Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Some Thoughts At the Start of a Political Year

2012 is a political year. The Ds and Rs will be out there fighting for your vote and trying to convince you that "the other side" is not only wrong on everything, but evilly and mortally wrong for the USA. The politics of power. The politics of crush the opposition. The politics that - in both those contexts - ends up being the politics of, you guessed it, money. Lots of money. Greed, maximizing profit, "growth," shareholder value...call it what you will.

For a long time now, I've been disappointed in both our political parties - without hesitation the GOP, but more recently Democrats too - because as the last 15 years or so have unfolded it's become increasingly clear that the two parties are SO VERY SIMILAR. Among the top reasons for this in my opinion is that the people in charge of those parties, running and winning office in those parties and many who support those parties have the wrong set of values.

That's right. Values. And they're wrong - at least for virtually everyone. Indeed, the overriding political principles our society is guided by are things like the winning, money and power that I mentioned. They are motivated by defeating the opponent, securing lucrative contracts for cronies, making things easier for the rich and powerful, their buddies, etc.

Thet are NOT guided by ideas like fairness, competition, doing right by one's fellow citizen, hard work and the potential for a better tomorrow for most of us. These are secondary at best, and more often than not, not even registered as important. There seems to be a fundamental flaw pervasive in our collective political thought, and FOR SURE present in our actual political processes and institutions.

Pretty heavy stuff, and hard to change. Indeed, how do you change something like that? Once again one of my all time heroes, Joe Strummer, summed it up well...

“In any kind of realistic political change you have to start on the inside, by changing the central value system. You can’t start by changing the structure, change has to be a personal choice.” - Joe Strummer 1981.

I think what Joe was saying that for real political change to happen, the majority of people have to see the situation for what it is and stop buying into the central value system that is the driving force of most of modern western society - greed, profit, power, etc. - and freely chose to base political decisions on other things. He's also saying that changing the structure itself - at minimum which party controls the legislative and executive branches and at maximum a new form of government - is not the answer. That's just re-arranging the chairs on the Titanic. No, change can only come from the inside.

To be sure, enacting THAT type of change is difficult. How bad do things have to get before most people wake up and realize that they're being taken for fools...that what they've been voting for over the last 20+ years (and I include both parties in this...and yes even Mr. Obama) has actually worked to their great disadvantage?

Not sure. But I know that in 2012 I am freely choosing to cast my support and vote for local and national candidates who reflect the values I want to see more of.

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