Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Audacity of Remediation

Poputonian just hit the nail on the head with this prescription for what ails America. I read it and said: Amen. It makes me yearn for a time when people will understand that the job of their government is the public good -- looking after the interests of all the people -- and not the acquisition and wielding of power so as to line your pockets and those of your cronies. You know... doing the right thing. As Poputonian says:
The ideal candidate for president, as I see it, would come from a platform of remediation; it would be a person who realizes that America is deeply flawed, and who understands the need to usher in an era of remedial action, to study where America went off the tracks; it would be someone who sees how corporations and religion have violated the public sphere to the detriment of the founding ideals, and how those two public corruptions, money and religion, have fostered the imperialism that put America, once again, in an unnecessary war.

I'm not for one minute suggesting that a remediation platform will garner votes. If a candidate wants votes, they will be out peddling a different audacity, one called hope. Hope will attract the feeble-minded voter who wants to feel good today and can't imagine that America might not be "great." Hope is just the snake oil these folks need.

The audacity of remediation, on the other hand, begins with the understanding that America has some medicine to take before it can get better. The medicine is making changes to the core of how society operates, to remove money as the main driver of its politics, and to restore to society the ideals of justice and humanity.

The platform:

1. The ideal candidate should be able to differentiate between illusory concepts such as hope, and the important duties we have to justice and humanity. Blog-friend Nezua Limón Xolagrafik-Jonez differentiated it nicely in an inspiring post today:

If there is hope for the future of mankind, it does not lie in our media, it does not lie in our laws, it does not lie in our war-makers, and it does not lie in the endless verbal and mental diarrhea that we call "News." Perhaps it lies in remembering that our first duty is to mankind; to humanity. Perhaps it lies in remembering that an honest person who remains neutral is not an honest person at all, but an accomplice to every crime done in their name. Perhaps it lies in telling the truth.

2. The ideal candidate would acknowledge that 700,000 people have been killed and maimed in an illegal war, and that justice and humanity demands the impeachment of those responsible. From digby's post yesterday, Lincoln spoke of the gravity of violating the constitution, and spoke of our duty with regard to impeachment:

Our safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United States as our fathers made it inviolate. The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

3. The ideal candidate would push to re-establish the public interest aspect of the corporation, and to restore the balance of power between labor and capital; the candidate would support Fair Trade standards. The candidate would push to remove all private money from election campaigns.

Joe Vecchio provides this quotation by Theodore Roosevelt:

At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of free men to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will. At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth.

-Theodore Roosevelt, The New Nationalism, 1910

Another learned man, Eisenhower, had a similar recognition:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

4. The ideal candidate will protect religion as private worship, but will support restrictions on it as a public spectacle. The candidate will understand the impact of public charlatans upon the people, particularly when using mass media to manipulate mass minds. The candidate will understand what Jefferson meant when he said:

I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

Those are the words inscribed under the dome of the Jefferson memorial.

The ideal candidate will push for the resurrection of secularism (yes, pun intended) promoted by humanism scholar Susan Jacoby:

Those who cherish secular values have too often allowed conservatives to frame public policy debates as conflicts between "value-free" secularists and religious representatives of supposedly unchanging moral principles. But secularists are not value-free; their values are simply grounded in earthly concerns rather than in anticipation of heavenly rewards or fear of infernal punishments. No one in public life today upholds secularism and humanism in the uncompromising terms used by Ingersoll more than 125 years ago.

Secularism teaches us to be good here and now. I know nothing better than goodness. Secularism teaches us to be just here and now. It is impossible to be juster than just. Secularism has no 'castles in Spain.' It has no glorified fog. It depends upon realities, upon demonstrations; and its end is to make this world better every day -- to do away with poverty and crime, and to cover the world with happy and contented homes.

These values belong at the center, not in the margins, of the public square. It is past time to restore secularism, and its noble and essential contributions at every stage of the American experiment, to its proper place in our nation's historical memory and vision of the future.



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