donate or assign it to those entities. They are using the peoples money to put their names out there.
Again, they are in it for personal gain and not doing what needs to be done for those that they represent. We need new people in there and then hold their feet to the fire so that they don't fall into the usual trap of self aggrandizement. If they fall into that trap, they must go in the next election and we need to try again. Not by party, but by person and their stated goals for when they are elected.
It is tough being Conservative. We must have standards. We must have the courage of our convictions and not be afraid to make mistakes and then correcting those mistakes. We must not turn our lives over to others to control. We must not try to control the lives of others that we have responsibility for, but rather be partners or guides (in the case of children). The best leaders have always led by example.
The mosque does not belong in New York across the street from where the World Trade Center towers once stood. But we also have to realize that in this country, we have a constitution that says we won't make laws regarding the creation nor prohibition of religion. There is another way to solve this problem. I don't know what it is, but we have alot of ingenius people in this country. The American people can figure out a way to get us out of this economic mess better than the government can. The American people can also figure out a way to deal with the matter of the mosque. All we need is for government to get out of the way and allow the American people to do what we've always done best.
Final set of examples. We had four attacks on September 11. Two flew into the World Trade Center. One into the Pentagon. The government didn't stop them. One crashed into a field in Pennsylvania saving many lives in Washington DC. That one was stopped by passengers. Americans. Heroes.
The underwear bomber on Christmas last year wasn't stopped by the government. He was stopped and held by passengers and flight attendants. The Times Square bomber wasn't stopped by government. It was discovered by a t-shirt vendor. A citizen. The government didn't prevent the shooter at Ft. Hood from killing and wounding 33 people.
The more we turn our lives and our freedoms over to the government, the less we follow "doing the right thing even when nobody is looking". Can we really trust the government to do the right thing even when nobody is looking? Let's ask Charlie Rangle. Maxine Waters. Mark Souter. Mark Foley. Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon. William Jefferson. Let's ask those that have raided Social Security and left behind an IOU that will never be paid back. Let's ask those that tell us we need to pass health care so that we can find out what's in the bill rather than looking at it to see if it's worthy of being passed in this country.
It's always easy to have power over someone else and tell them what to do, how to spend their money, or how to live their lives. It's more difficult to guide kids so that they do what's right on their own or to not interfere with those you're responsible for. To watch them be a partner and enjoy that partnership rather than hold whatever power you have or may have over their heads. Government fails at this partnership and abuses the power they have. Yes, some people abuse it as well. People can be left behind. Unfortunately, government can't be left behind. But it can be changed to the way the founding fathers intended and the Constitution states.
So from my point of view, being a liberal is easy. Control others. Take from others. But Conservativism is difficult. Standards, I believe, are higher and it's always harder to live up to standards than it is to live with no standards.
I'd rather have it be tougher where I can succeed and be happy or fail and make amends and earn the forgiveness of those that I care about and again, be happy, than to take the easy way out and not have to do anything and let some stranger(s) in Washington DC guide my life and freedoms.
Ok, off my moral high horse for today.
You're welcome to comment.