By the people, for the people, of the people. Do you really believe that?
Recently, my dear Skywalker and I have been having some political discussions. Usually, our political discussions remain friendly, but occasionally I get upset and him and vice versa. It’s understandable—I guess I’d have to classify myself as a Democrat if I were to classify myself as something.
And Skywalker, when pressed, calls himself an Independent, with libertarian sympathies.
So yes, we are at odds politically. But the odd thing is, we espouse many of the same beliefs about what we think America needs.
We both believe that the destitute need help from those who have more than they need.
We both believe that unemployment is a real problem.
We both believe that we should have a very real sense of stewardship about our environment, and that we should live our lives in such a way that we do not waste or pollute our precious resources.
We both feel that religion and government should not encroach upon one another.
We both believe that the Great Depression was a social/economic event that required intervention on the part of the government, although we differ somewhat in opinion as to whether the New Deal was the best sort of intervention.
We both believe that women and minorities should have the same rights as everyone else in society.
We both believe that the American rate of consumption is out of control, and ought to be checked somehow.
We both hate health insurance companies.
We both like Mitt Romney.
So—any of you out there, read all these things. Republican, Democrat, Green Party, Libertarian party, American Communist party—
How many of these do you agree with? I’m willing to bet that a surprising number would agree with many of them.
The difference that Skywalker and I have is this—implementation. Skywalker believes that to give government control over any/all of these issues, is wrong. That the government would then be forcing someone to do something that he/she should be free to choose to do or not, of their own accord. Skywalker believes that, when government starts mandating such things as how much we give to the poor by enacting laws that take a certain percentage from our paycheck, for instance, nobody is blessed because they’re forced to give, and it’s inherently wrong because it encroaches upon the rights of a certain group of people—those who have more. And that those who have less need to be taken care of, yes, but that it should be done of the community’s own free will and choice and that a community can best know and meet its own needs anyway, without direct governmental oversight.
Basically, to Skywalker, government is an other
. Government taking away from his paycheck means that someone else is taking away from his paycheck. To him, government is not a pure representation of the people/will. It’s sluggish and so changes don’t happen quickly enough to adequately represent the people’s current preferences, and politicians also push their own agendas (That's why government should
be simple, it's slow and protecting the basics.)
As our founding fathers believed, proper government protects the people from tyranny (inasmuch as the government is not tyrannical). It provides law and order, and insures basic freedoms, but otherwise should mainly be in place to simply empower the people to become what they will. And occasionally it is all right for government to mandate a little social responsibility. For instance: environmental protections for future generations.
I see it a little differently. To me, government is self
(me). I am
a part of my government. I vote, I participate. If I want, I can write letters to my senator or congressman. I can make a big stink about something, and if it’s something truly wrong and important, I will find others who feel the same way, and we will inevitably make an impact on decisions made in congress and ultimately, in government.
We shape government. And so, when “government” takes from my paycheck, I believe that it’s not so much someone else taking my money. By accepting American Citizenship, I ( meaning, myself as a part of the voting population) have agreed to follow what the majority desires. And the majority has voted to give up a piece of pay in order to protect their futures/ alleviate the suffering of the homeless. I accept that majority vote, and so I willingly participate in it, even if I didn't agree personally with that particular mandate. I have an inherrent faith that the American people will eventually choose the thing that will make the most people happy. And so, most of the time, I
will be happy with what is chosen as well.
Two different views. Neither is selfish or irresponsible. Just different— with the same desired results.
What are you? Do you think of government as self, other, or something in between? And how do you feel about the way that our current government is representing the American population?
What do you think we could do better? See, to me, that’s the clincher. When people complain about government, I usually don’t hear them say anything about what they think we could do to make it better. I think that it’s unproductive to complain unless we have an idea of how to improve. Complaints are to catch the attention of those who can change things.
So—you have my attention. What should we be doing differently?