On April 12, 2018 PBS’s “Frontline” summarized Donald Trump’s path to the Presidency and hijacking the Republican party. This started me thinking about government, about politics! According to Webster’s New World Dictionary government is “the exercise of authority over an organization, institution, state.” Politics is “the science and art of political government.” Its root “politic” implies “practical wisdom; prudent; shrewd; diplomatic; hence, crafty; unscrupulous.” Why do I feel like shouting, “Lion , tigers and bears! Oh, my!”?
I’m told the philosophy of politics covers a spectrum reflecting our feelings and beliefs about government. As I see it, a significant part of this is how we view change in government.
On the Far Left Anarchists cry, “Every man for himself! Devil for the hindmost!” My counsel, Careful what you wish for; you might get it. To the Anarchists’ right, Radicals foment fundamental change in government. “Kick the bastards out!” Here lies the seedbed of revolution. Through human history folks fed up to the chin with a System have rebelled. We did. France. Russia. China.
To left of center, Liberals or “Progressives” seem to view change in government in light of our Constitution’s pledge to “promote the general welfare.” The Declaration of Independence not withstanding, these citizens recognize that “all men (and women) are (not) created equal.” Some are born healthy, wealthy, and gifted. Most slog along as best we can, earn a living, raise the kids, obey the law, coach Little League, deliver Meals-on-Wheels, go to church. At the bottom of the ladder causes and conditions kick the hell out of a legion born culturally, physically, or mentally handicapped, disabled, LGBTQ, or who just don’t fit in. Liberals view stewardship, caring for Earth’s atmosphere, water and resources, as critical to survival.
Perhaps more realistic than Left or Right, Moderates or Middle-of-the-Roaders, approach change in government with a view to compromise. So long as hard-liners on either side dig in their heels, change remains an exercise in waste and frustration.
Right of center, Conservatives resist change–conserve: to keep or preserve. If it ain’t broke–often even if it is–don’t fix it. As the storm builds, thunder and lighting threaten, and sharks circle, stay the course, never abandon ship! Right Wingers “Lobby” for strong National Defense, little or no taxes, no regulation of business, the least government possible at the cheapest price possible. When, through avarice, unrestricted Capitalism inevitably implodes: The Great Depression, Mutual Funds and Savings and Loan collapses, the home mortgage/banking meltdown, they run to Government crying for rescue: the New Deal, taxpayers rescuing Savings and Loans, Treasury Secretary Paulson’s proposed $700 bank bailout, saving General Motors and Chrysler. To me Conservatives seem conflicted. While shouldering family and civil chores alongside Liberals they echo the Anarchists’, “Every man for himself! Devil for the hindmost!”
Farthest Right, Reactionaries pine for change, back to “the good old days.” In The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump a woman is quoted, “I want my country back.” Sorry Sweetheart, so did the folks who met Columbus. From Cave Men to the Space Age; from the Chen dynasty to the Mongol, Roman, Ottoman, and British Empires; from the American, French, and Russian revolutions to the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, cultures who are conquered, overrun, disposed, or absorbed yearn for their country back. What did the First Cave Man cry when the Second Cave Man tossed him out in the snow? “I want my cave back!” Today’s Reactionary motto: “Make America Great Again!”
When were we not?
The “coloring” of America is a fact. From 1620 to 1776 to 1865 to 1945 to 1975 to this instant incrementally, sometimes abruptly, the Land of the Free changes. A white sheet becomes a collage: black, brown, yellow, red. Not just skin color, ethnicity, and language, but Life Style. GLBTQs are “out.” Kids have two dads or two moms. More than half of cohabiting American couples are unmarried. Single parent families, more often than not a single Mom, are disturbingly common. Growing up without a Dad, I wonder where in hell are all the Fathers?
In the Big Picture, whether Left, Right, or Center, change is the only constant. And it is constant. Without change, if the Universe were suddenly a still photograph, time and existence as we know it would become meaningless.